Baked Oatmeal


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The great thing about vegan cooking, especially in the time of a pandemic, is the know-how to cook with substitutes. There are chronic shortages of groceries, but not the desire to feed ourselves well.

Confined in a distancing bubble with teenagers, the need to eat is frequent – but so is boredom. When every morning has been leftover banana bread, waffles, cereal or a smoothie, I’ve been starting to get some shrugs. It’s been tough trying to please everyone in the middle of the apocalypse.

And yes, it’s only a Tuesday (I think) but I’ve got the time and we’re trying to stay healthy here so, I hit the pantry to see what was new. I got the glaze over when I mentioned oatmeal at first, but when I kept looking, I remembered the frozen fruit stockpiled for those smoothies and a fresh vitamin boost. So, to make it interesting, I realized if I could bake rice, I should do it with the oatmeal too.

I think mostly anything you have on hand could be replaced for the fruit in this.
We’ve been lucky to be part of Foodshare. It’s a great organization that not only delivers fresh fruit and veg to my doorstep every week, it also gives back to support the nutritionally vulnerable. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been surprised with a pineapple, so that was added to the frozen blueberries! You could try banana/blueberry, or raspberry with lemon zest and almonds or hazelnut – or if you have those, hazelnut and chocolate. Go crazy!

 

BAKED OATMEAL

2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
1/3 Cup Almonds, chopped
2 Cups Whole Oats
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
1 1/2 Cups Milk (Any kind)
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2/3 Cup Pineapple, finely diced
1 Cup Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Brown, Raw or Coconut Sugar, for sprinkling

In a small bowl combine the ground flax with 1/3 Cup water and set aside.
Roughly chop the almonds and scatter flat in a 9″x9″ baking pan.
Set the oven to preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the almonds to toast (about 5 minutes), while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Peel and dice the pineapple so it is about the size of a large blueberry.
In a large bowl, add the oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and toasted almonds.
Pour over the milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and flax mixture. Stir well to combine evenly, then add the diced pineapple and blueberries to incorporate throughout.
Add mixture to the baking pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes.

Curried Lemon Quinoa With Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas


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Oh Yeah! Who doesn’t like Quinoa?
Haven’t heard of it??
It’s got a similar texture to brown rice or couscous (but better, it’s tender with bounce) oh, and it’s landed a “Superfood” title.
Not only high in protein, it’s a complete protein, with all 8 essential amino acids. Oh, and it’s gluten free and easy to digest…. that and it takes about seven minutes to make.

I’ve heard of it in so many rice bowl style recipes as well as served up for breakfast.
So before I continue to sound like an infomercial, what about you? Are you new to this superfood or have you already converted from rice?

This is one amazing, flavour packed recipe! The roasted cauliflower and chickpeas would be so great on their own, but the lemony-dressed, herby kale dotted, lemony quinoa just makes this a memorable dinner!

CURRIED LEMON QUINOA WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & CHICKPEAS

1 Cup Quinoa
3 Cups Kale, Chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, peeled & grated
1 Head of  Cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
1 15oz can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Lemons, Juiced and Zested, divided
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
4 Fresh Mint Leaves, Finely Chopped
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup tahini.
1 clove garlic, finely minced.
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF
In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the oil ,onion, garlic, dried spices, cauliflower and chickpeas to toss. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet.
Roast until the cauliflower is tender, and the chickpeas have crisped, about 45-50 minutes, checking irregularly to shake the pan.
Meanwhile, in a mesh strainer. Rinse the quinoa very well for about 3 minutes.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the quinoa.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and remove from heat after 5 minutes.
Keep covered until ready to use.
Strip the kale from the larger stems and roughly chop. Add the kale to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, “massage” it, by grabbing handfuls of kale in your hands and scrunch it up in your palms to break down the tougher fibers. When the kale is darker green in colour, pour over 2 tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon grated ginger, cilantro, mint and juice from one lemon. Add the cooked quinoa , salt and pepper, then stir well to combine.
To make the dressing, whisk together the tahini, adding 3-4 tablespoons of warm water to thin, add remaining lemon juice , maple syrup, curry powder, 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger and turmeric.

Divide the quinoa among serving bowls. Spoon over cauliflower and chickpeas. Finish with the lemon zest, a drizzle of the dressing and an extra toss of fresh cilantro, if desired.

Wilted Greens & Wheat Berry Salad


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Another quick-ish meal that’ll get you going, keep you full and make you forget about needing meat to complete a meal.  I’m a junky of all things green and grainy, so I’ve been into wheat berries lately. A super grain, and not too carby of a carb, they’re chewy, firm pods of whole food goodness. Plus, if you can boil water, they’re pretty much a cinch to cook.

The wheat berries are easily cooked in advance and stored for up to a week in a sealed container. They can also be subbed for quinoa for a gluten-free option.

WILTED GREENS + WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH MIXED MUSHROOMS

4 Cups Mixed Mushrooms, sliced – I used Shiitake, and crimini
1 Cup Soft Wheat Berries
Zest + Juice of One Lemon
6 Cups Assorted Field Greens, Spinach & Arugula, or any combination you have and like
2 Tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped (optional – if you’re one of those people:)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil, divided
Salt + Pepper, to your taste

Soak the wheat berries for 20 -30 minutes. Rinse the wheat berries well and drain.
Boil 3 cups of lightly salted water and add the wheat berries. reduce the heat to medium and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes for doneness and if your water has been absorbed. (If it almost has and the berries aren’t quite tender, reduce the heat to medium-low and finish your cooking time.)
Pick over and wash your greens, spin to dry.
Heat a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden. Remove from heat, then add the parsley and cilantro.
Fluff the wheat berries with a fork, add the lemon juice, mushrooms, remaining oil and toss to combine.
Divide the greens between 4 servings and top with the wheat berries, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini



Where have I been having vanished with the summer?
Sheltering from the rain, I’d replaced my passé front yard with an edible garden.
I tried my luck with a few heirloom seeds and a few more old stand-by vegetables.
Summer may have squeaked by, but not without leaving me with a few baseball bat sized zucchinis.

I took company coming as the perfect opportunity to eat up the biggest one.  Of course there were cakes and something savoury for lunch as well.

We managed to eat half. (That was even with seconds!)

QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI

1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Red Quinoa
1 Large Zucchini, very large in my case
1 Cup Yellow Pear Tomatoes
A big handful of herbs of your choice. I used mostly basil, some parsley and thyme, finely chopped
salt+pepper

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots. Once they’ve softened, add the garlic but be careful not to burn it.
Half the zucchini lengthwise and remove the seeds. Trim the ends and remove the bottom of one half just so it will sit without toppling over. Dice the other half until you’ve measured 2 Cups. (If there’s still some left, here’s a recipe for scones.)
Add the chopped zucchini to the shallots and continue to sauté until it’s softened.
Slice the tomatoes and add them to the zucchini.
Remove from the heat and add the prepared quinoa and chopped herbs.
Combine well and add a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Place the seeded, trimmed zucchini half in a baking dish which has been lightly oiled.
Pack the stuffing into the crevice. Drizzle with olive oil and cover lightly with foil.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or depending on your zucchini’s size and thickness, until it’s tender. (Begin checking at 40 minutes if it’s more of a slender forearm size:)

Quinoa & Mixed Grain Breakfast


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There’s a way to make oatmeal “healthier”?
It took me a couple of days, but I realized that the rice cooker makes more than, well, rice.

With the cold weather just about everyone’s been having lately, there’s been a lot of oatmeal filling the bowls around here. Since it’s the weekend, to keep things a little different, I tried a combination of quinoa and mixed grains like; cracked rye, flax and Irish oats. Fancied up with maple caramelized banana and it almost made for a showy brunch option instead of a detox meal.

MIXED GRAIN PORRIDGE WITH CARAMELIZED BANANAS

1/2 Cup Red Quinoa, very well rinsed
1/4 Cup Irish Oats, Steel Cut
1/4 Cup Cracked Rye
3 Tablespoons Flax Seed
2 1/3 Cups Water
Pinch Salt

2 Bananas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Rinse the quinoa well and add it along with the other grains to your rice cooker or a large saucepan.
Add the water and the pinch of salt. For the rice cooker, follow the manufacturers directions (which is turn it on) and for the stovetop version, heat to a boil then reduce to a simmer over a low heat.
Stir, then cover until the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender; about 15 minutes. Stir to fluff when done.
Meanwhile, slice the bananas about 1/4″ thick on the diagonal and heat along with the maple syrup in a frying pan, over a medium-high heat.
Maple syrup will reduce and thicken. Flip bananas to cook and coat with the syrup on both sides.

Serve bananas over the prepared porridge with a splash of soy milk.

The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.