October 31, 2011

Roasted Winter Panzanella

This summer, I discovered panzanella - a fresh and simple bread salad - and it became my new favourite summertime meal. Then I tried a roasted summer panzanella and liked that even more than the raw version!

But then summer and its fresh produce faded away, so I sadly said goodbye to my beloved panzanella ... until I started seeing versions of winter panzanella on a few blogs, and became inspired to update my roasted panzanella to suit the new season!

I had a lot of choices for ingredients that I could include in my winter panzanella, but I ended up using brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, potatoes and artichokes. I also kept the grape tomatoes from the original version since I think they are an essential part of panzanella, even though they're no longer seasonal.

I also changed up the herbs by using fresh sage instead of basil, and replaced the white bread with pumpernickel to fit the darker winter theme.

I was so excited to try this salad (if you can even classify it as a salad), and it definitely did not disappoint! I loved the variety of roasted veggies tossed with the sage in a light oil and vinegar dressing, and combined with the toasted pumpernickel and juicy tomatoes. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the artichokes, so I made the salad again without them and enjoyed it even more that way.

This is a great way to use up leftover roasted veggies and is very adaptable - you could try adding squash, parsnips or rutabagas too! I also left out the cheese this time, but would also taste great with some fresh mozzarella or bocconcini balls.

Roasted Winter Panzanella
Inspired by my previous recipe for Roasted Summer Panzanella

1 medium beet, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, washed and diced
2 small red potatoes (about 8 oz), washed and diced
6 oz brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
About 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 thick slices of pumpernickel bread (1-2 cups when cut into pieces)
1 tbsp fresh sage, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for roasting
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss beets with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a large baking tray. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes, carrots and brussel sprouts and toss with more olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Remove beets from oven and add vegetables to the baking pan along with the beets. Return to oven for 35-40 minutes.

Place the grape tomatoes and garlic in a separate baking dish and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to oven for the last 15-20 minutes of roasting time.

Place the slices of bread in the oven for the last 5-10 minutes, until lightly toasted (I placed the slices directly on the oven rack). Remove and slice or tear into bite-sized chunks.

To prepare salad, place all vegetables, bread, and sage in a bowl and toss to mix. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil and 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

Makes 2 servings. 

October 28, 2011

Spooky Pumpkin Spice Latte Hummus

If you thought there was a mistake in the title of this post, don't worry - I really did mean to add the word "hummus" after "pumpkin spice latte".  While this recipe is quite different from the famous Starbucks seasonal drink in some respects, it still has many of the same components - but in the form of a shareable dip!

As soon as I got my new food processor last week, I immediately started thinking about all the things I wanted to make with it. My first thoughts turned to hummus, but not just any plain hummus - it had to be something special!  And since I was recently reassured that pumpkin season is not over yet, I knew I wanted to make a pumpkin hummus... but instead of doing a savory version (like this Spicy Pumpkin Hummus at Once Upon a Cutting Board), I wanted to make a dessert hummus.

To come up with a good recipe, I turned to the blog The Broccoli Hut, which has lots of unique hummus ideas. I used their recipe for Sweet Maple Pumpkin Hummus as a guide, and made a few tweaks to get the pumpkin spice latte flavour I was looking for.

The result was a smooth and creamy hummus with the taste of pumpkin and Fall spices. I thought the amount of sweetness was just right, and there was just enough of the coffee to give it a bit of a kick without being too overpowering - but feel free to increase or decrease the amounts of sweetener and instant coffee to your own taste!

I've already made two batches of this hummus - the first I ate with apple slices, and the second I ate with some homemade vegan and gluten-free buckwheat graham crackers.

And since Halloween is coming up, I cut my graham crackers into "spooky" shapes (unfortunately I didn't have cookie cutters so they're a bit rough - but they are supposed to be tombstones and coffins!)  I loved the graham crackers on their own (they tasted more like gingerbread cookies), but they were even better dipped into the hummus!

This would be a great idea to bring to a Halloween potluck or party, with either apples or graham crackers.

Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Hummus
Adapted from The Broccoli Hut

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (preferably with the skins peeled first)
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of nutmeg and cloves
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant coffee

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth and fully mixed. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Buckwheat Graham Crackers

Recipe can be found at Sketch-free Vegan Eating

The only changes I made to their recipe was to use dark buckwheat flour instead of light (since that's all I could find), adding a pinch of ground ginger, and using a bit of almond milk to replace some of the water. I would also adjust the cooking time to 18-23 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crackers.

October 25, 2011

Sweet Potato & Plantain Soup

Once the weather starts getting colder, I love to make nice creamy soups that I can scoop up with a piece of hearty bread. This sweet potato and plantain soup is a great transition from the last warm days of the year into the colder months, since it is warm and comforting but still has some tropical flavours.

I first saw the recipe on Cake, Batter and Bowl and I've made it a few times since then, with minor changes to the ingredients to suit my own taste (and to make it vegetarian).

I love the combination of sweet potatoes with ripe plantain and the hint of lime.  While this soup is a bit on the sweeter side, I still found that multiple layers of flavours came through as I ate it - from sweet to citrusy and ending with a bit of spice.  And the crunch of plantain chips on top adds the perfect touch to the creamy soup!

Sweet Potato & Plantain Soup
Adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
3 small sweet potatoes (about 1 lb unpeeled)
1 yellow plantain
1/2 a jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne and allspice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 a lime (start with less than this amount and add more if you like a strong lime taste)
plantain chips for garnish

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and the plantain (you might need a knife to remove the peel from the plantain).

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft and browned, 5-6 minutes.  Add the minced ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the sweet potatoes and plantains to the pot, then stir in the jalapeno, cumin, cayenne and allspice.

Add the vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree in a blender until completely smooth. (Note: you may need to add more water if you prefer a thinner soup)

Return soup to the pot and stir in the salt and lime juice.

Serve hot. Garnish each serving with whole or chopped plantain chips and season with ground pepper (Serve immediately, as the plantain chips will start to get soggy quickly).

Makes 2-3 servings.

October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Chickpea Granola Bars

I feel like pumpkin season is practically over already, yet I've only posted one pumpkin recipe so far on my blog! So before it's too late, here's one more pumpkin treat that I made recently...

This is actually just an adaptation of my Chickpea Granola Bars that I posted earlier - since I loved them so much, I thought it would be fun to try a more seasonal version.  So I changed up the original recipe by replacing the peanut butter with canned pumpkin puree. I also added some pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin granola, and used maple syrup instead of agave.

I wasn't sure whether all of the changes would work, but luckily the granola bars turned out great! The pumpkin flavour wasn't that strong, but all of the other ingredients came together to make a tasty and healthy Fall snack! These were a bit more fragile than the original version since they didn't have the peanut butter to help hold them together, but as long as you keep them refrigerated, they should hold up fine. I bet they would also be good crumbled up and eaten as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal!

Pumpkin Chickpea Granola Bars
Adapted from these Chickpea Granola Bars

1/2 tbsp ground flax
2 tbsp warm water
1 cup + 2 tbsp canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1.5 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup  rolled oats + 1/4 cup granola (or ¾ cup oats) - I used this pumpkin spice granola
1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1/4 cup dried cranberries and raisins (about 2 tbsp of each)
about 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 375°FCombine the flax with water and set aside.

Combine the chickpeas with brown sugar and cinnamon in a baking dish. Bake for 8 minutes, stir, then bake 8 more minutes. Let cool and then mash until there are no whole chickpeas left.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, granola, puffed rice, pumpkin seeds and dried fruit, with the pumpkin pie spice and pinch of salt. Then add in mashed chickpeas and stir together.

In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Then stir in the flax mixture.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate.

Pour mixture into a greased 8 x 8 pan (Mine filled about 2/3 of the pan). Press down firmly with a rubber spatula. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 6 bars.

This recipe is being shared at Wellness Weekends hosted by Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

October 19, 2011

Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas

Spaghetti squash seems to be one of the less popular varieties of squash. I can understand why - the taste and texture are quite different from other squashes like butternut and acorn, and if you're expecting it to taste anything like real spaghetti, you might be unpleasantly surprised!

But spaghetti squash can actually make a really delicious meal if you combine it with some spices and other tasty ingredients. For my first spaghetti squash of the season, I decided to create this Moroccan-spiced dish with chickpeas, raisins, apricots, and parsley. 

I loved the combination of flavours in this dish! The spices weren't too overpowering, especially when paired with the sweetness of the dried fruit. I used both raisins and apricots for the fruit, but you could leave out the apricots if you prefer. I also added a lot of chickpeas which helped to bulk up the meal, since spaghetti squash is not very substantial on its own. 

This was a nice comforting Fall meal, and it's very economical too - most of the ingredients can probably be found in your pantry already, and one spaghetti squash is enough to feed an entire family, so I had lots of leftovers to eat for lunches all week!

Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas
Adapted from Eat Drink Better, originally from Smitten Kitchen

1 spaghetti squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt (I used a bit less)
3-4 tbsp golden raisins
1/4 chopped dried apricots (optional)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place face-down on a baking pan. Roast in the oven at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, until squash is tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and soft. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring often, for about one more minute.

Stir in the spices, salt, raisins, apricots (if using), and chickpeas. Cook for another minute or two until the chickpeas are warmed, then remove from heat.

When the squash is done roasting, remove from oven and let it cool until it is ready to handle. Scrape out all of the flesh using a fork (it will separate into spaghetti-like strands) and transfer the strands to a large bowl. Add the chickpea mixture and the parsley or cilantro to the squash and toss to mix everything together.

Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Coconut Snack Cake

If you've been following my blog since it started, you may have noticed that I like making healthy cakes that can be eaten for breakfast or as a snack. One reason I like to make them is because they're so simple - just mix up the batter and pour it into a pan - and there are so many different flavour variations to try! So far, I've posted pineapple, raspberry, and apple cakes, but I think this pumpkin coconut cake is my favourite version so far!

The recipe for this cake comes from this Vegan Pumpkin Snack Cake at Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen.  I changed a few things in the recipe, like using spelt flour and reducing the amount of sugar. I also wanted to enhance both the pumpkin and coconut flavours even more by adding some pumpkin pie spice, and using coconut milk and coconut oil instead of the water and vegetable oil that the original recipe called for.

The result was a dense and moist cake with amazing flavour! I loved the combination of pumpkin with coconut, and the pieces of shredded coconut throughout the cake gave it some extra texture that I really liked. This was not a very sweet cake and it actually tasted pretty light despite its dense texture, so I was able to enjoy it for breakfast.  It was also very easy and quick to make, and it stored well for a few days (although if you like it as much as I did, it might not last that long!)

Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Snack Cake
Adapted from Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen

1.5 cups flour (I used 1 cup of light spelt flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened but you could use sweetened for a sweeter cake)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coconut milk beverage (from a carton) or other non-dairy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8x8 square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and coconut.

Combine all remaining ingredients (sugar through to lemon juice) in a separate bowl and mix until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated (do not overmix).

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Cut into squares once cool.

Makes about 12 pieces.

This is my submission to this month's Healing Foods Event featuring Coconut.

coconut ladoo healing food

October 14, 2011

Hummus Kale Chips

I realize that kale chips have been all over the web for quite a while now, so you might not need another recipe for them.  But for those of you who either haven't tried kale chips yet, or have tried them but didn't like them, this version might change your mind!

I admit it took me a long time before I was willing to try kale chips...even though I had seen many positive reviews from other bloggers who claimed they tasted great and were a healthier alternative to potato chips, I was still skeptical - especially after my sister tried them and hated them!

But then once I started using nutritional yeast more often and realized how yummy it can make things, I figured that if the kale chips were coated in a cheesy nutritional yeast topping, they were sure to be delicious!

Somewhere along the way of looking for recipes for cheesy kale chips, I came across one that also used hummus and I thought that was a brilliant idea! (Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark the recipe but I'm pretty sure it was this recipe for Chipotle Hummus Kale Chips)

So after mixing up my dressing with hummus, nutritional yeast and a couple of other ingredients, I put my kale chips in the oven and waited anxiously...and once I tasted my first kale chip, I was hooked! The flavour was similar to nacho chips, and the kale was so light and crispy. I especially liked the pieces that had an extra-thick coating on them!

I'm happy to say I'm no longer a skeptic when it comes to kale chips! I've made them multiple times now, trying out some different topping ideas, but this recipe is still my favourite!

Hummus Kale Chips
Inspired by various sources, such as The Novice Chef Blog and I'm Not Superhuman

About 2 cups chopped kale (from 1-2 stalks)
1 tbsp hummus (any flavor)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove the stems from the kale and slice the leaves into pieces. Place the leaves in a large bowl.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

Pour dressing over kale and massage into the leaves with your fingers until the kale is evenly coated. (This gets a bit messy, but I find it works better than mixing the dressing in with a spoon)

Spread kale in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp.

Makes 1 serving.

October 12, 2011

Carrot-Parsnip Salad with Curried Tahini Dressing

After a week full of lots of cooking and eating, followed by two Thanksgiving dinners in a row this weekend, I'm ready for some light and healthy meals this week!

This salad, which came from this recipe for Tahini Curried Carrot Salad, definitely fits into that category - ribbons of fresh veggies combined with raisins and sunflower seeds, all coated in a creamy dressing made with tahini. Plus it hardly takes any time to make, since it doesn't involve any actual cooking! I make this a lot for lunches, whenever I'm craving something light and full of veggies!

The recipe is also very adaptable - I rarely make it the same way more than once! You could easily use just carrots, but I really liked the combination of carrots with raw parsnips. You can also cut the vegetables any way you like - I think its fun to create "noodles" by peeling the carrots and parsnips into wide strips, but you could also slice them very thinly into matchsticks.

As for the add-ins, I like to mix in raisins and sunflower seeds, but cranberries and pumpkin seeds would also go really well in this salad. I also added some chopped parsley and sprinkled some unsweetened coconut on top (because I'm obsessed with coconut and I add it to pretty much everything I make lately!), but you could definitely leave that out and the salad would be just as good!

Carrot-Parsnip Salad with Curried Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Healthy.Happy.Life

1 medium carrot, peeled
1 small parsnip, peeled
1-2 tbsp raisins
1-2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp chopped parsley
unsweetened coconut for topping (optional)

1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 tsp curry powder
pinch of cayenne

Using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips from the carrot and parsnip, until you reach the core. Place the strips in a bowl and add the raisins and sunflower seeds.

In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients. Add a bit of water if it looks too thick. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Top with parsley and coconut if desired.

Makes 1 serving.

For more raw noodle ideas, check out my recipes for raw zucchini and summer squash noodles. I've also tried making butternut squash noodles, but the recipe needs a bit more testing before it's ready to post!  If you have any other ideas for vegetables that can be turned into noodles, let me know!

October 09, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving Week Recipe Round-Up

Thanksgiving Week has now come to an end here on the blog, but for most people (especially all my American readers!), the big meal is still to come!

So in case you missed any of the recipes I posted this week, or if you're still looking for an idea for part of your Thanksgiving feast (or any other day!), here's a recap:

*Note: All recipes are vegan.
Day 1 - Appetizer: Sweet Potato Bites

Day 7 - Dessert: Coconut Sweet Potato Pie

For even more ideas, check out my sister Natalie's blog Once Upon a Cutting Board, where you can see all of the recipes that she posted for her own Thanksgiving Week too!

Well, I'm off to get started on helping with the preparations for our family's Thanksgiving dinner tonight (I see a lot of dish-washing in my future...)

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who is celebrating it this weekend!

October 08, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 7: Vegan Coconut Sweet Potato Pie

It's the last day of Thanksgiving Week, and that means it's finally time for my favourite part of the Thanksgiving meal - dessert!

My dessert of choice at Thanksgiving has always been a traditional pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream, but this year I wanted to try something different and create a vegan pie.  After searching for recipes, I ended up deciding to make a sweet potato pie because I've never tried one before and I was curious!

I started with a recipe from Veg Source for vegan sweet potato pie, but I was inspired to turn it into a coconut version after seeing these recipes for a coconut sweet potato pie and vegan coconut whipped cream.

So after putting all of these recipes together, what I came up with was a coconut-lover's dream:  coconut-sweet potato pie with a coconut graham cracker crust and coconut whipped cream on top!

This was actually the first pie I've ever made from scratch myself, so I was pretty nervous when it was finally time to cut into it and see how it turned out....but to my surprise, it came out just the way I had hoped!

I liked the ratio of crust to pie - I'm not a big fan of crust on anything, so I prefer less of it. This crust was crumbly without falling apart, and had a nice coconutty flavour. The coconut taste wasn't as strong in the pie itself - instead, the sweet potato really came through, accented by a hint of maple syrup and spices.

I would definitely recommend topping this with the coconut whipped cream.  Unlike storebought whipped cream, which can have an airy taste and is full of artificial ingredients, this one was smooth and creamy and it only has two ingredients - coconut milk and icing sugar!

I'm not sure if sweet potato pie will replace pumpkin pie as my all-time favourite Thanskgiving dessert, but this was definitely a close second and it was fun to try something a bit different. It also received very good reviews from everyone who tried it at the potluck that I brought it to this week!

Coconut Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Veg Source, crust recipe adapted from Ashley Skabar and The New York Times

For the crust:
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs (make sure they are dairy-free)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt

Mix everything in a large bowl until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch pie pan. Let chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

For the pie:
2 cups mashed sweet potato (I used 1.5 sweet potatoes)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, ginger and cloves
1 cup coconut milk beverage from the carton
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cornstarch

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Add chunks to a pot of boiling water and boil until soft (about 10-15 minutes). Drain and let cool, then mash completely.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Add the salt and spices and stir to mix. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. 

Pour the filling onto the prepared pie crust, until it reaches the top edges of the crust (you might not need all of the filling).

Bake at 375°F for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is set on top (it should stay pretty firm if you jiggle the pan). Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cut into slices and serve with coconut whipped cream (the full recipe and instructions can be found at that link).

Makes one 9-inch pie (10-12 pieces).

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 7 recipe at Once Upon a Cutting Board - Mini pumpkin tarts - a bite-sized dessert idea for finish off your Thanksgiving meal!

October 07, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 6: Butternut Squash and Apple Quinoa

It's the second-last day of vegan Thanksgiving Week, and that means its time for the main course! I knew that I wanted to incorporate squash into my menu in some way, but instead of relegating it to a side dish, I wanted to give it more of a starring role in the meal.

I think it can be hard for people to come up with a main dish to serve vegetarians or vegans at Thanksgiving as an alternative to turkey... But for me, I'm not looking for a meat substitute in my Thanksgiving meal like Tofurky - I would rather just fill up with more vegetables! But to turn this into a dish that packs a bit more protein than just vegetables, I added quinoa to create a heartier salad full of seasonal ingredients - butternut squash, apples, shallots, pecans, cranberries and pumpkin seeds!

All of these ingredients came together really well to make a delicious and colourful dish! I loved how every bite had so much going on, but at the same time, all of the flavours and textures were perfectly balanced. I'm sure any vegetarians at your dinner table will be happy to eat this instead of turkey, and everyone else will probably want to try it too!

Butternut Squash and Apple Quinoa
Adapted from 20 Minute Supper Club and Bret's Table

2 cups of peeled and diced butternut squash
3 tsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used the tricolour variety)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 small shallots, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced peeled ginger
1 large apple, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your squash and toss with 2 tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes (or according to the package directions). Remove from heat and add the cranberries to the pot. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Place the pecans and pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the pan and add to the quinoa.

Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Then add the apple to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, until the apple just begins to soften. Remove from heat and add everything to the quinoa mixture, stirring to distribute all the ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and stir to incorporate. Finally, mix in the chopped parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature. (This also stores well in the fridge if you want to make it ahead of time).

Makes 4 servings as a main course, or 6-8 servings as a side dish.

This is my submission to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October at Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 6 at Once Upon a Cutting Board - Roasted Vegetable Galette - this would make another great vegetarian main dish!

October 06, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 5: Beet-Parsnip Mash with Almond Parmesan

For Day 5 of Thanksgiving Week, I thought I would include a recipe for a side dish to add to your plate. Mashed potatoes are always a popular side dish at Thanksgiving, but when they come loaded with butter and cream and topped with gravy, they are not exactly the healthiest option!

So instead of the usual mashed potatoes, I made a healthier, more colourful, vegan mash out of beets and parsnips, and topped with almond parmesan!

I got the idea from Sweet Beet & Green Bean, who posted a recipe for parsnip puree with almond parmesan.  I really liked the sounds of both components of this dish, but to change it up a bit, I replaced some of the parsnips with beets.

I loved how this turned out! The texture of the mash was nice and creamy and the beets gave it a lot of flavour. Plus the colour was so pretty! But if you don't like beets, you could just replace them with more parsnips as in the original recipe.

My favourite part of this dish was definitely the almond parmesan. I never would have thought of blending almonds with nutritional yeast, but it turned out so well! I loved the cheesy flavour, and it was the perfect topping for the beet-parsnip mash. You can also save the leftovers to use as a topping for other dishes, like pasta or maybe popcorn!

Beet-Parsnip Mash with Almond Parmesan
Adapted from Sweet Beet & Green Bean

1.5 lbs parsnips (or use 2 lbs parsnips and leave out the beets)
1/2 lb beet (about 1 medium beet)
6 cups water
1.5 tsps salt, divided
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Peel and chop the parsnips. Trim the ends of the beet but leave it unpeeled.

Bring 6 cups of water with 1 tsp of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the beet and boil on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes. Then add the parsnips to the pot and boil for another 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

Strain the parsnips and beet. Peel the beet and chop into small pieces.

In a food processor or blender, blend the parsnips and beets with the olive oil, almond milk, and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve warm, topped with a generous amount of almond parmesan (recipe below).

Makes 3-4 cups of mash (6-8 servings).

Almond Parmesan:
1/4 cup raw whole almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and grind until the nuts are broken up and the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

October 05, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 4: Brussel Sprouts Toss with Caramelized Tofu

I always appreciate having a light, fresh salad to go with my Thanksgiving meal so that I'm not just eating lots of heavy dishes. So for Day 4 of Thanksgiving Week, I wanted to do a different take on a salad option - warm brussel sprouts.

I know brussel sprouts have a bad reputation, but once you actually try them, I bet you will be surprised at how good they can taste! It was actually at one of our Thanksgiving meals a few years ago that I first tried brussel sprouts and loved them, and I've been a fan ever since!

I found this recipe for a warm brussel sprouts toss on the blog The First Mess (check out her blog for more unique and seasonal vegetarian recipes - I want to try them all!)  In this recipe, the brussel sprouts are shredded and tossed with lots of other tasty Fall ingredients - pecans, shallots, maple syrup and grated sweet potatoes. The sweet potato was my own addition, and I really liked the extra colour and taste that it gave the salad (not to mention the added nutritional benefits!)

I thought all of these ingredients combined with the maple dressing came together perfectly to make a warm and delicious salad, and covered up any potentially strong taste of the brussel sprouts. This was pretty easy to put together and would make a great side dish along with the rest of your Thanksgiving dishes!

Another option is to turn this salad into a main dish by serving it with caramelized tofu on top, like this recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  I made this for dinner for myself two nights in a row, and each time, I couldn't stop talking about how good the meal was! The sticky, sweet pieces of tofu really went well with the rest of the salad.

So whether you make this without the tofu to serve as your Thanksgiving salad, or with the tofu to make a dinner for yourself any other day, you can't go wrong!

Brussel Sprouts Toss with Caramelized Tofu
Adapted from The First Mess and 101 Cookbooks

For the tofu:
1/2 lb firm tofu, cut into pieces
1-2 tbsp natural cane sugar or palm sugar
pinch of salt
olive oil

Heat a medium skillet on medium-low heat. Add the tofu along with a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Cook, flipping the tofu occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Stir in the sugar and cook for a few more minutes, until the sugar bubbles and coats the tofu completely.

Remove from heat and set aside.

For the salad:
~ 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 lb brussel sprouts
About 2/3 cup peeled and grated raw sweet potato
About ¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

Trim the outer leaves and stem off the brussel sprouts. Cut each one in half, then slice vertically to create shreds.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and smashed garlic and paprika and stir. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the shallots and garlic are lightly browned.

Add the brussel sprouts and a splash of water to the pan. Stir and toss with tongs for about one minute.

Season with salt and pepper and add the vinegar. Stir for a few more minutes, until it the mixture starts to turn bright green.

Remove from heat and stir in the grated sweet potato and maple syrup.

Garnish with chopped pecans and top with the caramelized tofu (if using).

Makes 2 servings as a main course, or 3-4 as a side dish. 

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 4 Recipe on Once Upon a Cutting Board - Pumpkin Mixed Greens Salad with Maple Vinaigrette - another tasty salad idea full of Fall ingredients!

October 04, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 3: Rosemary Sweet Potato Cornbread

For Day 3 of Thanksgiving Week, I wanted to include a recipe for a bread to serve with the meal. One of my favourite parts of our Thanksgiving dinner is always the basket of fresh bread on the table. In our family, we usually serve fluffy white dinner rolls and slices of artisan loaf, but I know that in other families, hearty biscuits and cornbread are a traditional part of the Thanksgiving spread.

With this in mind, and inspired by an amazing sweet potato cornbread that I recently tried at a restaurant, I set out to find a recipe for a vegan sweet potato cornbread that I could add to my Thanksgiving Week menu. Unfortunately, I didn't have much success in my search so I had to come up with my own version instead. I ended up using a recipe for rosemary sweet potato loaf that I saw on The Baking Duet and adapting it by leaving out the nuts and adding cornmeal.

The result was not quite the same as the restaurant version that I tried, but it still turned out great! This is a nice hearty loaf and is very dense. It has a slightly sweet taste and a nice crunchy crust from the cornmeal.

This is also a very healthy bread, since its made with whole wheat flour and its full of fruits and veggies - bananas, applesauce, sweet potato, and even carrots! (But don't worry, this doesn't taste like banana bread, the banana is just there for texture and moisture).

So if you're looking for a traditional dinner roll or biscuit recipe to serve with your Thanksgiving meal this year, this probably isn't the recipe for you....but if you're willing to try something new and interesting, I would recommend this sweet potato loaf! And don't leave out the branch of fresh rosemary on top of the loaf - it makes for a great presentation!

Rosemary Sweet Potato Cornbread
Adapted from The Baking Duet

1 lb of peeled and diced sweet potato
1/2 ounce fresh rosemary (about 1/2 of a bundle)
2/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 tsp baking soda, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup medium grind cornmeal
1/4 cup grated carrots

Set aside a large sprig of rosemary and remove the leaves from the remaining sprigs.

Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in the rosemary leaves. Let the leaves steep in the water for about 5 minutes.

Add the diced sweet potato to the pot, cover, and steam until potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, mash the bananas with 1/4 tsp of the baking soda in a large bowl. Mix in the applesauce, salt, and remaining 1/2 tsp baking soda.

When the sweet potatoes are done cooking, drain and rinse off the rosemary, then mash the potatoes until they are creamy.

Add the mashed potatoes to the banana mixture. Stir in the flour and cornmeal, then fold in the grated carrots.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (I used an 8x4 inch pan) and lay the reserved sprig of rosemary on top of the loaf.

Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is crisp and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 3 recipe on Once Upon a Cutting Board: Hearty Sweet Potato Braid - this is another option for your Thanksgiving bread that also uses sweet potato! 

October 03, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 2: Curried Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup

For Day 2 of Thanksgiving Week, I decided to post a recipe for the perfect comforting soup to add to your Thanksgiving meal. I realize that soup isn't traditionally served at Thanksgiving, but I think it makes a great addition to a vegetarian meal, for those who won't be eating turkey or ham.

Besides, this curried pumpkin cauliflower soup is so good that all of your guests will be happy to eat it! They will also be surprised at how healthy it is when you tell them that this super creamy and delicious soup has no cream or other dairy products in it!

I found the recipe on Cookstr, and made a few changes to improve the taste and texture. I decided to puree half of the cauliflower and leave the rest as whole pieces. This technique made the soup nice and creamy, and the pieces of toasted cauliflower that were mixed in throughout the soup made it extra special!

Besides the interesting mix of textures, I also loved the flavours in this soup - the cauliflower mixed with onion, garlic and curry powder would have tasted great on its own, but combining all of these ingredients with pumpkin puree gave the soup an even richer, smoother taste.

This was submitted to Souper Sundays, hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Curried Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Cookstr, originally from Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer Cookbook

2 tbsp olive oil
One head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable broth
16 oz pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin)
3/4 tsp salt
Ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the chopped cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is lightly browned. Remove cauliflower from the pot and set aside in a bowl.

Add the onion, garlic and curry powder to the pot and stir around. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened.

Add 2 cups of the vegetable broth and about half of the cauliflower to the pot (try to choose the larger pieces of cauliflower to add to the pot, leaving the smaller pieces aside for now). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree in batches. Return the mixture to the saucepan.

Add the remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, salt, and the remaining cauliflower to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot with freshly ground pepper.

Makes 6 full-sized servings (or more as an appetizer).

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 2 recipe on Once Upon a Cutting Board: Spicy Pumpkin Hummus - a unique dip idea to serve as an appetizer!

October 02, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Day 1: Sweet Potato Bites

Welcome to Thanksgiving Week 2011! Every day from today until Saturday, I will be posting recipes for Canadian Thanksgiving, which is coming up next weekend. My sister Natalie of Once Upon a Cutting Board is doing the same this week, so be sure to check out her blog too!

I have never actually hosted a Thanksgiving myself, so my cooking contributions to the holiday in the past have been somewhat limited. But now that I have this blog, I am so excited to create an entire Thanksgiving menu myself and share all of the dishes that I made here!

I already knew that my menu would be vegetarian, but I also decided to challenge myself a bit and post only vegan recipes. So that means that anyone reading my blog this week - including omnivores, vegetarians and vegans - can look forward to recipes for every part of your Thanksiving feast - an appetizer, bread, soup, salad, side, main dish, and dessert!

The perfect Thanksgiving meal should start with an appetizer to tide everyone over until the main event. So to kick off the week, I made these delicious little sweet potato bites!

These are basically mashed sweet potatoes rolled up into balls and coated in a mixture of oats, walnuts and coconut. They are a bit on the sweet side, but to prevent them from turning into a dessert,  I used unsweetened coconut for the coating and added a pinch of cayenne to the sweet potato mixture.

I think these would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving meal - the combination of sweet potato, spices, maple syrup and nuts ends up tasting kind of like Thanksgiving dinner all rolled into one bite!

Sweet Potato Bites
Adapted from Surly Kitchen

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup rolled oats (or quick oats)
3 to 4 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 to 2 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want them to be)

Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and roast in the oven at 375°F until tender, about 40-60 minutes (If you are pressed for time, you could cook the potatoes in the microwave instead). Remove from oven and let cool.

Peel the potatoes and mash in a bowl. Add the cinnamon, maple syrup, nutmeg and cayenne and mix thoroughly.

Combine the walnuts, oats, coconut and brown sugar on a shallow plate for coating the balls.

Scoop out portions of the sweet potato mixture using a tablespoon measure and roll into a ball with your hands. Roll each ball in the topping mixture, then place in a greased 8x8 baking dish.

Bake at 375°F until the topping is golden brown, 20-30 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature. You could also serve these with toothpicks if desired.

Makes about 24 balls (I made half of the recipe and got 13).

Don't Miss:
Thanksgiving Week - Day 1 recipe on Once Upon a Cutting Board: Apple Orchard Punch - the perfect holiday drink to serve your guests!


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