All posts by Darlene & Ken

About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.

Perogies – oil free

December 3, 2018

Gorgeous Perogies (including Ken’s monster perogie)

Christmas is just around the corner and one of the staples at our traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper is perogies. Perogies are not hard to make vegan – just omit the cheese in the potato filling. However, they are full of butter, oil or margarine – in the dough, in the filling and in the toppings.  Since Christmas would not be Christmas without perogies, I have continued to make vegan ones with oil. This year I decided to try making them oil free and was ecstatic to find a recipe. Now perogies don’t have to be an occasional treat, I can have them anytime.

Maria, from Buenos Aires (Sigrilina Plant-Based Recipes and Zero Waste Ideas) has an excellent recipe using nut butter instead of oil. My traditional recipe is 4 cups white flour, 1/3 cup oil, 1/3  tsp salt, 2 cups water. Maria’s recipe is 4 cups flour, 1 tbsp nut butter, 1 tbsp salt (too much), 9.1 oz mashed potatoes,  and 1 cup water. Other than reducing the salt and tweeking the method a bit, the recipe is fantastic. It makes a really nice dough.

Maria uses peanut butter, but I used cashews as they have a more neutral taste. She blends the water with the nut butter. I didn’t have any cashew butter so I blended the water with about 1/3 cup raw cashews instead. Then add the mashed potatoes (I am not sure how exact the amount needs to be but I did use a scale to weigh out 9.1 oz, which is about 1 1/2 cups)

The method she uses is one I am not fond of, but I did use it this time. She mixes the flour and salt together in a bowl, then make a valley in the flour and add the water/nut butter and mashed potatoes. The problem was I did not have enough liquid to use the whole 4 cups of flour. I had to add more water and work it in. Perhaps my mashed potatoes where too dry. So I would definitely recommend mixing the water/nut butter and mashed potatoes with 3 cups of the flour and then kneading in more as needed to make a nice dough.

I also used white whole wheat flour for the first time. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron – white whole wheat, but its real. Its flour made from white wheat instead of the more usual red wheat. I found it at Bulk Barn. I made my dough with 100% whole wheat (but used unbleached white flour for the rolling out) and it is definitely not white like all purpose flour but its not as dark as the regular whole wheat. I love the taste and texture but then I am not fond of the big blob of white flour dough.

Maria filled her perogies with a sauerkraut mushroom filling that sounds so delicious I will definitely try it, but I filled mine with a potato, onion and cashew cheese filling instead.

Traditionally, we serve the perogies with onions swimming in butter and then sour cream on top. Since the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper is meat and dairy free, for Christmas Eve we serve the perogies with a mushroom gravy. I had mine today with leftover gravy I had in the fridge and it was great. I will definitely use gravy from now on.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen perogies. Since making perogies can be a bit time consuming, make your filling the day before to save time. Also, its easier to work with a cold filling than a hot one.

roll your potato filling into balls for an easy way to fill the perogies



Oil Free Vegan Perogies

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (recommend white wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp nut butter or 1/3 cup cashews (soaked and drained)
  • 9.1 oz plain mashed potatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)

Mix 3 cups flour with the salt in a large bowl. Blend water and nut butter (or cashews) until you get a smooth cream.  Add cream mixture along with potatoes to the flour and mix well. Knead to make a smooth, soft dough, adding more flour as needed.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes then let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough thin and cut into circles

Flour your table top and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick, sprinkling with flour to keep from sticking. Cut into 3 1/2 inch circles (we used a glass). Fill each circle with the filling of your choice and pinch to form half moon shapes.

Perogies will sink to the bottom when added to the boiling water.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Place perogies (about 1 dozen at a time, depending on the size of your pot) in the boiling water. The perogies will sink to the bottom.

Perogies will rise to the surface when cooked.

Let the water return to a boil and simmer until the perogies float to the top. If you are going to freeze your perogies then reboil before serving, I would recommend taking them out when they float. If you are eating them right away, I would recommend letting them boil for about 1 minute longer. I find whole wheat perogies need to cook a bit longer than the regular white, all purpose flour ones.

Serve immediately with vegan sour cream, onions sautéed in broth, or vegan gravy. Note that the perogies will stick together if not covered in butter, oil or margarine. After boiling and draining, I rinsed mine quickly with cold water and placed on a baking tray, so they don’t touch each other, until eating. So to make sure they stay hot, boil just before serving.

If you wish to freeze the perogies, place them on a baking sheet to cool. Make sure they don’t touch each other or they will stick together. Freeze. Once frozen, remove from the baking sheet and store in a freezer bag or container. To serve, you can throw them frozen into a pot of boiling water and when they float, remove and serve. Or you can thaw them on a baking sheet first, then boil.

Perogies and gravy with baked beans and sautéed cabbage

I am doing a happy dance. Finally whole food plant based perogies. We had them for lunch topped with gravy and served with baked beans, cabbage and onions sautéed in broth, and a green salad.

I hope you enjoy them too. Thanks ever so much Maria from Buenos Aires for the inspiration. Be sure to check out her blog, Sigrilina,  for more great whole food plant based recipes, including empanadas.



Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

November 12, 2018

I’m on a roll today. Its -12 C outside, the sun is shining and I feel like cooking. I have 2 loaves of German Seed Bread rising, a pot of Baked Beans in the oven and my first trail of spicy vegan sausage ready to cook.  And for lunch, I made a big pot of Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry, and a pot of wild and brown rice.

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

The German Seed Bread is a recipe I started working on this fall, with our German guest Vanessa.  Hopefully I will soon have the recipe perfected and can share with you.

The Baked Pinto Beans are the one’s I did for the September Cooking Class and you can find the recipe here. I like to make up a big pot of baked beans and freeze them in 2 cup containers. Then I always have beans on hand to add to any meal.

The Spicy Vegan Sausage is the first trail and looks good so far. I plan to debut it tomorrow morning for breakfast, along with the leftover baked potatoes from yesterday, made into hash browns. I hope to get the sausage recipe perfected soon, and once I do I promise to post the recipe.

Now for the curry. I have made many different chickpea curries over the years. You can find one of my other recipes here.  But I am always open to trying a new recipe. This one is an adaptation of the one found in Dr. Michael Greger’s How Not To Die Cookbook. I added a bit more veggies and subbed the almond milk for coconut milk, which is my preference in a curry. However, if you are looking for a lower fat curry, feel free to use almond milk. (Dr. Greger uses 1 cup water and 1 tbsp raw almond butter to make a quick whole food almond milk without any additives. )  My curry powder (recipe here) is pretty mild, so even with a jalapeño in the recipe it is pretty mild. Taste your curry at the end and add a bit of cayenne to spice it up if desired. I used 1/4 tsp hot Indian chili powder.

I find cooking Indian food without oil a bit of a challenge, as the oil is used to temper the spices. I have been experimenting with using coconut milk with the spices as a whole food form of fat to bring out the flavor of the spices. In this recipe, I added part of the coconut milk with the spices and the rest at the end.

You can serve your curry with rice (I made a mixture of wild and brown basmati) or naan (find my favorite recipe here) . As I also wanted to get in a serving of greens, I served the curry over chopped raw spinach with rice on the side. The hot curry wilts the spinach just enough. The carrots, red pepper and green peas make for a very colorful plate.

This recipe makes enough for 6 large servings, so we will have enough for 2 more meals. And you get beans, greens, cruciferous veggies, other veggies, spice and whole grains with each serving. Can’t beat that!

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1 onion, red or yellow, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
• 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
• 1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets (about 6 cups florets)
• 2 carrots, diced small
• 2 red peppers, diced small
• 2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1- 14.5 oz can)
• 2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
• 1 cup coconut milk (or 1 can lite or full fat)
• 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
• ½ tsp smoked paprika
• 1-15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 ½ to 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
• 1 to 2 cups frozen green peas (rinsed under hot water to thaw)
• Chopped fresh spinach
• Brown rice (or wild and brown mix)

In a large pot, bring broth to a boil and add onion and garlic. Simmer about 3 minutes until onion is tender. Add ¼ cup of the coconut milk, the jalapeño and the curry powder and stir well. If the mixture become too thick, add a ¼ cup more broth, or as needed. Add cauliflower, carrots, red pepper and tomatoes. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add green beans, remaining coconut milk, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika and chickpeas. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings – add salt, pepper, or a pinch of hot chilli or cayenne.
Before serving, stir in green peas. Serve on a bed of spinach with a side of rice.

October Cooking Class – Sheppard’s Pie, ColeSlaw and Apricot Bars

October 21, 2018

Fall is definitely in the air and its time for some good old fashioned comfort food. For this month’s class, we did a whole food plant based (no oil) remake on the traditional Sheppard’s Pie, make with lentils, mushrooms, peas and carrots and topped with creamy high protein mashed potatoes and served with more delicious gravy. The coleslaw is colorful and has a delicious  creamy dressing. To round out the meal we added a whole mess of cooked kale with a tangy maple mustard sauce. Its so good we even made a kale lover out of one of the students. And the apricot bars provides a delicious finish to a simple meal. Its also holds up well to travel so is great to pack for a lunch.

As always, our class started with a green smoothie, a delicious way to add more green leafy veggies to your diet. Todays smoothie followed the standard 2 cups water, greens and fruit but with a red twist. We used red chard, raspberries and a touch of beets to get a vibrant red smoothie. As luck with have it, our usual photographer James was unable to attend and I didn’t remember to get a picture. So you will just have to trust me that it looked great. You can substitute any greens for the red chard, but you won’t get the same smashing color. Feel free to add more beets if you like the taste.

Vibrant Red Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric root (or 1/4 tsp ground)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • small chunk of raw beet, peeled (about 1 1/2 inch square piece)
  • 1 cups red chard, kale or beet leaves (or any greens)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 cup frozen mango

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Sheppard’s Pie

Sheppard’s Pie and Gravy

This Sheppard’s Pie was inspired by daughter-in-law Megan. When I was visiting she made a lentil Sheppard’s Pie and I was blown away by how delicious it was. And she made it without a recipe and with simple basic ingredients. Mashed potatoes, cooked lentils, carrots, peas and gravy. It took me a while to replicate it (we ate a lot of Sheppard’s Pie this past month), but I think this version is pretty close.

While a traditional Sheppard’s Pie is made as a casserole – in a baking dish with the filling topped with mashed potatoes, then baked in an oven; I usually make a lazy version. After making all the ingredients – filling, gravy and potatoes – I just heat on the stove top and assemble on the plate. However, it is also handy to put it together ahead of time in a baking dish, ready to pop into the oven later. Your choice.

One of the class participants remembers her Mom making Sheppard’s Pie – the lazy version – and topping it with cooked corn. She said she added a sweetness to the dish. Give it a try.

Mashed potato topping – use leftover mashed potatoes or the following:
• About 4 large potatoes, peeled if desired and diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 ½ cups cooked small white beans
• 4 to 6 tbsp unsweetened unflavoured plant milk (almond, cashew, soy)
• Salt and pepper
Place potatoes in pot and cover with water. Boil until just tender. Drain. In a blender or food processor, puree beans, garlic and milk until smooth. Add to potatoes and mash well. Season with salt and pepper.

• 1 onion, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp white wine vinegar
• 3 tbsp corn starch or arrow root powder
• Salt and pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in 1 to 2 tbsp of the vegetable broth until soft. Transfer to a blender and add remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Return to the pan and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

• 1 onion, diced fine
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups mushrooms, diced fine
• 1 cup carrots, diced small
• 1 ½ cups cooked lentils
• 1 ½ cup gravy
• 1 cup frozen green peas

Saute onion, garlic, mushrooms and carrots in a small amount of water or vegetable broth, until onion is translucent and carrots fork tender. Add lentils and gravy. Mix well and remove from heat. Add peas.

Transfer to an 8 by 8 baking pan. Top with mashed potatoes and bake for 30 minutes at 350F, uncovered or until bubbly and top is slightly browned. Serve with remaining gravy.  Or use the lazy version – Cook until filling is hot. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Creamy Coleslaw


• ½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp sweetener (agave, cane sugar, etc)
• ½ cup water
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp celery seed
• ½ tsp black pepper

• Shredded cabbage (red and/or green)
• Shredded carrots
• Green onion
• Red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Place cashews, salt, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, sweetener, water, onion powder, celery seed and black pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Mix veggies in a large bowl, toss with sufficient dressing to coat and serve.

Kale with Maple Mustard Sauce

Kale with Maple Mustard Sauce

This is my favorite way to eat cooked greens. It great with kale, spinach, chard, tat soi, bok choi, gai lan, beet greets, or any green you fancy.  Be sure to chop your kale finely. I bunch it up and cut it into thin strips like you would cabbage.  Its great hot, cold and in between. I even love eating the leftovers for breakfast.

  • one large bunch of kale, washed, destemmed and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Cook kale in plenty of water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Mix mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over drained kale and stir to combine.

Apricot Bars

Apricot Bars

This recipe is a combination of several recipes but the basic idea coming from the Oat and Apricot Bars in The China Study Family Cookbook by Del Sroufe.

• 3 cups rolled oats
• 1 ½ cup pitted dates
• ½ cup walnuts
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ cup apple sauce
• 1 ½ cup dried apricots (or substitute dates)
• 1 cup orange juice
• Grated zest of 1 orange

Soak apricots in orange juice for at least 2 hours. Add orange zest and puree until fairly smooth.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. (Note: I made mine in a spring form pan) Combine oats, dates, walnuts, cinnamon and salt in food processor until dates are mixed in well. Place in large bowl and mix in applesauce. Mixture should hold together fairly well. If too dry, add a bit more applesauce. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan. Press in firmly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool at least 10 minutes. Spread apricot mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle remaining topping over the apricot mixture and press lightly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool before cutting.

September Cooking Class – Baked Beans, Broccoli Salad & Pumpkin Pudding

September 23, 2018

Another great class! This one focused on whole plant based food, easy on the budget, simple to prepare, totally nutritious and absolutely delicious.

As always, the class started with a green smoothie. This one was mango kale. If you are new to green smoothies, or introducing them to your kids, start with a bit less kale and gradually increase the amount. Thanks Cecile for the suggestion to add a pinch of black pepper to the smoothie to boast the turmeric absorption.  I have added this my recipe.




Green Smoothie
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups kale
• 1 orange, peeled
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• ½ inch piece ginger root
• Pinch of black pepper
• 2 cups frozen mango

Place ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth.



Baked Pinto Beans

This is my whole food plant based adaptation of a family favorite from my sister-in-law Pat.

Be sure to chop the carrots and onions very fine (a food processor works great) as they are designed to provide a nice texture to the dish as well as sneaking in a bit more veg. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to skip the carrots.

You can also substitute any other bean you like for the pinto beans.

Serve with steamed greens, a grain (rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat), baked potato or a whole grain bun. For the class, we served this with Silver Hills Sprouted bread topped with smashed avocado.

These beans freeze really well. I like to freeze them in 2 cup portions. That way I can keep a constant supply in the fridge to easily add beans to any meal. And these beans are great for breakfast too.

• 4 cups dry pinto beans
• 1 tsp salt (optional)
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 or 2 carrots, chopped fine
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ tsp pepper
• ¼ cup molasses
• ½ cup tomato paste
• 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup vinegar
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• ¼ tsp cayenne
• ½ tsp salt
• Couple shakes liquid smoke (optional)
• 3 cups water

1. Cover beans with plenty of water (about 12 cups) and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in slow cooker with salt, if using. Cover beans with water (about 6 cups) and cook on high 3 to 4 hours, or until just tender. Drain.
2. Place the beans in the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. If necessary, add more water so that the liquid covers the beans. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. Add more water if it becomes too dry. Adjust seasonings to taste. (note, you can cook the beans one day and do the next step another.)
1. Cover beans with plenty of water (about 12 cups) and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in in a large pot with salt, if using. Cover beans with water (about 6 cups). Bring to a boil and simmer on stovetop until just tender, about 1 hour. Drain.
2. Place the beans in a large oven safe pan. Add remaining ingredients. If necessary, add more water so that the liquid covers the beans. Cook an additional 1 to 2 hours 300F. Check the beans every half hour and add more water if it becomes too dry. Adjust seasonings to taste. (note, you can cook the beans one day and do the next step another.)
Skip step one above. Use about 12 cups cooked beans in the recipe. Drain and rinse beans.

Sweet Chilli Broccoli Salad
This is a great side for any meal. To make it into a whole meal, add 1 can of drained chickpeas. This dressing is also good on a cabbage salad for a change from the usual coleslaw dressings. And the salad keeps well in the fridge so it can be made ahead of time and leftovers taste even better the next day.  A great way to add more cruciferous veggies to your diet.

The recipe is from The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell.

• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ¼ cup water
• 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or 2 tbsp regular plus 1 tbsp water)
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp tahini
• ½ to 2 tsp sriracha (optional)
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled

• 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
• 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
• ¼ cup red or green onion, chopped

Combine sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the sauce, toss and serve.

Steamed Greens

Greens are one of the most important part of your diet, so be sure to have 2 servings everyday, either in a green smoothie, mixed into a main dish, or served alone cooked. This simple to make dish is one of my favorites and is great with kale, chard, spinach or beet greens. For this class, we used kale. I like to shred the kale very fine before cooking.

  • 8 cups kale, destemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

Bring about 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add kale and cook about 5 minutes, or until bright green and tender. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture. Add mustard, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Toss well and serve.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

If you are looking for a great whole food alternative to pumpkin pie this fall, this is a great recipe. This pumpkin pudding is easy to prepare and tastes great.

The recipe is adapted from Forks Over Knives. I removed the chili powder and black pepper, reduced the cloves and increased the maple syrup. For the class, we served the pudding in small glass cups layered with granola, topped with a maple glazed pecan and served with Vanilla Nice Cream (recipe below). Any leftovers are great mixed with your morning overnight oats.

• ¼ cup chia seeds
• 2 cups almond milk or plant-based milk of your choice
• 2 cups pumpkin purée
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ¼ cup maple syrup, or more to taste (or substitute date paste)

1. Mix the chia seeds and almond milk in a jar or bowl, and let the mixture set for 5 minutes. Whisk or stir the mixture vigorously to evenly disperse the chia seeds. Cover the jar, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
3. Remove the chia pudding from the refrigerator, and stir in the pumpkin purée, dry spice mixture, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Serve garnished with coconut flakes. If desire, serve with whipped coconut cream or vanilla nice cream.

Vanilla Nice Cream

  • 1/2 cup plant based milk (I used Cashew)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 frozen bananas

Place milk and vanilla extract in a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse to combine then on high speed (or frozen dessert setting) add bananas slowly. Push down to combine well, if necessary. Store in freezer for 2 to 3 hours before serving to harden slightly. (If left longer it may freeze too solid to scoop out. If so, take out of the freezer and store in fridge for 1 hour before serving. ) Note, letting the bananas thaw slightly will help your blender to process this to a smooth texture. If necessary, add a bit extra milk to process.


Whole Food Plant Based PotLuck – Tex Mex Casserole and Coleslaw

September 22, 2018

I attended my very first whole food plant based potluck on Saturday. It was an awesome experience to see all that great food spread out on the tables and I could every bit of it. The selection was awe inspiring and I had to limit myself to a tablespoon of each in order to taste them all. About 40 people attended the potluck, which amazed me as well. I can’t wait until the next one. Thank you Plant Based Living Winnipeg for organizing.



I attended the potluck with my two Workaway guests, Vanessa from Germany and Heather from the UK. Both are vegans and very impressed with this vegan experience of Canada.


We took three dishes, a Tex Mex Casserole, a coleslaw and a simple plate of garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Tex Mex Casserole

This my whole food adaptation of a recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon. I eliminated the oil and substituted cashew cheese for the Daiya. I also do this casserole up in a frying pan and skip placing it in an oven to bake at the end but you can prepare as described below and then reheat in a 350F oven if you like.

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
o 1 ¼ tsp salt
o ¼ tsp ground coriander


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 ½ cup corn kernals
o 1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
o 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach
o 2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)
o 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix)
o ½ cup cashew cheese sauce (optional)

Combine spice mix and set aside.

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. Sauté until heated through. Stir in cashew cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with optional toppings (chopped avocado, salsa, green onions, cashew cheese).

Cole Slaw

This recipe is from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

• 6 cups shredded green cabbage
• 1 carrot shredded
• ½ cup green onions, sliced
• 1 red pepper, sliced thin
• ½ cup cashew mayo (see recipe below)
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• ½ tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp celery seed
• 1 tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 2 tbsp agave
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, onion and red pepper. In a small bowl combine mayo with remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour over cabbage mixture. Combine well.


Cashew Mayo

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked 2 to 3 hours
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup water

Drain soaked cashews and place in blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust spice to your liking – more lemon juice, etc.





VegFest 2018 – Energy Balls

September 15, 2018

Katherine and I with Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn

This weekend was the second annual VegFest in Winnipeg, and the first time I have attended one. It was fabulous. There was about 75 vendor tables with a fabulous array of all things vegan, from food to clothes. They also had a great lineup of speakers, including Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn and his wife Anne Esseltyn.  Dr. Esseltyn is the author of the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and his wife wrote the companion cook book. He is also co-author of Forks Over Knives. It was a great honor to have them both speaking in Winnipeg.

Our VegFest Team

Our meditation group had a table promoting meditation and our cooking classes. We handed out sample of energy balls to those stopping at our table. The recipes are below.

Energy ball handouts

While most energy balls are a mixture of dates and nuts, these little gems are a bit different. They are apricot based and nut free, using sunflower seeds instead of nuts. They are great for school lunches as peanut butter and nuts are not sometimes not allowed.

Apricot Coconut Sun Balls

• 1 cup dried apricots
• ½ cup Medjool dates (pitted)
• 1 cup sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)
• ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
• ½ tsp vanilla extract

Place sunflower seeds in food processor and process for a few seconds until chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency. The dough should stick together when pressed with your fingers. (If your dried fruit is too dry, add a tablespoon of water when processing) Form into balls and freeze. Makes approximately 20 – 1 tablespoon size balls.

recipe from Happy Healthy Mama

The next two recipes are really tasty, and you would never guess that the main ingredient was beans. They were both a big hit at VegFest.

Black Bean Almond Chocolate Energy Balls

• ½ cup almonds (natural)
• 1 – 15 oz can black beans or 1 ½ cup, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
• ¾ cup peanut butter
• ¼ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

Place almonds in food processor and process until a fine crumb forms. Add black beans and dates, process until incorporated. Add peanut butter and process until incorporated. Add cocoa powder and process until incorporated. (if your food processor gets bogged down, dump the mixture into a mixing bowl and mix cocoa powder in by hand.) Make approximately 30 – 1 tablespoon size balls. Freeze.
(Adapted from Happy Healthy Mamma  I substituted dates for honey)

Chickpea Almond Chocolate Chip Energy Balls
• 1 ½ cup almonds (natural)
• 1 – 15 oz can (or 1 ½ cups) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
• ½ tsp almond extract
• ¼ to ½ cup mini dark chocolate chips

Place almonds in a food processor and process until they are very fine. Add chickpeas and process until completely broken down. Add dates and almond extract, process until incorporated. Remove dough from food processor and, if using, add chocolate chips. Stir until well incorporated. Makes about 30 – 1 tablespoon size balls. Freeze.

(Adapted from Happy Healthy Mamma )

These chocolate cherry bites are a long time favorite of mine and I like to include them in my Christmas ‘baking’. When we made them for VegFest they turned out a bit sticky, so we rolled them in cocoa powder and they were perfect. And they were Anne Esseltyn’s favorite.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites
• 1 cup whole raw almonds
• 129 grams pitted Medjool dates (about 8 large)
• ½ cup dried cherries
• 3 tbsp small dark chocolate chips, or cocoa nibs
• ¼ cup pecans
• 1 tsp dried orange rind

In food processor, process almonds until finely chopped. Remove 1/3 cup and set aside.
To the remaining almonds in the food processor, add dates and process until chopped and sticky. Add cherries and process until cherries are chopped slightly.
Add chocolate chips, orange rind and pecans and process until they are just chopped up. Add reserved 1/3 cup almonds and process just until blended.
Roll into small balls and freeze.


June 2018 Cooking Class – Burger Time

June 10, 2018

Burger and a salad

Just in time for summer, June’s cooking class focused on summer favorites – burgers, Caesar Salad and a cool frozen dessert. This month we continued our talk on the importance of fibre in our diet, and the great source of fibre and protein found in beans.

Our smoothie of the month was ‘berry delicious’, a combination of kale, banana, mango, orange and blueberries with added nutritional value from turmeric, ginger and flax.

Green Smoothie

• 2 cups greens (we used kale)
• 2 cups water
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• 1 inch piece ginger
• 1 tbsp ground flax
• 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (we used a combination of banana, mango, blueberries, and an orange)

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth.

Making Burgers

Summer is burger time, but burgers also make great fast meals any time of the year. This is a great burger as it holds together well, but it is important to let it sit to thicken up. It best if you make the burger mix and let it sit for at least 1/2 hour before forming the burgers. However, in a pinch you can make them up right away, just be gentle when cooking. I prefer to bake the burgers then freeze them for later use. However, in class we make the burgers and fried them up immediately. They were a bit more fragile but still delicious. If you plan to throw these on the barbecue, I recommend baking ahead of time, then warming on the grill. We made our burgers with grated beets which gave them a real ‘meaty’ look; however, they are also great make with grated carrot.


Grillable Veggie Burgers
• 1 cup cooked brown rice (I use short grain rice, or substitute couscous, millet or quinoa)
• 1 cup raw walnuts (or substitute sunflower seeds, bread crumbs or oatmeal)
• 1/2 white onion (about 3/4 cup), finely diced
• 1 beet or carrot, grated fine
• 1 pepper (red, yellow, orange, green or poblano), diced fine
• 1 to 2 cups mushrooms, diced fine
• 1 1/2 cups (227 g) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 2 tbsp ground flax soaked in 6 tbsp water
• 1 cup oatmeal (old fashioned, large flake)
• 4-5 Tbsp vegan BBQ sauce
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 Tbsp each chili powder and smoked paprika
• 1 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper

Grating beets

Chop walnuts fine in a food processor, coffee mill or by hand.
In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté onion, beets, pepper, and mushroom for 3-4 minutes or until tender, adding small amounts of water or broth to keep it from sticking to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a food processor, place chickpeas and process until slightly mashed but not a mushy puree. Alternatively you can mash with a fork.
In a large bowl, add the ground flax and water and let soak for 5 minutes. Once soaked, add cooked rice, chopped walnuts, sautéed veggies, mashed chickpeas, oatmeal, BBQ sauce, nutritional yeast, seasonings. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes, or until a moldable dough forms.
If too dry, add extra 1-2 Tbsp BBQ sauce. If too wet, add more oatmeal. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Let sit in fridge for several hours or overnight. Form into patties using wet hands. (I use 1/3 cup mixture per patty – will make about 14 or 15 burgers). This is important to make sure the burgers hold together well for grilling. (for best grilling results, bake at 350 for 20 minutes then freeze for later grilling)
If grilling, heat the grill at this time and brush the grill surface with oil to ease cooking. Otherwise, cook in a skillet or bake (20 minutes at 350F).
Remove burgers from heat and allow to cool slightly before serving.

An all time favorite at our house is Caesar Salad with this creamy picante dressing.

Caesar Salad Dressing
• ½ cup raw cashews
• ¼ cup water
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 cloves garlic
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 1 ½ tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• ½ tsp black pepper
• 1 tbsp miso (or ½ tsp salt)

Soak cashews for 2 or more hours. Drain cashews and place in blender with all other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Nothing says summer like ice cream. This creamy frozen dessert is a favorite, and is my take off on a traditional Indian Mango Lassi beverage. Since I always keep coconut milk and frozen banana and mangos in stock, I can whip this one up quickly. You can substitute any frozen fruit you like for the mango – blueberry, strawberry, etc.

Mango Lassi
• 1 can full fat coconut cream
• 1 frozen banana
• 2 cups frozen mango
• 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
• ¼ tsp turmeric
Place coconut cream in a blender or food processor. Add ginger and frozen fruit. Blend until smooth. Keep in a freezer until ready to serve. Best if made 2 to 3 hours before serving. If frozen hard, let sit in the fridge for ½ hour before serving.
Substitute other fruit for the mango (blueberry, raspberry, cherry, peaches, etc) or other seasonings for the ginger (cinnamon, nutmeg). For a sweeter dessert, add an extra banana or some date paste.

Thanks to James for the great pictures. And thanks to my granddaughter Katie who was a great assistant.