Category Archives: Cooking Classes

June Cooking Class – Buddha Bowls

July 15, 2017

Thanks to Shirley for taking on the June cooking class while I visited my grandchildren. The theme of her class was Buddha Bowls. Buddha Bowls are a great whole meal-in-a-bowl and adaptable to whatever grain, veggies or salad fixings you have in the house.

As per our tradition, Shirley started the class with a Green Smoothie. This Digestive Green Smoothie is a favorite of mine.

Digestive Green Smoothie

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup banana chunks, fresh or frozen
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

BUDDHA BOWL

The Buddha Bowls are many and varied but basically consist of:

  1. A cooked whole grain or noodle
  2. Cooked and/or raw veggies
  3. A flavorful sauce
  4. Topping

 

  1.  The grain layer – There are so many different choices for the base of your Buddha Bowl.  The most common are cooked brown rice (basmati, short grain, Jasmine, red or black rice are all great options) or noodles (soba, vermicelli, ramen or spaghetti noodles). However, any cooked whole grain can also be used, so don’t feel limited. Try pot barley, millet, quinoa or couscous for a change.
  2. The Veggie Layer – you will need about 2 cups of veggies for each person. Good choices are onions, peppers, carrots, celery, snow peas, broccoli and mushrooms. You can stir fry your veggies or add them raw, or use a mixture of cooked and raw. One of my favorite options is a stir fry onions, mushrooms peppers and broccoli then topping with raw shredded lettuce, cabbage and carrots. Raw cucumber or tomato are also options.
  3. Shirley presented two sauce options in the class – a teriyaki and a Thai Peanut Sauce. Both are fabulous.

TERIYAKI SAUCE:

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and store in a glass jar in the fridge.

 THAI PEANUT SAUCE:

  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp natural smooth peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus more as needed
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • water

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, tahini, peanut butter, ginger (if using), lime juice, tamari, maple syrup, and 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Process until combined. Taste and add more lime juice, if desired. Thin with water until desired consistency. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

4.  Topping Layer – your choice of toppings is endless. My favorite are green onions, sesame or sunflower seeds, peanuts, marinated tofu, or edamame beans

MARINATED TOFU

  • 1 – 350 gram package of extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4  tsp dry ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water

Drain tofu and slice into ¼ inch sticks. Place tamari, ginger, garlic and water in a non-stick frying pan and mix well. Add tofu and coat thoroughly in marinade. Slowly cook on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid absorbed by the tofu; this will take about 30 minutes depending on the amount of heat used.
(Note, you can also make this in a low oven (250F). Store in the fridge, will keep for at least a week. It also freezes well.

To make your Buddha Bowl – prepare all your layers first – cook your grains or noodles, make your sauce, prepare your veggies and your toppings.  When ready to serve, warm up your grains or noodles (optional – you can add chopped onion, minced garlic, soy sauce and ground pepper to your grain). Serve in a bowl.

Buddha Bowls are also great for picky eaters – provide a choice of veggies and toppings, each in a separate bowl, and let them choose their favorites.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
For dessert, Shirley made a fruit crisp.  A lightened up version of everyone’s favorite strawberry rhubarb crisp with a delicious oat-pecan topping and a touch of vanilla. It can be made gluten free by using gluten free oats and oat flour.  Serve with your favorite ice cream or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

You can make this crisp oil free by substituting the coconut oil with apple sauce. The toping will be more of a cake consistency.

  • For the crisp topping:
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup oat flour
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
    • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • For the filling:
    • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
    • 5 stalks rhubarb, diced into 1 inch pieces
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    • 2 tablespoons oat flour

    Make the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, oat flour, cinnamon, pecans, coconut sugar and coconut oil; set aside.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan with coconut oil (or line with parchment paper).
    In a large bowl, add coconut sugar, vanilla bean, strawberries, rhubarb and oat flour; toss a few times to evenly coat the fruit with the sugar and flour. Pour into prepared pan and evenly sprinkle the topping over the fruit.
    Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling begins to bubble and the top is golden brown. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with your favorite ice cream, if desired. Serves 9.

You can also use softened or melted butter in place of the coconut oil if you are not vegan.

You can also use brown sugar in place of the coconut sugar if that’s what you have on hand. Recipe from The Ambitious Kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2017 Cooking Class – Great Summer Salads

July 9, 2017

The theme for this month’s cooking class was Summer Salads. Summer means time for enjoying the outdoors and these quick and easy, cool and refreshing summer salads are a great way to reduce time in the kitchen. They can be used as a side dish or can easily be made into a whole meal by adding a whole grain roll or baked potato.  And they are great to take to barbecues and picnics.

This class we had a discussion on fats/oils in our diets. While a healthy diet includes fats, it is best we get them from whole foods like seeds, nuts, and avocado. This article by Kim Campbell provides some good reasons why to eliminate oil.

Thanks to James for taking pictures. I will update the post with them later.

Green Smoothie

As usual, our class started with a refreshing green smoothie. July’s smoothie was beet greens, picked fresh from my garden, apple, pineapple and frozen raspberries. Its a bit more tart than most of my smoothies but still delicious. The red in the beet greens and the raspberries combine to give this smoothie a beautiful red color.

  • 2 cups greens (beet greens, spinach, kale, parsley, mint, cilantro, etc)
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (apple, raspberry, banana, mango, pineapple, orange, berries, etc)

Place in blender in order given. Blend until smooth.

Black Bean Salad

This salad is a long time favorite of mine for potlucks. It always gets rave reviews. It makes a great summer supper meal just by adding a baked potato. (Note: you can make great baked potatoes in your slow cooker. Just poke the potatoes, place in the cooker, cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high. No need to heat up your oven!)

If you are not a fan of cilantro or avocados, just leave them out.  I like adding the avocado just before serving to keep it from getting mushy or dark colored. Also, tomatoes taste best when not refrigerated, so I add the tomatoes before serving as well.

  • Two 16-ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed WELL!
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup canned or frozen corn
  • ½ Red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large mango, diced (optional)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 very large tomato, chopped (or use cherry tomatoes cut in half)
  • 2 small avocados, diced (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Take the salad out of the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. Add tomatoes.  Right before serving, add avocados and mix gently, being careful not to mash avocados. Garnish with a more chopped cilantro if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Modified from:  http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/easy-black-bean-salad-recipe/  

Couscous Salad

This salad is a spin off from a quinoa tabbouleh salad. No grain is faster to prepare than couscous. And the hemp hearts add a boost of protein. You can easily substitute cooked quinoa for the couscous. Serve with a green salad for a full meal.

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (or more to taste)
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • 2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 green onions, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste

Dressing

  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 clove garlic, minced

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil and add couscous. Cover and remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork . Cool.  Add remaining salad ingredients to the cooled couscous. Mix dressing and add to the salad and serve.

Options – you can substitute quinoa for the couscous. (1 cup quinoa to 1 ¾ cup water, simmer 15 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. )

Caesar Salad

This salad is a spin off from one in Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows cookbook. She used almonds, but I prefer cashews. I was thrilled to find you can substitute cooked white beans (also called Navy Beans) for part of the cashews. Also, you can add a bit of kale to this classic romaine salad and know one will mind at all. Instead of bacon bits, I like to add sunflower seeds for a nice crunch and boost of protein.

Note: While I prefer to cook my beans using dry beans, you can buy cooked small white beans or Navy beans in a can. Since you only need 1/4 cup, drain and rinse the beans and freeze any leftovers to use in another dish. Or freeze in 1/4 cup packages for future Caesar Salads.

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup raw unsalted cashews and ¼ cup cooked white beans (or 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Kale
  • Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Red onion, sliced thin
  • Sunflower seeds (raw or roasted and salted)
  • Whole grain croutons (optional)

Soak cashews for 2 to 8 hours, drain. Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Chop kale fine and massage for a few minutes to tenderize. Chop romaine and add to kale. Add dressing and toss. Add remaining ingredients and toss again.

If you can’t find raw unsalted cashews, you can use roasted unsalted ones as well.

Fruit Salad

A fruit salad makes a great summer dessert. It takes no heat to prepare and provides just the right amount of sweetness to finish off any meal. The salad is good on its own, but to dress it up for company, try this creamy ginger dressing made with coconut milk yogurt (also sold as Cultured Yogurt).

Feel free to mix this up with your favorite fruits and use the amount as a guide only. I managed to pick up a basket of fresh picked local strawberries so our salad had more strawberries than the 2 cups called for in the recipe.

  • 1 cup coconut milk yogurt, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp finely minced ginger (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 2 cups pineapple, diced
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup seedless grapes
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in half

Mix yogurt, minced ginger and maple syrup and place in a separate serving bowl.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Place oranges, apples and pineapple in a large bowl. Toss to coat apples with the liquid.  Add blueberries, grapes and strawberries and gently stir to combine.  Serve fruit with a dollop of ginger yogurt on top.

You can change this salad up by using any mixture of your favourite fruit. Change up the yogurt sauce by omitting the ginger, using cane sugar and adding ½ tsp vanilla.

Note: next class is not until September.

 

 

 

 

 

Oil Free Bread Spreads

May 29, 2017

Sweet Potato Hummus and Olive Tapenade

At yesterday’s cooking class, we had a discussion on what to use as a spread on bread, in place of butter or margarine. For the meal, we had hearty Ezekiel bread along with a choice of two spreads – Sweet Potato Hummus and Olive Tapinade.  As promised the recipes for both are below, plus my favorite sweet spread, a sugar free, oil free orange apricot jam.

Sweet Potato Hummus is a staple in our household. Most hummus recipes call for chickpeas, but I prefer to make this one with small white beans (also called navy beans) as they produce a creamier spread. It makes a pretty big batch, so I generally divide the finished hummus into 3 containers and freeze 2 for later use. This is our go to spread on sandwiches and baked potatoes. You won’t miss the butter on your potato. It is good mildly spiced with 1/4 tsp cayenne, but if you like spice as much as we do, go for the full 1 1/2 tsp cayenne.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

  • 1 ½ cups baked sweet potato pulp
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (or chickpeas)
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 ½ to 2 lemons
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ground sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like it spicier, you can add up to 1 1/2 tsp)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake a large sweet potato, or 2 small ones, until tender. You can bake it whole, or peel and cut in cubes and place in a covered baking dish. It will take 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size. Once done, peel off the skin if you baked them whole.

Places all of the other ingredients into a food processor (if you’re sensitive to spice, you may want to save the spices for last and add them to taste.) Add water as needed to make it blend well.

Blend well, adding a small amount of water if needed for processing. Taste, add salt and adjust spices to your taste.

Adapted from http://cookieandkate.com/2011/spicy-sweet-potato-hummus/

If you like olives, this spread is for you. It packs a big punch. However, it takes a bit of work as I have yet to find Kalamata olives that are already pitted.  But once you have them pitted, the rest is a piece of cake. This recipe is from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook.

Olive Tapinade

  • 1cups Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried ground Rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and chop until finely ground but not pureed. Great on toasted sprouted whole grain bread.

I love making bread, and The PlantPure Kitchen cookbook by Kim Campbell has a great recipe for whole grain Pumpkin Raisin Yeast Bread that is absolutely delicious. I love it toasted and spread with a thick layer of this whole food jam.  Note, if your blender does not have the power to handle this mixture, try soaking the apricots and dates in water or orange juice first, then once softened blend with some orange zest and enough orange juice to get things moving.

Orange Apricot Spread

  • 1 large organic orange
  • 10 dried apricots
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted (optional)

Wash orange and cut into quarters with the peel still on. Place orange in a blender (or food processor), add apricots and dates, if using. Pulse until well combined and pureed. You may have to stop and push the mixture down around the blades a few times before it gets moving.

You can also make a quick and easy berry jam using chia seeds that requires little or no added sweetener. This recipe is a modification of the one from the Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon.

Berry Chia Jam

  • 3 to 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries or a mixture)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • squeeze of fresh lemon

Mix together berries and maple syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until berries are softened. Remove from heat and mash the berries with a potato masher. Add chia seeds and stir until combined. Return to the stove and simmer for simmer over low to medium heat stirring until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and lemon. Let mixture cool and it will thicken more as it cools. The jam will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and also freezes well.

 

Other easy spread options are nut butters. Be sure to check the ingredients as some nut butters have added oil or sugar which you don’t want or need. A very mild tasting one is raw almond butter.

May 2017 Cooking Class – The Basics of Plant Based Eating

May 28, 2017

What a great class. We had 14 participants and 3 volunteers. Everyone had so much to share. Since we had a lot of new people this class, the focus was on the very basics of what to eat. We started the class in our usual way – with a green smoothie, one of my favorites – Kale Mango Banana. We also had a taste testing of one of my go to breakfasts – Overnight Oats. For dinner we made a Red Lentil, Carrot and Coconut Soup, a Kale and Apple Salad and Chia Pudding. I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we all did.

Thanks Katherine for taking pictures.

Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups greens (we used Kale)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
    • (we used 1 fresh banana and 1 1/2 cups frozen mango cubes)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

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

 

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats is the perfect breakfast dish, especially for the summer or for those days when you need to eat breakfast on the run. You mix everything up the night before  and in the morning, grab and go.

Adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 ½ cups plant based milk (almond, coconut, rice, cashew or soy)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • maple syrup (or other sweetener), to taste

In a small bowl, mash the banana and add oats, milk (we used cashew), chia seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit. Whisk together well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir the mixture and add a bit of maple syrup if desired.  Serve with a topping of fresh fruit, granola or hemp seed.

Need breakfast on the go? Spoon the overnight oats into a jar; add your toppings and seal. Throw it in your bag with a spoon.

Makes 3 servings

 

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut

This is one of my all time favorite soups. Its fast and easy to make and contains basic ingredients I almost always have on hand. Serve with hearty whole grain bread and its a filling meal. (We had it with Ezekiel bread). We used 2 dried Thai chillies and the soup was very mild. If you like it spicier, crush your chillies or serve with some Sriracha or Garlic Chili sauce like Sambol Olek.

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 large carrots, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (less if your bullion is salted)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 Thai chillies, fresh or dried (optional)
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 large handful finely chopped kale or spinach (optional)
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar

Rinse lentils under cold water. Place lentils and all ingredients except kale,  coconut milk and lemon juice in a slow cooker or large pot. If using, leave chilli pepper whole for a slightly spicy soup, crush for more spice.  If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. If doing on the stove top, bring to a boil and simmer slowly until lentils are very well done and partially dissolved in the broth, about 1 hour. If using whole chilli peppers, remove from the soup. If using, add the kale or spinach and remove from heat.

Add coconut milk and lemon juice (or vinegar) and adjust seasonings to taste.

Kale and Apple Salad

This is a hearty salad that can easily be an entire meal. It makes a great supper paired with a baked potato.  The dressing is rich and creamy and bold enough to hold its own with kale. (if you are looking to reduce your nut intake, I have also done this dressing using 1/2 cup cashews and 1/2 cup cooked white beans.) If you are not a avid kale fan, be sure to cut your kale fine, don’t leave big pieces, and massage it well.

Dressing:

 

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice from
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

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

Pumpkin Parmesan

  •  ½ cup pumpkin seeds (or cashew, pecan or sesame seeds)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

In mini food processor or coffee grinder, combine pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast and salt. Process until crumbly. (or chop by hand) Sprinkle on top of your salad.

Salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced thinly and separated into rings
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale for a few minutes.  Add chopped apples, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, julienned carrots. Toss. Add a small amount of dressing and toss well.  Just before serving, add the romaine and toss with pumpkin seeds. Serve with a sprinkling of pecan parmesan.

Adapted from http://www.rawmazing.com/apple-and-kale-salad-with-oil-free-maple-dijon-dressing/

Chia Pudding

This is a recipe for a basic chia pudding. Add your choice of toppings or change it up by adding cocoa powder for a chocolate pudding, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice for a pumpkin pie pudding.

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed; 1 tbsp maple syrup; or sweetener of choice
  • Optional add-ins – ¼ tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp cocoa, ¼ cup pumpkin puree & pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional toppings – coconut, fresh, frozen or dried fruit or berries, granola, nuts, hemp seeds

In a 2 cup jar, place milk, chia seeds and mashed banana or sweetener. (Optional, add vanilla, cocoa or pumpkin puree for a different flavour) Cover and shake well until combined. Let sit about 5 minutes and shake well again. Let sit another 5 minutes and shake well again. Let sit in the fridge for at least one hour before eating.  (For an instant pudding, blend pudding in a blender or use ground chia seeds.) Top with fruit, nuts, seeds or granola. Create a parfait by layering pudding with fruit and top with granola or nuts.

You can also replace 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 3 tbsp of rolled oats, and let sit overnight before eating. (oats take longer to soak)

 

 

 

Plant Based Nutrition Certificate

May 8, 2017

It is never too late to learn something new. I am a firm believer in life long learning and have completed many degrees, diplomas, certificates and courses over the years, everything from a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture to Spanish classes.  Some were for work and some for pleasure. During my almost 40 year journey to whole food plant based eating, I have done a lot of research on my own, but now I have completed a certificate program in Plant Based Nutrition.

These days it is easy to look for information on any subject you can imagine – Google can provide an answer to any  question. Anyone can post information on the world wide web – but is it accurate, is it true??? Its hard to know. That is why I was so excited to get the opportunity to take the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and Cornell University (eCornell).

I watched lectures from over 25 experts, as they presented the scientific research supporting a plant based diet. We learned about the environmental impact of animal agriculture (and modern agricultural practices in general), GMO’s, food policy and politics, macro and micro nutrients and how they work in the body, the effect of diet and nutrition on the diseases of affluence (heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity), and the physiology around making changes in your lifestyle.

It was wonderful to finally understand why we should be eliminating refined oils (including olive oil, coconut oil and other so called ‘healthy oils’) from our diets, and how much protein do we need. I have so much good information to pass on. I look forward to presenting some of what I learned in future posts and classes.

The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies also has a website with great articles and information you can trust. Visit them at http://nutritionstudies.org/  One article I highly recommend is The Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Guide.

 

April 2017 Cooking Class – The Versatile Chickpea

April 2, 2017

Lasagne, salad and foccacia

April’s class featured the versatile chickpea. Chickpeas are not just for falafels and hummus. There is a myriad of different ways to cook with them. We enjoyed Roasted Chickpeas as a snack, Cauliflower Bites made with chickpea flour as an appetizer, a Tomato Based Lasagne with a chickpea ricotta, a White Lasagne using chickpeas blended into the white sauce. The meal was served with a green salad dressed with Oil Free Italian Dressing and Roasted Chickpea croutons and a sprouted grain focaccia. The meal was topped off with a frozen Pineapple Whip.

Chickpeas, also called garbonzo beans, re a powerhouse of nutrition. These legumes are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, folate and magnesium (just 1 cup of chickpeas will provide 84% of your dietary requirement of magnesium)

Chickpeas can be purchased already cooked in tins or frozen. Or you can easily cook them from dry beans. Two of my favorite methods are:

  1. OVERNIGHT SOAK – Soak chickpeas overnight in a large pot with plenty of water. In the morning, drain the soaked chickpeas and cover with fresh water to about 1 inch above the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and they are ready to use in any recipe.
  2. QUICK SOAK – Place the chickpeas in a large pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and cover with fresh water to about 1 inch over the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and use.

I like to cook a large batch of the beans and once cooked and cooled, freeze on a rimmed baking sheet. Once frozen store in a freezer bag and you have cooked beans on hand for any time you need them. They can be quick thawed by placing them in a strainer and running hot water over them.

Besides the whole bean, chickpeas can also be used as a flour. It is common in Indian cooking, but I use it mainly for making an eggy batter for breading veggies like cauliflower (recipe below), eggplant and zucchini. I also use the flour for a vegan omelette and French toast.

As usual, our class started with a Green Smoothie. This month the smoothie was pineapple blueberry with parsley. I love parsley smoothies.

Pineapple Blueberry Parsley Smoothie

Pineapple Blueberry Parsley Smoothie

2 cups parsley

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups pineapple (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

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

 

 

Breaded Cauliflower Bites

Cauliflower Bites

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ½ cup unsweetened and unflavoured plant based milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc)
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour (also called besan, chana or gram flour)
  • Salt, onion powder, garlic powder, to taste (about 1/2 tsp each) and pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix milk, flour and spices in a large bowl until well blended. Add cauliflower florets and toss until well coated. Place bread crumbs in small dish. Dip cauliflower florets in bread crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Serve as is or with a dipping sauce. Use this same recipe for other veggies like eggplant and zucchini.

Tomato Based Lasagne

NOTE: You may not need all of the noodles, tomato sauce, cheese, or chickpea mixture that you make.

  • 1 pkg lasagne Noodles
    • Prepare according to package directions
  • Approximately 5 cups Tomato Sauce (make your own marinara or use purchased spaghetti sauce)
  • Cashew Cheese:
    • ½  cup cashews
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • ½  tsp garlic powder
    • ½  tsp onion powder
    • Juice of ½ lemon (or up to 1 lemon)
    • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • ½ cup water (plus more as needed)

Soak cashews for 2 hours or overnight. Place all ingredients except the water in a blender.  Add about ½ cup water and blend until smooth. If necessary, add a splash more water to keep it blending. Taste and adjust seasonings – add more salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice or spices.

  • Chickpea Ricotta

    Chick peas:

    • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed fine
    • ½  cup chopped spinach or kale
    • 1 tbsp miso (or substitute soy sauce)
    • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • Juice of ½ lemon
    • pepper

Mash chickpeas with a fork or by pulsing in a food processor till a fine texture. Mix miso with lemon juice and add to chickpeas.  Flavor the chickpeas with nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mix in finely chopped kale or spinach. (if using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out excess water)

You can substitute your favourite hummus for the chickpea mixture.

  • Veggie Layer

    Veggies:

    • Mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 or 2  cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 large pepper (your choice of color), diced
    • 2 carrots, grated or chopped in a food processor
    • Salt and pepper
    • Also can use zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauli, etc

Dry fry veggies, without oil, until just tender crisp. If necessary, add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to keep it from sticking to the pan. Use any mixture of vegetables you like. You will need 4 to 6 cups of cooked veggies. Season with salt and pepper

To Assemble:

A standard baking dish will accommodate two layers plus the top layer of noodles and sauce.

  1. Assemble all ingredients, noodles, tomato sauce, cashew cheese, chickpea mixture, and cooked veggies.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Line a large baking dish or lasagne pan with parchment paper
  4. In your parchment lined dish, spread a layer of your tomato sauce
  5. Spread noodles, 1 layer thick over the sauce. Break noodles if necessary to cover all areas
  6. A thin layer of chickpea mixture
  7. A layer of veggies
  8. A layer of cashew cheese
  9. A layer of tomato sauce
  10. Repeat noodles, chickpeas, veggies, cheese and tomato sauce
  11. Top with noodles and tomato sauce for final layer.

Cover with a lid or foil. (Covering the dish first with parchment then foil will keep the topping from sticking to the foil when you remove it.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

White Lasagne

Note: you may not use all the noodles or white sauce that you make.

  • 1 pgk Noodles (brown rice or whole grain)

Cook noodles according to the package directions

  • White Sauce
    • 3 cups cauliflower florets
    • 2 ½  cups water
    • ¾  cup cashews, soaked
    • ¾  cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • ½  cup nutritional yeast
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • Juice of 1 ½  lemons
    • 1 ½  tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp salt

Boil cauliflower until tender. Drain and place cooked cauliflower in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

  • Veggies
    • 4 cups sliced Mushrooms
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 large pepper (yellow, orange or red), diced
    • 2 carrots, grated or chopped in a food processor
    • Finely chopped kale or spinach
    • Salt and pepper
    • Also can use zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauli, etc

Dry fry veggies until just tender crisp. If necessary, add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to keep it from sticking to the pan. Use any mixture of vegetables you like. Add kale or spinach at the end of cooking. You will need 4 to 6 cups of cooked veggies. Season with salt and pepper

To Assemble:

  1. A standard baking dish will accommodate 2 layers plus the top layer of noodles and sauce.
  2. Assemble all ingredients – noodles, white sauce  and cooked veggies.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F
  4. Line a large baking dish or lasagne pan with parchment paper
  5. In your parchment lined dish, spread a layer of white sauce
  6. Spread noodles, 1 layer thick over the sauce. Break noodles if necessary to cover all areas
  7. A layer of white sauce
  8. A layer of veggies
  9. A layer of white sauce
  10. Repeat noodles, white sauce,  veggies, white sauce
  11. Top with noodles and white sauce for final layer.
  12. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until hot and bubbling.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Oil Free Italian Dressing

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar, or to taste (or substitute your vinegar of choice)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp agave, honey, brown rice syrup or raw sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chia seeds

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 10 to 15 seconds on high speed.  From The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell.

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g)  or 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of ½ lemon or lime
  • Spice option 1: 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp each salt and onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne
  • Spice option 2: 1 tsp each garlic powder, cumin, curry, paprika, ½ tsp salt
  • Spice option 3: ½  tsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp onion powder; 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Drain and rinse chickpeas and place on a baking sheet. Bake until almost dry throughout, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan and tasting every 10 minutes. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl. Add lemon or lime juice and toss until coated. In a small bowl, mix spices. Add spices to chickpeas and toss until coated. Roast for another 10 minutes being sure the spices don’t start to burn. Turn off oven and leave chickpeas in the oven until cool. If chickpeas are still moist inside after they cool, reheat oven to 200F and roast until dry.  Store in sealed glass jar. If they get moist, place in low oven until dry.   Use as a nutritious snack or in place of croutons to top a salad.

Pineapple Whip

Pineapple Whip

  • 1 ripe pineapple (or purchased frozen pineapple)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp agave or honey
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • Toasted coconut for topping

Peel and core the pineapple. Chop and freeze on a cookie sheet overnight. Place can of coconut milk in fridge overnight. Open bottom of coconut milk can and pour off coconut water. (Reserve the coconut water for another use.) Place coconut milk solids, honey and ginger, if using, in a high powered blender. Blend until well combined. With blender running, slowly add frozen pineapple until mixture is thick and creamy, about the consistency of soft ice cream. . Transfer to a shallow container, cover and place in freezer to firm up for 2 to 4 hours.  Serve with toasted coconut on top. (If the whip freezes hard, let it rest in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour before serving.)

If your blender is not powerful enough to handle the frozen pineapple, thaw slightly before using and add a bit of pineapple juice to keep mixture moving.  Can also be made in a food processor.

Adapted from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

Pineapple Whip topped with Blueberries

 

 

November 2016 Cooking Class – Comfort Food

November 13, 2016

It’s been a busy summer and fall, but we managed to squeeze in one more cooking class for the year. The weather is still nice out, but you just know that any day the bubble will burst and the cold and snow will arrive. It is a great time to enjoy hearty soups, stews, chowders and good old comfort food.

7_dinnerNovember’s cooking class featured a Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Gravy, a flavorful Italian Salad Dressing that uses vegetable broth thickened with chia seeds instead of oil, and a new take on an old fashioned Apple Crisp without the refined sugar and butter.

Thanks James for the great photos.

 

 

Green Smoothie

1_green-smoothies

You can’t have a cooking class without a green smoothie. I strongly believe that the most important change you can make to your diet is to consume more leafy green vegetables. For this class we enjoyed my favorite Classic Mango Kale Smoothie which follows The Raw Family’s basic recipe of 2 cups water, 2 cups greens and 2 cups fruit.

  • 1_green-smoothiw-ingredients2 cups water
  • 2 cups kale
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • 2 cups frozen mango cubes

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

 

 

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

2_shepherds-pie-ingredThis recipe is an adaptation of Angela Liddon’s recipe in her new cookbook Oh She Glows Every Day. Like all the recipes in her new cookbook, this one is simple to make. It does have quite a few steps but don’t be intimidated, it comes together quickly. While this is a great every day comfort meal, it also makes a great company meal and left overs are great for lunch the next day.

This great for company because you can make it ahead of time and then pop it into the oven to heat while you visit. Just remember to add a bit extra cooking time if the dish is put into the oven cold.

While the original recipe contains both vegan butter and oil, it was easy to modify and omit these ingredients without compromising on the taste. I also substituted extra broth and a splash of red wine vinegar instead of the red wine in the recipe, and added a dollop of ketchup to the sauce.

Topping:

  • 2 ½ pounds potatoes, red, Yukon Gold, Sweet Potato or a mixture (about 6 medium potatoes), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ to ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant based milk  (I used cashew)

Filling:

  • 2 medium leeks or 1 large onion, diced (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces (450 grams) cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound (450 grams) frozen mixed veggies or your choice of 4 cups diced veggies
  • 2 tbsp potato starch (or substitute 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 and lightly oil a 4 quart casserole dish.

Put potatoes in large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add garlic, garlic powder and salt. Mash until smooth adding milk as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the filling. In a large saucepan or wok, add leeks and garlic and sauté until soft. Add mushrooms and peppers and sauté until soft. Add vegetables and sauté until heated through.

In a small jar, mix broth, potato starch, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme and ketchup until smooth. Add to the veggies along with the lentils and cook until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon filling into prepared casserole and spread it out evenly. Top with potato topping in an even layer. Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 25 minutes or until heated through. Broil for a few minutes to toast the topping slightly if desired.

2_shepherds-pie-and-gravyServe with gravy.

Gravy

Since the filling of the Shepherd’s Pie is not very saucy, it is best served with gravy on the side. I used an oil free adaptation of Angela Liddon’s Cozy Gravy from her new cookbook Oh She Glows Every Day.  The oil can be easily omitted in almost all recipes that call for sautéing veggies in oil. You can add a splash of broth or water if you find the veggies sticking to the pan; however, I seldom find that any liquid is necessary if you cook on a medium heat.

I love Angela’s method of making the gravy and then blending it smooth in a blender. It makes a really smooth and flavorful gravy.

The original recipe uses flour as a thickening agent. I substituted arrowroot powder, but cornstarch would also work, as a gluten free option.

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup low sodium tamari or soy sauce (or 2 tbsp of regular)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

In a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic and sauté until soft adding a tablespoon or two of broth if needed to prevent sticking. In a jar, combine broth, cornstarch, tamari, nutritional yeast and pepper. Cover jar and shake well. Add broth mixture to the onion mixture and simmer until mixture boils and thickens. (if not thick enough, mix a bit more cornstarch or arrowroot with water, add and cook. If too thick, add a bit more water or broth) Remove from heat and transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth. ( or use an immersion blender to blend the gravy in the saucepan)

Italian Salad Dressing

3_salad-ingredWe served the Shepherd’s Pie along with a simple green salad to complete the meal. This Italian Salad Dressing recipe is from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell. Instead of using oil, which adds few nutrients and a ton of calories, this recipe uses vegetable broth and chia seeds. The chia seeds produce a dressing that has a similar consistency to store bought oil based Italian dressings.

  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp sweetener (agave, brown rice syrup, honey, raw sugar)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika

3_salad-dressing-doneMix broth and chia seeds in a blender container and let stand at least 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the blender container and blend 10 to 15 seconds. Store in the fridge in a glass jar. (note, the original recipe does not call for soaking the chia seeds prior to blending but I find they blend better if soaked)

 

 

 

Apple Crisp

4_apple-crisp-ingredApple Crisp is a classic autumn recipe and is a great way to use apples from your tree.  Even though this recipe easily serves 8 to 10 people, I often make it for Ken and myself and consume it over the week. And when it is as healthy as this one, you can even enjoy leftovers for breakfast.

 

4_apple-crispThis recipe is a combination of a delicious apple crisp in Angela Liddon’s first cookbook The Oh She Glows Cookbook, and one found in Kim Campbell’s The PlantPure Nation Cookbook. I omitted the coconut oil in Angela’s recipe and replaced it with nut butter and apple sauce as used in the PlantPure cookbook.

Filling:

  • 8 heaping cups apples, chopped (we used a mixture of granny smith and gala)
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup almond or cashew butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

Preheat oven to 375֩ F and line a 11×9 inch pan with parchment paper.

Make the apple filling – (Note: You can peel the apples if you like, but I don’t find it is necessary.) Place chopped apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Toss until combined. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour apple mixture into the prepared dish and smooth out evenly.

Make the topping – Stir together the oats, almond meal, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Mix maple syrup, nut butter and apple sauce together in a small bowl until smooth. Add nut butter mixture to oat mixture and combine until the oats are evenly coated with the nut butter.  Sprinkle oat mixture over apples in an even layer.

Cover the dish with foil and poke a couple of air holes in the foil. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the apples are just fork tender. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the topping is golden.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. The crisp is good served hot, warm or cold.

Making Coconut Whipped Topping
Making Coconut Whipped Topping

For the class we served it with coconut whipped topping, but it is great alone without any topping.

7_dinner-plate

Recommended Cookbooks

As you can tell from my recipe sources, I am a big fan of Angela Liddon as well as Kim Campbell.  I love every single dish I have ever made of theirs.  Below is a list of my most frequently used cookbooks.

  • The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
  • Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon
  • The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Forks Over Knives The Cookbook by Del Sroufe
  • 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

Recommended Documentaries

Recently there has been an explosion of great documentaries outlining the benefits of plant based eating on health, environment and compassion for animals. They are a great way to educate yourself on the issues. Below is a list of my favorites.

  • Live and Let Live
  • Before the Flood
  • PlantPure Nation
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Vegucated
  • Cowspiracy
  • Food Matters
  • Hungry for Change
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Part II