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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vegan BLT Lettuce Wraps with Macadamia Mayo

Hey Sweeties,

My apologies for the long hiatus I took in posting!   

I generally eat pretty darn healthy, but I am currently on a twelve week clean, clean, clean eating and fitness program to get my bod into prime bathing suit condition so for those of you in a similar boat, stay tuned for some clean, low-carb, high protein vegan eats!

This recipe caters to my lettuce wrap obsession and a serious craving for tempeh bacon.

BLT Lettuce Wraps with Macadamia Mayo
- 1 head of organic romaine lettuce, leaves seperated
- 3 or 4 ripe organic roma tomatoes, sliced
- 1 package of tempeh bacon, prepared according to package directions, cooled and crumbled
- 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- S&P

To make the mayo, combine the macadamia nuts, garlic, lemon juice and water in a high speed blender (I use my VitaMix but the Magic Bullet works great too) and blend on high until the mixture is perfectly smooth and creamy.  If it is really thick, add a little more water.  It will thicken up a bit if you refrigerate it for an hour or so.  Season the mayo with salt.  You could add a little smoked paprika or other herbs right about now too, if your heart desires :)

To assemble, spread some mayo onto each romaine leaf, top with slices of tomato and sprinkle on some crumbled tempeh bacon.  A little diced avocado wouldn't hurt either!  Season the wraps with a grind of fresh pepper and NOSH!


Vivacious Vegan

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Cheezy" Quinoa with Broccoli

Hey Babes!

When I cook grains, I like to make up a big batch of them so I have lots and lots leftover for other dishes throughout the week.  Last night, I whipped up a huge batch of quinoa and used some of it to make a yummy and comforting supper:  "Cheezy" Quinoa with Broccoli.  Kind of like mac and cheese with broccoli, but gluten free, low fat, high protein and of course, vegan!  It was so luxurious and rich but yet so nutritious, I knew I would have to share it with you right away!  I used some of the leftover quinoa in my lunch today, a salad with spinach, avocado, sunflower seeds and a lime-macadamia dressing - so good!  The rest of the leftover grains will either get rolled into nori to make veggie sushi rolls or baked into quinoa omelet breakfast muffins!  Recipes will follow. . . <3

"Cheezy" Quinoa with Broccoli
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups broccoli, chopped into itty bitty florets
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (or both!)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- S&P to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan and stir in the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot with a lid.  The quinoa should be cooked in about 15 minutes.  You'll be able to tell when it's cooked as the little "tails" become present and the grains have doubled in size.   

Turn off the heat, add the broccoli and cover with the lid while you make the sauce.  This steams the broccoli ever so slightly, so the texture is more tender but the nutrients are better preserved.

Whisk together all the other ingredients except the nutritional yeast and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  If you find that your sauce has turned into a super thick paste (tahini can be funny that way), just add a tablespoon of water at a time and stir it well until a saucier consistency is reached.  

Stir the sauce and nutritional yeast into the quinoa and broccoli and re-season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Cucumber Carrot Slaw

Hello Lovelies,

Lately I have been giving cooking lessons to ATM's cousin Steffie who recently went vegetarian (woohoo!).  Yesterday, when she was deciding what she would like me to teach her to cook, she mentioned her disdain for tofu.  She is certainly not alone in the Tofu Haters Club, more often than not I meet people who shudder at the mere mention of the word.  I believe that almost everyone can like tofu because tofu can taste like anything: chicken-y nuggets, feta cheese, ricotta cheese, chocolate mousse, ranch dressing. . . the possibilities are endless!  Tofu on its own is pretty sad and boring, so preparation is key when winning people over to bean curd love.  Steffie and I made super simple, super delicious Thai tofu lettuce wraps and guess what?  She sure doesn't hate tofu anymore!

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Cucumber Carrot Slaw
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, or iceberg lettuce, or collards, or savoy cabbage for wrapping
for the tofu:
- 1 package of extra firm tofu
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or veg oil 
for the sauce:
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp agave syrup
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- Sriracha sauce, or Sambal Oelek, or other chili sauce
for the slaw:
- 1 large English cucumber
- 1 large carrot
- 1 minced shallot
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1 small minced Thai chili (or a sprinkle or dried chili flakes)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Let's start with the slaw.  Using a vegetable peeler, make the carrot and cucumber into ribbons by peeling and rotating the veggies until there is nothing left.  Toss the ribbons, with the shallot, lime juice, agave, tamari, chilies and cilantro and set in the fridge to get cold and crisp and well marinated.

For the sauce, simply whisk the lime juice, agave, tamari and chili sauce (to your discretion).

For the tofu, place all ingredients except for the coconut oil into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is well combined.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add the coconut or vegetable oil and the tofu mixture.  Saute for a few minutes, or until slightly browned and heated through.    

Separate the lettuce, or leaves of choice, and arrange them on a platter.  To make a wrap, layer a few spoonfuls of the tofu on a leaf, drizzle with the sauce, and top with the cucumber carrot slaw.

Vivacious Vegan                  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Raw Vegan Doughnut Holes a.k.a. "Tim Bits"

Hey Loves!

I haven't been able to shake the craving for something cinnamon-ny and sweet lately.  The other day after my lady friends and I took their kids tobogganing, we went for tea and hot chocolate at Tim Hortons' (for my international pals, Tim Hortons is the most popular coffee shop chain in Canada, founded by Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman, Tim Horton).  As I ordered a large peppermint tea at the counter, my gaze turned to the racks of freshly made doughnuts, in particular the doughnut holes (in Canada, we call them "Tim Bits") and I felt my mouth begin to salivate.  I rushed home and whipped up a batch of sweet, dense, spiced little gems that were as good as any Tim Bits, and maybe even better, as they were free of white flour, white sugar and a whole host of mystery chemicals.  Oh and did I mention, they're raw?

Raw Vegan "Tim Bits"
- 1 1/2 cups raw flaked oats
- 2 cups raw Brazil nuts
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (it's not raw, so you can sub it our for 1/4 cup raw agave if you're serious about the raw-someness!)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon

In your trusty food processor, pulse the oats until they are very fine, almost a flour-like consistency.  Add the Brazil nuts and process until ground.  Add the coconut oil, nutmeg and maple syrup or agave and pulse until the mixture comes together.  

Refrigerate for one hour.  While the mixture is 'chilling out' (pardon the pun), stir together the coconut sugar and cinnamon.

Roll into bite sized (or two-bite sized) balls, and roll in the coconut sugar/cinnamon mixture. 

Refrigerate for another hour and then devour!  Store these babies in the freezer or refrigerator.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Endive Salad with Oranges and Olives

T.G.I.F. Honey Buns!!!

(Just saying that made me want a cinnamon bun all of a sudden...)

Eating salad when it's this cold outside seems like a strange thing to do (why eat salad when you could eat a hot steaming bowl of soup?!) but amidst all the warm, saucy, slow-cooked comfort foods of Winter, your body can crave something light, refreshing, and raw.  Belgian endive is a sturdy leafed member of the chicory family that has a nice crunch and a bitter-sweet finish.  Don't let its pale colour fool you, Belgian endive is packed with folate and vitamins A and K.  Paired with sweet cara cara naval oranges and briny green olives, this salad is Wintery and satisfying, without making you feel heavy.  

Endive Salad with Oranges and Olives
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
- S&P
- 3 - 4 Belgian endives
- 3 cara cara oranges (pink fleshed naval oranges), or blood oranges or regular naval oranges, rind and pith cut off with a very sharp paring knife
- 2 pale inner ribs of celery and the leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup green olives (or sun dried black olives), pitted and sliced into slivers
- a handful of Italian parsley, chopped

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil vigorously until emulsified.  Season with S&P.

Using a sharp knife, cut the orange segments free from their membranes.  This technique is a little tricky and takes practice, if you would rather not 'supreme' the oranges, just turn them on their sides, slice them into 1/2" thick slices and then quarter each slice.  

Slice each endive in half lengthwise and remove the tough core.  Slice the endive halves into 1/2" thick slices and place in a large bowl with the celery, orange segments, olives and parsley.  

Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the dressing over the salad and toss.  Add just enough dressing to coat the salad, not too much, or it will get soggy and wet!  

Divide onto four serving plates or eat right out of the bowl!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Raw Vegan "Scallops" with Orange Pepper Cream and Blood Orange Salsa

Hello there!

It has been mighty chilly here in Winnipeg (duh, it's January!) but I have had an excuse to stay inside for the past week - STREP THROAT!  It was a fun-filled, first time experience for me indeed (fun, like someone stabbing you in the throat with a fork)!  I was mostly on a liquid diet but some softer foods made it onto my sick bed menu too (Avocado Carpaccio, anyone?).  And in my antibiotic/Advil stupor, I managed to create an outstanding dish that I am so proud of and so excited to share with you!  King oyster mushrooms are not always easy to find, but I have had no problem finding them in my friendly neighborhood Asian grocery store.  Blood oranges are easily substituted with regular, seedless naval oranges or even grapefruit.  This recipe should serve eight as a starter or four as a main dish.  

Raw Vegan "Scallops" with Orange Pepper Cream and Blood Orange Salsa
for the mushroom 'scallops':
- one dozen king oyster mushrooms, bottoms and caps removed
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp nama shoyu or tamari soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp agave syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- S&P
for the bell pepper puree:
- 2 orange or yellow bell peppers
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
for the blood orange salsa:
- 2 blood oranges, rind and pith cut away with a sharp paring knife and diced (regular seedless naval oranges are fine if you can't find blood oranges)
- 1 minced shallot
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped (or parsley if you are a cilantro hater)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp macadamia nut oil, or pistachio oil or avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 chili pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
- S&P

Slice the king oyster mushroom stems into 1/2" thick "scallops".  Mix together all other ingredients and season with S&P.  Marinate "scallops" in the lovely marinade you just whipped up for 30 min - an hour, stirring occasionally.

Dehydrate the "scallops" at 104 degrees for two hours, basting occasionally with the marinade.  Alternatively, if you are not in possession of a dehydrator, but want to keep this dish raw, warm the medallions in an oven on it's lowest setting with the door cracked open.  If you are not in the least bit concerned about the rawness factor, sear the scallops in a pan with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until tender.

For the puree, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until silky smooth.  

For the salsa, toss all ingredients together and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

To serve, put a few tablespoons of the bell pepper puree in the middle of each plate and swirl to make a nice circle.  Arrange the scallops in the center of the plate and put a spoonful of the blood orange salsa on top.  Garnish with a cilantro sprig if you like.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roasted Chestnut and Red Lentil Soup

Hey Lovelies!

I decided to try roasting chestnuts on Christmas Eve.  I saw people roasting chestnuts on big, cast iron grills, all over Rome and didn't get a chance to try them.  And they seemed like a totally idyllic thing to eat at Christmas (cue the Nat King Cole).  So I bought some chestnuts, painstakingly scored little crosses on them with my utility knife, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary, and waited with anticipation of festive bliss as they roasted in the oven.  

I had ten guests over on Christmas Eve and not one had tried a roasted chestnut before.  Once cooled, I proudly brought a massive platter of the toasty beauties into the dining room as a curious crowd gathered.  After wrestling with the peels a bit, we popped the crumbly innards into our mouths with excitement. . . "It tastes like a dry, baked potato."  "Yeah, a really dry potato, but a bit sweet."  A potato?  A dry potato?!  It was certainly not what any of us were expecting, least of all me.  No buttery crunch?  No toasty, warm nuttiness?  None.  Maybe they're better roasted over an open fire?

It goes without saying that I was left with a massive amount of skin-on, roasted chestnuts.  On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas here in Canada) my darling father took to the task of peeling said chestnuts and reserving their meat in a bowl.  "You can't just waste them!" he argued.  So I did what any chic, modern, resourceful gal would do, I Googled!  And that night, I adapted a recipe by Nigella Lawson (LOVE her!) and made a fabulously festive dinner out of my unconventional holiday leftovers.

Roasted Chestnut and Red Lentil Soup

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 veggie bouillon cubes
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup roasted chestnut meat (To roast chestnuts:  Buy 2 cups of chestnuts.  Deeply and carefully score an X on the flat side of each nut.  Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, S&P and some fresh rosemary if you like.  Place the chestnuts in an even layer on a big piece of aluminum foil and then gather up the foil edges around the nuts, leaving a nice big opening at the top.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 30 - 40 min or until the peels curl up a bit.  Let cool and then peel.)
- S&P
-Optional garnish: soy sour cream or cashew cream and chopped parsley

In your favorite soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook the veg mixture until slightly softened.  

Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and bouillon cubes and cook for one minute or until very fragrant.

Add the water, crank the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and reduce heat to medium low.

Add the chestnuts and simmer the soup until the lentils are very soft, about 20 - 30 min.  You will know they are done when you can smush them on the side of the pot with a spoon very easily.  

Puree the soup with an immersion blender (if you haven't got one, go buy one!  They are very inexpensive and make blending soups such a breeze!) and season with S&P.  

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a swirl of soy sour cream or cashew cream and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.      

This is very festive soup and warms you up from the inside out!