Category Archives: Meals

Chloe’s Avocado Pesto Pasta

Today I started my second course of Plant-Based Nutrition, “Diseases of Affluence”, at eCornell.  I just can’t get enough of Dr. Campbell’s lectures and the course readings.  Despite our beautiful, crisp day,  I was at my desk and on my computer for a good part of it.

By the time I emerged from the office, it was apparent that I really needed to make something for dinner that was not going to take a lot of prep.  My two girls had homework assignments and sports activities planned for the evening, so I had to think of something quick.  Staring at me from my fruit bowl, were to 2 gorgeous looking avocados.

It was time to make Chloe’s Avocado Pesto Pasta!  This recipe has been bookmarked since Christmas morning when I unwrapped “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli.

pestonoodles

So rich and creamy, this dish is absolutely delicious!  My kids loved it so much that when I announced I had a little pesto left over, they were quick to suggest it as a spread for tomorrow’s sandwich. ..That’s if Dad doesn’t decide on a midnight snack!  😉

Here is the recipe – http://chefchloe.com/entrees/avocado-pesto-pasta.html .   I made two substitutions.  I did not have pine nuts, but I did have some raw sunflower seeds.  So, I threw them in the food processor with the other ingredients.  I also changed up the noodles and served this pesto with gluten-free, brown rice penne pasta.  My pasta dish was then garnished with some of my sun-dried tomatoes I had made earlier in the Fall.

No need to shy away from avocados.  Yes, they are high in fat, but the fat is a healthy kind – the kind your body needs.  According to Joel Fuhrman, M.D., in his book “Eat to Live”, “If the fats you consume are healthy fats found in raw seeds, nuts, and avocados, and if your diet is rich in unrefined foods, you needn’t worry so much about the fat – unless you are overweight”.

Shanghai-Style Noodle Soup

As many of you are aware, I absolutely LOVE to travel.  This is one reason why I have chosen to eat so well.  There are just too many spectacular places on this earth to encounter in one lifetime.  I do not have the time to get sick.  I want to remain healthy and energetic for as long as I can so that I can experience all the wonders of this beautiful world.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to accompany my husband to Shanghai for the weekend.  Yes, the weekend.  I know it’s a long flight (14 hours) and my time there not as long as I would like, but I gladly accepted the offer.  Seeing the world in short spurts will suffice for now.

During my short stay, I fell in love with Chinese Noodle Soup.  Actually, I became addicted to this meal and had it for breakfast and dinner on all 3 days.  When I returned home, I was to sure to stop by the grocery store for its ingredients.  I wanted to share this simple, warming, and aromatic dish with my children.  Their reaction – “Mom you should make this more often!!”.  I think I might just do that.

menoodles

SHANGHAI-STYLE NOODLE SOUP

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 4 cups gluten-free, organic vegetable broth
  • 300 g dried mixed mushrooms*, soaked in 2 cups of broth for 5 minutes
  • 454 g organic tofu, cubed and stir-fried in sesame oil until lightly browned
  • 198 g stir-fry rice noodles, soaked in boiling water for approximately 4 minutes then drained
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, chopped
  • 250 g fresh bean sprouts
  • gluten-free soya sauce (I used Bragg’s liquid soy seasoning), if desired

Heat sesame oil over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, cook garlic and ginger for about 2 minutes.  Add vegetable broth, mushrooms, tofu, and bok choy.  Heat to boiling, then let simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large soup bowl, add cooked rice noodles.  Ladle broth and vegetables into bowl over noodles.  Add a handful of bean sprouts to bowl and stir soup.

Add a dash or two of soya sauce if desired.

* China is the world’s largest edible mushroom producer.  A bowl of noodle soup in Shanghai contains such a vast array of mixed mushrooms (shitake, tree oyster, chanterelle, and black trumpets, just to name a few – some of which I had never had the pleasure of tasting until this visit.  Try not to settle for white button mushrooms.  I found a wonderful bag of locally grown assorted dried mushrooms in a nearby natural food store.  What a wonderful flavour it brought to this soup!

Mushrooms are high in fiber, high in protein and contain B vitamins. They are considered the “meat” of the vegetable world.  I think I may become a mycophagist! 😉

shanghainoodlesoup

shanghai

Kelp Noodle Salad with Miso Dressing

I have a mean desire these days for miso.  I absolutely love the sweet and salty taste it gives to my soups, salads and stews.  After a long weekend of indulging, tonight I was wanting something light for dinner.  I tossed my miso dressing with kelp noodles and created a delicious raw meal.  No cooking this evening!

kelpnoodles

A traditional Japanese seasoning, miso is made from fermented soybeans, grains, or beans.  I used a mellow white miso paste made from fermented soybeans.  I highly recommend a certified organic soy miso because of the widespread use of genetically modified non-organic soybeans.

If you haven’t had kelp noodles, you must give them a try!  Don’t let the whole sea vegetable thing turn you away.  These noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and low in carbs and calories.  They are slightly crunchy and pick up the flavour with what you mix them with –  like miso dressing.

KELP NOODLE SALAD WITH MISO DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup unrefined sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 heaping tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bag kelp noodles, drained and rinsed

Mix oil, vinegar, agave, miso, and garlic with a fork or immersion blender.  Place rinsed noodles in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over noodles and mix well.  Add desired choice of veggies and give noodles another toss.

This salad is wonderful the next day, too!

Savoury Crepes

Oh, these crepes are absolutely delicious!  A surprisingly easy to make meal, we had them last night for dinner with steamed broccoli and a fondue-like cheese sauce that’s literally to-die-for.  You would never guess that this meal is gluten-free and vegan.

crepe

I’ve been craving cheese like mad, so I chose to make a fondue sauce to pour over the crepes. Before we cut dairy from our diet, our cool winter weekends often consisted of a warming cheese fondue.  I would use the leftover sauce for morning crepes or a topping for my toast.  For those of you familiar with Swiss cheese fondue, you will be pleasantly surprised with this recipe.  Nutritional yeast and potatoes give this sauce a beautiful cheesy texture.  When I mentioned this sauce as a “fondue”,  my daughter ran for some gluten-free bagels, cut a piece, and dipped it in the sauce!  Yummy!  The person who developed this recipe is a genius, in my opinion.  You will find the recipe here –   http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/blonde-bliss-vegan-fondue/

The crepe recipe comes from my Candle 79 Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda.  If you are ever in New York City and looking for an awesome vegan meal, try Candle 79.  It’s a quaint restaurant just minutes from Central Park.

This recipe makes 10 crepes.  Just to let you know, we are a family of 4 and there was not one crepe leftover.  If you like to have some extra for the following day, then you may want to consider doubling the recipe.  Try this with leftover crepes – instead of using rice or noodles, try cutting  crepes in thin strips for a next day’s soup!

SAVOURY CREPES

  • 2 cups almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 4 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • ground pepper
  • coconut oil for frying

Using a blender, process the milk, flour, arrowroot powder and salt to a thin, smooth-like consistency.  Pour into a large bowl and add the parsley and green onions.  Mix well.  I let this sit for about 30 minutes while I prepared my broccoli and cheese sauce.

Brush a crepe pan with coconut oil and heat the pan over medium heat.  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the center of your pan and tip it several times off of heat to cover the bottom of the pan.

Return the pan to the heat and cook for at least 3-4 minutes until the edges begin to brown.  Using a spatula, flip the crepe and cook for another minute.  Your crepe should be lightly browned.  Your crepe should flip easily.  If it is sticking to the pan, then wait another minute.  If you try to flip the crepe too soon, it will fall apart!

crepeinpan

Stack crepes on top of each other and keep warm until serving time.  Serve with your choice of steamed vegetables and sauce.  But, seriously – try the above fondue sauce!

I would like to thank my daughter for assembling this crepe and organizing the photo shoot.  While I was involved in an online “chat” with fellow Plant-Based Nutrition students, she decided to take charge and get dinner on the table.  (My kids now know that we don’t eat until snapshots have been taken!). Can you tell she loves mushrooms?!  Thank you, K!!

Just Another Manic Monday!

One pot meals are pretty big in our house during the weekdays.  Between work and the kids’ school projects and activities, it can be a challenge getting the family to sit down at the table for any length of time.  For us, it’s ideal having our meal in one big bowl.

This Spanish rice dish is so versatile.  You can add any chunky vegetable that happens to be in your refrigerator.  For this particular dish, I used eggplant, red pepper, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes and a can of Eden adzuki beans.   This dish works wonders with chickpeas or green lentils, too!

eggplantpaella

This recipe is inspired by one of my first vegetarian cookbooks, “The Ultimate Vegetarian Cookbook” by Roz Denny.  I bought this shortly after I moved into my first apartment and discovered that I can’t survive off of steamed rice and veggies for the rest of my life!  Many of the recipes are vegan and many I have easily altered to a gluten-free recipe.

CHUNKY EGGPLANT AND ADZUKI BEAN PAELLA

  • good pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 eggplant, cut in thick chunks
  • sea salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/4 cups risotto rice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 can of adzuki beans*  (Eden brand)

Steep the saffron in 3 tbsp of hot water.  Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and leave to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes.  Rinse eggplant and pat dry.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic peppers and eggplant for a few minutes.  Sprinkle in the paprika and stir.

Mix the rice, then pour in the stock, tomatoes, saffron and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil then simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered.  Stir occasionally.

Stir in the adzuki beans and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve hot from the pan.

Now if you really want to eat this paella-style, then place the pan in the center of your dining room table and give everyone a fork to eat it directly from the pan!  Less dishes, less clean-up! 😉

* Adzuki beans are small red beans high in protein and high in fiber.  They are also high in iron, potassium, folate and magnesium.  Adzuki beans are the second most popular legume in Japan, next to the soybean.  You may also find adzuki beans in some delicious desserts.  Remember….if you are using canned beans, don’t forget to look for the Eden brand.  All Eden cans are BPA free.

Zucchini Noodles – A Raw Meal

zucchini noodles

My turning slicer has been one of my best kitchen gadget purchases.  Costing less than $50 Cdn, it’s been a wise investment in our health.  I love how I can take a zucchini, carrot, beet or sweet potato and transform each into a beautiful plate full of spaghetti-like noodles.

Mixed with a creamy sauce consisting of nuts, these dishes are to die for!  A raw marinara sauce is good too, but I prefer the creamy “nut based” sauces full of ginger and garlic. This dish is not only delicious, but it is filling.  You would never believe that a plate full of raw vegetables and nuts could fill your belly to the max, but it does.  And, that’s not just me talking.  My occasional meat-eating, dairy-loving husband agrees!

Pictured above are the zucchini noodles I made for our dinner last night.   The sauce was easily made using a glass bowl and a whisk.  The organic zucchini I purchased the day before was put through my turning slicer about an hour and half prior to eating.  I prefer to let the noodles sit and dry for a bit on a large dinner plate before I mix them with the sauce.

I try to make about 50% of our meals RAW during most of the year.  In the summer, it is naturally more with all the vast in-season fruits and vegetables available at our local farmers’ markets and organic grocery stores.  We didn’t always eat this way, though.  Yes, our meals were (mostly) vegetarian, but maybe only 10% raw because I didn’t know of all the creative ways to present vegetables.

It was my sister-in-law, Sharon, who first introduced me to the raw food diet.  I believe it was in the early  summer, a couple of years ago, at our family cottage.  She brought to the dock a variety of raw food books – “Ani’s Raw Food Essentials”, “Living Raw Food”, and“Going Raw”, just to name a few.  I was intrigued!  Honestly, I never thought raw foods could look so darn appetizing.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved every vegetable out there, but these “un-cookbooks” were making my mouth water!  The photos in these books showed dishes of soups, noodles, crepes, wraps and the yummiest looking desserts.  All the things we love.  (And to think that I believed raw food meant only big salads and beautifully cut carrot sticks!).

Below is a photo of my turning slicer.

spiralslicer

If you are a little curious, give this recipe a try.  Purchase a spiralizer or turning slicer.  If you are in the Toronto area, I would like to suggest that you visit Wanigan Organics. When you are in there, talk to Sharon and be sure to try their raw banana crepes or raw banana crackers. Yum!

Don’t hesitate to change the veggies up a bit.  I’m constantly doing that. You can also substitute the cashew butter for any other nut butter.  I’ve done that a few times.  For this dish, I used what was available in my fridge.

This recipe is inspired by Ani Phyo’s recipe for sesame noodles in Ani’s Raw Food Essentials.

Zucchini Noodle Sauce

  • 1/4 cup cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or raw sesame oil)
  • 2 teaspoons  coconut aminos*
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in a small blender or use a handheld blender to blend until smooth.  Not wanting to dirty mine, I whisked all ingredients together in a large bowl.

*Coconut aminos is a soy-free seasoning made from the nutrient-dense sap of a coconut tree.  It contains 17 naturally occurring amino acids, vitamin C, as well as a spectrum of B vitamins.  If you can’t find coconut aminos, you may substitute it with a tamari or soy sauce.

Zucchini Noodles

  • 1/2 cup sliced and seeded red bell pepper
  • 3 stalks of green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 zucchini
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • handful of pea sprouts or other sprouts

One at a time, turn zucchini and carrots on turning slicer to form spaghetti-like noodles.  Toss in a large bowl with sauce and all the noodle ingredients.  Top with chopped nuts.

Bon appetit!!

A Festive Fall Meal

When you make this one, you may want to play a little Adele and pour yourself a good glass of Shiraz.  It takes a little time, but is so worth it!  I made this dish last Sunday evening for some carnivorous family members.  They left my house with a smile and a very full belly!

STUFFED PORTOBELLOS WITH MASHED POTATO AND MUSHROOM GRAVY

  • 5 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 4 medium sized potatoes*, quartered and cooked
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • dairy-free butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/3 cup milk  (I used an unsweetened, organic almond milk)
  • grated cheese (I used cheddar flavoured daiya cheese)
  • sea salt and pepper
  • red wine for drizzling
  • parsley for garnish

Saute onion in coconut oil and set aside.  Mash cooked potatoes with butter, milk, salt and garlic in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.  Wipe mushrooms clean with a paper towel and place on a baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle some wine on the baking sheet and over the mushrooms.  Top mushrooms with cheese, mashed potato and sauteed onions.  Bake at 400 degrees Faranheit for about 10 minutes.  Garnish with parsley and fresh pepper.  Serve with mushroom gravy, a mixed green salad or squash soup.

*Instead of potatoes, try mashed squash!

MUSHROOM GRAVY

  • 4 cups fresh mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes*
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (I used Bragg liquid soy seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon and a bit more thyme
  • chopped parsley

Steam fry mushrooms until brown and tender.  Set aside.  In a sauce pan over high heat, stir arrowroot flour and nutritional yeast flakes until it smells toasty. (At this point, do not get distracted and pour yourself another glass of Shiraz!).  Whisk in water, wine, soy sauce, salt and thyme.  Stir gravy constantly until it thickens and begins to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2-5 minutes.  Pour over cooked mushroom caps and add chopped parsley or thyme leaves for garnish.

*Nutritional yeast is a yellow inactive yeast with a nutty cheesy flavour.  It is a good source of protein and B complex vitamins.  Try sprinkling some nutritional yeast over hot popcorn or pasta for that cheesy flavour.