Veggie Quinoa "Fried Rice"

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to collaborate with others. I work with a variety of brands, health food products, and business owners quite regularly. Although I am self-employed the collaborative nature of my work really fills me up and I rarely feel like I’m working alone.

This blog post was a collaborative effort with Debra Cowie, who is somebody I greatly admire. Debra is a leading Canadian food stylist and photographer known for her gorgeous flat lays and clean aesthetic. She just so happens to live in Ottawa and we have naturally crossed paths over the past few years. Mostly recently Debra expressed an interest in cooking more plant-based foods. She enthusiastically joined Plant-Based Breakthrough, my online nutrition and meal makeover program, and took part in both the winter and spring sessions in 2019. Having her part of the program was a bit intimidating for me because she’s a true foodie, a great cook, and really knows her stuff when it come to all things culinary. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when she said she really enjoyed the recipes and has started incorporating many of them into her rotation. Coming from her, that was one of the highest compliments. She also kindly snapped several beautiful photos of the recipes featured in the program and I’m pleased to share the first (of many!) on my blog this week.

One of Debra’s favourite recipes from the program was my Veggie Quinoa “Fried Rice”. It’s a healthy spin on the classic take-out dish fried rice and features protein-rich quinoa, hearty kale, aromatic spices, and lots of other veggies. Debra served up her Veggie Quinoa “Fried Rice” with a side of smoked tofu and roasted broccoli. See her beautiful photo below and then keep scrolling for the full recipe.

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VEGGIE QUINOA “FRIED RICE”

Yields 4 - 6 servings 

Ingredients: 

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed under cold water 
1.5 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or coconut oil
1 bunch kale, stems roughly chopped, leaves ripped or chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1 rib of celery, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups green peas
1/4 cup regular or low sodium tamari or soy sauce
Sriracha or hot sauce of your choice, optional
Sea salt

Directions:

In a medium pot, add the quinoa and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 12 - 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Then transfer the quinoa to a bowl.

In a large skillet or wok, warm the oil over over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, kale stems and a pinch of sea salt and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until it becomes fragrant and the veggies start to soften. Add the garlic, ginger and green onions, and sauté for a minute or two. Add the kale leaves and sauté until it begins to wilt (about 2 minutes).

Add the quinoa and peas to the skillet. Then pour in the tamari or soy sauce and stir until everything is evenly combined. Serve warm and enjoy on its own or with a side dish of your choice.

Will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join the Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.c

Tempeh Bolognese on Zucchini Noodles

Before I even dive into the recipe, I should probably tell you a little about tempeh. Maybe you’ve seen it but have been intimidated to try it, or maybe you’ve never even heard of it before. Either way, tempeh is becoming more and more popular, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a mainstream staple yet. So what exactly is it? Tempeh is a plant-based protein. Like tofu, it’s made from soy beans, but the taste and texture is very different due to the way it’s prepared. Unlike tofu, tempeh is a fermented food. It’s a staple in Indonesia and it’s slowly making headway among vegans, vegetarians and flexiarians everywhere.

I enjoy cooking tempeh in many ways. I love cutting it into small cubes, marinating it in a peanut ginger sauce, and baking it in the oven. I also make a smokey tempeh “bacon” by coating the tempeh in a maple, tamari and smoked paprika marinade. It can also easily be incorporated into stir-fry or added as the protein in pasta sauces, stews, soups, curries, tacos, and more!

In this video collaboration with my friend Lynda you’ll learn more about tempeh and find out how I use it to make a tasty bolognese sauce. I served the sauce over zucchini noodles (to up the veg!) and topped it with plant-based cheese from Lynda’s company Fauxmagerie Zengarry. Watch our video below, or scroll down for the text version of the recipe.

TEMPEH BOLOGNESE ON ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH CASHEW CHEESE

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 package of tempeh
3 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
1 cup, red wine
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
2 ribs celery, diced small
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoons dry oregano (if fresh is available use 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoons dry basil (if fresh is available use 1 tablespoon)
1 jar (680 ml) strained tomatoes ("passata")
Black pepper to taste
Optional: sweetener such as maple syrup, to taste, if the sauce seems too acidic
1/2 round Fauxmagerie Zengarry Creamy Swiss cashew cheese, frozen & grated
2 - 4 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles

Directions:

Grate the tempeh on the large teeth of a box grater or crumble it using your hands. Sauté the tempeh in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Add a few splashes of water if tempeh starts to stick.

Add the remaining olive oil and the onion, carrot and celery, with 1 teaspoon of salt, keep cooking until the vegetables have softened.

Add the garlic, oregano and basil, and cook for a few minutes longer (unless you are using fresh oregano and basil then add fresh ingredients near the end of the cooking time). Add 1 cup of red wine and simmer until almost dry.

Pour in the strained tomatoes and cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper and sweetener (if needed). Serve the sauce over zucchini noodles (either raw or lightly warmed in a frying pan) and topped with grated Fauxmagerie Zengarry Creamy Swiss cashew cheese. Enjoy!

Notes:

-See Zengarry’s website to find retailers near you. If you cannot find Zengarry in your city or town, you can always swap in another plant-based cheese of your choice, either store bought or homemade. Alternatively you could top your dish with nutritional yeast flakes to add some cheesiness or enjoy the dish on its own!

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join the Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.

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Butter Chickpeas & Cauliflower

I love fall! Mainly for the hearty warming meals and abundance of one-pot-wonders. You know, the kind of recipe where you literally throw a bunch of veggies, plant-based proteins, herbs, and spices into a pot and you find yourself with the most magically delicious feast. That’s what I’m talking about!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’d know I often trial my recipes at cooking lessons and with my nutrition clients. This Butter Chickpeas & Cauliflower recipe has been a unanimous hit, which means it’s destined for the blog. As I was saying above, this is one of those one-pot meals that is fairly simple to prepare and is rich in flavour and nutrients. You can eat it on its own, or pair it with a grain of your choice and you will have lunches for the week. In the photo below it’s paired with brown rice, but you could try quinoa, millet, wild rice, or whatever you fancy.

Scroll down for the full recipe and please let me know if you try it out. I love getting your feedback on my recipes!

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BUTTER CHICKPEAS & CAULIFLOWER

Yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
2 tablespoons curry powder (I love Cha’s Curry Masala)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, optional
1 can (14 oz/398 ml) chickpeas, drained & rinsed, or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
1 can (14.5 oz/411 g) of diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz/398 ml) full fat or lite coconut milk
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

In a medium or large pot warm the oil on medium head. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions become slightly translucent. Add the red bell pepper and sauté for a few minutes, until softened a bit.

Next add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir for a minute allowing the spice to become fragrant.  Then add the chickpeas, tomatoes, coconut milk, and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring every so often, until the cauliflower has softened (about 8 - 10 minutes).

Once the cauliflower has softened, taste and then season the dish with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with a hefty helping of cilantro. Option enjoy on its own or to serve with a grain of your choice. 

Will keep in the fridge for 5 days, or frozen for an upward of 2 months.

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join my Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.

Photography by Ana Tavares.

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Tofu Feta Salad

I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with cheese, so when I went dairy-free many years ago I had to find new ways to indulge in my favourite food. Cashews tend to be the superstar when it comes to making cheesy alternatives, but you’d be surprised how tofu can magically morph into feta if you’ve got the right ingredients.

In my version of tofu feta, I use two ingredients that help infuse a cheese-like flavour into the tofu. Firstly, there’s nutritional yeast, which is a deactivated yeast and bi-product of molasses making. Nutritional yeast or “nooch”, as it’s often called, is a staple in dairy-free cuisine because of its versatility and sharp, cheesy taste. I also used miso paste, which is fermented bean (generally soy or chickpea), that is mostly found in Japanese cuisine and offers a strong and pleasant salty fermented taste reminiscent of parmesan (but it works with perfectly with my faux feta). I use both in my recipe, however, you could get away with one or the other. That said, if you’re delving into the world of dairy-free cooking, they are handy and highly recommended pantry staples.

If you have questions about any of the ingredients in this recipe, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below. If you’re looking to learn more about dairy-free cuisine, I’ve written a few blogs on the topic. Find them HERE and HERE.

A final tip about tofu feta: you can definitely serve it with salad as instructed below, but it can also be crumbled onto vegan pizza or eaten as an appetizer with tomatoes and fresh basil.

This recipe has been very popular at my cooking lessons and I’m super excited to share it here on my blog for you to try as well. Without further ado, scroll down for all the details. Please do report back if you try this recipe!

TOFU FETA SALAD

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:

Tofu Feta Ingredients:
1 package extra firm organic tofu
1 tablespoon white or chickpea miso
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Dijon Dressing:
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:
8 cups leafy greens of your choice, chopped to bite sized pieces
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes or two large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped in to bite sized pieces
1 15 ounce can of white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

Directions:

For the tofu feta:

Drain and press the tofu for at least 30 minutes. You can wrap the tofu in a dish towel and place a heavy object on top (I often use a cast iron pan with a big jug of vinegar, but you can use any heave object in your kitchen) or use a tofu press.

While the tofu is pressing, whisk together the miso, extra virgin olive oil, water, nutritional yeast, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Cut the tofu into small cubes and toss with the marinade. Place in the fridge and marinade for an hour, preferably longer. If you have time, leave it to marinate overnight.

To make the dijon dressing:

Whisk together the dijon mustard, garlic clove and lemon juice until combined.

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble your salad: 

Divide the salad ingredients evenly in bowls. Top with tofu feta and drizzle on dressing. Serve immediately.

If you want to prep ahead of time, wait until just before serving to add the dressing. 

Notes from the kitchen: I used a locally made navy bean miso (as seen in the photo above), but you'll be more likely to find a white miso or chickpea miso in a store near you. 

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough program, which is a 4 week online crash course in health, nutrition, and meal planning.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join my Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition.

Photography by Ana Tavares.

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Raw Taco Salad Bowl

This summer heat just won't quit. We've got another hot week ahead here in Ottawa, which means I'm avoiding my stove, my oven, or anything that'll heat up my house.  If you're looking for a no-cooking-required simple summer recipe, you're in luck.  

You may have seen a raw taco bowl on my blog before, but it's making a comeback. I've simplified the recipe and collaborated with my friend Ana Tavares to shot some beautiful photos.  This recipe has been on high rotation at my cooking lessons this summer and is also a favourite in my household. Ana told me her family also loved the bowls as they were the lucky recipients of the leftovers following the photoshoot.  Scroll down to get the full recipe. Please let me know if you've tried it out. I'd love your feedback! 

RAW TACO SALAD BOWL

Makes 4 servings 

Ingredients: 

Walnut Meat: 

1 cup walnuts
1/2 packed cup sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
Pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper, optional (for those who like it spicy!) 

Tahini Sour Cream: 

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
1 small clove garlic clove, roughly chopped

Salad Components: 

Approximately 8 cups leafy greens of your choice (arugula or finely chopped kale are my favourites)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a small red onion, small dice
3 - 4 green onions roughly chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish

Directions:

If you're using sun-dried tomatoes in oil skip this step.  If using sun-dried tomatoes (just dried tomatoes and salt, no oil), add them to a bowl and cover them in water and leave them to soak for 1 - 2 hours to soften them. Drain.

Process all of the Walnut Meat ingredients in a food processor until well combined, but still chunky and crumbly (with a meaty texture).

Combine all of the Tahini Sour Cream ingredients in the blender and process until smooth.  If it's too thick, add some water to loosen. 

To assemble your salad: place about 2 cups of leafy greens in a bowl. Top the salad with the fresh tomatoes, a sprinkling of red onions and green onions.  Then add the walnut meat and drizzle about 1/4 cup of dressing on your salad. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy! 

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough Program, which is a 4 week online course focussed on health, nutrition, meal planning, and cooking.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join my Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition. 

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Green Power Bowls

I've been making tons of Green Power Bowls these days. These have been very well received by my private clients and at cooking lessons.  I have been posting photos of these bowls a lot in my Instagram stories and I figured it was finally time to share the recipe on my blog. 

Although it may seem elaborate, these kinds of bowls are actually quite easy to make.  It requires a little prep, chopping and sautéing of the veggies, putting together the dressing, and making the noodles.  If you are a soba noodle newbie you'll want to pay attention to a few things. Pure buckwheat noodles are gluten free, but you may come across some varieties of soba noodles that are a mix of buckwheat and wheat. The blended variety is much less expensive. If you are celiac or gluten intolerant make sure you seek out the 100% buckwheat noodles. When using buckwheat noodles of any kind, I always cook them according to the package directions (usually for about 5 - 8 minutes on a simmer). When they are fully cooked I transfer them to a colander immediately and give them a very good rinse under cold water. This will remove any excess starch.   By the way, if you don't have soba noodles on hand or if you don't want to use them, you can also swap out the soba noodles for rice noodles, quinoa, or any other grain or noodle of your choice. 

I also wanted to mention that this recipe is really a guideline.  As I said above, you don't need to use soba noodles, you can use something else. Also, feel free to swap in kale for spinach, or maybe some bok choy. You may also decide to add in chickpeas or tofu instead of the edamame.  The sauce is the pièce de résistance and no matter what you put in your bowl, it'll taste good as long as you're using the sauce. 

Scroll down to get the full recipe and if you make it, please tag me on social media. I love seeing your photos! 

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GREEN POWER BOWLS WITH SOBA NOODLES

Yields 4 to 6  servings

Sauce: 

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, tahini, or sunflower seed butter
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1 - 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4  - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water, or more, if needed to loosen the sauce

Noodles:

16 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Vegetables:

1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
6 - 8 cups assorted vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, & spinach
1 small bunch basil
2 cups shelled edamame, thawed

Toppings (optional): 

Hemp hearts & sliced green onions

Directions:

Wash and chop cauliflower & broccoli (approximately 6 - 8 cups in total) into bite sized pieces. Wash spinach and pat to dry or use salad spinner. Pick basil leaves off the stems (discard stems), wash leaves, and gently pat to dry.  Set aside. 

In large measuring cup or medium sized mixing bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients, except the water. Stir until well combined (you could also use a blender if you're looking for a very smooth sauce) and add enough water to thin the sauce down so that it’s pourable.  Set aside. 

Cook noodles according to the package. Drain, rinse, and toss with sesame oil. Set aside.

Warm the sesame oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook for a couple minutes, just until they start to soften. Add the heartier vegetables - cauliflower & broccoli - cook until tender. Add the edamame and warm for a minute or two. Add the spinach and basil towards the end of cooking and allow them to wilt (about 2 minutes). 

To create your bowls: add a portion of soba noodles and a big scoop cooked vegetables to a bowl.  Top your bowl with a drizzle the sauce. Alternatively, you can add the sauce to the pan with the vegetables to heat the sauce. Before serving, top with a sprinkling of hemp hearts and any remaining green onions. These bowls can be eaten warm or cold.  

If you enjoyed the recipe I shared above be sure to check out my Plant-Based Breakthrough Program, which is a 4 week online course focussed on health, nutrition, meal planning, and cooking.  For details on when the next program starts click here. You can also join my Plant-Based Breakthrough Community on Facebook where I share recipes, inspiration, and information on plant-based nutrition

Middle Eastern Lentils & Rice with Caramelized Onions

It's been my intention for ages and I'm finally getting around to sharing one of my favourite Middle Eastern recipes with you. For the uninitiated, Mujadara is a hearty, protein rich plant-based meal that is known for its humble and simple ingredients, yet is bold and rich in flavours. As the title of this blog post suggests, the base ingredients are lentils, rice, caramelized onions and spices. It's well known throughout the Middle East, and many families have their own version or special family recipe. If you search the web, you'll come across countless versions. 

It was my husband that first introduced me to this dish many years ago. He used to order Mujadara from the Lebanese restaurant in the cafeteria at his office. It became one of his favourite meals at work. Eventually he learned how to make it himself, and then I started making it too. For us, it's become a wintertime staple and below is our take on the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo by  Caroline Yung .

Photo by Caroline Yung.

MUJADARA with CASHEW CREAM

Makes 6 servings. 

Ingredients: 

1 cup brown or green lentils (not red lentils), sorted and picked through for little rocks or other debris
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
Sea salt
3/4 cup brown rice or brown basmati rice
3 1/4 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want it to be spicy) 
Lemon wedges
Pine nuts or hemp seeds, optional, for garnish
Cashew Cream  (from my 4-Layer Dip recipe)

Directions:

Add the lentils to  medium saucepan and cover them by about an inch with cold water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the lentils to cook until they are tender, but not mushy (about 20 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skill has warmed up, add the whole cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns . Cook the spices and stir them a bit until you start to smell the aromas as the spices "bloom" and start to darken a bit.

Then, add the onions and a few big pinches of salt and cook until they begin to caramelize . Over time the onions will begin to caramelize and they'll start tasting sweeter. If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan,  add a little water.  Once the onions are sweet and a bit crispy you'll know they are done.  This will take an upward of 15 minutes. 

Remove about half of the onions to a dish and set them aside to be used later as a garnish. Then mix in the ground cumin, the cinnamon or cinnamon stick and cayenne.

Next up, mix in the rice and toast the rice in the pan for a few minutes. Add the cooked lentils, 3 1/4 cups of water and 1 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Then cover the saucepan and cook 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done cooking once the water is completely evaporated and the rice is tender.

Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.

Taste the rice for seasoning and adjust the flavour with extra salt, pepper or spices if needed. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, pine nuts or hemp, cashew cream, and a little squeeze of fresh lemon and a side of roasted or sautéed vegetables or salad.  

This recipe is modified from the original recipe by Aarti Sequeira featured on the Food Network blog.

Raw Taco Salad Bowl: The Fully Loaded Version

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent adventures to Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci in rural Quebec for a weekend at Kabania.  I was there working - for the second year in a row - as the chef for Anne Tessier's restorative yoga retreat.  

Although I was there for work, I truly benefited from being in nature, connecting with the yogis, hiking, doing a few yoga classes, foraging in the woods, and disconnecting from the outside world. I also did a lot of cooking along with my excellent karma helpers who assisted me in the kitchen. 

One of my favourite meals from the weekend was the Raw Taco Bowl. I'm still dreaming about it, and people keep asking for the recipe, so I figured it was time I shared it here. Because this dish is raw, it's great in the summers months when we have access to tons of fresh local veggies. Plus, on a hot day, the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove.  The only "cooking" equipment required is a good food processor, but otherwise, it's basically just chopping and little bit of planning ahead. 

Besides being the perfect dish to load up on fresh, seasonal vegetables, my favourite part is the  walnut "meat".  The fattiness of the walnuts, combined with a few choice spices and the umami flavour of sun-dried tomatoes, makes it the perfect replacement for spicy ground beef.  Like my Buddha Bowls, you can really customize this dish to your liking. The salad components are merely a suggestion, feel free to add or subtract to your liking. When I made these bowls for the retreat,  I added black beans from a can, store-bought salsa and organic corn chips, which are not raw. If you want to keep this dish entirely raw, omit the beans and corn chips, and add fresh pico de gallo. 

Scroll down to learn how to make your own Raw Taco Salad Bowl, and please leave me a comment if you try the recipe. I love hearing from you! 

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RAW TACO SALAD BOWL

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:

Walnut Meat:

1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 packed cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
Pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper, optional (for those who like it spicy!) 

Creamy Cashew Lime Dressing: 

1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped

Salad Components:

Approximately 8 cups leafy greens of your choice (I like arugula or baby kale mixed with romaine) 
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a small red onion, small dice or thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces
5 - 6 radishes, thinly sliced  
1 avocado, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1 (14 oz) can of black beans, optional
1/4 to 1/2 cup salsa (homemade or store-bought), optional
3 - 4 green onions roughly chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish
Organic corn chips, for garnish

Directions: 

Process all of the Walnut Taco Meat ingredients in a food processor until well combined, but still chunky and crumbly. 

Combine all of the Creamy Cashew Lime Dressing ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. If your dressing is too thick, you may need to add more water until you reach your desired consistency.  You may also need adjust the seasoning by adding a little bit more salt. 

To assemble your salad place about 2 cups of leafy greens in a bowl.  Add the salad components of your choosing.  Then add the walnut meat and drizzle about 1/4 cup of dressing on your salad. Garnish with cilantro, green onion, and corn chips, and enjoy immediately! 

The Tastiest Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

I recently did a lil’ catering gig for a restorative retreat at PranaShanti Yoga CentreAnne Tessier, the yogi who organized the retreat, requested that I make a comforting and warming meal for the participants. While the entire meal hit the mark and was very well received by the participants, my personal favourite recipe from that day was a sweet potato & chickpea curry that I made. The spices (particularly the ginger and red pepper flakes), combined with rich and creamy coconut milk, gives this curry a very warming and cozy feel. Not to mention that the the healthy fats, protein and fibre content keeps you full and satisfied.

This dish has been on high rotation in my house this past winter and I’m happy that I’ve finally managed to take a photo and post this recipe to my blog. I’ve served it with a mixtures of sides including sautéed garlicky green, steamed broccoli, rice and quinoa, but you can enjoy it as is.  Just a head’s up, although this dish doesn’t take take too long to prepare (besides a bit of chopping), you’ll want to allow a least 45 minutes to an hour of cooking time in the oven. The long cook time enables the sweet potatoes to soften and the flavours to merge creating a rich and flavourful dish. I personally haven’t used a slow cooker, but I’m sure it would work well too.

The full recipe is below. If you try it out, please let me know and share your feedback. I love hearing from you!

SWEET POTATO & CHICKPEA CURRY

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans drained and rinsed
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into small dice
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into small dice
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 medium sized red onions, cut into thin slices
1 Tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 Tablespoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 400 ml can full fat coconut milk
1 Tablespoon maple syrup, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Micro greens, sprouts, chopped cilantro, or thinly sliced green onions, for garnish, optional

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Place the chickpeas, chopped sweet potatoes and bell pepper in a large baking dish.

Warm coconut oil in a medium sized saucepan or skillet. Add the sliced onions and a big pinch of salt. Sauté and stir the onions until they begin to soften and become translucent.  Add a little bit of water if they start to stick to the pan.

Add the spices, mix well, and cook for a minute. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, maple syrup (if using), salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Pour the coconut milk mixture over the chickpeas, sweet potato and peppers, and then pop the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are nice and soft. Once you remove the baking dish from the oven, taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.  Serve immediate with a garnish and a side dish of your choice.

This recipe is inspired by The Buddhist Chef's butternut squash curry recipe.

Slow Cooker Vegetable, Farro & White Bean Stew

The photo of the stew below might look familiar to you. If you've been to my website before you've probably seen it. It's one of the beautiful photos taken by my friend Caroline of CY-iwander that now resides on my homepage. It was taken a couple of years ago when we did a little photo shoot together.  I figured it was finally time to share this fantastic recipe on my blog!

It's perfect for these cold days. It's hearty and warming, with a nice complexity of flavour. This is a slow cooker recipe and, although may seem fancy based on the ingredient list, it's quite easy to make!  I wish I could take credit for this delicious creation, but I can't. It was actual developed by restaurateur and chef, Grant Achatz. I have made a few adjustments and omissions to his original recipe to make it more "user friendly" and have also added some white beans for extra protein and satiety. 

You'll see that there are a few not-so-standard- yet readily available - ingredients that you may have seen at the grocery store, but have never incorporated into your cooking.  Farro is one of them.  It's an ancient grain that has been making a bit of a comeback in recent years. It's an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium and iron.  It has a chewy texture and mild taste. While it does contain gluten, it has lower amounts than wheat.  If you've been wanting to try it out, this recipe will not disappoint!  You should be able to find farro at most larger grocery stores (among the grains or in the health food section), health food stores, or Middle Eastern grocers.  You may not have tried cooking with fennel, figs, or artichokes before either, but this recipe will give you the opportunity to do so!

VEGETABLE, FARRO & WHITE BEAN STEW

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rosemary sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 5 oregano sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 5 thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon thyme

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 2 small artichokes or 14 oz can of water packed artichokes, drained

  • 1 cup farro

  • 1 14 oz can, white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 heads of garlic, 1/4 inch cut off the tops

  • 1 lemon, sliced 1/8 inch thick

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced 1/3 inch thick

  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced 1/3 inch thick

  • 1 medium onion, quartered

  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 6 wedges

  • 1 cup dried Black Mission figs or dried figs of your choice (5 ounces), stemmed

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges

  • 1/2 pound large cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:

If using fresh herbs: tie the rosemary, oregano and thyme sprigs into a bundle using kitchen twine. If using fresh artichoke: use a serrated knife to cut off the top third of the artichokes. Snap off the small leaves from around the artichoke stem. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scrape out the hairy chokes and discard them.

Turn your slow cooker to high and set the timer for 6 hours. Starting at the crushed red pepper flakes, add all of the ingredient up to and including the cherry tomatoes. Then add the herb bundle or the dried herbs. Spread the ingredients in even layers. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours.

Stir the stew gently and add the zucchini ensuring to submerge them in the liquid. Cover and cook for 2 hours longer. 

About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the kale to allow it to wilt and soften.  Discard the herb bundle (if you were using it) and season the stew with salt. Serve immediately garnished with green onions.

Grant Achatz's original recipe can be found on Food & Wine.
 

Buddha Bowls with Tahini Dressing

I make Buddha Bowls a lot. Almost weekly. I make them for myself, for cooking demos and they are almost mandatory when I'm cooking at yoga retreats. They are always a hit! Everybody loves them. Plus, they are a great way to get rid of scraps of food that are still in the fridge.

The best thing about Buddha Bowls is that you can cater yours to your liking. There really is no set in stone recipe. However, the key is definitely to have a really, really great dressing. Below, I've shared the recipe for one of my favourite dressings, but you could choose to top your bowl with whichever dressing you like.

Most recently I was cooking for a yoga retreat organized by Anne Tessier near Tremblant, Quebec.  Below is a photo of the Buddha Bowl I prepared for the yogis. It had wild rice, chickpeas, grated raw beets and carrots, avocado, thinly sliced kale, roasted delicata squash, green onions, kimchi, peashoots, black sesame seeds, and my all time favourite tahini dressing.  And yes, it's as delicious as it looks! But no, it's not complicated at all. It's just a matter of chopping up a bunch of delicious things and throwing them into a bowl, and then pouring a really decadent (yet nutritious) dressing on top. Scroll down for my Buddha Bowl "recipe".

Let's get started! Here's what you'll need to make your own Buddha Bowl...

Base ingredients:

Your choice of cooked grains (quinoa, buckwheat, millet, brown rice, wild rice, sorghum, teff or amaranth)
Your choice of protein (beans, lentils, chickpeas, edamame, tofu, tempeh, etc)

Plus any combo of veggies:

steamed or roasted sweet potato, squash, or potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
broccoli or cauliflower (cut in tiny florets), steamed, roasted or raw
finely chopped greens (kale, romaine, arugula, spinach, etc)
thinly sliced cabbage
onion or scallions
grated carrot
grated raw beets or cooked/steamed beets
cucumber, cut up into small pieces
chopped celery
sliced avocados
sauerkraut or kimchi

Plus garnish options:

sprouts or pea shoots
sunflower seeds
hemp seeds
sesame seeds
dulse or kelp flakes (or any other seaweed for that matter)
ground flax seeds

Plus a dressing of your choice OR my all time favourite tahini dressing:

1/2 cups tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cups water
1/4 cup tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Small piece (half thumb size) fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Black pepper to taste

Directions: Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add water to loosen if it’s too thick. Dressing will keep in the fridge for 1 week.

Finally, to assemble your Buddha Bowl:

Combine 1/4 cup cooked grains and 1/4 cup protein of your choice, along with any combination of vegetables and garnishes. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of dressing on top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

You can also batch prepare your Buddha Bowls by storing single servings in containers. Reserve your dressing and add it just before you're about to eat

Tofu Pad Thai

Last weekend, I participated in an event organized by Andrea Banks, the Yelp Ottawa Community Coordinator. For those of you who don't know about Yelp, it's a website and an app designed to help people find local businesses like restaurants, hair stylists and mechanics. Yelp allows people to rate and review different companies and services and provides a platform for business owners to communicate with their customers.  

Yelp has some very dedicated reviewers, who are just regular folks, that contribute to Yelp by writing many, many reviews of countless local business. These people are called "Yelp Elites". From time to time local Yelp coordinators will host fun appreciation events for the Elite crew. I'm a huge fan of Yelp, I use it all the time, and although I have not yet reached Elite status, I've written a few reviews and have attended a few Yelp events myself. 

This past winter, while attending a Yelp fitness event, I met Andrea and, almost immediately, we knew we had to work together someway, somehow. We had a few brainstorming sessions and then went to visit to the West End Well, Ottawa's newest co-operative grocery store and café, as a possible event venue.  The Well offers a wide range of dry goods, organic produce, local products, and in-house prepared foods. Plus, the Well has a bakery, with fantastic homemade breads, and a liquor license, which means you can have a glass of wine or one of the Well's signature brews while doing your groceries. We also met Nate, the General Manager, and Sam, the Kitchen Manager, and they were both really keen on working together. It was the perfect storm and we decided we would host the very first #YelpCooks event at the Well.  

On the day of our event, nearly thirty Elite members and several new Yelpers piled into the Well's cozy dining area. As the participants were getting settled in, my amazing boyfriend/sous chef Jeremy and I were back in the kitchen, chopping, prepping, making sauces, baking tofu, and soaking rice noodles.  During the demo participants made their own fresh spring rolls, using rice paper wraps and an array of fresh produce from the Well. I showed them how to make an easy (and delicious) homemade peanut dipping sauce and they got to enjoy some with their fresh spring rolls.  I also gave the participants a little pad thai tutorial.  They all crowded around the kitchen and they had a chance to see how the dish was prepared, ask questions about the process and learn about the ingredients we used. Most importantly, the participants got to try heaping samples of pad thai. 

Everybody had a fun time, learned a few things, and we're all excited about the prospect of hosting another similar event in the near future. Stay tuned for that! In the meantime, here's the recipe for my pad thai. It's vegan, gluten free and super tasty. Enjoy!

TOFU PAD THAI 

Make 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 oz rice noodles
1/3 cup wheat free tamari 
2 tablespoons fresh lime
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 small red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 green onions, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 cup pea shoots or bean sprouts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat over to 350°F. Line an oven tray with parchment paper. Place diced tofu into a medium sized bowl and coat evenly with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt the coconut oil slightly if it’s solid). Arrange the tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for approximately 40 minutes, rotating and flipping the tofu periodically, until it is crisp and golden.
2. Soak the noodles in a large pot of hot water until softened, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the noodles. Drain well and rinse under cold water. Transfer the strained noodles to a large bowl and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, tamarind paste, tomato paste, water, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until well mixed and set aside.
4. In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions, with a big pinch of salt, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green onions and garlic, sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the baked tofu and cooked noodles and toss to combine and heat through.
5. Sir in the sauce and cook, tossing to coat, adding a splash or two of additional water, if needed, to prevent sticking. When noodles are hot, transfer the pad thai to a serving platter, sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Garnish with pea shoots or bean sprouts and lime on the side of the platter. Serve hot. 

This recipe was inspired by Robin Robertson's pad thai recipe in her cookbook "1000 Vegan Recipes".

A big thanks to photographers Jessica Dare, Lisa Stephens and Caitlin Fortier for capturing the shots below. 

Curried Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

I was away in Vermont this weekend. I went with a group of friends for a skiing /snowboarding /snowshoeing/ outdoor adventuring get-away and we stayed in one of our favourite vacation rentals, the Octagon. This is the third time my group of friends has rented this gorgeous cabin in Enosburg Falls and I'm sure it won't be the last. 

Photo courtesy of my friend Marie-Pierre. She says the stew pairs nicely with a glass of red.

Prior to leaving Ottawa, we planned our our meals and divvied up breakfast, lunch and dinner responsibilities.  I was in charge of the meal for our first night.  I wanted to make something rich and hearty to make sure we were all adequately fuelled with healthy proteins, carbs and fats for our active weekend.  I also wanted to make something that was relatively quick and easy so that I wouldn't be spending my first night in Vermont slaving away in the kitchen.  Whenever I'm pressed for time and craving something filling, I always opt for a stew with side of healthy whole grains. This weekend I made a curried chickpea and sweet potato stew with brown rice. Since there were 12 of us, I made a HUGE batch and there was more than enough for all of us to have second helpings. In the recipe below, I reduced the portions quite a bit to make about 6 to 8 servings. 

This stew is very easy, BUT since there are so many veggies there is some chopping involved. To be quicker and efficient, I recommend chopping the items in the order they are listed below and to have most of the veggies chopped prior to starting the stew. I also recommend starting the rice just before you turn on the stove for the stew as it can take about 45 minutes to cook. 

I hope you like this stew as much as we did. Bon appétit!

CURRIED CHICKPEA SWEET POTATO STEW 

Makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon olive oil (normally I'd use coconut oil, but we didn't have any on hand)
1 medium sized onion, peeled and diced (I used a red onion)
1 medium sized carrot, peeled and cut in 1/4 inch half moons or rounds
1 rib of celery rough chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, and minced or grated 
1 bell pepper, diced 
1 tablespoon curry powder of your choice 
1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half, or two medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped 
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes 
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth or water
1 14 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk (I used full fat, but light would also work) 
3 cups of baby kale (or any leafy greens of your choice), rinsed and roughly chopped
1 lemon or lime
1 handful of cilantro, rinsed and chopped, for garnish 
Salt & pepper
1.5 cups dry brown rice, cooked according to instructions on the package 

Directions

Heat a large soup pot on medium heat. Add oil to the pot.  Add onions, carrots and celery, with generous pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Cook until these ingredients are they are softened and the onion has become translucent. You may need to add a splash of water or veggie broth from time to time if the ingredients start burning or sticking to the bottom. Add garlic, ginger and bell pepper, stir to combine. In a minute or two, add the curry spice and stir to coat the ingredients. Add the tomatoes and leave them to simmer and soften for a few minutes. 

Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas and broth (or water) and turn heat to high. When your stew starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer. In about 20 minutes, or once the sweet potatoes are soft, add the can of coconut milk and stir well to combine.  Add your greens, stir to combine.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon or 1 lime and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with brown rice, and garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lemon or lime. A hot sauce of your choice would also give this stew a nice kick.