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

 

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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.

 

 

REVIEW: THE BUTCHER AND THE VEGAN – A NEW CONCEPT IN DINING OUT

When my husband and I go out for dinner, there’s usually a bit of a tug of war between “vegan” and “mainstream”. With the former, I’m fully at ease with all the menu choices. With the latter, I’ve got a tonne of questions, some doubts, and a bit of poking around in my food to be sure I got what I ordered.

Enter The Lawless and the Vegan, a new-ish restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario that I had an opportunity to review recently. With my lovely mother in tow, we enjoyed a special lunch together and were both truly satisfied with our meals.

This type of restaurant represents a shift in thinking that’s becoming more and more common – local, sustainable, ethical, farm-to-table. It takes it one step further by offering at least half of the menu items that are fully vegan. This is a great opportunity for meat-eaters to try vegan dishes they may not otherwise have tried.

Food preferences / lifestyles typically vary amongst couples, within families, and amongst friends. It’s refreshing to have dining options that cater to this reality.

Check out my restaurant review here: http://www.eatdrinktravel.com/can-just-get-along-eat-harmony-butcher-and-the-vegan-hamilton/ 

“CHEESY” ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & POTATO CHOWDER

There’s nothing more comforting than a big bowl of chowder for dinner. Back in my fish-eating days, I could be talked into almost anything over a bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl. This vegan version is just as tasty (bread bowl optional) and really easy to pull together. Have it for dinner one night and then re-heat leftovers during the week. It’s filling, so add a side green salad and call it a day. Kids love it, because it looks “plain” and the taste isn’t overwhelming. And my husband, who has a strange penchant for corn, said this dished passed with flying colours.

The first time I made this dish, I left out the daiya cheese. Using nutritional yeast alone, it just didn’t have the cheesy flavour I was looking for. The recipe below is super cheesy (the carrot helps with the colour) and the pepperjack gives it a subtle spicy kick.

Ingredients: 

1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 large carrot, roughly sliced
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 head cauliflower
4 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
6 cups veggie stock
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded pepperjack Daiya
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
slices or shredded vegan cheese for topping

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut Cauliflower into small florets and place on parchment lined baking sheet, along with cubes of potatoes, and slices of carrots. Place whole garlic cloves in between florets. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and combine well with your hands. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cauliflower, carrots and garlic with tongs, stir potatoes and allow to roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare veggie stock and set to simmer.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook onions for a few minutes. Add chopped cilantro and cook for one more minute. Add onion mixture to the broth along with salt, nutritional yeast (you may need to whisk this in to help dissolve). Once veggies are roasted, add to the soup mix and allow to simmer on low for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Once cool (ish), use hand blender (or stand blender in batches) and blend until smooth. Return to pot. Add pepperjack daiya and warm up enough to allow cheese to melt into soup (about 10 minutes on low). Add corn kernels for last 5 minutes. Serve topped with some additional cheese, and enjoy!

 

Feeling lawless? This recipe is pretty forgiving. Veggie stock + roasted cauliflower/garlic is plenty enough for a tasty soup, if that’s all you’ve got. The potatoes add some thickness and the yeast / Daiya combo makes it cheesy. You can easily leave out the onions / cilantro and sub for another herb i.e fresh basil.

If you’re keen to eat this out of a bread bowl, try a small sourdough loaf. Cut a circle in the top and pull off the “lid”. Scoop out the bread on the inside, leaving a bowl (for heaven’s sake, don’t throw the bread away!! It’s perfect for dipping into the soup). Fill the bowl with soup and cover with the lid until ready to serve. FUN!

 

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!

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BLUE CHEESE, AVOCADO & JALAPENO BITES

I had a craving for some complex flavours, and so these little numbers came together. The cheese is nut-based, with spirulina added to make it look like actual blue cheese. It’s got a slightly sour taste to it, which I personally love. Others, not so much (watch a Toronto Star taste test here).

The jalapenos can be store-bought, or if you’re adventurous, you can make your own. The combo of vegenaise, cheese, and avocado creates the creamiest topping that seems to melt in your mouth. Paired with the crunchiness of the cracker, it’s a celebration in your mouth. This appetizer is great for vegans and non-vegans alike. If folks like “real” blue cheese, they’ll be willing to give this a go as well. It’s so quick to pull together and you can easily vary the recipe based on what’s in your fridge at the time. Continue reading “BLUE CHEESE, AVOCADO & JALAPENO BITES”

PICKLED JALAPENOS

Gwyneth Paltrow grows jalapeño peppers at her beach house. I buy mine at the supermarket. See how similar we are?

One thing she does have on me is that she’s nailed the recipe for pickled jalapeños in her It’s All Good Cookbook. I make several batches of these each year and they never go to waste. They’re perfect with scrambled tofu, on top of soups/salads, or tucked in tacos. I usually aim to give as gifts over the holidays, but often run out of time and so the jars end up being mine-all-mine.  Continue reading “PICKLED JALAPENOS”

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SOY JERKY

I’ve heard both sides of the coin when it comes to eating things that share similarities with meat – especially when it comes down to texture. My take on it is this: texture is texture! Why should meat be the only thing that gets to deliver a good chew? When I eat tofu, or veggie products like burgers or hot dogs, I’m not doing so because I miss meat, or haven’t been able to “reconcile my choice” (I recently overheard someone delivering this diagnosis about people like me). I eat it because it’s vegan, convenient, tasty and fun (I’m a gal who likes to load up a veggie street dog like it’s her job). Continue reading “SOY JERKY”

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!