VEGAN TOSTADAS WITH AVOCADO CREMA

Tostadas are traditionally prepared with chicken or pork, but this vegan version is just as tasty. You can use just about any vegan protein you have (smoked tempeh, soy crumbles, vegan chorizo, crumbled veggie burger, etc).

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Once the ingredients are prepped, the tostadas are really quick to put together. You can even lay out all the ingredients and have your guests prepare them according to their tastes! You’ll likely have a bit of crema left over, so serve along side the dish for those that like an extra dollop.

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This dish is perfect for a hearty meal for one, a satisfying snack for 2, or as an appetizer for a crowd!

Ingredients (Makes 4-6 tostadas) 

For the avocado crema

  • 1/8 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2  medium avocado
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

For the tostadas

  • 4-6 baked corn tortillas (you may toast your own, but I used packaged Guerrero brand caseras amarilla tostadas)
  •  1/2 cup refried beans
  • kernels from one full cob of corn (about 1/4 cup if using canned or frozen)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes (heirloom or multi-coloured cherry tomatoes are nice)
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegan protein such as a crumbled veggie burger, vegan chorizo, smoked tofu, or tempeh
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh jalapeno (or more if desired)

Directions

To make the avocado crema, place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Set aside. Divide refried beans and spread on each tostada. Top with corn, chopped tomatoes, green onions, crumbled protein, cilantro, and jalapeno. Immediately before serving, top with fresh crema.

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5 MINUTES WITH TARA TOMULKA OF RAWCOLOGY

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Tara Tomulka is the founder of Rawcology, a raw vegan kitchen that aims to, “unite foodies that believe real food is best in its most natural state”.

Tara is a Toronto-based Certified Raw Food Teacher and Holistic Nutritionist. She also  developed (and, lucky for us, teaches!) the first ever raw vegan course at George Brown Culinary school.

What I love about Tara’s business and recipes is her focus on community and local food. Her kitchen aims to source all of their produce from Ontario farms.

I’m thrilled that Tara agreed to take 5 minutes out of her busy day to answer a few questions for me!

  1. What’s the last thing you ate?

My addictively delicious “very cheesy” dip that’s made with red pepper, nutritional yeast, cashews, apple cider vinegar, turmeric and Pink Himalayan salt. Mmmm…

2. Which vegan chef do you most admire and why?

Sarah Britton from My New Roots is my absolute favourite. I love Sarah because her down-to-earth approach and genuine love for whole foods shines through in every recipe she makes and photo she takes. She’s the kind of person I’d want to cook with in my own kitchen at home. Sarah also inspired me to become a Holistic Nutritionist and I strongly share her sentiment that both diet and lifestyle play a powerful role in achieving optimal health and wellness.

3. What’s the one dish you’ve created that’s scored you the most high fives?

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I’d have to say my raw vegan pad thai with spiralized zucchini, kelp noodles and a ton of colourful veggies. I recently made it at a demo for high school students and were thrilled that they licked their plates clean and came back for seconds.

4. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Still trying to figure that one out! My next Rawcology goal is to start selling a line of plant-based dips and snacks that are high protein, high fibre and nutrient-rich. I’d also like to invest in a kitchen space that can be turned into a studio space in which I teach culinary classes, host holistic wellness classes and retreats. The goal is to collaborate with other health and wellness professionals from plant-based chefs, holistic nutritionists, naturopathic doctors, yoga instructors and entrepreneurs to deliver memorable, one-of-a-kind wellness experiences in this space.

5. What’s the one ingredient can’t you live without?

This may be a surprise but I’m going to have to say hemp seeds. I sprinkle them on coconut yogurt, salads, veggie bowls, add them to my smoothies and even my desserts. Hemp seeds are a perfect food, a complete protein, a rich source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and 3 tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre and 10.5 grams of EFAs!! They help balance blood sugar levels, support energy production and a strong immune system.

6. Do vegans have more fun?

What do you think? Hehe.

7. What kitchen item do you most often buy for wedding gifts?

Hand-crafted wooden bowls. Stinson Studios makes incredibly beautiful bowls!

8. Where’s the last place you went to on a date? (and what did you order?)

I went to Raw Aura Organic Cuisine and ordered the Pink Lady juice (yes, it did make me feel like a lady!), and split the Red Beet Ravioli, Nachos and Big Salad with my date. I loved it all but was very impressed by the presentation of the Beet Ravioli. I need to recreate something similar soon!

9. Did becoming vegan bring out any unexpected character traits in you? i.e. are you funnier now than ever before?

Switching to a plant-based diet has definitely made me more sensitive and compassionate in general. I cry in pretty much every drama and cartoon movie.. it’s embarrassing.

10. What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about vegan food?

That eating plants is not a sacrifice – there are endless ways that you can eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. My mission with Rawcology is to inspire and educate people that it’s possible to eat and create easy, healthy and delicious plant-based meals. Eating this way is not complicated. It should be simple and embracing more colourful, vibrant foods is one of the best things you can do for your own health and the health of the planet. I hope I can inspire you to eat more plants, every day!

VEGAN THAI COCONUT SOUP (TOM KHA TOFU)

When I was younger and unattached, I spent close to a year in Thailand. I loved a million things about the country –  the warmth, the people, and the food. The spices were so varied and complex, meaning I could eat the same type of food every day (soup) and yet always enjoy a variety of flavours. A good amount of food in Thailand is vegetarian, so I happily ate my way through the country without a problem. I remember it as being incredibly family friendly, so I’m dreaming of the day when I can take my little ones there on a holiday.

What I love most about this Tom Kha Tofu recipe is how easy it is to make: from pot to bowl, we’re talkin’ 10-15 minutes. What I also love about this soup is how spot on it is in terms of tasting exactly like thai takeaway. Everyone is hella impressed when I serve this! It’s pretty light, so I find it’s best to eat/ serve as a starter vs. a main.

It’s also a very clean recipe, and will definitely be a staple during my upcoming 2 week cleanse with naturopathic doctor Christina Carreau. Subbing in almond milk vs. pure coconut milk reduces the fat content.

(note: I doubled the recipe below so i had leftovers for lunch).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3/4 cups of almond milk (original)
  • 3 tbs green curry paste
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup thin sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz tofu, cubed
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro as a garnish

Directions

In a large pot, mix the coconut and almond milk, the green curry paste and the tamari. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, mushrooms and tofu. Cover again and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn off the stove and stir in maple syrup and lime juice. Serve and top with cilantro and a sliced lime

 

CLEANSING DETOX SOUP

I’m about to embark on a 2 week cleanse with my naturopath Christina Carreau from Degen’s Health Group in Scarborough and the recipe below is part of her meal plan. To me, a spring cleanse is a great way to press the reset button in my body. I feel like I’m down with the clean eating part, but not drinking coffee (and, who are we kidding, wine) for 2 weeks is really challenging for me.  I do it because the benefits are remarkable – after a cleanse I feel lighter, have more energy, I sleep better (and wake up easier…normally we’re talking multiple hits of the proverbial snooze button each morning), and develop a stronger connection to the food I’m preparing and eating.

The recipe below makes an enormous amount of soup. Enough to last you for several meals through out the week. Enjoy a large bowl with a side salad for dinner, or pack it up for lunch. Between meals, this is a great soup to warm up in a mug for a quick snack. It’s packed with veggies, so you know you’re getting ample nutrients.  I tried to let the spices do the talking in this dish – the cinnamon and cayenne added such a great kick that I didn’t have to add much salt. I threw in a can of chick peas for an added fiber / protein boost.

Recipe from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, florets
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (I used powdered)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • fine-grain sea salt (I used a few cranks of Himalayan pink salt ) and black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups water (or 4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water)
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • juice from ½ of a small lemon (or a whole lemon, depending how much lemon flavor you like)

 

Directions 

In a large pot, add the water and turn on the heat to medium-high. After it’s hot, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and fresh ginger. Stir and cook for 3 minutes, adding in extra water or broth as needed (another ¼ cup). Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper plus salt and pepper to taste. Add in the water or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10- 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add in the kale, cabbage and lemon juice near the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Enjoy!

Feeling Lawless? 

No one’s gonna call the cops on you if you switch up the kale for a gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard (or at least I got off lucky when I did this). I also threw in a can of chick peas, for kicks.

EASY GINGER-GARLIC CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE

I admit it, I’m a bit obsessed with the humble cauliflower. But it’s really a magical veggie and its uses  in vegan cooking are endless. Imagine my surprise when my mother-in-law taught me how to make fried “rice” using cauliflower! Not that there is anything wrong with rice but cauliflower offers some added nutrition and a bit of variety to your usual veggie bowl.

This recipe is so simple – only 10 minutes to prep (most of this is spent grating the cauliflower, but this task will take less and less time the more you do it) and 15 mins to cook. It’s great as a main or a side and is perfect re-heated for lunches during the week.

Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 whole head of cauliflower, leaves and stem removed and discarded
1 inch piece of ginger, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 pkg Yves veggie ground
1/2 cup Bragg’s or soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

DirectionsBreak cauliflower into large chunks and grate using a cheese grater. You may need to use a knife with the end pieces to save your fingers from getting cut!

Heat oil on medium-high in a non-stick skillet. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add veggie ground round and cook for 3 minutes. Add grated cauliflower, frozen peas and Bragg’s / soy sauce and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!!

 

 

Feeling Lawless? No need to add the veggie ground if you’ve got something else on hand. Another protein, such as diced tofu, would work really well too. And the veggies (apart from the cauliflower) can be swapped up too – try mushrooms, broccoli or peppers. If you have access to the famed “vegan egg” (I can’t find it in Canada!) you can add that too to make a classic Chinese Fried Rice.

 

 

CRISPY CAULIFLOWER & BLACK BEAN TACOS

There’s seriously nothing tastier than things in real corn tortillas. I found mine at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto at a shop called Manotas (which also sells vegan tamales and vegan empanadas, which are waiting in my freezer for me to devour them). I’ve also purchased a stack of corn tortillas from La Tortilleria in Kensington Market. I find the this option to be more reasonably priced, and they also deliver if you’re keen on stocking up your freezer (the delivery fee seems steep however if you’re only getting a few items).

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s eat!

Yield: About 12 tacos
Prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes

Crispy Cauliflower (recipe adapted from Vegan.com)

Ingredients 

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower
  • 1 cup white rice flour (or substitute regular flour)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic power
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup water

Directions: Mix water, flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a  bowl. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Dip pieces of cauliflower into flour mixture and saturate completely. Place on a parchment covered backing sheet (you’ll thank me later for this step). Bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees (F), turn over and bake for 5 more minutes until brown and crispy. Allow to cool.

Super simple sauce: mix together 1/4 cup vegenaise plus 2 tbsp salsa verde.

Black bean dip (recipe adapted from Company’s Coming Meatless Cooking
Ingredients 

  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp hot sauce

Directions: mash beans on a plate or cutting board with the back of a fork. Mix in remaining ingredients. (Tip: use this later in the week for an awesome warm dip. Microwave or heat in the oven and melt some shredded vegan cheese on top. Use pita wedges, tortilla chips, or carrots to scoop it up!).

To arrange tacos: place about a table spoon of black bean dip on the base of the tortilla. Top with cauliflower, then sauce, and then some arugula. Add some extra salsa verde if you’re a spicy kind of person. Enjoy!

Feeling Lawless? Taco Tuesday is one of our favourite nights because everybody wins. Pull out some small prep bowls and fill them with pretty much anything: cooked vegan “beef”, chickpeas, veggies (mixed peppers, mushrooms and onions are great), avocado, seeds (i.e. sunflower), and any variety of salsas. Everyone can go nuts filling their tacos with whatever they fancy that night. The above recipe can be for crispy anything – try broccoli instead if that floats your boat!

TASTE TEST: TOP VEGAN CHEESE DISHES IN TORONTO

This article was SO fun to write! I essentially got to drown myself in cheese all over the city. People who create masterpieces out of vegan products just seem generally awesome. They care about the food that goes into their body and are truly passionate about their work. Interviewing that kind of person just puts a spring in your step and makes you want to be a better person.

Click here for the article!