Category Archives: Vegan

Recipe: Carrot, mint and date salad

My trip to Morocco was a unique experience in terms of culture and food. I will never forget the meals that came with many plates of salads, one of which was carrot salad. I am not a fan of raw carrots at all. However, once cooked and seasoned, I like carrots enough. This salad is inspired by the salads I had in Morocco and more recently by the opening of my friends’ restaurant Atlas.

5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

sprinkle of cumin to taste

juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

honey to taste

handful of chopped fresh mint

5-6 pitted dates, chopped

Bring salted water to boil in a medium pot. Add carrots and boil for 6 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain.

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey and cumin. Add cooked carrots and dates, toss together gently and top with mint. Enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature

Recipe: White Bean Mushroom Pasta

There is always debate on the “healthiest’ diet and foods to eat, which is different for every person at different points in their life. There is one dietary concept that everyone could use, which is to eat more plant based foods. This is a delicious vegan pasta dish I have perfected in the past couple months with beans cooked from dry: http://www.vivianlaw.ca/cook-beans-from-dry-skip-the-cans/

tossed together with Tinkyada brown rice pasta shells, sautéed mushrooms, capers, pickled hot peppers, green beans (or whatever greens you have on hand) and parsley. Tinkyada is my brand of choice for brown rice pasta in terms of taste and texture. The capers and hot peppers add really nice flavour to the beans and mushrooms. The portions can easily be modified with about 1 cup of cooked white beans, 1/2 cup pasta and 1/4 pound of mushrooms per serving.

For 2 servings:

1.5-2 cups cooked white beans

1 clove garlic

1 shallot minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound mushrooms finely chopped (any of or mixed: cremini, portobello, white)

salt, pepper and thyme to taste

1 cup brown rice pasta shells, I prefer the taste and texture of Tinkyada

1 cup chopped greens of your choice

2 tablespoons capers

pickled hot pepper to taste (optional)

In a medium to large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook brown rice pasta shells according to package instructions. Throw in green beans or whichever green you are using into the boiling pasta and water at the last minute of cooking and drain altogether.

Meanwhile, as the pasta is cooking, saute garlic, shallots and mushrooms  in olive oil until mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Season with thyme during the cooking process. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

In a another small pot, bring beans to a simmer (you can add a little water and reduce as the beans warm up), add a splash of olive oil and salt to taste.

In the medium to large pot, toss together white beans, mushrooms, pasta and greens, capers and hot peppers. Top with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Recipe: Banana Chia Pudding

This summer my good friend K offered me a chia pudding cup. I never got around to eating it, so I asked her what it was made with and she said banana. The next time I came across some ripe bananas, I figured I would make my own banana chia pudding. I had full fat coconut milk on hand, so I mashed the banana, added coconut milk and Coconut Dream to make my chia pudding. I swirled in some strawberry jam as sweetener and found a tasty snack, or breakfast or alternative to yogurt. Chia seeds also have the added benefit of aiding digestion by moving through the intestines. I prefer whole chia seeds. However, this week, I showed a client how to make this pudding and found she had only ground chia seeds, so we made pudding with just banana and added coconut water as liquid with a touch of cinnamon plus maple syrup to sweeten. Quite pleasant tasting…

I am not going to include a photo of either forms of pudding as they actually look a bit like barf. Think of chia pudding as an alternative to yogurt or a tasty medicinal digestive aid, so give it a try. This is so easy to make that I will suggest you create your own recipe to suit your tastes:

3 tablespoons whole white chia seeds

1/2-1 whole mashed ripe banana

1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)-optional

1/4-1/2 cup non dairy milk of your choice or juice or coconut water

Mash banana in a medium bowl, stir in chia seeds, add liquid to create a pudding like consistency. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight, When ready to serve, stir again and add more liquid for desired consistency. Sweeten with jam, maple syrup or honey. Top with granola, nuts or fruit and enjoy,

Recipe: Roasted Squash soup

I had some roasted squash soup as a special at Foxley in the fall. It was so delicious, I set out to make some myself the very next day. The recipe has taken some practice and I did ask chef Tom Thai for tips-the key is to rest the squash after it was roasted. The kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass impart such a nice balance with the rich coconut milk above the delicious roasted squash base.

1 buttercup squash

1 butternut squash

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons coconut oil

handful of kaffir lime leaves

1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into pieces

4-6 cups vegetable stock

1 can full fat coconut milk

butternut and buttercup squash ready for roasting-2 types add depth of flavour

butternut and buttercup squash ready for roasting-2 types add depth of flavour

Wash the squash in warm water thoroughly. Usually squash are hard to cut through, so I throw them in the oven for 10-15 minutes whole to soften. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (soften up the squash as well).

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and rub with a little coconut or olive oil. Roast squash in a baking dish for 45-60 minutes. Leave in oven to ‘rest’ for a couple hours or until cool.

Depending on the softness of the squash, you can scoop out the flesh in chunks or peel the skin and cut into chunks.

In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat and saute the onion and apple until softened. Add the squash, vegetable broth, lime leaves, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lime leaves and lemongrass. Puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt and stir in coconut milk until blended. Enjoy!

Recipe: Moroccan chickpea and lentil soup (harira)

I have seen harira soup mentioned a few times in magazines and cookbooks over the years. I tried it for the first time this spring in Morocco and loved it! I wanted to make it at home and was only motivated to do so as the weather started to cool off this fall. The harira I had in Morocco was made with beef, a bit of rice, served with dates and delicious little sweet crispy fried morsels of dough. I decided to make a vegetarian version, as I felt the spicing was bold and well suited to being a vegetarian soup. I also made the soup with fresh turmeric, an ingredient I only learned of when I took a 9 year friend to Caribbean Corner and she picked up the little roots and asked ‘what’s this?’ Fresh turmeric looks like dirty mini pieces of ginger and needs to be grated on a microplane for this soup. Be careful, turmeric leaves persistent yellow stains! If fresh turmeric is not easily available, use the powdered version. Fresh ginger is another key ingredient (powder will work too). Turmeric and ginger both have anti inflammatory properties. It is also best to use chickpeas made from dry, although a can will work if you desire. Serve this delicious soup topped with fresh chopped cilantro and parsley along with some dates…and crispy moroccan morsels…if I could find them!

1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight in water with baking soda, then cooked until tender, see http://www.vivianlaw.ca/cook-beans-from-dry-skip-the-cans/ )

1 cup brown lentils

1 796 ml can diced tomatoes (puree if a smoother textured soup is desired)

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped or 1/2 teaspoon powdered

1 small piece of fresh turmeric, finely grated or 1 teaspoon powdered

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pinch saffron

4 cups vegetable broth

pepper and lemon juice to taste

chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and whole dates for serving

In a large soup pot, melt butter and saute onion, celery, jalapeno and ginger over medium heat until softened. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, lentils and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add chickpeas. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy topped with chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and whole dates.

Delicious vegetarian harira soup, dates are essential

Delicious vegetarian harira soup, dates are essential

 

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato with Lemon Maple Dressing

Sweet potatoes are supposedly a ‘good’ carbohydrate with a lower glycemic index that most nutrition people will say is a healthy choice. However, I have never liked sweet potatoes very much as a carbohydrate choice on my plate, even as fries, as I generally do not find them to be satisfying. I have experienced some looks of incredulity amongst health conscious eaters when I announce I don’t really like sweet potatoes. I am changing my tune with this recipe I discovered  and made repeatedly the past 3 weeks. I was going to bring this dish for a potluck and it was so delicious I had to keep it for myself!!! This recipe caught my eye in the Ottolenghi cookbook and it is a form of sweet potato I will gladly eat anytime. I believe what converted me was the incredible blend of tastes and textures created with the maple syrup, lemon, sherry vinegar, raisins, chili, parsley, cilantro and pecans that elevate the sweet potato.

The tastiest sweet potatoes, with lemon maple dressing, parsley, cilantro, raisins and pecans

The tastiest sweet potatoes, with lemon maple dressing, parsley, cilantro, raisins and pecans

Roasted Sweet Potato with Lemon Maple Dressing

2-3 sweet potatoes, diced, leave the skin on

Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

For dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1-2 lemons

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

‘Garnish’:

2 green onions, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4 tsp chili flakes

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a rimmed baking dish, toss diced sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands. Roast sweet potatoes in the oven for approximately 30 min, stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove from heat before the potatoes become too soft, they require some bite to them to hold up to the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, maple syrup, sherry vinegar, cinnamon, ginger and olive oil. Adjust taste to your liking, as it is best a little tangy. Set aside.

Place chopped green onion in a large bowl. Add the roasted sweet potatoes while they are still hot, and mix well with dressing. Stir in chopped parsley, cilantro, chili flakes, raisins and pecans. Enjoy warm or at room temperature at a later time.

 

 

Recipe: Party Hummus by the Naked Label

Hummus is a snack I like to enjoy occasionally. There are many opinions on what needs to go into hummus to make it great. I posted a highly purist version without tahini a couple years ago. It took me a while to get to this recipe, as I have tested and absorbed so many hummus recipes over the years. I met the creator of this amazing hummus recipe, Briana Santoro by chance in Antigua early this year. She is a nutrition expert who has compiled a great cookbook Get Naked in The Kitchen with nutrition education, healthy recipes  and most importantly the book has my endorsement for great taste! Briana’s video here and others on her site are fun and highly educational:

http://thenakedlabel.com/blog/2014/03/24/best-hummus-recipe/

I watched this video a while ago and finally got around to making the hummus from memory today. It is so delicious I had to write this up right away and call it party hummus! Briana shares some secret ingredients in the video above. This is my version, hopefully I recalled her secret ingredients correctly (watch her video to know for sure) and I’ll add my chickpea and hummus strategies .

I stock only dry beans in my kitchen, as canned beans seem to give me digestive issues, and beans you cook yourself have better taste and texture. Chickpeas can be a bit tricky sometimes to get the right tenderness without losing the skins. Soaking overnight with baking soda really improves the cooking time and texture of chickpeas. In addition, the technique of blending the tahini with lemon juice first makes an extra smooth hummus in my experience.

Party Hummus from theNakedLabel.com

Soak 1 cup of dry chickpeas in a large bowl of water and 1 tsp of baking soda overnight or for 8 hours plus.

Rinse chickpeas, place in a large pot, and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook chickpeas until tender, 20-60 minutes or more, depending on your chickpeas. Rinse chickpeas, set aside.

3 tablespoons tahini

juice of one lemon

juice of one orange

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 cups cooked chickpeas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 tablespoons tamari

cumin and paprika to taste

salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend together tahini with orange and lemon juice. Add garlic, chickpeas, olive oil and tamari process until smooth. Season with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, process until combined. Adjust seasoning to your taste, enjoy the hummus with crackers, veggies, or anything else you like for yourself or a party!

 

 

Recipe: Chia Pudding

I have tried a few chia pudding recipes and found them to be lacking in the taste department and wondered how the name pudding could be applied to the recipes. While in London, my great friend K bought me a coconut chia pudding from Le Pain Quotidien despite my reluctance. This pudding was delicious!! We looked up the recipe and I tested it as soon as I returned home. There are only 2 ingredients to work with to your liking, canned coconut milk and chia seeds. Coconut milk contains healthy medium chain fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids are found in chia seeds. In addition, this pudding feels like a dessert without any added sugar.

For one serving (use a ratio of 1 part chia seeds to 4 parts coconut milk to make your desired quantity)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

4-5 tablespoons canned coconut milk (full fat tastes best)

In a small bowl, stir together chia seeds and coconut milk. Refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour. Stir, add water if needed, for desired consistency. Top with chopped strawberries, shredded coconut, fruit of your choice, or passion fruit butter for an ultimate rich taste. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack or dessert.

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Recipe: Banana Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

In light of declaring love for the Cookie Monster, I must share this new discovery for a vegan oatmeal cookie (Cookie Monster’s second favourite cookie after chocolate chip). These cookies are made with unprocessed, whole foods and are delicious enough to feed the cookie monster inside any one of us. Oats are naturally a gluten free food, but may come into contact with gluten during processing. Purchase gluten free oats (they are more expensive) if you have that degree of sensitivity. I tend to have Bob’s organic rolled oats in my kitchen most of the time.

I ordered the Oh She Glows cookbook on the based on the inspiring appeal of this oatmeal cookie recipe http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/17/banana-bread-muffin-tops/. I made them right away, repeated the tasty success several times over, so here is my adaptation of the recipe:

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup pitted dates, packed (soak dry dates, and a mixture of medjool and other pitted dates is nice)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups rolled oats, separated into 1.5 and 0.5 cups

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional, freshly grated is best)

1/4 cup currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, mix together dates, bananas, and coconut oil to a fairly smooth consistency. Add 1.5 cups of oats, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pulse until oats are ground. Power off food processor and remove the blade. Stir in remaining 0.5 cups of oats and currants into the bowl of the food processor.  Spoon batter onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake for 12 minutes, remove and rotate tray, bake for 12 more minutes or until the desired level of browning is achieved. Makes 12-16 cookies.

Enjoy fresh or within 2-3 days or freeze for a week in an airtight container.

Enjoy vegan banana oatmeal cookies warm off the baking sheet!

Enjoy vegan banana oatmeal cookies warm off the baking sheet to indulge your cookie monster-

 

Recipe: Chickpea Salad (sandwich)

The Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon and blog www.ohsheglows.com recently came to my attention through my sister. I found the vegan recipes to be inspiring, so I ordered the cookbook, then made some oatmeal cookies from the blog the next day. I have enjoyed the cookbook so far and particularly liked a recipe for chickpea salad. I must admit that I used regular mayonnaise. However, you can purchase vegan mayonnaise at the health food store or make your own with a blender and Angela Liddon’s recipe in the cookbook.

Here is my version of the Oh She Glows chickpea salad. A delicious vegetarian alternative for a classic ‘salad’ sandwich. I much prefer home cooked chickpeas. The Old Bay seasoning really adds a great flavour.

2-3 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is alright if you wish)

2 stalks celery, diced

2 green onions, chopped

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (vegan if you prefer)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional, but tasty)

Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork until half are mashed and half are still whole. Add celery, green onion and mayonnaise to the chickpeas, mix well. Season with dill, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste. Enjoy as a sandwich or over a bed of greens as a salad.

Delicious chickpea salad on rye toast

Delicious chickpea salad on rye toast