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.

Vegan Dumplings For A Health-filled New Year


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Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year is the extra bit of horoscope magic we like to celebrate in our house. Years ahead full of health and prosperity are good things to strive for. Sitting down and folding dumplings as a family is pretty amazing too.
Other than a lot of dicing, the filling comes together pretty quickly to make a dinner full of dumplings. Folding isn’t too tough either. There are lots of folds varieties to choose from. An easy triangle, to more complicated pleats, but the trick is just to get the air out and seal the edges well.
For these I started with an off point triangle and to fancy them up, folded each of the lower corners up to make a bit of a lucky dragon type of shape.

Gong hei fat choy!

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VEGAN DUMPLINGS

For The Filling:

1/2 Block Firm Tofu, pressed and finely diced (about 1 Cup)
3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted and finely diced (about 1/4 Cup)
1 Medium Carrot, finely grated
1 Cup Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Clove Garlic, finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Package Wonton Wrappers
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil, for frying
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil, for frying

Combine the filling ingredients together. To fill the dumplings, add about one teaspoon of the filling to one wrapper. Glide your finger along the edges of the wrapper to dampen the edges. Fold the dumpling into a triangle, working the air out and sealing the edges well. Fold the corners up to create a dragon fold, or bring them together and seal to create a more traditional wonton shape.
Collect the finished dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you’d like to freeze for later use, store in an airtight container.
To cook, add 1/4 cup of water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and add the dumplings, with space in between, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add 1 Tablespoon of sesame seed oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Loosen any dumplings, as necessary to get the oil under them, then leave them to fry for about another 3-5 minutes or until golden-crisp.

For The Dipping Sauce:

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sesame Seed Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds, optional

If using, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Once they begin to pop and brown, remove them from the heat.
Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Stir in the chopped cilantro and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 30 Dumplings

Spicy Black Eyed Pea & Sweet Potato Stoup


How about a flavourful and heat loving blast into the New Year?
Healthy and sinus clearing, this is a lunch to knock that cold back outside where it belongs.

It’s been frigid and I’ve been sick. The extra sleep has been good, but I’m in need of a hug from the inside and this soup delivers.
Thick like a veggie stew, it’s not too spicy but still turns up the heat with seasonal, hearty goodness.
Phew.
I’m almost feeling better already.


SPICY BLACK EYED PEA + SWEET POTATO SOUP

1-2 Tablespoons Safflower or Vegetable oil
2 Onions, diced
2 Stalks of Celery, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over & rinsed
6 cups water
1 teaspoon Oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary, dried
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and diced, about 2 1/2 cups once diced
1 16-ounce can San Mariano Tomatoes, diced
4 cups  Vegetable Broth
1/3 Cup Mixed Grain & Brown Rice
1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Sweet Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or a large pot.
Add the onions and sauté for about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Add the celery and garlic to the onions, stirring, for 3 minutes more.
Add the black-eyed peas, water along with the dried oregano.
Seal the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Once it locks and begins to steam, cook for 10 minutes under high pressure.
Remove from heat and release pressure. (If you’re cooking in a regular soup pot, the boil for about 50 or until the peas are tender.
Add cubed sweet potato, tomatoes, along with all their juice and the vegetable stock.
Return the pot to medium-high heat. Bring it to a rolling simmer.
Add rice, Sriracha, paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper, then continue to cook until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

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Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

PeTA’s Vegan College Cookbook


I have to admit, when I first flipped through it, I wasn’t totally taken by PeTA’s new Vegan College Cookbook. It was lacking photography, and well, real food. Then I realized, I made it through college already and I did it with market and a Beer Store practically across the street – certainly a benefit when not having to live in a dorm for sure.
Where this book may occasionally cook directly from a ramen packet to a microwave, I think the book more than makes up for it in it’s simplicity, it is encouraging cooking and sticking true to oneself and beliefs – especially as the ultimate visitor in a processed food, meat lovers world. There are clever suggestions and quick recipes to fill you up all while keeping a limited budget and tools in mind.
The recipes are young and quirky, easy and cheap and with 275 of them, that can keep someone eating for just about every day you’re at school.

The people at PeTA were so nice to share and are letting me give TWO copies away.
If you’d like your chance at getting one, just leave a comment below by Wednesday, May 13th and I’ll randomly choose two winners. Good Luck!

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.