Category Archives: Low Fat

Smoothie Bowl!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving weekend, my family celebrated on Friday. This was a work day for me, so other members of the family stepped up and did all the food prep. I didn’t have to do anything except show up! So, I don’t have any Thanksgiving feast recipes to share today. Instead, I thought I would share my discovery of Smoothie Bowls. I’m thankful for Angela Liddon and her new cookbook (see below). I’m thankful for wonder, imagination and creativity.

Check out this new vegan cookbook!

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I took this book out of the library and have had a wonderful time reading it – yes, cover to cover! – and have earmarked a few recipes to try out. I’ll have to return the book to the library before I can really give it the good attention it warrants, but that’s okay because … I just bought it!

The first recipe I tried was a Smoothie Bowl! What? A Smoothie Bowl? What the heck is that? That’s what went through my mind when I first encountered the smoothie bowl recipes! I’m actually quite an accomplished smoothie maker, if I do say so myself, and I didn’t see the point of a smoothie bowl! But then I looked at the pictures, reread the recipes (there are 3 or so recipes for smoothie bowls as well as several recipes for smoothies) and thought, “Well, I have a smoothie every day for breakfast, maybe I’ll just change it up a bit, put my smoothie in a bowl, add a few toppings, and see what happens.” So I did! I actually made my usual smoothie but decreased the liquid and made sure I added chia seeds to make a thick, spoonable smoothie. And now I’m sold on Smoothie Bowls because this bowl kept me full until lunch time! I used to be hungry and ready for a snack by recess, about 2 1/2 hours into my work day, but when I start my day with a Smoothie Bowl, I’m good for another 2 hours!  Folks in the know tell me the feeling of fullness comes from chewing my food – “oral-sensory stimulation” or tricking the brain into thinking I’m eating.

http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/how-more-chewing-leads-eating-less

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Here’s how I did it:

1 banana

1/2 apple or 5 large strawberries or equivalent amount of fruit

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup almond milk

a chunk of cucumber, diced (about 2 tbsps)

4 cm piece of celery, diced

handful of spinach

2 large lettuce leaves

1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and diced

very thin slice of lemon, peel and flesh, diced

1/8 tsp turmeric

less than 1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp hemp hearts

2 tbsps granola

1-2 tbsps nuts

Put the fruit, chia seeds and milk in a blender (I use an immersion blender in a tall, narrow container). Blend for a few seconds until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients, blending after each addition if necessary. Pour into a bowl and let sit for a bit. (I usually make the smoothie bowl up to this point, go for a walk, then finish making it and eat it when I get back). Sprinkle on the hemp hearts, granola and nuts. Sit down and enjoy eating your smoothie with a spoon!

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This Smoothie Bowl gets its colour from strawberries.

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The fruit in this Smoothie Bowl was light coloured so the green colour from the leafy greens really stands out.

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Chopped Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

Salads are pretty great, don’t ya think? I mean, there’s gotta be an infinite number of ways you can combine some vegetables, maybe some grains or some noodles, possibly some fruit. And then there’s the dressing. You can take your same ol’, same ol’ salad and add a new dressing and it’s not so same ol’ anymore, is it? Or you can take your standby dressing and pour it on a different base of vegetables and you’ve got something new! Take this salad for example. I introduced this salad way back in April 2014 – a chopped salad with all the ingredients arranged separately in the bowl – and, last week I recreated it with a few different vegetables and a new dressing. Voila! A new salad!

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The salad ingredients choices are my own, but the dressing is inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing.

(http://minimalistbaker.com/mexican-quinoa-salad-with-orange-lime-dressing)

Chopped Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

(Ingredient amounts depend on how many servings you want to make. The dressing makes about 4 servings.)

quinoa, cooked

red cabbage

carrots

orange bell pepper

green onion

lettuce

cucumber

Dressing

1/2 ripe avocado

juice of 1/2 lime  (3 tbsps.)

juice of 1/2 orange (3 tbsps.)

2 tsp agave nectar

1 tsp hot sauce

1/4 tsp cumin

a sprinkle of cayenne (less than 1/8 tsp)

2-3 tbsps. water

Arrange the quinoa and vegetables in individual bowls. I like to chop up one ingredient and arrange in the bowls, then chop up the next ingredient and arrange in bowls and so on.

Put all the dressing ingredients except the water in a tall container and blend with an immersion blender. When things start to get too thick, add in the water, 1 tbsp. at a time until the dressing blends smoothly and is pourable but not runny.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients. Admire your artistry, then toss everything together in your personal bowl!

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Banh Mi Sandwich

Here I go again! Posting on my blog! Four times in less than two weeks! I’m realizing that the more I post, the easier it is. I get into a kind of routine – make delicious food, take pictures of food, upload pics to WordPress, begin a draft, finish draft, hit publish! Done! Of course, more frequent posts means poorer quality pictures because I don’t take the time to set up. I’m often eating the food while taking photos! Or I don’t want the food to get cold while I take pictures. Or the food is so delicious that I have to quickly snap off a few pics before we eat it all! Anyway, I’m pleased with myself and my blogging frenzy and I hope you are finding some recipes, and maybe some pictures that please you!

Today, I’m writing about a Banh Mi sandwich that I made for supper tonight. The inspiration came from Blissful Basil blog and the Shitake Banh Mi Tacos posted there yesterday. I really liked the sound of the pickled vegetables and the Sriracha cashew mayo, and, of course, I liked the idea of mushrooms replacing the traditional meat in this sandwich. I have never eaten, let alone made, a Banh Mi sandwich before so I was kind of excited to be finally trying one! Once I started making my sandwiches,  however, I realized that I’ve actually made this sort of thing before. Last summer, my son and I made sandwiches for everyone (7 people) when we were all staying in a cabin on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I was the only vegan there so while my son was filling up buns with a variety of sliced sausages and cheese, I filled my Hoagie roll with leftover marinated baked tofu and leftover grilled zucchini and eggplant. It was delicious! I keep meaning to recreate that sandwich, take pictures and write a blog post about it, but it just hasn’t happened … yet! In the meantime, try out this vegan Banh Mi sandwich.

Mushroom and Zucchini Banh Mi Sandwich with Sriracha Cashew Mayo and Pickled Vegetables

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Sriracha Cashew Mayo

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1/2 cup cashews

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsps. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. sriracha sauce

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Soak the cashews overnight or soak them for an hour or more in boiling water. Throw all the ingredients (use 1/4 cup of water to start with) into a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add a bit more water if needed and blend for another 3 minutes. If you use the full 1/2 cup of water, you will have more of a sauce than a mayo so if you want it thicker, use less water.

Pickled Vegetables

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1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 daikon radish, cut into matchsticks

1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

Put everything into a mason jar, shake and swirl for 15 seconds, then put in the fridge until you’re ready to make the sandwiches. (PS – all the vegetables came from my CSA box)!

Mushrooms and Zucchini

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1 1/2 tbsps. maple syrup

1 tbsp. tamari

1 tbsp. chile-garlic sauce

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

10 – 15 shitake mushrooms, sliced in 2 or 3 pieces

10 – 15 cremini mushrooms, sliced in 2 or 3 pieces

6 thinnish slices of zucchini

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and set aside. Toss the mushrooms into a hot pan (heat the pan over high heat for a minute before adding the mushrooms), turn the heat down to medium-high and dry cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn. Let the mushrooms release their liquid and let the liquid start to evaporate a bit. Add the marinade and continue cooking to let the liquid evaporate a bit. Turn off the heat. Brush some of the mushroom marinade onto both sides of the zucchini slices. Put the zucchini under the broiler for 3 minutes, flip and broil for another 3 minutes. Slip the zucchini slices into the pan with the mushrooms.

Assembly

French bread

cucumber, cut into thin slices

Cut the loaf of bread in thirds, crossways. Cut each section in half lengthwise. This will make 3 sandwiches. For each sandwich, open up the bread and pick out some clumps of bread in order to make a hollow on both sides. Spread both sides of the bread with the Sriracha Cashew Mayo. Fill the hollows in the bread with a scoop of mushrooms, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of cucumber, a scoop of pickled vegetables. Put the bread halves together and eat! This is a messy sandwich so have a napkin standing by. This sandwich would be good with some of that Asian Slaw I made last week!

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July 20 – I made a scrumptious salad from the leftovers of this Banh Mi sandwich! I tore up a few leaves of lettuce, quartered some grape tomatoes, and sprinkled in a handful of chickpeas. Then I added in some leftover pickled vegetables and the leftover mushrooms and zucchini. I topped it all with a generous serving of the leftover Sriracha Cashew Mayo. Very yum!

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Healing Foods to Start Your Day – Porridge and a Smoothie

I’m just coming out the other end of emergency surgery, a short stay in hospital, and some recovery time at home. Although I still have a few weeks before being able to resume my normal activity level, I’m recovering and healing nicely and look forward to being back at work soon. This experience has left me even more convinced of the importance of food and diet in good health and in the promotion of healing. I mean, look at what I was served in hospital:

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This is “Tofu Adobo” and “California Vegetables” and white rice with Cranberry Cocktail to wash it all down.

Thank goodness they sent me home shortly after my surgery and thank goodness I had “Tom” around to bring me in some decent food while I was in hospital. I don’t really understand why hospitals cannot do a better job in their food selections and preparations. The two breakfast items I am featuring today would not be difficult to provide in a hospital. Yes, it would be a little more expensive to make, but the benefits to the patients would far outweigh those costs. In fact, spending a bit more thought, time, energy and money on decent food in hospitals would improve patients’ health and so lessen their time in hospital. And that, in turn, would bring down costs.

Anyway, when I got home from hospital, I wasn’t up to much for the first few days, but cooking up a pot of porridge or blending up a smoothie was easy enough. These two meals are so full of healthy goodness I could almost feel the healing happening in my body! Here’s what I  made:

Super Foods Smoothie

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1 banana, coarsely chopped

1/2 orange, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 apple, peeled or not depending on the power of your blender, coarsely chopped

handful of spinach

1 large Romaine (or other) lettuce leaf, torn into pieces

2 or 3 small inside stalks kale, stalks removed, torn into pieces

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. hemp hearts

1/2 tsp chlorella powder

1/2 tsp vegetable based B-Complex powder

1 tbsp. Saskatoon berry syrup (or other kind of sweetener) – I add this to mask the flavour of the chlorella powder

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup or more almond milk

Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Serves one.

Berry Delicious Porridge

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2/3 cup water

1/3 cup organic large flake rolled oats

5 or 6 strawberries (I use frozen strawberries … organic strawberries that were picked in the summer then frozen)

1/4 cup (maybe a bit less) Saskatoon berries (or blueberries) (again, picked in the summer and then frozen)

1/2 apple, peeled, diced

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. hemp hearts

1 tbsp. maple syrup

a few walnuts, broken into pieces

almond milk

Bring the water to a boil, then add the oats, berries, apple, seeds and syrup. Let simmer gently until thick. Spoon into a bowl, sprinkle on the walnuts and add as much milk as you like. Mmmmmm!

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Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup

The food blogging world has gone crazy for pumpkin! It happens every fall. Recipes for everything from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin falafel and beyond are coming into my in box. I haven’t joined the furor over pumpkin, but I have come across a recipe or two that has peaked my interest. This pumpkin soup for instance. Now, this soup recipe started out as this one from Dishing Up the Dirt. I was intrigued because the recipe called for preparing the pumpkins out of real pumpkins, rather than from a can or from frozen. I’d never actually done this before. So, I picked up a couple of pumpkin pie pumpkins from the market

Sugar Pie Pumpkin

Not my photo! Borrowed from peacefultable.net.

and set about roasting and prepping these pumpkins for some yummy soup. It wasn’t until I got right into the recipe that I realized I didn’t like the spices called for in the original recipe. I know I should have read the recipe over first, but I assumed it was a Thai flavoured recipe. So, I changed spices in mid-recipe and came up with this beauty:

Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup

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2 pumpkin pie pumpkins (or sugar pie pumpkins)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. red curry paste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 can light coconut milk

1 large handful of cilantro, finely chopped

a few sprigs of cilantro, coarsely chopped

pumpkin seeds

Wash the outside of the pumpkins, chop in half, coat the cut sides with a bit of veg oil, place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. The baking time may take longer or shorter depending on the size or your pumpkins. The pumpkins should be nice and soft when done. Pull them out of the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.

In the meantime, melt the coconut oil in a big pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and saute for several minutes until onions become translucent – you  may need to add a bit of water or veg broth to prevent sticking. Add in the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes more. Turn the heat down a bit and add the red curry paste. You will need to stir and mash the paste to incorporate it into the onions/garlic.

Back to the pumpkins … scoop out the now soft and tender flesh and add to the pot, stirring everything together. The pumpkin flesh will puree itself as you stir everything together. Add the vegetable broth and stir well. If you like you soup nicely pureed and smooth, then put an immersion blender in the pot and give it a whirl. I left the soup as is because “Tom” and I like the little bit of pumpkin flesh nibbles in the soup.

Stir in the coconut milk and finely chopped cilantro over low heat, and stir until heated through.

Serve garnished with a bit of cilantro and a few pumpkin seeds on top of each bowl of soup.

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Ramen Noodles – Soup and Salad

Hey There! Look at this! I just found and bought an interesting package of Ramen noodles from, of all places, Costco. Check it out. Noodles made from rice and millet … gluten-free and actually good for you and no accompanying sachet of MSG!

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As soon as I got home from the store, I had to make something with them. Soup, of course! Isn’t that what Ramen noodles were made for? Eaten with a spoon AND fork!

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For this yummy bowl of goodness, I cooked the noodles up in some veg broth, then stirred in some chopped up leftover roasted vegetables I had on hand and the last of the grape tomatoes. I also added in some chopped green onions.

A week or so later, I had some marinated, baked tofu kicking around (I had planned on using it in some delicious sandwiches which I will tell you more about in another post, but I absent mindedly cut the tofu into cubes instead of slabs). And those noodles called my name again so I decided to make a tofu-noodle-roast-vegetable salad.

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Here’s what I did:

3 “cakes” Ramen noodles

1 recipe of marinated baked tofu cubes

Dressing:

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/4 cup tamari sauce (or coconut soy-free seasoning sauce or Bragg All Purpose Liquid Soy Seasoning or a combination)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp. agave nectar

juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp chili flakes

Roasted Veg:

2 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 green cabbage, cut into wedges

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces

handful of shitake mushrooms, sliced in half

2 or 3 green onions, diced

handful of peanuts, chopped

Cook the Ramen noodles, in water or in broth. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

Stir all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

Throw the chopped vegetables – carrots, pepper, cabbage, zuke – into a large bowl. Drizzle in a small amount of cooking oil. Toss the veg in the oil until lightly coated in oil. Arrange the vegetables in a roasting pan and roast the veg in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes then add the mushrooms and toss a bit with the other vegetables. Roast for another 10 minutes or so until vegetables are tender, but still juicy. Pull the pan out of the oven and let vegetables cool for a bit. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Toss the vegetables with the Ramen noodles (you  may have to give the noodles another rinse and drain just before adding the vegetables). Add the tofu cubes and toss again. Pour in the dressing and toss one more time. That’s a lot of tossing, but as long as you do it gently, all will be well and the generous tossing allows you to get those noodles separated and spread out and mixed in with the other salad ingredients.

Serve topped with green onion and chopped peanuts. Yum!

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Chili and Cornbread

You know, sometimes I think I set my standards too high. Take this blog, for example. I seem to have got it into my head that the recipes shared here must be original or, at least, greatly adapted from other recipes. It’s not a bad idea … in theory. What actually happens, in reality, is that I don’t post anything for ages because I don’t have an original recipe to share. In the meantime, I’m researching, making, eating and enjoying all kinds of delicious and interesting vegan food. So, today, while I was cooking another delicious meal, I thought, “I really want to share this with others” and I realized I have a way to do just that … using this blog. Duh! So here you have it … chili, greatly adapted from a chili recipe in Appetite for Reduction, and cornbread muffins, direct from Isa Does It. (Both of these cookbooks are by Isa Chandra Moskowitz).

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Adaptable Chili

(based on Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

The reason I call this “Adaptable Chili” is because it’s, well, adaptable! Lots of vegetables, your choice and amount of beans, vary the spices, change up the toppings, include corn or not …

½ medium to large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ red bell pepper, diced

½ large carrot, diced

½ cup diced zucchini

1 cup corn – thaw if frozen

1 ½ cups veg broth

2-3 tbsps chili powder OR 1 tsp chipotle paste

2 tsps cumin

1 tsp oregano

¼ tsp cayenne

½ tsp salt

1 398 ml can diced tomatoes

1 ½ cups black beans

1 ½ cups kidney beans

½ 398 can tomato sauce

2 tbsps tomato paste

2 tsps agave nectar

2 tbsps fresh lime juice

finely chopped cilantro

diced green onion

sliced avocado

Put the diced onion in a large pot like a Dutch oven over med-high heat. Once the onions start to sizzle, add a tbsp. water and dry saute. Keep adding a little bit of water while sauteeing the vegetables to prevent sticking. Once the onion is a bit softened, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the pepper, carrot and zucchini and saute for a few minutes until vegetables release their juice and start to soften. Add the thawed corn if using. Pour in the veg broth, bring to boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne and salt and stir to coat the vegetables. Pour in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce along with the beans. Stir everything together and add the tomato paste. Stir again. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Just before serving stir in the agave and the lime juice. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle on (0r not) some cilantro, green onions, avocado slices. Serve with cornbread or muffins and salad.

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Cornbread Muffins

(from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

1 cup almond milk

2 tsps apple cider vinegar

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup medium-ground cornmeal

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tsps baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tbsps coconut oil, melted

2 tbsps unsweetened applesauce

1 cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease muffin pan.

Combine milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the milk/vinegar, coconut oil and applesauce. Stir these wet ingredients into the dry. Be careful not to overmix. Fold in the corn kernels.

Fill the muffin tin about 2/3’s full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. The muffins are done when the tops are firm to the touch and a sharp knife, when inserted into the middle of a muffin, comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove muffins from pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack.

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Chow Down on a Wedgie!

Yesterday, I had supper at The Keg. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Keg, it’s a steakhouse. I went there to celebrate a family birthday. Believe it or not, I, the only vegan in the group, was able to carve out a perfectly fine meal for myself. I had a Mixed Green Salad and it was big and fresh and tasty.

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For my main course, I had a plate of garlic mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables (red peppers, asparagus, onions) and sautéed mushrooms. All very tasty, fresh, nicely cooked and filling.

Other salads that were ordered at our table were the Caesar Salad:

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and the Iceberg Wedge:

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Now this Iceberg Wedge Salad fascinated me. It was this huge hunk of Iceberg lettuce doused with ranch dressing and big chunks of bleu cheese and a generous sprinkling of bacon pieces. I’d never seen anything like it before! This salad left such an impression on me that I needed to find out more about it. A bit of internet research revealed that the wedge salad is a staple on steakhouse menus. Who knew! Well, I decided I wanted to try an Iceberg Wedge and, because I don’t eat cheese or bacon or ranch dressing, I had to figure out how to create a vegan version. Thank goodness for Pinterest where I found Spabettie and the recipe for Chipotle Tomato Mini Wedges.

On a little side note, I am on Spring Break right now. I’ve set myself some goals or tasks to accomplish every day – do some form of exercise, do a spring cleaning task, prepare a new recipe. The exercising and recipe prep are going well. The spring cleaning … not as much! Anyway, today, my new recipe try-out became this vegan Iceberg Lettuce Wedge salad. This version turned out really well. It was tasty and crunchy and filling. We had to eat it with a knife and fork. In fact, “Tom” used a steak knife to carve his wedge! Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t turn out too well. I was kind of rushed, plus I’m not sure if this dish is very photogenic to begin with!

Here’s the recipe, with only slight changes to the original:

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1 head of Iceberg lettuce

1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle paste *

2 tomatoes, skinned

1/4 cup low fat vegan mayo

pinch of salt

simulated bacon bits **

Wash the lettuce and peel off the outer 2 or 3 layers. Chop the head in half, then chop one of those halves into half again. Leave the wedges to dry in a colander or sieve. In a blender or mini food processor, combine the chipotle paste, tomatoes, mayo and salt and process until thoroughly blended. Pour into a small jar and allow to chill in the fridge. To assemble, place one lettuce wedge on each of two plates. Drizzle the dressing over top and let it run down the sides and pool at the bottom. Sprinkle liberally with bacon bits. Serve.

* I make chipotle paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce into the blender, then storing the paste in a jar in the fridge

** simulated bacon bits are made of TVP (soy), colour, liquid smoke

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Sushi Lasagna

Last weekend, I had an urge to make sushi, inspired by several posts on other food blogs that I subscribe to. “Tom” and I often do sushi as a take out treat – not true sushi, mind you, with fish and stuff, just simple, but delicious, vegie rolls, avocado rolls, maybe a mango vegie roll if we can get it. We even, sometimes, do the some-kind-of-deep-fried-vegetable roll, but I really prefer the fresh, raw vegetables in my sushi. By the way, did you know that “sushi” actually refers to the rice? Rice that is vinegared and sweetened? Did you know that the Earl of Sandwich of England and Hanaya Yohei of Japan have something in common? They both invented a portable way to eat their supper, rather than sitting down to a meal, so that they didn’t need to take a break from gambling! The Earl of Sandwich invented – you guessed it – the sandwich, and Hanaya invented sushi – bit of fish wrapped up in rice specially prepared to preserve the fish. Nowadays, you can buy all kinds of sushi. Sushi bars and restaurants regularly turn out some new twist on sushi. Well, I decided to make my own sushi twist – sushi lasagna! (Thanks to my colleague, M., for suggesting this name). Sushi Lasagna came about when I wanted to make sushi, but didn’t want to go through the bother of rolling. To tell you the truth, I’m just not a very good roller! My burritos are too fat, I rip my fresh spring rolls and my sushi rolls are far from elegant. So, I thought I’d just layer all the ingredients in a baking dish – easy! no rolling! no fuss! Great for linear thinking people like myself! Great for people with limited patience for slow, precise and presentation!

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Here’s how I did it:

I chopped up some vegetables.

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I used shredded carrots, slivered green onions, slivered red pepper and thinly sliced cucumber. If I’d had some avocado around I would have used some of that as well.

I had some white sushi rice kicking around the cupboard, but I wanted to up the nutritional value so I cooked up 3/4 cup white sushi rice and 3/4 cup short grained brown rice. I cooked the rices separately in the rice cooker – the white rice cooks up really quickly – then I mixed and fluffed the two types of rice together. When the rice was cool, I added about 2 tbsps. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. agave nectar, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and tossed the rice again.

Then I started to layer.

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I started by putting down a thin layer of rice on the bottom of the glass baking pan. On top of this I laid down a sheet of  nori seaweed, then another, thicker layer of rice. The sliced cucumbers went on top of this and I also evenly sprinkled on the green onion slivers, but before I added the green onion, I spread on a thin layer of horseradish.

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Now, here’s the story with the horseradish. First of all, did you know that wasabi is horseradish? Yes it is! (Something else the Earl of Sandwich and Hanaya Yohei have in common)! I like wasabi, but I wanted to find a way to add it into the sushi without it being too overwhelming. I tried mixing some wasabi powder in with some vegan mayo, but I didn’t like the taste very much. Then I thought about using some Japanese mayo, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t have MSG in it. Then I searched the supermarket shelves for creamy horseradish and was just about to give up because the ingredients always included eggs and/or milk and long, unpronounceable words that were probably preservatives. Finally, at the end of all hope, I found this little jar of Horseradish. It was creamy, but without cream. Here is the ingredient list (sorry, the picture is a little blurry – my camera hand was shaking too much from excitement!):

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So back to the recipe … spread on your horseradish, then sprinkle on those green onion slivers. Next comes another sheet of nori and another layer of rice, spread evenly and pressed down. Then, on goes the red peppers and grated carrots, a final sheet of nori and a final layer of rice. You could spread some more of that horseradish on the last nori sheet before adding the rice if you like. Press everything down carefully.

Done!

Slice into squares with a sharp knife and serve with soy sauce or tamari sauce, some wasabi or some more horseradish.

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