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Summer has finally shown up around here (along with a glorious sunburn I managed to obtain yesterday taking advantage of the sunshine). This means the reappearance of cold grain salads and the like in my books. This one was a happy combination of flavours and textures that came mostly out of the mixture that was the dregs of my pre-grocery shopping trip pantry.
2 cups dry quinoa (or 1 cup if your prefer a lower quinoa to add-in ratio)
2 navel oranges, cut into inch segments
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced (I would say about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of minced cilantro)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2-3 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine quinoa with 4 cups water (2 cups if you are using 1 cup of quinoa) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the white centres have dissapeared and tails are visible on the grains. Set aside to cool.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and add cooled quinoa. Toss all ingredients together and serve.
I’m also submitting this to Ricki’s weekly blog event “Wellness Weekend” where it can mingle with plenty of other, healthy vegan summery recipes!
A while back I found myself in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) with my family for the weekend. This meant investigating the veggie eateries in town! We ended up eating at the super swanky looking but spectacularly vegetarian unfriendly hotel restaurant for lunch on the first day (not kidding, there were zero vegetarian options, not even the usual paltry side salad) but fortunately Edmonton redeemed itself by brunch the following morning at Padmanadis. We were quite the group that headed out that morning; a vegan, a vegetarian with a bunch of food restrictions (no gluten, peanuts, soy, dairy, corn, and a couple of other things I think), a diabetic allergic to spinach, and three omnivores with varying levels of veggie acceptance. Fortunately for all of us, we had a most enjoyable time and better yet, everyone loved their food!! Two thumbs up for that! 🙂 When we were there the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy (Sunday for brunch) and while I didn’t take any pictures of the actual restaurant, it was nice,spacious and bright with fun pictures (apparently of staff and frequent patrons) adorning the walls. My good friend who resides in Edmonton, called Padmanadi’s the hip place for Edmonton vegans and I can definitely see why, that being said I think it has a good balance between hip and modern and ‘hippie’. My parents felt comfortable dining there (unlike some of the other vegan/veggie establishments we have been to in the past, which have garnered some comments about the waitstaff etc.) and my father even talked about suggesting it to a business associate who coordinates work meetings and dinners. Also, fairly irrelevant, but I LOVED the taps in the bathroom! They were basically a glass bowl with a glass disk held above it, which water ran onto and over into the bowl, creating a little waterfall effect.
So about that food, eh? As I mentioned, we came for brunch so that was the menu we ordered off of. We had an extremely helpful and chipper waiter who was happy to answer our (many) questions about ingredients etc. and was happy to offer suggestions on what to order which was much appreciated by
me the indecisive among us. In my defense, this is actually the first entirely vegan restaurant I have ever been to, and it was quite novel to be able to choose absolutely ANYTHING off the menu!! So, what did we end up ordering?
Up first is the hot rice cereal with coconut milk (one of the few options that my friend with all the food restrictions could have- as an aside, she said previously when she ate there, off the dinner menu, there was basically nothing that she could eat, however they were open to whipping something up for her) My dad also got a small side dish of this, they both thought it was fantastic and quite decadent (akin to rice pudding).
My Dad also got the French Toast (banana coconut french toast with mango compote). This was a big hit; he loves tropical flavours and french toast so this checked quite a few boxes for him!
My brother got the spicy eggplant omelette. He was iffy about the eggplant at first but I convinced him to order it anyways and I think he might have a more favourable opinion of eggplant now. Also, this came with Daiya cheese, and as one of the omnivores in the group, I was pleasantly surprised to hear nothing of the lack of real cheese flavour. I always figure that vegan stuff probably tastes ‘real’ to me because I just don’t remember what the dairy/meat product tastes like, but I would say this is a firm vote for the authenticity of Daiya.
My mom and her college roommate (the diabetic) both got the traditional eggs benedict. I think at first the non-vegan names threw them for a loop (they kept asking if the ham, cheese, egg etc. was ‘real’) but they both enjoyed it and had a fun time dissecting the dish to figure out the various components (the ‘egg’ had a butternut squash ‘yolk’ etc.).
Lastly, I got the Thai Benedict, which I was assured was not spicy, and sure enough, it was well within my tolerable level of heat (aka, basically not spicy at all). I loved the flavourings of the dish, although really with peanut and cilantro, I’m not sure how you can go wrong! 🙂 Most of us also got the house root vegetable fries on the side, which were lovely (not greasy at all which was a pleasant surprise!) and contained taro root (the white with purple flecks right near the little bowl of salsa), which was a new veggie for many of us (and which our waiter happily gave us the name of). Since then, I got myself a taro root and chopped it up and baked it in the oven with sweet potatoes-very tasty!
That’s not all though, we splurged for dessert too (I was especially excited about this even though I really wasn’t hungry for it at all, but who can pass up the opportunity to actually order and eat dessert!?)
There was rice pudding, chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (oh yes!), and panna cotta ordered. All were deemed delicious, with much discussion on how one would make the recipes vegan etc.
All in all, I thought Padmanadis was fantastic, great food at reasonable prices, great service and great company! I would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Edmonton. I also really enjoyed the opportunity for the omnivores in the group to try vegan food in a relaxed atmosphere (they really don’t push the vegan aspect, which I think probably serves it well in Alberta, which isn’t exactly the most vegan friendly province! ;)) and the discussions about the food, ingredients, and preparation that ensued. Here’s hoping we all went away with a little more open minds and full, happy bellies. 🙂
I am in love with everything British- they have the best accents (well, Australia is up there too), an excess of castles, beautiful old buildings and BBC! BBC is fantastic and I think they have on of the best websites out there. Seriously, you can learn obscure languages (ask me how I know, I may have gone through a Gaelic phase; I still know how to ask “how are you” in Gaelic), read world news, find recipes etc. This particular recipe is from a BBC Vegetarian magazine publication that my brother gave me for christmas a few years back, but lucky for me, the recipe was also online. Go take a peek at the original recipe; it makes for a very impressive main dish, but also quite time-consuming, so for my own purposes I made some alterations.
Moroccan Butternut Rice Pilaf
7 cups cubed butternut squash (this was about half a squash for me)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons groung coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mixed rice blend
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced ginger root
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 small bag spinach (I used 10 frozen spinach cubes, probably about the equivalent of 1 cup of steamed spinach)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix spices (first measures of cumin and coriander, paprika and cinnamon) into olive oil. Pour over butternut squash cubes in a pan and toss to coat. Place in oven and roast for about 40 minutes or until cubes are tender, tossing cubes a couple times during baking.
Meanwhile combine the rice and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and cook until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender.
Saute onion and ginger in a frying pan until onion is golden brown, about five minutes. Add spinach, almonds and raisins and cook until spinach is wilted (or defrosted). Add butternut squash cubes and rice once they have cooked and drizzle with agave.
Place chickpeas, garlic and second measures of cumin and coriander, olive oil, and lemon juice in food processor and puree. You may need to add some water at this point to get a good consistency.
Mix hummus into mixture in frying pan and stir to incorporate (you could also leave it out or layer it when serving-the dish looks much more attractive pre-hummus, but it adds a nice touch flavourwise)
For as long as I can remember, sometime in December my family would pack into the car and drive for an hour or so to the to cut down a Christmas tree (it was part of a Forest Warden program that aimed to help thin out the trees), er, well actually, several. For a number of years, we would get a big tree for the living room (and when I say big, I mean big, the Christmas tree corner in the house has an 18 foot high ceiling, so many years we would get a 10-15 foot tree) and then each of us kids would get a smaller tree for our bedrooms. This was an all day venture and in later years, we often brought friends along to participate, and every year mom packed a thermos of hot chocolate and a big pot of chili that sat in the trunk swathed in towels to keep it hot until we were ready to eat. To this day chili remains a favourite cold weather food of mine. This recipe is quite a bit different from the chili I grew up eating, lacking the pork and beans of yesteryear, but no less delicious.
Butternut Squash Chili
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
7 cups cubed butternut squash (this was about half of a medium sized squash)
1 tablespoon chili powder (this may vary depending on how hot your chili poweder is and how spicy you want your chili)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
diced canned tomatoes
5 cups cooked chili beans
1 zucchini, diced
2 cups frozen, or fresh, corn kernels
Saute onion and garlic in a pot until golden. Add squash and spices and cook for a few more minutes, until spices are fragrant. Add tomatoes, and beans (you may want to add some additional water at this point, I added about 1/2 cup) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until squash is tender. Add in zucchini and corn and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until all vegetables are cooked. Remove from heat and serve.
I don’t know about you, but I am quite the chocoholic! Thus when I came across both of these products I knew I had to give them a shot. First up, Silk’s Dark Chocolate Almond Milk:
What I love about this product is that it still has all of the nutritional additives that the plain almond milk (and soymilk) has. I always like it when I can tell myself good reasons to have a delicious treat (50% of your B12, go ahead, have another glass ;)). The fact that it is the almond milk is also really appealing; while I don’t have any real problems with soy, I would rather get my soy from products like tofu, edamame, and tempeh than from soymilk so I love that Silk has made that possible (a lot of the other almond milks don’t have the add-ins that Silk does – that may not be a deal breaker for you but I don’t take supplements so I like knowing that my morning milk substitute provides a good amount of calcium, B12, and vitamin D) and hey, I would never complain about having the additional choice of chocolate! 😀
As for the actual product, it is sweetened, but I didn’t find it overpoweringly so, and that along with the chocolate, brings up the calorie count to over double that of the original TrueAlmond (60kcals in the TrueAlmond and 130kcals in a cup of the Chocolate) so that is something to consider, if you are a calorie minding individual. That being said, they aren’t lying when they call it dark chocolate, so much so that I was happy to mix it half and half with the plain and still have a yummy chocolatey drink. I also took to heating it up and adding a drop of mint extract for a yummy mint hot chocolate experience. Mmmm!
So five gold stars, two thumbs up etc. from me for the Dark Chocolate Silk TrueAlmond. I definitely suggest picking some up if you see it in your store.
Next up, Vega Shake & Go Chocolate Smoothie mix.
This is actually not the kind of product I normally purchase, mostly because of the prohibitive cost. A bag of this is usually betwen $20-$25 around here and it contains ten servings, not exactly the most budget friendly product out there. I purchased this while I was out travelling, unsure of what kind of food I would find, so I figured having something like this that you can just add to water was a nice safeguard against living off of
side salads, er iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots for 10 days.
Compared to the other flavours offered (Vanilla, Berry, and Tropical), the chocolate has more calories, but it also has more iron and calcium, two things I am generally concerned about how much I am consuming, and hey, it’s chocolate, so I really need any other reasons to choose it! 😉 The other thing I love about it, and all Vega products, is the impressive ingredients list:
Organic green pea protein, natural flavours, organic coconut palm nectar, flaxseed, hemp protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic green food blend (alfalfa grass, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, organic broccoli sprout, spirulina), xanthan gum, digestive enzyme blend, and dairy-free probiotic blend (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum).
By itself, the mix does have a bit of a ‘healthy’ taste, but nothing too strong (I still though it was yummy mixed into almond milk). I would definitely suggest using it as an add-in to a regular smoothie rather than having it on it’s own, I thought it was quite a tasty addition to a frozen fruit and spinach smoothie.Aside from that, I also found it to be quite sweet, and initially thought it was sweetened with Stevia (which I find sometimes has a bit of an aftertaste) but the ingredients indicate otherwise. I also used it as a chocolate flavouring for the waffles I made in the hotel, stirred it into oatmeal with pears (mmm, chocolate pear oats), and mixed it into almond milk for a healthy hot chocolate; all tasty uses of the product.
Overall, I would say it is a good product, although perhaps best used as suggested by individuals who aren’t epecting their ‘smoothie’ to taste like Nesquick. Mixed into a full fledged smoothie, I think it would be happily consumed by most and for the ingredients, I would say a good way to sneak greens into the smoothie of an otherwise reluctant greens drinker. 🙂 Really the big negative is the cost. For 10 servings, it doesn’t go far if you are using it regularly, and while the ingredient list is impressive for a packaged product, you can eat your greens fresh for much less than that.
Okay, a bit late to the party here, but how about we just pretend I am early for American Thanksgiving, mmkay?
So, roomies and I decided to make ourselves a glorious thanksgiving feast. On the menu:
Lentil Loaf/Nutroast: Notes were taken in the making of this, it was lentil, mushroom and walnut based I think…
Gravy from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton
Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries plus water and a bit of agave cooked on the stove until cranberries were mushy
Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Roasted a head of garlic in the oven and added it to cooked potatoes with some almond milk before mashing it all up.
Brussels Sprouts: Cleaned and sliced in half and then baked in the oven with oil, salt and pepper
Pumpkin Cheesecake (Made crustless, largely followed the recipe except for adding an extra tablespoon or so of cornstarch, not sure if it made much of a difference, but once cooled, you could cut out a slice – see picture)
So here is my plate (actually I am kind of lying, this was a plate of leftovers, hence the lack of Brussels sprouts-they were decimated the first go around!)
It was most delicious, and quite lovely indeed to have a big group meal making effort and sit down (we normally do cooking and eating separately).
Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, so here is my homage.
At last, success on the Shepherds pie front! I actually have no idea how authentic this is; it pretty much ended up being a clean out the fridge/freezer type of dish but it turned out tasty and that’s what counts, right? 🙂 I really think you could pretty much throw in whatever veggies you have on hand and call it a day. This did end up making more than I had anticipated (filled a 9×13″ dish) but I think I will throw some of it in the freezer to have on hand for crazy busy days.
Clean out the Fridge Shepherds Pie
3 medium russet potatoes, washed and chopped roughly (you can peel ’em if you like)
1 cup dried brown lentils, cooked until tender (I added about 2 teaspoons of an italian spice blend to my cooking water)
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cups chopped frozen, or fresh, green beans
2 cups frozen, or fresh, corn kernels
3 mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon red miso
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup almond milk (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water and cook until tender, about 30 minutes but it depends how small your potato chunks are. Place lentils in another pot with about two cups of water, cook until tender (you may have to add more water).
When potatoes and lentils are done, preheat oven to 350F.
Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in a frying pan until golden. Add carrots and cook for about five minutes. Toss in beans, corn and mushrooms and saute for another few minutes. Stir in spices. Stir lentils and veggies together.
Remove potatoes with slotted spoon and dump into a bowl. Mash, adding potato cooking water and/or almond milk and salt until a creamy consistency is obtained. Set aside.
Combine miso with 1-2 tablespoons of remaining potato cooking water and mix until dissolved. Stir into lentil and veggie mixture along with nutritional yeast and remaining potato cooking water.*
Spread lentil vegetable mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13″ pan. Dollop mashed potatoes on top and spread around to completely cover top of vegetable mixture. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until potatoes are beginning to brown at peaks. Remove and serve.
*Vegetable stock would add a nice flavour here too, which is what I originially intended to use, however my pantry was lacking stock, so I made do without.
I had great supper plans last night, either shepherds pie or squash chili, and was all set preparing my various ingredients (cooking dried beans, baking squash etc.) when the fire alarm started going off. My roommates and I dutifully opened all the windows, turned on the stove fan, and started fanning the fire alarm, but to no avail. Obviously we just needed to monkey with the alarm so we began to examine how one might turn it off when we realized it wasn’t our cooking causing the ruckus, the alarms in the rest of the apartment complex were blaring as well. We filed out of the building and joined our neighbors in the parking lot to find out that our building wasn’t in imminent danger, rather someone else’s dinner was transformed into charcoal, unbeknownst to them. Moral of the story here kids: don’t leave food on the stove unattended! (Fortunately for me the beans I had cooking on the stove didn’t add to the excitement courtesy of a roommate who has the brains to turn the stove off, even under duress) Anyways, after all was said and done and we were able to return to the apartment, the time for chili was past and I wanted something speedy. Tofu scramble it was! No amounts but this included: tofu, onion, carrots, mushrooms, kale, sun dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, turmeric, and nooch with some sesame oil roasted broccoli on the side. Perfect for a speedy dinner. Here’s hoping that chili/shepherds pie is a better plan for tonight!