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It’s no secret I’m a fan of balls. Ahem. Dessert balls people!! This is a family friendly site.

So I love balls.  And I love the flavour combination of chocolate, cherry and almond.  Each on their own is good but together is just heavenly.  So chocolate-cherry almond balls seem perfect right?

Maybe a visual is necessary to illustrate my point…

Convinced?  Good.  

Chocolate-Cherry Almond Balls

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips or a dark chocolate bars, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries (the no sugar, no sulfite variety)
1 tsp raw cacao powder
pinch of sea salt

Directions

1. Add almonds and cashews to a food processor and process until crumbly.  Careful not to over-process, this will let too much oil out of the nuts.  Remove, place in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Add dates, chocolate chips, dried cherries, raw cacao powder and sea salt to food processor and process until well combined.  Remove and add to bowl of nuts.

3. Using a wooden spoon or fork combine nuts with date mixture.  You can use your hands too to help combine the ingredients.

4.  Once all the ingredients are combined, roll into small balls and top with a whole almond and chocolate chip.

5. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Makes about 18-20 small balls.

Yesterday, October 1st marked World Vegetarian Day.  I love this event because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on how I became vegan and the reasons why I continue to live this lifestyle.

I think it’s crucial to note here that veganism is not about superiority, intimidation or bullying.  As vegans, while it’s important for us to stand up for what we believe in, it’s equally important to do so in a way that is kind, caring and with good intention.  We need to create gateways instead of putting up walls.

It’s essential for me to live a life of compassion for all beings.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau perhaps puts it best, “being vegan is about saying yes to my values of compassion and wellness.  It’s pretty amazing to wake up every morning knowing that every decision I make is to cause as little harm as possible.”

With that in mind, I created a beautiful curry dish.  What started out as a random assortment of ingredients, turned into a warm, comforting meal. 

Coconut Compassion Curry

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
1 tbsp curry seasoning (I use Arvinda’s Curry Masala)
1 tsp garam masala (I use Arvinda’s Garam Masala)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 can tomato paste
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can of Adzuki beans
1 cup firm tofu, cubed (I use Wildwood Organics Sprouted Tofu)
pinch of sea salt
2 cups butternut squash, cubed and steamed
2 cups sweet potato, cubed and steamed

Directions

1. Heat coconut oil on low-medium and add onion.  Cook until slightly translucent.

2. Add ginger and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

3. Add curry seasoning and garam, masala, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add coconut milk, tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Increase temperature to medium and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Let boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce heat to low-medium and add adzuki beans and tofu.  Season with a pinch of sea salt.

6. Simmer for 30 minutes, continuing to stir often.

7. While curry sauce is simmering.  Steam butternut squash and sweet potato.  (I have a steamer and it took about 12-14 minutes for each root vegetable to become tender)

8. Once butternut squash and sweet potato are steamed, add into curry sauce and stir.

9. Serve over brown rice and red lentils (a complete protein!) or quinoa.

Note – to enhance digestibility and decrease cooking time, soak grains and pseudo-grains over night.  This helps to break down the phytic acid which reduces the bioavailability of many minerals.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.-Dalai Lama”

Meet my friend Kristin of the blog Cook, Bake, Nibble.

I loved Kristin the instant I started reading her blog (and then subsequently meeting her in person), I mean the girl is sweet as pie, super funny and one of the most talented chefs around.

So it’s no doubt I was beyond flattered when she asked me to review her new eBook, Crash Course In Gluten-Free Living.

Wow this book is amazing.  A well-researched guide on living gluten-free, Kristin covers it all!  This book shares Kristin and her sister’s story of their digestive issues and how going gluten-free helped heal them.  There is tons of information on baking using gluten-free flours which I was most impressed with as well as tips and tricks on leading a gluten-free life outside of the home which can sometimes be a challenge.

And of course, there are the recipes!  Featuring many of Kristin’s creations (which I can say first hand are amazing!) to recipes from bloggers such as Angela from Oh She Glows and Elana from Elana’s Pantry this ebook features hearty mains, delicious desserts and many veg-friendly recipes.

I chose to make Kristin’s Sweet Potato Cocoa Chili.  Since sweet potatoes and chocolate are my favourite flavours this sounded perfect!

Sweet Potato Cocoa Chili

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato or yam
2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 14- oz can tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
2+ cups water (more if you are cooking beans in chili)
3 cups beans, dried & soaked (or 2 cans ) I used black beans & kidney beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp coriander
cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Sea salt, if desired

Directions

1. Heat 1 table spoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large pot. Add
diced onions and sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes .
2. Add bell pepper, stir and sauté for another 5 minutes or so, add garlic and
stir for 1 minute.
3. Reduce heat to medium, stir in tomato paste. When incorporated, add
diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.
4. Add stock and 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Add beans and stir.
5. Add spices, cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste and cocoa powder.
6. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer.
7. If using cooked/canned beans , then simmer 30-45 minutes until flavours
meld. If using soaked beans, simmer rapidly for 1-1 1/2 hours until beans
are fully cooked. Stir every 15- 30 minutes to as sure beans are not sticking to bottom of pan. Add extra water as needed- I needed two extra cups .

Served with a sprinkle of lime juice and chopped cilantro, if desired.

Dani’s note – I served this with a gorgeous kale salad since it was Kristin who made me learn to love kale with her massaged kale salad recipe.

I love this chili, the cocoa added such a nice flavour and this meal is full of fibre.  To purchase this amazing book, please visit here for more information.

Well done Kris, it is obvious how much talent and passion you have for cooking!  I am blessed to know you!

Man I love stir fries.  They are a fast and easy way to get a whole lot of veggies in a single meal and makes for delicious left overs.

But now being a mostly raw girl, I don’t usually go for stir fries, they always felt a bit too greasy and cooked brown rice is sometimes too heavy for me.

When I found kelp noodles at my local health food store I knew I needed to try making a raw stir fry…a non fry?  Kelp noodles are pretty great, they have this really interestingly chewy, crunchy texture and are gluten-free and grain-free.

Veggie Stir Non-Fry with Kelp Noodles

Ingredients

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 carrots, silvered
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snap peas
2 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 package of kelp noodles

Directions

1. Slice shiitake mushrooms and onions.  Place in bowl with Bragg Liquid Aminos and let marinate for 15 mins.
2. Drain and rinse kelp noodles and set aside.
3. Cut up carrots, bell pepper and snap peas.  
4. Combine shiitake mushrooms and onion mix, mixed veggies, sesame oil, crushed red pepper flakes and kelp noodles into a bowl.
5. Mix and serve.

Sylvester Stallone, I loved you in Rambo, the Expendables and of course, Rocky.

You, at 65 remain one of Hollywood’s most charming, funny and physically fit actors and one of my personal favourites.

Until I came across this…

Stallone brand Protein Pudding.  Ugh. 

I get it, Sly I do.  You’re ripped, you want to help guys get ripped too but seriously?  Couldn’t you have just come out with a workout DVD or something?

The ingredients list is scarier then your role in Cobra.  No offense.

Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Water, calcium caseinate (a milk derivative), soy protein isolate, cocoa (processed with alkali), soybean oil, sodium chloride, dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan, dextrose, tricalcium phosphate, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

Sorry, Sly, but I think you’re better at acting then at food preparation.  It’s cool, we all have our strengths right?

So I created a protein pudding that is easy, tasty and with whole-food ingredients you can pronounce.  It would make a perfect pre or post-workout meal.

Stallone-Styles Choco-Cado Protein Pudding

Ingredients

1 avocado
1 scoop Sunwarrior Chocolate Protein Powder
1 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp water or non-dairy milk
pinch of cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.
2. Chill in refrigerator for 30 mins and serve.

 

Featured on Diets, Desserts & Dogs Wellness Weekend

When the kind folks at Vega sent me a copy of Thrive Foods, the newest book by Brendan Brazier, I was beyond thrilled.  I mean, me and Brendan?  We could be BFF’s we have that much in common – we’re both vegan, we’re both Canadian, we’re both sporty and we both love making energy bars out of dates.

And more then anything we love our food whole and pure!

Having read and loved Brazier’s two other books, The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness I had high expectations of Thrive Foods.  Part informative book and part recipe book, it did not disappoint.

The opening chapters of the book discuss the basics of nutrition.  Information that everyone should, but does not necessarily know.  Filled with important facts and scientific back-up, Thrive Foods is informative without being preachy and is written in a way that everyone can understand.

There are a few sections dedicated to the environmental impact of our foods.  This sort of thing fascinates me, for example according to Thrive Foods, “if everyone in the US stopped eating beef for one year, that would be like not driving a distance equivalent to 9,007,489 to the moon.”  Um, way to blow my mind!

And the best part…200 plant-based, whole food recipes by Brazier and some of the best vegan restaurants and chefs in the world such as Tal Ronnen, Thrive Juice Bar and Candle 79!  I was beyond thrilled to see recipes from some of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, such as Live Organic Food Bar and Fresh.

One of the tastiest recipes I tested was the Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce.  The pasta sauce was fantastic and any opportunity I can get to use my spiralizer I will take.

Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce
recipe from Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp sea salt
20 sundried tomatoes, soak in warm water until soft (about 30 min)
1/2 cup tomato soak water
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium clove garlic
2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp hemp oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped Brazil nuts
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Trim the ends of the zucchini.  Using a hand-held vegetables peeler (or spiralizer), carefully strip the zucchini, layer by layer into noodle-like pieces and gather into a colander (for best results, discard the watery center section that holds the seeds)
2. Toss squash strips with 1 tsp of sea salt and place the colander over a large bowl to catch excess moisture.  Let rest of 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes, wash the squash thoroughly with warm water to remove any excess salt, and let drain for 5 more minutes.
4. In a food processor, blend together the sundried tomatoes, 1/2 cup soak water, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, raisins, hemp oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt into a chunky paste.
5. Add the nuts and pulse a few times to chop the nuts finely (but do not blend)
6. Toss the sauce with the zucchini strips and sauté over medium-low heat to 1-2 minutes to warm through. 

Variation – Skip the sauté step and serve room temperature as a delicious raw dish.

A fantastic meal from a fantastic book!  The addition of the raisins to the pasta sauce was my favourite part.  It gave the thick sauce just a hint of sweetness. 

You can order your copy here, I definitely recommend having this book in your collection!

To find out more about Brendan Brazier and Team Vega, check out their website and say in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note to Canadian readers – Thrive Foods is the same book as Whole Foods To Thrive

Back in 2004 I travelled to the Andalusia region of Spain.  It is perhaps one of the most friendly and hospitable places in the world. 

I can’t imagine going back now, as a high raw vegan holistic nutrition student as Spain is famous for their Manchego cheese, Jamón ibérico (cured ham), paella and churros and I wouldn’t eat any of that now.  However, there was one dish I was introduced to that I absolutely adored and that was gazpacho.

Gazpacho is light and refreshing chilled soup that has many variations.  It is so simple to make, all you need is a blender!  I have recreated it to suite my needs of being mostly raw and vegan.

 

Gazpacho

Ingredients

1/2 cucumber
4 tomatoes, medium size
1/2 red pepper
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
pinch of basil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Chop all veg and set aside about 1/4 of cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper and onion

2. Combine all ingredients (with the exception of the vegetables set aside) in a blender and blend until fairly well combined.  Having the soup slightly chunky is ok.

3. Pour into bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4.  Once chilled, garnish with remaining chopped veg and serve.

Makes 2 servings

Note – avocado would be an excellent addition to the soup, unfortunately at the time of recipe creation the avocado on my counter had not yet ripened.

I have a reputation for visiting Fresh…a lot.  One of their locations is sandwiched between my home and my work.  Their menu has tons of options to keep a vegan satisfied and they carry Sweets From The Earth desserts which I’m known to have a fondness for.

One of my favourite items on the menu is the Date-Almond smoothie.  Looking at the ingredient list it seemed easy enough to recreate and far more cost effective.

Date-Almond Smoothie
inspired by Fresh

Ingredients

1 banana
1 scoop protein powder (I used Sunwarrior Chocolate, or use natural or vanilla flavour with 1 tbsp of raw cacao)
1 tbsp almond butter
3 Medjool dates
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 ice cubes
pinch of cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in high-powered blender and blend until smooth

The area of Toronto I live in is referred to as the Entertainment District or Clubland.  Shudder.

On Friday and Saturday night packs of just legal kids from the Suburbs descend on my neighbourhood.  The truth is, only a few years ago I was one of them.

However now that I’m older, wiser and a lot more dull, I spend my Friday nights doing my favourite activity of all…grocery shopping.

I like to get dolled up in my cutest track pants and strut my fine self up to Whole Foods in Yorkville.  Sometimes, while descending down the escalator to the store, I wear my trendy Juicy Couture sunglasses that I bought at a discount store in NYC so that customers and employees will think I am a famous European movie star.  I am not even kidding you.

But I digress.

This particular Friday I found a gorgeous assortment of beans.  I choose the standard green and picked up a cool purple pod pole bean.  And you thought I didn’t know how to have a good time.

I transformed my beans into a gorgeous salad with a tangy honey-mustard vinaigrette dressing.

Bean Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

Salad

2 cups beans, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red kidney beans

Vinaigrette

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp prepared stone ground mustard (look for an organic, sugar-free kind)
2 tsp honey, raw and unpasteurized
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Chop beans and celery and assemble into a salad with red kidney beans

2. Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette into a bowl and whisk together until combined (makes about 1 cup)

3. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, refrigerate for a few hours to lets dressing absorb into beans.

Carrot cake is one of my most favourite desserts.  A tall, moist cake with lots of vegan cream cheese icing is like a dream. 

But I swear up and down that just dreaming about carrot cake makes my butt get bigger.  Trying to rationalize that because carrot cake is made with carrots it can count as healthy.  Right?

Nope, sorry.  Ain’t happening.

That’s why these carrot cake balls are just so freakin’ good.  All the deliciousness of a rich carrot cake without all the added and unnecessary crap.

Win!

Raw Carrot Cake Balls

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1 tsp coconut oil
2 large carrots, chopped or shredded
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp flax seed, ground

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.  Mixture can still be chunky.  Careful not to over-process nuts as these releases too much of the oil.

2. Shape into balls and roll in coconut or cinnamon.

3. Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy.

Note – If you want variety, try adding pineapple (fresh or dried) and grated ginger for some kick.  If your mixture is too moist, add additional ground flax seed.

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