June 2019 Cooking Class – Taco Salad, Ranch Dressing and Oatmeal Cookies

June 23, 2019

June’s cooking class was all about summer fun. Cooking up something simple, nutritious and delicious in no time at all.  Inspired by Dr. Greger’s video Antioxidants in a Pinch : Dried Herbs and Spices, we focused on adding herbs and spices to our food as a nutritional booster. And as usual, the menu included beans, greens, and berries.

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An exciting addition to this class was the presence of three young folk – 2 who were fifteen years old and a 10 year old, who love to cook. Hopefully they were inspired to think about the nutritional value of foods as well as deliciousness. With the kids in mind, instead of a salad we had raw veggies with a creamy ranch dressing/dip. Our main entree was a build your own taco bar. Dessert was fresh organic strawberries and oatmeal cookies. All whole food plant based, and gluten free. And as a bonus, we whipped up a fantastic Pesto with fresh basil from my greenhouse.

We started our class with a Tropical Green Smoothie. I will have to admit, this one was inspired by a McDonald’s commercial for their Banana, Pineapple and Mango Smoothie. But with added oats, greens, flax and spices, this one packs a big nutritional punch.

Tropical Green Smoothie with Oat Milk

For those new to green smoothies, start with less greens and build up. Some for the ginger and turmeric. Both Ginger and Turmeric are great spices with lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

This smoothie is made with plant milk. For a change, we used oat milk. Oats are locally grown and oat milk is easy to make from ordinary rolled oats. For the class, we used spinach, freshly picked from my garden, in the smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pitted date
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1 orange
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger (or ¼ to ½ tsp dry)
  • ½ inch piece fresh turmeric (or 1/8 to ¼ tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 to 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Directions


Place water, date and rolled oats in a blender. Blend until smooth. (If you were making oat milk for use in another recipe, you would strain this milk through a nutbag or similar cloth to remove the pulp. For the smoothie, we left the pulp in) Note: you can substitute the oat milk with any plant milk of your choice, or with water.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender with the oat milk and process until smooth.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

This Creamy Ranch Dressing also works perfect as a dip. Made with a combination of cashews and tofu it is smooth and creamy and lower in fat. The recipe is a slightly modified version of Kim Campbell’s in The PlantPure Kitchen. The dressing/dip adds the herbs parsley and dill to your diet.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup packed firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh)

Directions


(If not using a high speed blender, soak cashews for 2 hours. Drain.) Place all ingredients in a blender except for parsley and dill, starting with ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth, added more water if needed. Once creamy, taste and adjust seasonings. Then add parsley and dill and pulse to blend in.

Taco Bar

Tacos make a great weekday meal. Prepare your “taco meat” and sour cream ahead of time (both freeze well) for a fast, delicious, nutritious meal sure to please everyone. Serve it in a taco shell, lettuce wrap, in a burrito shell or as a salad. The taco filling is chock full of herbs and spices for flavor and nutrition.

This recipe was inspired by Angela Liddon’s Ultimate Green Taco Wraps in the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook, the Amazing Cauliflower Tacos from brandnewvegan.com and the Taco Salad at Circle Kitchen, a plantbased restaurant in Winnipeg.

Ingredients

  • Taco Meat:
    • 1 cup cooked green or brown lentils
    • 1 cup walnut pieces
    • ½ small head of cauliflower
    • 1 ½ cup beans, 1 can rinsed and drained (black, pinto, chili, etc)
    • 1 cup cooked brown rice, or more as desired
    • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional, gluten free if necessary))
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (gluten free if necessary)
    • 2 tbsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder or granules
    • 1 tsp onion powder or granules
    • 2 tsp oregano
    • ¼ tsp black pepper
    • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

In a food processor, place walnuts and lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped (about the consistency of rice). Remove and place in a bowl. Place cauliflower florets in the food processor and pulse until about the consistency of rice. Remove and place about 2 cups of cauliflower rice in the bowl with the lentils and walnuts. Add tamari and Worcestershire, if using, and toss to coat. Mix spices in a small bowl and then add to taco meat bowl. Toss well to coat. Place mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Or place in a nonstick frying pan and heat on medium heat until cauliflower is cooked through. Add the beans and rice to the mixture.

Ingredients

  • Veggies:
    • 2 peppers, any color
    • 1 red onion
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Slice peppers and onions in long thin strips. Dry saute in a non-stick pan until onions are translucent. Add water or broth, 1 tbsp at a time if necessary to keep from sticking. Season with salt and pepper.

Ingredients

  • Cashew Sour Cream:
    • 1 cup raw cashews
    • ½ cup cooked white beans
    • ½ to ¾ cup water
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 to 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
    • ½ tsp onion powder (optional)
    • ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)

Directions

Soak cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain. Place all ingredients in a blender, beginning with ½ cup water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary to keep moving.

Ingredients

  • Toppings:
    • Lettuce or greens
    • Tomatoes, diced
    • Avocado, diced
    • Green onions, sliced
    • Cilantro, chopped
    • Sriracha
    • Salsa
    • Lime wedges

Directions

For a Taco Salad – in a pasta bowl, place a bed of chopped lettuce or greens. Add a layer of the peppers and onions. Sprinkle with the taco meat. Top with tomatoes, avocados, green onion, and cilantro ,as you desire. Add Sour Cream and Sriracha (if desired) and squeeze some lime juice over it all.

The taco meat can also be served in a lettuce cup, taco shell or burrito wrap.

Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie recipe is inspired by Rip’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies in the Engine 2 Cookbook and a date sweetened oatmeal cookie from straightupfood.com  By blending your oats into oat flour in your food processor and then adding the dates, you  can finely chop the dates easily.

The dough should be sticky enough to form into balls.

The first time I made this recipe I used homemade almond butter which was on the dry side. I found I needed a touch of milk to get it to hold together. During the class, we made the cookies using purchased peanut butter and no milk was necessary.

Adding cinnamon to your cookies is a great way to enhance the nutritional value.

Ingredients

  • 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
  • 2 cups rolled oats, divided
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, raisons, cranberries or walnut pieces

Directions

Pitt the Medjool Dates. In a food processor, place 1 ½ cups of the rolled oats and process until the oats are ground to a fine flour. Add the flax, baking powder and cinnamon and process until incorporated. Add dates one at a time and processes until finely chopped and incorporated into the flour mixture. Add almond butter and process until fully incorporated. Remove from food processor and place in a bowl. Add vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well. (Note: if your nut butter was very dry, you may find the mixture too dry to form a ball. If so, add a tablespoon or tow of plant based milk, one tablespoon at a time, adding just enough to allow the mixture to hold together.)

Add chocolate chips, dried fruit of chopped nuts. Mix well. Form into 1 to 2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Pesto

When packing up for the cooking class, I found the basil in my greenhouse ready for a good haircut. I took the basil with me and made up a batch of my favorite pesto from foodrevolution.org. Served with Mary’s seed crackers. This recipe freezes really well and is a great way to put away an abundance of fresh summer basil to enjoy of the winter months.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups basil
  • ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper
  • About 4 tbsp water ( to thin)

Directions

Place all ingredients, except water, in food processor or blender. Blend, adding water as necessary to thin out.

Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

Don’t forget, summer is a great time to enjoy nature’s bounty of fresh fruit and veggies. Strawberry season is upon us, and nothing beats the taste of fresh organic strawberries.  They make a great dessert, and so easy you don’t need a recipe to prepare them. Eat your berries, every day!

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May 2019 Cooking Class – Tex Mex, Apple Kale Salad, Raspberry Chocolate Parfaits

May 26, 2019 in Winnipeg and June 1, 2019 in Minnedosa

At this cooking class, we focused on simple to prepare, easy on the budget meals that are packed with nutrition and delicious enough to make for company. The dishes focused on beans, greens and berries, foods you should try to add to your diet everyday. We did greens three different ways – raw in a salad, blended in a smoothie, cooked in a casserole and boiled and served as a side. We enjoyed beans both in the casserole but also blended in both the cashew cheez and the salad dressing. And we had berries in the smoothie and the dessert! Yeah for beans, greens and berries!

Thanks to everyone who attended the classes and shared your food experiences. Special thanks to James for the exceptional pictures and to Shirley, Katherine (Winnipeg) and Darcy (Minnedosa) for their help. The recipes are at the end of the post.

For starters, we shared a brilliant blue smoothie, brimming with spinach, banana and lots of blueberries. This smoothie is a departure from my usual recipe of water, greens and fruit. I replaced the water with almond milk and added a touch of cinnamon to make what I call a dessert smoothie – so delicious we often have it for dessert! Yeah for greens and berries.

 

The main dish – a Tex Mex Casserole, an old company standby of mine because it can be whipped up easily from ingredients on hand, and appeals to most everyone. You won’t even notice the 2 cups of finely chopped kale hidden amongst all the deliciousness. To add a layer of richness to the dish, we also whipped up a quick and easy cashew and bean cheez to add to it.  Adding beans to your cashew cheez sauces is a great way to reduce the amount of nuts used.  We used 1/2 cashews and 1/2 cooked white beans.

While the Tex Mex recipe directions are to make up the casserole in a frying pan and then place in a casserole dish and bake, I often skip the baking step and serve it straight out of the frying pan.

Massage your kale with a pinch of salt for a tender salad

The salad, Apple and Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing, is also an old favorite of mine and a delicious way to add more kale to your diet. Replacing half of the kale with romaine lettuce is a great way to introduce raw kale to your diet. And massaging your kale will tenderize it as well. The apples, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and red onion add more flavor and nutrition. I love the zippy maple mustard dressing. Its great on all sorts of different salads and is made with cashews and white beans. Hiding beans in your creamy sauces is a sneaky way to add more beans to your diet!

As a bonus, we even cooked greens! We boiled up a pot of kale and spinach, and served with a simple maple mustard sauce.  This maple mustard sauce is fantastic on all types of cooked greens.  When you can find you love cooked greens this way, you will find yourself adding them to almost every meal. Dark leafy greens are the healthiest food on the planet, offering more nutrition per calorie than any other food.

Whipping coconut cream for a dreamy topping

Dessert was a chocolate raspberry parfait.  While it did not include kale, or any other green, it did contain a vegetable – sweet potato, hiding in that delicious creamy chocolate layer.  And this dessert contains absolutely no refined sugar – its sweetened by dates. The dates and chia seeds help thicken up the chocolate and raspberry pudding layers and add plenty of fiber as well as sweetness. Since this dessert is nothing but delicious nutrition, you can eat it everyday. Pack the pudding layers into a small mason jar and its easy to pack in a lunch and transport. To spruce it up for a special occasion, serve it with a dollop of whipped coconut cream sweetened with a touch of maple syrup.

Blueberry Green Smoothie


Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant based milk (almond, cashew, oat, soy, etc)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Directions

Place all ingredients in blender in the order shown. Blend until smooth.

Tex Mex Casserole

Ingredients

Spice blend: o 1 tbsp chilli powder o 1 ½ tsp ground cumin o 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (or ½ tsp regular paprika) o ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (reduce or omit for mild) o 1 ¼ tsp salt o ¼ tsp ground coriander

Casserole:

o 1 onion, diced o 3 cloves garlic, minced o 1 orange bell pepper, diced o 1 red bell pepper, diced o 1 jalapeño, diced fine (optional) o 1 cup corn kernels o 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes o 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach o 3 cups cooked black beans (2 cans, drained and rinsed) o 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix) o ¼ cup cashew cheese sauce (optional, recipe follows)

Directions

Combine spice mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F, prepare a large casserole dish (4 to 5 quart)

In a large pan, sauté onion, peppers and until softened. Add a tablespoon or two of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir in spice mix, corn, tomatoes, kale, beans and rice. Saute until heated through. Stir in ¼ cup of the cashew cheese, if desired. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or until hot. (dish can also be prepared and served hot out of the frying pan) Serve with optional toppings (chopped avocado, salsa, green onions, cashew cheese, tortilla chips).

Adapted from the Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon

Cashew and Bean Cheez Sauce


Ingredients

• ½ cup cashews, soaked and drained
• ½ cup cooked white beans (or chickpeas)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp miso (optional)
• ½ cup water

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary to blend.

Apple and Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing


Ingredients


Dressing
• ¼ cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
• ¼ cup cooked white beans (or chickpeas)
• ½ cup water
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 clove garlic
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Salad
• 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine (or a mixture of kale and romaine)
• sprinkle of salt
• 2 apples, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
• ½ cup dried cranberries
• Sliced red onion
• Roasted pumpkin seeds

Directions

Place all dressing ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into the kale for a few minutes. Add chopped apples, dried cranberries and red onion. Toss.Add dressing to coat and toss well. Top with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Steamed Greens with Maple Mustard Sauce


Ingredients

  • Your choice of greens – kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, beet greens, etc
  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos

Directions

Wash and chop your greens. Boil or steam greens until tender. Drain well.
Mix mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add to drained cooked greens and toss well. Serve.


Raspberry Chocolate Chia Pudding Parfait


Ingredients

Chocolate Pudding: • 1 cup plant based milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc) • 1/3 cup dates, pitted • ¼ cup cooked sweet potato pulp* • 1 tbsp cocoa powder • 2 tbsp chia seeds Raspberry Pudding: • 1 cup raspberry puree • 1/3 cup dates, pitted • 1 tbsp chia seeds Whipped topping (optional): • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled for 24 hours • 1 to 2 tbsp maple syrup • 1 tsp tapioca starch • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Sweet Potato Pulp – poke several holes in a sweet potato with a fork and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until fork tender. Peel off skin and mash pulp with a fork.
  • For chocolate and raspberry pudding: soak dates and chia seeds in the milk or raspberry puree for several hours or overnight. In a blender – Place dates and chia seeds soaked in raspberry puree and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove raspberry pudding to another container. Without washing out the blender, place dates and chia seeds soaked in milk in the blender along with the cocoa powder and ¼ cup sweet potato pulp. Blend until smooth and creamy. NOTE: If you find the puddings are not sweet enough for your taste, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. Whipped topping: Be sure to refrigerated the milk for at least 24 hours to ensure the fat layer is solidified. Open bottom of can of the refrigerated coconut milk. Pour off the coconut water and reserve for another use. Scoop out the solidified coconut cream into a small chilled bowl. Add 1 tbsp maple syrup, tapioca starch and vanilla extract. Beat with electric beater until cream is whipped. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Assemble parfaits by layering chocolate and raspberry puddings in a clear glass container (small jars or glasses work well). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, top with whipped topping, if desired.

Company Coming?

May 11, 2019

I love eating a whole food plant based diet. We follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen plan and try to balance our meals so that we get most of the daily dozen every day. Generally, we eat simple meals – soup, salad, chili, stir fry – but when company comes I like to spend a bit more time in the kitchen and showcase how delicious an exclusive plant meal can be.

Recently, we had a non-vegan friend, Nadia, visit for 24 hours – meaning a lunch, dinner and breakfast to prepare. Since she is a meat, potato and veg girl, I chose recognizable dishes. The menu also need to allow me to prepare almost everything ahead of time, so I could devote most of our short time together to visiting. And as a bonus, doing your prep ahead of time means your kitchen stays cleaner while your company is around.

LUNCH was a pot of soup (I made Borsch -Beet Soup), a make your own sandwich board featuring fresh baked bread and for dessert, ginger cookies. 

Borsch, Beet Soup

During the winter, I canned several jars of the Borsch base from my stored garden veggies – beets, carrots and onions in a tomato base. The day before, I added the potatoes, cooked white beans, peas and added a cashew cream flavored with garlic and dill. Cool and store the soup in the fridge and when your company arrives, you can quickly heat it up.  My recipe for the borsch is here, but any hearty soup will do just as well.

 

 

 

Fresh bread is my secret to making any simple soup meal special. Nothing beats the taste of bread fresh from the oven. My favorite recipe is a 5 Ingredient Whole Wheat Artisan Bread from Its Always Autumn. You mix up the dough the day before, the next morning you form your loaf, let it rise, then bake it. I used a mixture of whole wheat and rye flours.

 

 

Add a platter of sandwich fixings like hummus (which we use instead of butter or margarine), tomato, red onion, avocado and dill pickle for a simple Make Your Own Sandwich option. Make your hummus earlier in the week and store in the fridge or freezer. I like to make a big batch and portion it out into smaller containers, keeping one in the fridge and freezing the rest. The recipe for my favorite Sweet Potato Hummus is here. The recipe is great spicy or plain. For most company, I make it with no cayenne or only 1/8 tsp, unless I know they love the heat.

A simple end to the meal was tea and a few ginger cookies which I made earlier in the week and froze.  I a recipe recipe from Attainable Sustainable (Easy Ginger Cookies with Fresh GInger) by replacing the white flour with whole grain spelt flour, the butter with tahini, the egg with a flax egg, the brown sugar with maple syrup, and increased the fresh grated ginger to 4 tablespoons. These are a great rolled cookie with intense ginger taste, and they freeze really well.

Dinner was lasagna, spinach salad, black bean salad, pickled beets and Cherry Cha Cha for dessert. A feast of colors, tastes and textures. 

Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna

The lasagna was a recipe by Chef AJ (who was a guest chef on the Holistic Holiday vegan cruise we took in March). She calls this her Disappearing Lasagna as there is never any leftovers, you can find the recipe at The Food Revolution.  It consists of layers of marinara sauce; a cheesy pesto like filling made with pine nuts or cashews, white beans and spinach; a meaty mushroom filling; and whole grain lasagna noodles topped with faux parmesan.  It truly was the best lasagna I have ever had.

While lasagna is a bit of work, most of it can be done ahead of time. I made the marinara, bean filling, mushroom filling, parmesan and cooked the noodles the day before. (Note the recipe calls for no cook noodles but I didn’t have any on hand so I used the pre-cook ones.) The day of the dinner, I assembled the lasagna and then its ready to through into the oven.  Since there was only three of us for dinner, there were indeed leftovers, which I did freeze for another day.

The spinach in my greenhouse was ready for the first harvest of the year, so this was a very special fresh salad. It consisted of freshly picked spinach leaves, thinly sliced red onion, sliced cremini mushrooms and purchased faux bacon bits with a garlicy balsamic dressing.

 

 

 

 

Spinach Salad with Mushrooms and Garlicy Balsamic Dressing

To make the dressing I mixed:

  • about 1/4 cup red balsamic vinegar
  • about 2 tbsp aqua fava (one ice cube size)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bean Salad with Mango and Avocado

This Black Bean Salad is one of my summer favorites. Its full of black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, celery, cilantro, mango, tomato and avocado in a delicious balsamic lime dressing. Make it ahead of time (leaving out the tomatoes and avocado) and it will last in the first for a week. Before serving, add tomato and avocado and your good to go.

The pickled beets were from my larder of preserved from my garden last year.

 

 

Cherry Cha Cha – Oh La La

The Cherry Cha Cha recipe is from my July 2016 Cooking Class. I love it because everyone always loves it and its so simple to make. The day before I made up the crust (and froze it in the pan), the cherry filling and the whipped coconut cream topping. The morning of the dinner, I assembled the dessert and stored it in the fridge. Served with a cup of tea, it was the perfect end to a great meal.

 

 

Breakfast was pancakes and blueberry syrup.

I made the blueberry sauce ahead of time and in the morning I just had to mix up the pancake batter and cook them up. I used my go-to recipe Kelsey’s Fluffy Pancakes (I used a mixture of 1/2 spelt flour. 1/4 buckwheat flour, 1/4 oat flour). The link also includes my recipe for the blueberry syrup.  The blueberry syrup is a great way to add berries to your diet; and, since blueberries are naturally sweet, you don’t need to add much sweetener.

And that’s it, my three meal company menu. While I consider it a fairly simple menu, I did spend about 6 hours prep time in the kitchen, cooking and clean up. But as a bonus, we are enjoying the leftovers since I cooked way more than three people could possibly eat. And although our friend has no desire to become plant based, she did find the meals very healthy and delicious.

Plant Based Air Travel

May 2, 2019

If you have every tried to eat plant based in an airport, you know that it can be tough finding anything other than french fries. While some airports are better than others, the options are often very limited and your best bet is to come prepared with your own food to tide you over until you reach your destination. (My favorite is Vancouver airport where I always hit Rice Tales which offers rice and veggie stir fries. The veggie stir fry comes with tofu and they will even make it oil free on request. They also have the option of whole grain rice of the day!)

Recently our friend Vicky returned to Germany with a long 24 hour of flights and airport waits. Not knowing what she would find at each airport, she prepared a bunch of tasty tidbits to keep her spirits and energy up during the long exhausting day – seed crackers, chickpea spread, raw veggies, energy balls and fresh fruit.  See below for the recipes for the seed crackers, chickpea spread and energy balls.

Super Seed Crackers

Super Seed Crackers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Garlic

This recipe is from the Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon. Its super easy to make and they hold their shape really well.  You can find the recipe here. Its simply a mix of several different seeds, rolled oats, chia seeds, spices. You add boiling water,mix, bake and voila, you have a great tasting crispy cracker.

The only change to the recipe I made was to eliminate the salt in the cracker and instead sprinkle the dough with salt after it is rolled out on the cookie sheet,before baking. That way your tongue really registers the salt taste without using too much.

Chickpea Spread

Chickpea spread

This chickpea spread was a favorite of Vicky’s. It is reminiscent of a chicken or egg salad and is great as a sandwich spread or cracker topping and is a nice change from hummus. The ingredients can vary according to your taste preferences but mainly consist of mashed chickpeas, celery, onion, pickle and mayo. You can also add kelp or nori to make it more like a tuna salad.

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 to 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 3 green onions or 3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle or 1 to 2 tbsp relish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper (optional)
  • 3 tbsp oil free mayo (I like this tofu cashew mayo from Kim Campbell)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard (yellow or Dijon)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp kelp powder or 1 sheet nori, crumbled very fine (optional for a ‘tuna’ like spread)
  • 1 tsp dried dill (optional)

Mash the chickpeas with a fork, potato masher or pulse in a food processor, until flaky. Add chopped veggies, pickle, mayo and seasonings to taste. Store in the fridge and enjoy.

Energy Balls

Vicky making Cookie Dough Energy Balls

Energy Balls are a great travel food. They give you a great hit of protein from the nuts and sweetness from the dates.  The ones Vicky made for her journey were made even better with the addition of CHICKPEAS! She made the Cookie Dough Energy Balls  with Chickpeas, almonds, dates, and chocolate chips. Yumm. The link also has several other energy ball recipes, including one made with black beans and chocolate.

 

 

 

 

Rosemary Lemon Red Lentil Soup

We just returned from a visit to BC to visit our kids and grandkids. Our daughter Kelsey made this delicious soup for us.  It uses simple ingredients you likely have already in your kitchen and comes together really quickly.  Everyone loved it, even the little guys.  She used the food processor to chop up the veggies, which produces a great texture. Red lentil soups are great for picky eaters, as they dissolve into the soup leaving little evidence of the presence of lentils. And unlike many soup recipes, it does not have a tomato base.

I think using fresh rosemary makes this recipe. However, if you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute ground dried rosemary. I made a batch of this soup as soon as I returned home. I have a beautiful rosemary plant growing in my sunroom at the moment, and I could not wait to give it a bit of a haircut.

If you like a of bit of heat in your soups, a squirt of sriracha does the trick nicely.

 

Rosemary Lemon Red Lentil Soup


• 2 onions
• 2 carrots
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 stalks celery
• 2 cups red lentils
• 3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
• 8 cups vegetable broth
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp pepper
• 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Chop onions, carrots, garlic and celery finely (or use a food processor). Place in large pot. Rinse and drain lentils. Add lentils to the pot along with the vegetable broth and fresh rosemary. (If using dried rosemary, add to the pot with the lemon at the end) Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils and veggies are all tender. Add salt, pepper and lemon. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot. This soup is also really good with a handful or two of chopped spinach added before serving.

For two more great red lentil soups, try this Red Lentil and Kale Soup, a tomato based soup, and my all time favorite soup Red Lentil and Carrot with Coconut, a creamy soup made with coconut milk.

 

Plant Based Eating Cooking Class – Minnedosa

April 6, 2019

After retiring out to the country four years ago, I finally had my first cooking class out here. We had 11 participants and we had a great class with lots of discussion, sharing and enthusiasm. This was also my first morning class, starting at 9:30 and finishing at 12:30.

As always, our class began with a green smoothie. My basic smoothie recipe is:

GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups greens (spinach, kale, beet greens, chard, parlsey, cilantro, etc)
  • small chunk of fresh turmeric (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground turmeric)
  • small chunk of fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
  • pinch of black pepper (increase bio-availability of the turmeric)
  • 1 orange, peeled or 1/2 lemon peeled
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (banana, mango, pineapple, or mix)
  • 1 cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, black berry, sea buckthorn, or mix)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For this class, we used spinach for the green, and banana, mango and blueberries for the fruit.   Mmmm, love my green smoothies. A great way to add more dark leafy greens and berries to your diet, as well as the anti-inflammatory turmeric.

After a discussion on Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen and the importance of eating more fibre, especially from beans, we made a simple but delicious main dish of red beans and rice. This budget conscious dish using easy to source ingredients and is full of veggies as well a beans. Served over brown basmati rice for a serving of beans, veggies and whole grains. This recipe is an adaptation of the Creole Red Beans and Rice from PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell. Delicious when topped with salsa and guacamole.

Creole Red Beans and Rice

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 peppers (any color), seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tso oregano
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cans kidney beans, pinto beans or chili beans, drained and rinsed (3 to 4 cups cooked)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sriracha, cayenne or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • Brown rice for serving
  • Salsa &/or guacamole for serving

In a large pot, add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers and broth (or water). Sauté until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and spices. Add additional ¼ cup of water or broth. Stir until well combined. Add beans and stir to combine. Taste and adjust spices to your taste, adding hot stuff if desired. Let simmer on low heat for 30 to 60 minutes.  Serve with salsa and/ or guacamole.

A great salad to pair with the Red Beans is a creamy coleslaw. This coleslaw is packed with cruciferous veggies (cabbage family – red and green cabbage and kale) and full of great color.  The dressing is oil free and made with cashews which adds good oils, protein, fibre and a whole host of nutrients.

CREAMY COLESLAW

  • 1 cup kale, shredded fine
  • 2 carrot shredded or julienne
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
  • ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked 2 hours, drained
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, kale, carrot, onion and red pepper.  In a blender, combine drained cashews with remaining ingredients. Blend well and pour over cabbage mixture. Combine well.

Greens are so full of nutrition, its important to try to get at least 2 servings (1 packed cup per serving) per day. Steamed greens is a great way to add lots of greens. We cooked up a huge pot of kale, which we served with a maple mustard sauce. You can steam or boil your kale, either way they are packed with nutrients.

Steamed Greens

  • 1 bunch kale, washed, destemmed and chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari

Steam or boil kale for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Add mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce and mix well.  (also good with other greens like spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, collards, tat soi, gai lan, etc)

We almost always have a dessert after our evening meal. Nothing sticky or overly sweet, usually a bowl of berries. We try to have at least one serving of berries everyday, and ending your day with a nice bowl of berries fits the bill. In the winter, we use frozen berries, usually blueberries or cherries. Just thaw and eat. Reprogram your taste buds to enjoy the sweetness of fruit without added sugar.  This blueberry crisp is great for a more traditional dessert, without loads of fat or sugar. Sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and a crunchy topping made with nut butter and oats.

Blueberry Crisp

  • 1 orange, peeled
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ½ lemon, peeled
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot, corn starch or tapioca powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp almond, cashew or peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp apple or orange juice
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • ½ cup oat flour (blend oats in blender to a flour)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a blender, place orange, lemon, maple syrup, water, arrowroot, and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth.  Place berries in a 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Add contents of blender. Stir to coat.

In a medium bowl, combine nut butter with maple syrup, juice and zest. Add oats, oat flour and cinnamon. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle topping on fruit. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbling.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until topping is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving.

Serve with cultured coconut milk, banana nice cream or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Thanks to Darcy and Laura for organizing the class. A big thank you to Vicky, my house guest from Germany who was my right hand in the kitchen. And a great big thank you to everyone who came to the class. I enjoyed our discussions.

Almost forgot. they had a great writeup in the Brandon Sun on the class.

Plant Based Travel

March 31, 2019

Eating plant based while travelling can sometime be a challenge as you are outside your normal environment. However, with a little thought and planning, it is definitely doable and getting easier each year as veganism becomes more mainstream.

We have had many vacations since becoming plant based 8 years ago, and each year it gets easier to figure out the food. We just returned from an epic plant based vacation. There was eating while on the road, eating on a vegan cruise, eating in tourist venues, and using VegVisits, a relatively new airbnb for vegans.

VEGAN CRUISE

If a cruise is on your bucket list, this one is for you. We have done a few cruises before, and always found the food to be no issue. The staff go out of their way to accommodate meal restrictions. While most cruise lines will not guarantee ‘vegan’ food (due to cross contamination issues), plant based is less of a problem. However, a vegan cruise is a whole other ball game.

This vegan cruise occurs annually, and is organized by Holistic Holidays at Sea. This year, the cruise was 11 days and half the passengers on the boat, just over 2,000, were vegan. Consequently, one of the dinner sittings (the 6:00 sitting) was vegan, and half the buffet at breakfast and lunch were vegan. It was amazing to see all the choices available. In addition, the dinner menu always had an oil free option (gluten free as well) and many of the buffet dishes were also oil free.

Buffet Lunch including a pudding and thumbprint cookie for dessert.

Oil free and whole food is not something I am strict on while on vacation, just because it adds an additional layer of difficulty in procuring food. We avoid oil and refined foods, but don’t get bent out of shape if we can’t escape it completely. It was a welcome treat to not only have our meals be plant based, but whole food, oil free as well. It was a dream for me to have meals with brown rice, beans and whole grain pastas.

If the meals are not enough to convince you, consider the company. I seldom meet another vegan let alone sit with 6 different ones every evening. The company of like minded people cannot be underestimated.

 

 

Dinner with Dr. T Colin Campbell and his wife Mary

However, the reason I chose to do the cruise was not the great ports of call, the food or the company of 2,000 other vegans, it was the celebrity speaker/workshop lineup. Real life celebrities the like of Dr. T Colin Campbell (The China Study, Forks Over Knives), Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Forks Over Knives), Dr. Klapper (True North Health Center), Brenda Davis, RD (Becoming Vegan), Dr. Neil Barnard (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), Dr. Ron Weis (Ethos Health), and Dr. Will Tuttle (World Peace Diet); plant based chefs like Julieanna Hever, Chef AJ, Kim Campbell, Ann, Jane and Rip Esselstyn; animal rights activists James Aspey, Dr. Jonathon Balcombe, and Dan Mathews as well as numerous other lecturers on yoga, astrology, numerology, meditation and acupuncture. The days were jam packed with lectures and workshops, so many that you practically had to drag me outside for some sunshine.

You can read my post on the cruise here.

EATING ON THE ROAD

We generally do a long car trip to and from BC a couple of times a year, in order to visit the grandkids. However, the trip to and from Miami was our longest trip to date. We traveled over 9,000 km to Miami Florida. That’s over 90 hours in a car. When traveling, I loath long stops to eat at restaurants – just sitting in a different space. I prefer to stop, walk around, and hit the road again. Consequently, we tend to eat picnic style when travelling, reserving stop times for movement or a picnic in a scenic spot.

For a two or three day car trip, I usually pack snacking foods, sandwich items, pre-made overnight oats and frozen green smoothies. However, this trip was different as we were travelling through the US. With food restrictions at the border, I did not want to chance any problems and did not pack food to go. Instead, we stopped at a grocery store once we crossed the border, and stocked up. We purchased hummus, whole grain buns, tomatoes, lettuce,and  onion to make sandwiches; and apples, oranges, celery, carrot sticks, peppers and cucumbers for snacking. We sometimes stop at a subway or pita stop, as you can usually get a good veggie packed sub or pita.  If our hotel room had a microwave, we would pick up a sweet potato and crown of broccoli to cook up for a fast simple and satisfying dinner of baked sweet potato with hummus and steamed broccoli. I am very simple to please!

DISNEY’S EPCOT CENTER and GRACELAND

Vegan Korma at The Land

One of the bonuses of driving to Miami over flying, is that we were able to visit with friends and do a bit of sightseeing. After the cruise we spent one day at Disney’s Epcot Center. I am not a huge Disney fan, but the one thing that stood in my mind from our trip with the kids, in 1993, was an exhibit called The Land at Epcot Center. The exhibit still exists and still features a ride through the greenhouses where they grow much of the food used in The Land’s cafeteria.  And after searching out most of the eating venues at Epcot, we concluded that the best vegan food is available at The Land.

For breakfast I had a delicious overnight oats with almonds and blueberries and Ken had a hot veggie wrap. For dinner, we returned to The Land and enjoyed a really good vegan korma. I was pleased to see the korma served in paper bowls! Not sure on the compostablility of the cutlery.

Also, was pleased to see water fountains to refill our water bottle, so we could avoid the dreaded single use bottled water.

Elvis’s Graceland, in Memphis, was a whole ‘nother story.  However, since we did not plan to eat there, it was no big deal. Apparently Elvis’s favorite was a peanut butter and banana sandwich, fried in bacon grease.  Pass.

VEGVISITS

If you will be travelling, you really must consider using VegVisits. VegVisits is like an airbnb for vegans. Right now, membership is free and you can sign up to use the service, or to register as a host. Its relatively new, so there are not a lot of hosts available. We searched the site for each place we would be stopping at and were only able to find one host that fit.

We didn’t need a place to stay, but we did need a place to park our car while we were on the cruise. Edna in Miami agreed to let us park at her place for a small fee. As a bonus, when we dropped off the car, she drove us to the docks.

Edna’s vegan ceviche topped with tomato and guacamole.

When we returned, she picked us up at the dock. On returning to her place, she surprised us with a lovely lunch. It was really most amazing. Delicious, fresh and the presentation of each dish was amazing. The lunch started a fruit salad and continued with vegan ceviche, made with riced cauliflower and lime and served on buttercrunch lettuce leaves.

 

 

 

 

Edna’s Potato Tacos

Next were zucchini rolls stuffed with hummus. And finally, we had potato tacos. Delightful  corn tortillas, crisped in an air fryer and an assortment of toppings. There was a potato and vegan cheese filling, a spicy guacamole, red peppers, fresh green cabbage, julienne carrots, red onion and cilantro.

Not to say all Vegvisit hosts will be as accommodating as Edna, but it seems to me that most of us vegans live pretty much in isolation, surrounding by non-vegan friends and family. When we get the pleasure of another vegan’s company we get pretty excited.

If you will be travelling, I would suggest trying out Vegvisits. We are even considering listing our home as a host. Food is a big part of travel. And sometime its just wonderful to have a place to whip up a smoothie or mix up a bean salad and have a good conversation.