Just Visiting?


So it’s January. Or as I’ve also heard, Veganuary…  A month of clean eating repent for the holiday glut. Maybe, it’s the start of a year long commitment to eat more plant-based. But here, there is no judgement. Try it out. I’m here to help! I know, I know, the idea of doing something new is tough. New is unknown, but after over a decade of writing hundreds of Vegan Visitor recipes, I’ve learned, and tasted so much. Thirteen (!) years later,  it’s easier than ever to practice a plant-based diet — even if you’re just visiting. Diets seem to be ever evolving, but vegetables never go out of food fashion.
Easing into plant-based eating and feeling forgiven to be on that veggie grayscale can make it so much more comfortable. Testing the waters and eating this way part time, may be less of a commitment, but come February, you’ll discover clean eating isn’t that tough and will not only make you a bit more fit, but happier. It’s great to feel healthy, but you’ll be doing a little bit to lighten your “food-print” too!

Being on both sides of the food fence, I know what I need to feel satisfied during a meal and these recipes will leave you happy, healthier and satiated too.

Vegan isn’t as tricky as some might think to adapt into their everyday, so don’t fret! I’ve been doing this a long time and have put a lot of recipes to the test.

There’s everything from comforting classics to tasty one-tray dinners, simple pasta dishes to hearty winter stews. Start with this deliciously simple idea from my forthcoming book for lunch! It’s probably everything you have in your pantry already, so no stress. Adapting plant-based isn’t supposed to be. It’s here to make you feel better, ease the planet in the process.

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Creamy White Bean & Arugula Toasts

1 Can White Cannellini Beans (260g)
3 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Baby Arugula, packed
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
1 Lemon, zested and juiced.
¼ teaspoon Salt
Crack of freshly ground pepper to taste
Chilli Flakes

Drain and rinse the beans. Heat olive oil over medium low. Add the garlic to lightly sauté, followed by the beans, salt and pepper. Once warmed through, about 5 minutes, mash the beans slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to break down and make everything even creamier. Add the arugula to wilt, basil and lemon zest, tossing to combine.

Toast some grainy slices of bread and top with some the bean mixture. Lightly drizzle it with more olive oil, if desired and top with more arugula, lemon  zest, some flaky sea salt and chilli flakes.

 

 

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Tofu & Chickpea Tagine


Ever wonder what came of those preserved lemons? Or just what to do with them?
Now that I’m detoxing and the only fruits allowed are lemons and bananas. I couldn’t have been happier now that I’ve made them. One of the key ingredients in several Moroccan dishes, these mellowed lemons add just the perfect flavour, lifting something that could have been heavy to a fresh new height.

Since this was the first meal that I would be making for visitors while I’ve been on the detox I was obviously compelled to be sure it wasn’t boring. The last thing I wanted was to showcase the potential dark side of a detox. Really, the truth be told, I’ve been having a great time being challenged to get creative in the kitchen again and I wanted it to show. This lively dinner, with it’s combination of spices and the lemon certainly didn’t disappoint.

TOFU & CHICKPEA TAGINE

1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 scant teaspoon Sea Salt
1 scant Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, well chopped
1 Large Onion, sliced
1 – 540ml/19oz Can Chickpeas, rinsed
1 – 540ml/19oz Can White Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 1/2 Preserved Lemons, rind only – rinsed
1 1/2 Cups water

Press the tofu between two plates to remove execss liquid. Then, slice into 1 inch (2cm) cubes.
Combine the olive oil, spices, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cubed tofu and toss to coat. Cover and let it sit to marinade for at least one hour.

Heat a large sauté pan and fry the tofu over a medium-high heat until it is dry and beginning to crisp.
Remove from the pan and add the sliced onions to cook being sure to soak up any remaining bits of the marinade.
Rinse and remove the pulp from the preserved lemons. Dice the peel and add, along with both the onions and the tofu, to a large pot. Add the rinsed chickpeas and settle over a moderate heat.
In a separate bowl add the white kidney beans and the water. Using a potato masher, crush the beans, then add to the other ingredients, stirring well to combine.
Heat through, adjust seasoning where necessary.
Serve over a chewy brown rice, couscous (if not detoxing) or quinoa with a handful of extra cilantro.

Serves 6 – 8

Mixed Bean Minestrone



Autumn harvest getting you going? Or is it the threat of frost? I’m not exactly sure which it is for me personally, although I really didn’t mind scrambling to pick the last of my tomatoes and transfer them into the window.

I’m currently vacationing at the beach and even here, the weather’s got a Northerly blow. In fact, it’s down right chilly and where I’d love to return to a summer salad and berries, I’m finding myself craving soup.

Soup is one of those wonderful things that make the change in the weather a better transition. It’s comforting and easier than succumbing to putting on my first pair of socks of the season.

Quick and soothing, minestrone soup is the best way to using up a smattering of harvest vegetables. I just use whatever I have on hand at the time, including those tomatoes in my window sill. To make it a bit more substantial of a meal, I’ve also used up the bottoms of my pantry jars of kidney, red lentils, great northern, pintos and black eyed beans, before running out to restock for the winter, but really you could use any assortment of quicker cooking beans or just add a rinsed can of them at the end.

MIXED BEAN MINESTRONE

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery, diced
4 Cups Tomatoes, chopped – about 4-5 medium
1 Potato, peeled and diced (optional)
8 Cups Water
1 Cup Mixed Dry Beans, Pinto, Kidney, Red Lentils, or one 15oz can drained and well rinsed.
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (optional)

For quicker & softer beans, soak them for at least a few hours or over night.
Peel and dice the onion, then chop the carrot and celery.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Or if desired, a slow cooker on high.
Add the onion, carrot celery and minced garlic to sauté.
If you’re making the soup in a stockpot, once the onion has softened, about 3 minutes, add the potato, tomatoes, water, soaked dry beans, bay leaves and herbs. Otherwise, add everything to the crock-pot.
Cover with water and bring to a rolling simmer. Or reduce the heat to low in the crock pot and leave to cook for the day; 8-10 hours.
Once the carrots and beans are tender, add the frozen peas, salt and canned beans in lieu of the dry if using.
Adjust seasoning, adding freshly ground pepper.
Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

Serve with fresh bread and freshly grated parmigiana, if desired.
Freezes well.

Adventures In Eating


Omnivorous or not, a trip to Chicago without a dining destination might leave you a little stumped.
While I’m sure the city is drenched in fabulous restaurant choices, left on your own without a little guidance one might only find an pierogi, an all dressed hot dog or a deep dish pizza on the menu.

Naturally, it was long before Oprah tried her hand at veganism, I’m sure there were options, although hidden, throughout her Windy City. Stumble upon Fox & Obel, or carefully read through some menus and you might find some contributions to the herbivore fare like grilled vegetable paninis and some very interesting, but tasty salads, like this one inspired by the Corner Bakery Café.

Sweet, with the only zip pretty much coming from the flavour of the ginger and finishing with a hint of cilantro, it was a great salad all on it’s own, but it did go well with that crisp panini and I’m sure anything grilled for summer as well.

Perfect flash of colour for your July celebration table.
Happy Canada Day everyone.

EDAMAME SALAD

Edamame (Soy Beans), about 1 cup podded
1 Large Carrot, Coarsely grated, equivalent to 1 cup
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 English Cucumber, diced, about 1 cup
3 Scallions, finely diced
2″ Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
Fistful of Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
Fistful of Fresh Basil, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch Salt

Finely grate the ginger using the fine grater of a box grater or a zester and squeeze excess juice from any stringy remains.
Add the ginger and juice to a food processor or a wide enough cup to handle an immersion blender, along with the agave and olive oil. Mix well to emulsify.
Steam the beans or boil in their pods for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the beans and blanch under cold water briefly to cool.
Finely dice the cucumber.
Peel and finely dice the scallions and coarsely shred the carrot on the large hole of a box grater, or cut into matchsticks.
Shell the beans, discarding the pods, and add, along with the other vegetables into a large bowl.
Wash, dry and finely chop the basil and cilantro.
Pour over the dressing and sprinkle over the herbs, tossing to coat everything well.

Super Bowl of Chili


As I sat, thinking what the ultimate food for Sunday would be, it actually took me a bit to come to the chili conclusion.
Crazy, yes, I am aware of this.

Coming from an advertising background, I have to honestly admit that the majority of my Superbowl viewing experience takes place during half time.

Perfect for cooking for a crowd, the chili is a dash of this and a can of that – and then you leave it.
So quick and easy, you won’t even miss the commercials.

Continue reading Super Bowl of Chili

Roasted Vegetable Soup


Who knew that if given the choice, most grown-ups will avoid roasted parsnips and squash if they are served on their own? Made me happy, as I eyed the level of the dish near the end of dinner. I knew where these left over vegetables were going after the Thanksgiving dishes were done.

Funny thing, us people. Sure, presentation is important but so is how we connect with food. Being forced to eat sloppy, bitter, mashed squash as a kid might just hinder the most grown up of grown ups away from rediscovering it through a lifetime of hate. However, have a chilly autumn day and place a warm, satisfying soup in front of that same taster and you just might get an entirely different story.
Continue reading Roasted Vegetable Soup