Category Archives: Sides

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Baked Cauliflower Bites

March 9, 2017

Since discovering that chickpea flour makes a great ‘eggy’ batter I have been making these cauliflower bites often. Ken and I can easily polish off an entire large head of cauliflower in one sitting.  Coating the veggies in breadcrumbs and then baking produces a crisp crust without using any oil. These taste as good as any deep fried appetizer, but without any oil. And the same recipe will also work with other veggies, such as breaded eggplant or zucchini sticks. Use whatever spice mix your heart desires.

Chickpea flour can be found in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores, with the East Indian staples. It is also referred to as Besan or Gram Flour. I also use it to make egg-less omelettes and French toast.

Baked Cauliflower Bites

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ½ cup unsweetened and unflavoured plant based milk (I use almond or cashew)
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried whole grain bread crumbs (gluten free, if required)

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

Mix milk, flour and spices in a large bowl. Add cauliflower florets and toss until well coated.

 

Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl and roll each cauliflower floret in the bread crumbs to coat. 

 

Place florets on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

These are good just as they are, but try the dipping sauce below for a tasty treat.

 

Honey Garlic Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp honey (or substitute with Brown Rice Syrup for a vegan option)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 6 tbsp water mixed with 2 tsp corn starch (or arrowroot powder)

In a small saucepan, mix all ingredients until well combined.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and serve over the baked cauliflower florets or as a dipping sauce.

 

Sauerkraut

August 14, 2016

Sauerkraut is a form of fermented cabbage. It is a good source of fibre, vitamins A, C, K, and B, as well as iron, manganese, copper, and calcium. But in its raw, unpasteurized form, it is also full of beneficial probiotic bacteria and great for your gut. Buying unpasteurized kraut can be expensive; however, it is super easy to make at home. At a minimum, all you need is a jar, a head of cabbage and some salt.

1_CabbageI have been making my own sauerkraut for a couple of years. Generally, I buy one head of organic cabbage and it makes about 1 quart of kraut. When we have finished that jar, I buy another head. This summer, however, I have three beautiful heads of organic cabbage in my garden.  I planted six cabbages – one died and two were eaten up by cabbage butterflies. That leaves three for kraut.

3_Ingredients

 

Traditional Ukrainian sauerkraut uses only cabbage and salt. However, I like to make mine a bit more kimchi-like. I add daikon radish, carrots, onion, ginger, garlic and hot chili flakes to mine. The recipe is pretty basic and the following is what I used for my last batch.

Darlene’s Sauer- Chi

  • 3 medium heads green cabbage, shredded finely
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and shredded
  • 3 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 onion, quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 3 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 3 tbsp shredded fresh ginger (peeled first)
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 teaspoons salt
Shredded cabbage, daikon, carrots, onions, garlic, chili flakes, ginger and salt
Shredded cabbage, daikon, carrots, onions, garlic, chili flakes, ginger and salt

Save a couple of outer large leaves of cabbage and set aside. Shred the rest finely, a mandolin works best if you have one. If not, traditional kimchi uses a coarser cut of cabbage anyway. Use the mandolin as well to slice your onion thin. Shred your carrots and radish (I used the large hole grater). Place all the veggies in a large bowl and add chili flakes, finely shredded ginger and minced garlic. Add salt. They generally recommend 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of veggies. Start with a smaller amount and then you can add more.

 

 

 

massage until liquid starts to release
massage until liquid starts to release

Using your hands, massage the veggies, salt and spices. As your work the mixture, liquid will release.

 

 

 

 

Ready
Ready

Keep massaging the mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes. The volume of veggies should reduce by about a half and there will be lots of liquid. Taste the mixture and adjust for more salt if needed.

 

 

 

1 gallon crock
1 gallon crock

8_In crockPlace the sauerkraut mixture, along with the liquid in a large jar or crock. I used a crock this time, as I was making a larger batch. However, if you are doing only 1 head of cabbage, a large jar works well. Be sure there is lots of room left in the jar after you put the cabbage and liquid in as it bubbles a bit while it ferments and can overflow the jar. Its a good idea to place the jar in a large plate or bowl to catch any drips.

cover with leaves
cover with leaves

The veggies tend to float to the top of the liquid, so place the reserved large leaves on top and press the kraut down so that it is all covered by liquid.

 

 

 

 

 

saucer on top of the cabbage leaves
saucer on top of the cabbage leaves
weight down saucer
weight down saucer

Place a weight over the large leaves to hold them down under the liquid. I used a small crock and placed a saucer on top with a large jar of beans as a weight.

 

 

 

Make sure the mixture is packed down well and remains covered by liquid.

Let the mixture sit at room temperature (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit), out of direct sunlight, undisturbed for about 1 week. If you are using a jar, either leave the lid off or open the jar daily to let the gases escape. If necessary, cover the jar or crock with a cloth or cheese cloth to keep out insects and dust.

12_Day 4Its also a good idea to put a container under your jar or crock to catch any excess liquid. As the kraut ferments it will produce more liquid. The weighted jar on top will sink further into the crock and the liquid will rise. On day 4 of my ferment, the liquid was within an inch of the top of the crock.

After the week is up, taste the kraut and see if it is to your liking. If not, let it sit for up to 2 more weeks, tasting periodically. The longer it sits, the more sour it will become. I generally leave mine 7 to 10 days. Once it is ready, pack into jars and place in the fridge.

Fermented cabbage products can be used as a side dish for any meal, just as you would serve pickles. They are also a great addition to a sandwich or wrap. I love sauerkraut on my burgers instead of pickles. In order to preserve the natural probiotics, do not heat the kraut, but serve at room temperature. If you find the kraut too sour, rinse the kraut in water and squeeze out the liquid before eating it.

Fermenting is a great way to preserve cabbage. I remember my mother, of Ukrainian ancestry, making a large 5 gallon crock of sauerkraut every summer when the cabbage was ready in the garden.  We stored the crock in the cold room in the basement and enjoyed sauerkraut all winter. Unfortunately, we generally ate the kraut cooked, so missed out on the probiotic goodness.

For a more detailed explanation of the fermentation process and other alternatives for veggies and spice,  Michael Pollen, the author of Cooked is a great resource.\

August 21, 2016 Update

13_finishedIts now one week since I started the kraut, tasting time. It is incredibly good. Just the right amount of sourness for me. Its a bit on the spicy side but will make a great side to any meal. The three heads of cabbage made three quarts of finished kraut.

I packed the kraut into sterilized quart jars. Since I am not pasteurizing the kraut, it will need to be kept in the fridge.

Looks good, tastes great.

 

April 2016 Plant Based Cooking Class

April 10, 2016

 

April mealThe theme for this month’s plant based cooking class was Cooking with Tofu. The 16 participants enjoyed a green smoothie, fried rice with scrambled tofu, stir fried veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce topped with marinated tofu, and a granola bar. All the items were whole, food plant based and no oil was used. The recipes for the class are below.

Digestive Green Smoothie

I believe one of the most important things you can do to improve your diet is to add more dark leafy greens to your diet, and one the best ways to do that is by consuming a green smoothie every day. Challenge yourself to a 30 day trial and see the difference it makes.

This green smoothie uses ingredients that are good for digestion – parsley, pineapple and ginger. It follows the basic green smoothie recipe from the Raw Family (see there website for great information on the importance of greens in your diet) of 2 cups greens, 2 cups fruit and 2 cups water.

SmoothieThe parsley makes this a stronger green tasting smoothie, so if you are new to green smoothies, feel free to substitute half the parlsey with spinach.

  • 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.

Scrambled Tofu

TofuScrambled tofu can be part of a hearty breakfast or lunch (served with pan fried potatoes and veggies) or can be added to a grain dish like fried rice for an extra protein punch. If using on its own for a meal, a little tofu goes a long way, so be sure to add lots of veggies to tofu.

For the class, we were using the scrambled tofu in the fried rice dish. Since the rice was already chock full of veggies, we didn’t add the kale or mushrooms to the scrambled tofu.

Feel free to use any combination of veggies you like. Asparagus would be great for a spring breakfast meal.

As demonstrated in class, dry frying without oil is not difficult. We used a non-stick electric frying pan and did not need to add any water to prevent sticking.

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 red pepper, diced fine
  • 1 ½ cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups kale or spinach, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (350 gram) package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the tofu into small cubes and break apart with your hands (or rub on a grater or metal sieve) or a food processor into crumbles (do not puree).

Sauté onion and pepper, and mushrooms until tender in a frying pan on medium heat, without any oil. If mixture begins to stick, add a tablespoon of water at a time to keep it from sticking. Add kale, garlic, smoked paprika, turmeric and chilli flakes (if using) and mix well.  Add crumbled tofu and nutritional yeast and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

The tofu scramble will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, or in the freezer for about a month. If freezing, spread on a baking sheet and freeze then transfer to a air proof bag or container then when you need a scoopful for a stir fry you can just scoop out what you need.

Adapted from Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, and from her Breakfast Burrito post.

Marinated Tofu

Marinated tofuI have been making this marinated tofu for over 30 years and it has always been a favorite with the kids as well as adults. You might even win over the most ardent tofu hater with these. They are great as toppings for a rice, grain or veggie dish. For the class, we topped the Veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce with it.

Note you can change up the spices in the marinade to your liking – add crushed chilies or cayenne for a spicier tofu.

For a bacon substitute, slice your tofu into 1 inch by 4 inch strips and add 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or 1/4 tsp chipotle chili for a spicier option) to the marinade. These are great in sandwiches.

  • 1 (350 gram) package of extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp dry ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ 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) Place tofu strips on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake in a low oven (250F) for about 40 to 60 minutes or until desired firmness. (Give them a stir every 15 minutes. ) Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Also freezes well.

Fried Rice with Scrambled Tofu

Fried RiceThe whole grain, or brown, basmati rice is my favorite. Cooked as directed below, you get a light fluffy rice that kids and white rice lovers will enjoy. Remember, rice also freezes well, so cook up a big batch and freeze the left overs for a quick supper. (Freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer to a air tight bag or container. That way you can easily scoop out whatever you need.)

  • 1 cup whole grain basmati rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • ½ cup scrambled tofu (optional)

To Cook Rice – Bring approximately 6 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add salt, if using. Add rice and boil uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, add onion, peppers, celery and carrot and stir fry until almost done. Add garlic, kale and soy sauce and cook a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Just before serving,, unthaw green peas by running under hot water. Add to the rice just before serving. If adding scrambled tofu, add just before serving.

Note, fried rice is also good with added marinated tofu pieces instead of the scrambled tofu.

Chinese Brown Sauce

Rather than buying low sodium soy sauce (which is about the same price as regular), I buy the regular and dilute it by about 1/2 for each recipe.

This sauce recipe, from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook, has become a staple in our household and I often use it for company dinners. I generally triple the recipe and keep a jar in the fridge for fast suppers.  For the class, we served this veggie dish topped with marinated tofu and alongside stir fried rice.  However, it is also fabulous as a topping on noodles. Feel free to change up the veggies and even use as a sauce with frozen veggie mixtures.

  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup, honey, agave or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder or corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 1 week.  Use with vegetable stir fries with grains or noodles.

Five Spice Sauce

 The Five Spice Sauce, from Forks Over Knives, The Cookbook, is our favorite takeoff on the Chinese Brown Sauce. It is especially good over noodles and veggies.

  • ½ cup Chinese Brown Sauce
  • ¾ tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • ¼ tsp crushed red chillies

Combine spices with the brown sauce. Use with stir fried veggies and grains or noodles.

Stir Fry Veggies

VeggiesFor the class, we used a simple combination of onion, red pepper, mushrooms and broccoli but any vegetable combination would do.  For a dish alongside rice, I like to dice the onion and pepper in large 1 inch square pieces and leave the mushrooms large by cutting them into quarters. But if I am serving this over noodles, I like to cut the onion and red peppers into thin strips and slice the mushrooms.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 6 large mushrooms, cut into quarters (cremini or button mushrooms)
  • 1 head broccoli, stems removed and separated into small florets
  • Chinese brown sauce
  • Toppings – marinated tofu, roasted cashews or toasted sesame seeds

Peel broccoli stems and slice inner core into slices or match stick size pieces. In a large frying pan, non-stick preferred, add onion, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli stem pieces. Over medium heat, stir fry until almost done, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary to prevent sticking.  Add Chinese Brown Sauce and broccoli. Steam until broccoli is just bright green and tender crisp.  Serve topped with marinated tofu pieces, roasted cashews or toasted sesame seeds.

Veggie options – snow peas, cauliflower, carrots, gai lan, etc.

Oil-Free Granola Bars

Granola bar ingredientsThis is a very versatile recipe you make so many different ways. And unlike my previously posted granola bars, this one contains no oil and requires no baking time. Be sure to pack the mixture firmly into your pan to ensure the bars hold together well.

Granola barsThese bars have just the right amount of sweetness. They are perfect for a breakfast on the go (pair up with a green smoothie), a snack, for the lunchbox, or as a dessert.

  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 ¼ cup rice crisp cereal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup add-ins of your choice (see example list below)
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¼ cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add-In Examples:

  • Seeds – Hemp, Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame or Flax seeds
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chocolate – Cocoa nibs or small dark chocolate chips
  • Dried Fruit – Cranberries, Raisins, currants or chopped apricots
  • Chopped Nuts – pecans, almonds, peanuts or cashews

For the class I used ½ cup sliced almonds, ¼ cup currants, ¼ cup cocoa nibs.

Line a 9 inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, rice crisps, cinnamon and add-ins. (If using chocolate chips, add in later)

In a small saucepan, combine brown rice syrup and nut butter. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour hot nut butter mixture over oat mixture, using a spatula to remove everything from the saucepan. Mix well until everything is evenly coated. If using chocolate chips, add once mixture has cooled slightly, or they will just melt. (It helps to freeze the chocolate chips) Transfer mixture onto the prepared pan and pack down well using wet hands (careful, it might be very hot). Using a rolling pin, pastry roller or your hands, compact the mixture firmly and evenly. Use your fingers to press the edges well. (This will help the bars stick together).

Place the pan, uncovered, in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes or until firm enough to cut.  Using the parchment as a handle, lift the mixture out of the pan and cut into bars. Return the bars to the freezer or fridge for storage. If desired, you can individually wrap each bar for on the go snacks.

Double the recipe and pack into a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

From the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

 

Bonus Recipe – Singapore Noodles

We didn’t make this recipe in the class, but it is one I often serve to company alongside fried rice and stir fried veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce.

  • 1 onion, cut into slices
  • 2 carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 4 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder, or to taste
  • ¼ pound brown rice noodles, cooked
  • Ground black pepper

Stir fry onion, carrots, pepper and mushrooms in large skillet without any oil for 3 to 4 minutes. If necessary, add water 1 tbsp at a time to prevent sticking. Add vegetable broth, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and curry powder and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add cooked noodles and season with black pepper.

Change it up by substituting your favourite veggies.

From Forks Over Knives, The Cookbook

 

Quick and Easy Cashew Cream Sauce

July 29, 2015

We dug our first hill of young potatoes today. As a kid growing up on the farm, the first young potatoes were always served with a cream sauce made with rich farm cream and lots of garden fresh dill. Delicious but so much fat. However, when I saw those beautiful new potatoes today, I just had to have a cream sauce to go with them. But something whole food, plant based. This cream sauce is every bit as delicious as the dairy cream sauce, but loaded with protein not cholesterol. You can eat it guilt free as it supplies the protein portion of your meal.

Since I decided to make this sauce last minute, I didn’t have time to soak the cashews, so I ground them first. It made a super creamy sauce without soaking.

Cashew Cream Sauce with Onion and Dill
Cashew Cream Sauce with Onion and Dill

Cashew Cream Sauce with Onion and Dill

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large handful fresh dill, chopped fine
  • about 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped

Using a coffee grinder, grind cashews to a fine powder. In a blender, blend ground cashews and cashew milk. (You could substitute almond milk)

In a saucepan, sauté onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add dill and sauté for a few minutes longer. Add cashew milk mixture and heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the green onion and simmer a few minutes longer. Let the sauce sit so the flavors meld together.  Reheat before serving.

This sauce is excellent on young potatoes but would also be fabulous on peroshke (little buns filled with potato dill filling) or added to a vegan borscht for a creamy soup.

 

Green Bean Casserole

July 26, 2015

It’s green and yellow bean season. The only way we generally eat fresh beans, other as an ingredient in soups and stews,  is steamed with a bit of salt. However, I understand that the Green Bean in Mushroom Soup Casserole has been a staple for ever. I just have never eaten it. Faced with a bowl full of leftover steamed green beans, I went in search of a vegan Green Bean Casserole. Oh She Glows had a variation of one from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and both had rave reviews on the casserole. Being a fan of both of these blogs I decided to try it out, with some modifications.

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole
Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

Both Oh She Glows and Fat Free Vegan Kitchen used a vegetable broth thickened with flour and either almond milk or soy creamer for their mushroom sauce. Since I wanted this to be gluten-free as well, I decided to go the cashew cream route for a super rich creamy mushroom sauce base. I used unsweetened cashew milk and soaked cashews for a sauce that thickened up like crazy. If you don’t have cashew milk (its new on the market and not always in stock) you can always substitute a bit more soaked cashews and water for your own homemade cashew milk.

Also, both blogs recommended topping with canned French fried onions. Instead, I fried thinly sliced onions until crispy, seasoned them and used them as the topping. And both baked the casserole but I just did it on the stove top. However, you could make this ahead of time and pop it in the oven to heat it up.

I have to say this recipe lived up to all the rave reviews. It is delicious. Rich, creamy and bursting with flavor, without the addition of butter or cream.

Ingredients for green bean casserole (missing the soaked cashews)
Ingredients for green bean casserole (missing the soaked cashews)

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

  • 3 cups steamed green or yellow beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for about 2 hours
  • 1/2 cup water, or more
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • green onions
  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Steam your beans until tender crisp. You can do this step ahead of time. I used leftover steamed beans from yesterday’s dinner.

Saute the Spanish onion in olive oil (add a bit of garlic if desired) until crispy but not burned. This is best done slowly on a low heat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a blender, blend cashew milk and soaked cashews until creamy.

In a small saucepan, sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil until onions are translucent and mushrooms have released their liquid. Add cashew milk mixture and about 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and cayenne. Cook until thickened. If the sauce thickens too much, add a bit more water. Add green beans and green onions and simmer until beans are very tender. Top with the crispy fried onions and serve hot.  (Alternatively, you can add the green beans to the sauce, top with the onions and put in a 350F oven to bake until heated through.)

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