Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mr. Pumpkin Head

Some Halloween silliness. I love Halloween, and it's one thing that gets me through the cold of fall. (that and lots of tea. and chocolate. and ice cream. I know, counterproductive, but true ice cream lovers eat it year 'round.)

Though I love Halloween, and love to decorate and share the excitement wtih our girls, I really, really don't love carving pumpkins. It's an arduous task, very messy, and well - a tad dangerous hacking at a raw winter squash with a sharp knife. Plus, it often becomes a 'mom or dad job' rather than a kid activity - at least when their young.

This year, pumpkin decorating was easy and definitely kid-friendly! Behold, our Mr (and Mrs) Pumpkin Heads...

I cannot take credit for this idea. I saw it in a magazine (don't recall which) while waiting for a chiro appointment. But, it's as simple as getting some small pumpkins, poking holes with a small screwdriver, and - oh - having a "Mr. Potato Head" game. We thought it was particularly funny given the Mr. Potato Head in our house. I especially love this guy. How cute is he?!!

Even Sarabi likes the fun and game Halloween... see, she's totally feelin' the spooky spirit...

Happy Halloweeeeeeeen!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Berry Apple Grunt

When I began writing ed&bv, I had intended to include some vegan versions of traditional recipes from Atlantic Canada. Some of you that have TEV or that have been following my blog know that I grew up in Newfoundland. I posted about it before.

I did manage to put my twist on the Atlantic classic Blueberry Grunt recipe... my version being a healthier, flavorful Berry Apple Grunt.

Growing up, picking blueberries was one of my favorite things to do with our family. We could drive out to spots in the country and just pick for hours. I loved it. The berries we picked in the wild were much smaller than the berries I now buy out west. And although I prefer the sweetness of the big plump blueberries, the wild blueberries of Newfoundland are certainly more flavorful.

My version of this recipe uses a combination of blueberries, strawberries, and apples, and is made without white flour or white sugar. As you might suspect, I've also made it wheat-free and without margarine.

While this is classified as a dessert, my version is not overly sweet. I've made it for breakfast for the girls, pairing it with soy yogurt. If you do make it for dessert, try serving it with some non-dairy ice cream or Macadamia Maple Butter Cream from ed&bv.

The method of cooking is simple. The berries are combined with sweetener and flavorings in a saucepan. As it simmers, sweet batter dumplings are added to the mixture, and the pot is covered for the dumplings to steam and cook. The name 'grunt' comes from the sound that the steaming berries and pudding make as it cooks in the covered pot.

Personally, I've never heard any grunting from the dessert... only grunting from family asking for seconds.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peanut Passion Sauce (with a kiss of lime)

Well, that was the original full name of this recipe for ED&BV... Peanut Passion Sauce with a Kiss of Lime...

I loved the alluring sound of it, a kiss of lime in a passionate peanut sauce. ooooh la la! Yet, through the editing process, the name was too long, and it got cut to just Peanut Passion Sauce. Boo.

But, the sauce is still deliciously sultry and enticing!... a peanut sauce that is tangy and vibrant with fresh lime juice and lime zest. In the recipe, I give ideas on using the sauce; as a dip, to blend with beans for an instant 'hummus'; and here as a sauce to toss into pasta. Since the sauce is thick, you need to thin it. Use whatever you like - 'lite' coconut milk, plain soy or rice milk, or a little water. *Also, try the sauce with sauteed tofu and an abundance of veggies, as I posted about back in the summer.

When I make this sauce and pasta, I love adding broccoli. Either add it to the pasta cooking water for the last couple of minutes of cooking to lightly cook (don't overcook!). Then, drain pasta and broccoli, and toss with peanut sauce and some liquid to thin. Simple, and no extra pot to clean! Alternatively, saute some veggies in a large skillet, steaming the broccoli by covering the skillet, and then when ready to heat the sauce, simply add it to that skillet on a low heat, adding the needed liquid. You can even toss the pasta with the sauce and veggies right in that skillet if it's large enough.

Note that after the pasta sits for 10 minutes or so, it may need extra sauce/liquid, so stir a little through before getting seconds! As for me, I take care of the sauce by adding just a drizzle of the pure peanut sauce right on top of my serving, as you can see... shhhh, don't tell anyone I hoard the peanut sauce!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Curry Chickpea Hummus with Pappadums

This is one of the recipes in the "Hummus, hummus... and more hummus" chapter of ED&BV... Curry Chickpea Hummus.

This is definitely a departure from traditional hummus. You mustn't be a hummus purist to give this a try (or any of the hummus recipes in this chapter, for that matter)!

Well, yes, there are chickpeas in the hummus, but most of the other ingredients are quite exotic for hummus, including using cashew butter instead of tahini. OH YES! You can rejoice all you tahini-haters out there! (but why are you hating on tahini, pick on a seed your own size) There is also curry powder in this hummus, and a small amount of raisins (or you can use currants), for a sweet balance against the slight spiciness and pungency of the curry powder.

These can be served simply with pita breads, crackers, tortillas chips, or veggies. But, if you want to make this dip just a little more special, try serving with pappadums - Indian lentil-based 'crackers'. You may find prepared pappadums in your area. If not, try the brand I use - Patak's plain pappadums - and cook as directed on the package, or here in this link.

And if you can get your hands on a jar of Taj Mahal chutneys by Everland Natural Foods, serve a little bowl of chutney with the hummus and pappadums as well. I have tried both the Tamarind Chutney and Mango Ginger Chutney. These chutneys are naturally sweetened, and these flavors in particular are not too 'hot' as other chutneys can be. They are just intensely flavorful - love, love, love them!

You'll never look at hummus the same again...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Creamy Basil Dressing and Raw Corn Salad

Colorful, hey?! This salad I made back in the summer, when fresh organic corn was plentiful. Maybe, just maybe, you can score some raw corn in your area and mix up this delicious, satisfying raw salad yourself.
But, even if you don't make the salad, make the dressing! It's the Creamy Basil Dressing from ED&BV, and I posted about it once before. The recipe gives two versions, the original and a 'raw' version. Both are incredibly delicious, and very creamy, so you can choose! You only need 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, so you can still make this even though summer has passed... just get one or two of those little herb packs in your grocery store. I know, I know - they are pricey - but imo, fresh basil is worth the price!

Use this dressing as you normally would on salads, or also try it drizzled on other foods like sandwiches or pasta... or keep it quite thick and use it as a dip! If you do want to try out this raw corn salad, here's the rough recipe:

3/4 cup raw corn kernels (just cut away from cob)
1/4 cup red peppers, diced
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup avocado, chopped
1/8 cup green onions, finely sliced
2-3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 - 1/3 cup Creamy Basil Dressing

Simply toss all ingredients together in a bowl, using as much dressing as you like. (or, toss all ingredients except avocado, and garnish finished salad with the chopped avocado). Serve immediately! (If not serving immediately, prep all ingredients except avocado and don't toss with dressing. Before serving, add in chopped avocado and dressing). You can garnish salad with a few extra basil leaves and/or avocado chunks if you like.

This salad is almost a meal in itself. With the almonds in the dressing along with the corn and avocado, it's quite filling. Maybe pair with a light soup or light grain dish to complete your meal.

Before I run off, I want to thank those of you that have posted reviews on amazon. There are some super lovely ones there! :) These reviews are one of the best ways you can support my book and my work in general. I sure could use more reviews from those of you enjoying my book... so please add a line or two if ED&BV has hit a sweet spot with you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Living Caesar Salad

I've jabbered on and on about this salad... and so finally, here's the recipe. I do think the jabbering is justified, though!!
This Caesar salad is quite authentic in its flavor, uses very healthful ingredients, is incredibly easy to make, and unlike many dairy-free caesar dressings, it uses raw nuts (or seeds) instead of soy products to make it creamy.

You need an immersion blender for this dressing. If you have a high-powered blender, then obviously you can use that as well. What's needed is to puree the heck out of the nuts/seeds and other ingredients, until they are as smooth as possible! But, then... you're ready to roll!

The recipe offers a version using seeds instead of nuts, so it can be enjoyed by those of you with nut allergies. Also, the seed version is just a nice variation - and just as tasty!

Gently mix this dressing into crisp romaine leaves (I typically use a *wee* bit more than shown in the picture, but you know me and sauces). Next, simply toss in raw pumpkin seeds - or gasp! - toasted pumpkin seeds or croutons (sorry raw foodists - don't slam me on that one, okay?!) :)

In ED&BV, there is a simple recipe for Polenta Croutons that are dynamite in this salad. Polenta Croutons you say? Yes, something you can make with those tubes of polenta that you stare at wondering "what can I make with this"! (There are a few other ideas in the book for those tubes of polenta, btw.) Of course, regular croutons can also be used. If you want to keep the salad raw, go with the raw pumpkin seeds... and also try adding some sliced cherry or grape tomatoes - another nice addition!

I must also add that I love to use this dressing as a dip for raw veggies and also for a sandwich spread, since it's so thick... and wicked tasty!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Nut Butter Post (and it's a long one!)

As a mom, when I introduced nut butters to our daughters, I soon realized that they didn't like the sticky texture much. Whole nuts weren't much of an option (choking hazards), unless of course I ground them and added them to different foods.

So, I got a little sneaky with nut butters. I'm going to share a few tips with you - and these are good for everyone - not just if you have kidlets. Some of these tricks can help you add these protein and nutrient-rich butters to your meals.

What are nut butters? Most of us know, they are like peanut butter, but made with nuts instead of peanuts. And, they are natural. If you are still buying Skippy peanut butter: stop! Go to the natural foods aisle of your store and get natural, organic peanut butters. They do not have any additives, hydrogenated oils, or sugars. Just peanuts... and with nut butters, they are just nuts (and sometimes nut oils are added). You can find almond, cashew, hazelnut, and macadamia nut butters. I understand there are even pistachio and brazil nut butters, but I haven't seen them here in Canada. Then, there are seed butters. Again, like nut butters but made with seeds. Here we have things like pumpkin seed butter, sunflower seed butter, hemp seed nut butter, and sesame seed butter (tahini).

Now, since nut butters are generally not allowed in school (though seed butters usually are; more on that later), I normally give our girls a breakfast with some type of nut butter included. Oatmeal is one of their favorite. You can use instant oatmeal, or make your own from quick or rolled oats, or using other grains like barley flakes, brown rice cereal, cream of wheat... any hot cereal/porridge type of deal. The key is to have a thick, hot cereal. Then, take a big spoonful of nut butter and stir through while hot, as shown. It will melt into the hot cereal... this was a beauty trick for me, as I said when the girls didn't like the stickiness of nut butters. Then, you can add a sprinkle of cinnamon, chopped fruit like apples, strawberries, or pears, and some non-dairy milk... which will help to cool the hot cereal. If you need to sweeten it, use vanilla non-dairy milk, or some agave nectar or maple syrup. You can vary this basic oatmeal enough with different nut butters (cashew, almond, macadamia nut) and fruits/dried fruits to keep your lil' monkeys happy.

Another breakfast idea I posted about a loooong time ago. This is also a regular in our homes. I always buy the Lifestream Waffles, and lately I've been buying the hemp variety, just because it has a higher protein content than some of the other flavors. So, toast up those babies, slather with nut butter... then, this what the kiddos love... put a big mound of unsweetened (organic) applesauce on top. Kids love applesauce, and it also 'softens' the waffle for them - you know, makes it a bit mushy after ten or so minutes. Just what they like! Add a drizzle of agave if you like, and fresh fruit on the side. Their tummies will be filled and their brains fueled.

We all know to make nut butter sandwiches. I make them often, and sometimes I make quesadillas. I do a version in ED&BV, called Peanut Banana Tortilla Turnovers, and you can serve them with the Molassa-sauce if you like. This particular day, I used almond butter instead of peanut butter, and fresh strawberries instead of bananas... and I gave the girls soy yogurt for dipping. Again, kids love to dip!

As with my last post on smoothies, a super nutritious quick-fix is to add a dollop of nut butter to your smoothies. This is especially good in creamy smoothies made with frozen bananas and non-dairy milks (and you can still add the kale!) Almond and cashew butters are delicious, and even a small amount of hemp nut butter (on its own or in combination with other butters) is tasty.

Another thing I do is mix cashew butter with some Goddess Dressing into leftover pasta. Yup. The girls love it. If you have leftover noodles of any time sitting in the fridge, first add to a bowl and pour boiling water over the noodles to reheat and soften. Let sit for 5 or so minutes. Drain off all the water, and then gently stir in some cashew butter. You can add a dab of tahini too if you like. Then, add in some Goddess Dressing (and a touch of ketchup or agave to sweeten if you like). Don't add too much nut butter that it will be super sticky, just a spoonful or so to make a thick type of sauce. Now, if you want to throw some grated or diced veggies into the pasta, or frozen corn kernels or greens peas (again, first warmed in boiling water, and then drained)... do so! Add what veg your little guy or gal likes to eat.

Back to the seed butters. At our daughter's school, peanuts and nuts are not allowed, but seeds are. So, I make her seed butter sandwiches. Here's the thing, though, guys: seed butters are not as naturally sweet as nut butters. They have an inherent earthiness and sometimes bitterness. Tahini is particularly bitter, so I just don't use it for sandwiches. But, I do use sunflower butter and hemp seed nut butter. What you need to do is add some extra flavor. After spreading on the seed butter, sprinkle on some cinnamon, then add your jam or some agave nectar. You can even stir some agave/cinnamon into the jars of hemp or sunflower butter in advance to flavor them in advance. And if you send you kiddo to school with these, make sure you tell them and/or their teacher that these sandwiches might look like pb&j, but they are sb&j. :)

Note that some nut and seed butters are 'raw', and others are not. Raw nut butters will definitely be labeled as such. I now prefer raw almond butter to the roasted almond butter, as an example, but use what you like. Remember, the vegan palate develops over time, so while you may not like some nut/seed butters now, you may come to appreciate them later.

Go on my nutty crew and get cooking, baking, whizzing, stirring, or just sticking a big spoon in that jar of your favorite nut butter and enjoying all on its own! (and if you have any sneaky mama tips to share with other readers, please do!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Drink Your Greens Smoothie

We know it. We should eat our greens, every day if possible. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, and most of us don't eat enough of them. Are you one of these people? Well, try drinking your greens instead of eating them!

I've gone waaaay too far, right? 'Out there?!' In fact, that's just what my husband said several months ago: "What?! Dreena, you've gone too far this time. There's no way I'm drinking kale in my smoothie. Forget it. Drop it. I go along with lots of things, but this time just forget it."
Yup. That was the reaction. Later in the week, I snuck a few leaves into his morning smoothie. Not this exact recipe, but a regular smoothie I make for him with rice/soy milk, frozen bananas (lots of them), and some brown rice protein powder. He drank it, and said nothing. Then, through the summer on hot days I made this Drink Your Greens Smoothie from ED&BV. He liked it - a lot - and then a few weeks ago while drinking his morning smoothie (with kale) again he said "by the way, did you add that kale smoothie thing to your new book, 'cause these smoothies are really good". um, yeah. oh, and btw hubby: hoo-ahh!

So, here's the thing about drinking your greens. Whether you use this refreshing all-fruit/veg-based recipe, or add kale to your own fave smoothie, there are a couple of MUSTS to follow:

1. Add enough frozen banana and/or other sweeter fruits to balance the bitterness of the greens. If the smoothie is thick enough and sweet enough - trust me, you won't taste the kale. Make sure your frozen banana is very ripe, otherwise it's just not very sweet. I buy lots o' bananas, let them go overripe, then peel, slice, and into a ziploc bag in the freezer they go. I know some of you out there don't like bananas. I have no words. Ok, well I do, I mean... I'm not super excited to eat a banana on its own... but bananas in smoothies? Schlurrrp, love 'em!

2. Blend that kale to smithereens! Really, this is key. You must blend/pulverize for a couple of minutes until the kale is not just in little bits - but until it is just flecking your smoothie with green color. I find the frozen banana helps my immersion blender cut through the kale. Blend, blend, blend. And just when you think you've blended enough, blend some more! Yes, it will sound like you are doing kitchen renovations. No matter - just blend. If there are little bits of leaves still in there that you can chew... you need to blend it further. It's for the sake of a great smoothie, man!

3. Take a little taste. If you need more frozen banana or need to thin it, do so. Once you've made enough of these (again, whether with this recipe or just adding to your own smoothies), you'll be able to skip this step. You'll just have a sense that your smoothie is wicked good.

Do you need a high-powered blender like a Vitamix for this smoothie? No. I don't have one (though I'd like one)! But, I use my immersion blender, and start it off on slow speed just to cut through the nanners, and then I pump it up on high speed and whiz like crazy.

Now that summer has passed and it's chillier, I opt for adding kale to our rice/soy-milk based smoothies instead of this fruit-based smoothie. But, I'm telling you, I do this every day. It's one of the easiest ways to get the greens in our diet - try it with your kids. Unfortunately, my kids still aren't into smoothies in general. I know. What's with my munchkins?! But, if your kids like smoothies - try this!!

Finally, why do I keep talking about kale - and not spinach or swiss chard? I'm not dissing spinach or swiss chard, or other greens... it's just that kale is more nutritious in that the iron and calcium are better absorbed by our bodies (see p. 100 & 109 - Becoming Vegan). Ok, and because I have a soft spot for kale... it's a misunderstood vegetable. Often left to wilt next to spinach and swiss chard. So sad. Support your kale, people.

I buy a bunch of kale about twice a week - sometimes more if I'm also sauteing it or using it in other recipes. Give it a wash and shake/spin the excess water off. Pop it in a ziploc bag with a paper towel to catch the excess moisture. Then, it's ready to use fresh and clean every day.

Now, go eat, DRINK, and be vegan!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thai Chick-Un Pizza

Pizza. The Italian classic has crossed over into just about every cuisine. Including Thai. You've probably heard of 'Thai Chicken Pizza' from specialty pizza shops. I take this pizza down the vegan path with Thai Chick-Un Pizza from ED&BV.

I simplify my life by using a prepared whole-wheat pizza crust. But, if you want to make your own crust - by all means go for it! Then, the peanut sauce is slathered on the crust. Before baking, some toppings are added. First, lightly squished (or you can keep them whole) chickpeas, slices of crisp red pepper and juicy cubed pineapple. Of course, if you'd like to use faux chicken strips in place of the chickpeas, you can do so. For me, I enjoy keeping this pizza truly 'Chick-un', so chickpeas are my choice. Sliced green onions are added for the last minute or so, and then after baking, the bean sprouts are sprinkled over top, along with the optional cilantro and/or peanuts. That's it! Not too difficult, right?

I've wanted to post about this pizza for a loooong time. As you can see, though my picture wasn't *quite* as pretty. Just as lip-smackin' tasty... just not as good-lookin'! Knowing we'd be photographing this recipe for the cookbook, I held back. But, it was hard to - I've been anxious to share details on this pizza because this is one of my fave recipes from the book.

Why? With a prepped pizza crust, it's very simple to make. The sauce is whizzed in a food processor or with a handblender - and your work is pretty much done. The taste is sensational, and the pizza itself is quite substantial. Another bonus: the peanut sauce yields enough to distribute over two crusts, depending on how thick you like the sauce. (You already know my preference on that!)

Some of you may finally be getting your copies of ED&BV, so try out this pizza asap!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

I mentioned I'd be posting the Living Caesar recipe next, but with Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, I MUST post this most awesome Chocolate Pumpkin Pie recipe!!

It always seems to sneak up on me, our Thanksgiving... do my fellow Canadians notice this? It's back to school and then all of a sudden, whammo! Thanksgiving is here! Especially this year. Hubby mentioned last week that we had a long weekend approaching, and I said "what for?". Yeah, Thanksgiving! I'd prefer how US Thanksgiving is closer to the entire holiday season. In Canada, I feel it gets lost between school and Halloween business.

Anyhow, this pie can be prepared very quickly. Get your canned pumpkin pie mix, your chocolate chips, and a prepared chocolate pie crust (my fave is Wholly Wholesome, as many of you know). Ready, get set, go! This is an easy pie to make, but tastes and looks like you've been working way too hard in the kitchen. :)

Even if you don't care much for pumpkin pie, I think you'll like this recipe. Because, didn't you see CHOCOLATE in the title?! The taste of the pumpkin mix offers more of a background note to the intense dark chocolate flavor. So, this pie can be served to a crowd of both pumpkin pie lovers, and those not feelin' the pumpkin pie love!

If you have ED&BV, you can also check out my Pumpkin Cheese-Pie, p.207.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, guys... and of course, the pie!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas and Yummy (Vegan) Mummy

You can now go to my recipes page for the Tamari Roasted Chickpeas recipe. It's a real easy one, too guys. Make them soon, make them often!

You'll find oodles of ways to enjoy them, from nibbling to topping salads, entrees, packing in lunches, or whizzing up into a chunky type of hummus. They're good eats!

And I mean EASY. Open a can of chickpeas, rinse and drain and pop on a baking sheet (lined with parchment), and toss with ingredients as shown here. Bake up and nummy nibbling awaits!

As I mentioned, I pack these into lunches - our grade 1 daughter LOVES them, and honestly jumps with excitement when she sees me making these chickpeas. I know. For chickpeas! Don't you just love that? (Though, I should tell you, she's not always as joyful for all the other healthy foods I put in front of her. But I take what I can get!) Anyhow, now that I'm into packing full lunches for her every day, I thought you might be interested in my healthy sandwich article on the Yummy Mummy club website. Some of you may have seen this before, since I posted this info on my cooking pages some time back. But, it's updated and also will be new to some of you more recent visitors. Yes, yes, I realize that mentioning this article is once again talking about "me"... blah, blah, blah... me, me, me... but I figure some of you might enjoy the read, so I provide you with the link to do so. (gotta' have a sense of humor about these things afterall.) :)

Next, as to some of your questions about Amazon and shipping ED&BV... I've been in touch with my publisher, and they are getting in touch with amazon to find out what's up! Amazon does have stock of ED&BV now, so orders should be getting shipped out.

Finally, when you do get your copies, and have a chance to cook up some tasty bits and bites, if you are happy with my book and would like to share your feedback with others, I would greatly appreciate your reviews on amazon. Even a few short words or a brief sentence. Anything to communicate to others what you like about the book and why others might like it as well. And I thank you, in advance.

Oh, and really finally... I'll get the Living Caesar recipe posted next. I'm working to organize my blog and links a bit better, so bear with me please!