Tag Archives: appetizers

Marinated Baby Bellas

Marinated Mushrooms

Mushrooms always seem to make their way into our shopping cart. The way we see it, a dish is not complete without the addition of criminis, shitakes, chanterelles or good ‘ol white button mushrooms. If you share the same love for mushrooms as our family, you will love this simple appetizer.

Our first experience with Marinated Mushrooms was several years ago at The Green Door Restaurant, one of Ottawa’s oldest and best know vegetarian restaurants. It was this restaurant’s cookbook that first introduced me to the ingredients of umeboshi plum vinegar and umeboshi plum paste – two seasonings or condiments that are now staples in our pantry.

Umeboshi plum vinegar, also known as Ume Su, is popular in Japanese and macrobiotic cooking. It has a very unique flavour giving vegetables, fungi, pasta and rice a salty, sour and fruity taste. If you are vegan and love dishes that traditionally use fish sauce, umeboshi works as a great substitute.

As well, this vinegar is known for its medicinal properties. Made from pickled umeboshi plums, it has an alkalizing effect on the body which helps combat illnesses and disease. Just be sure to look for a bottle that doesn’t contain any nasty ingredients. The brand I purchase has three ingredients: ume (Japanese plum), sea salt and shiso. Check out the site Allergies and Your Gut for more information on the making of umeboshi vinegar and its many health benefits.

Have you tried the Garlic Beets? I use umeboshi vinegar in that recipe, too.

With the summer over (said with tears rolling down my cheeks), why not add edible fungi to your diet. Mushrooms are immune-boosters and most are nutrient-dense.

Crimini mushrooms, otherwise known as “baby bellas” – did you know that crimini mushrooms are a younger version of the portobellas? – are the ones I find most in our local stores. They usually sit next to the white button mushrooms in the produce section. I tend to choose the crimini mushrooms for their medium-brown colour and earthier taste.


  • 300 grams crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or thyme
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Clean and trim mushrooms. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add clean mushrooms and cook for no more than one minute. Drain and let cool.

Add all other ingredients to a bowl and combine well. Do not add salt. The umeboshi vinegar is salty in taste. When mushrooms are cool, add them to the bowl with dressing and toss. Garnish dish with fresh parsley.

Summertime Guacamole

Angela Liddon's Strawberry-Mango Guacamole

Angela Liddon definitely knows how to tempt your taste buds. I bought her cookbook, The oh she glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Outshortly after its release in early March of this year. One of my best cookbook purchases to date.

If you don’t own this book, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy. With every page turn, you’ll find yourself blurting, “ooh – I gotta make that!”. Like the inside cover states, Whether you are a vegan, “vegan-curious”, or you simply want to eat delicious food that just happens to be healthy, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!

Over 90 recipes in Angela’s book are gluten-free while many are free of common food allergens, like soy, nuts, sugar and grains.  I could make a serious long list of our family favourites, but here are a few dishes that we just can’t get enough of this summer: chakra caesar salad with nutty herb croutons (these croutons are to-die-for!), perfected chickpea salad sandwich (ideal for picnics and long days on the water), sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with avocado-cilantro cream sauce, and our favourite veggie burger.

Another family favourite is Angela’s glowing strawberry-mango guacamole. 🙂

For Canada Day this year, the girls and I spent a wonderful afternoon with family and friends at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. With strawberries at their peak (and Angela Liddon being Canadian and all), I decided to take this guacamole to share poolside. The temperature outside was a balmy 32 degrees C and we were in need of light, fruity and refreshing fare. You know…something to go nicely with my sister’s Canada Day Sangria.

This guacamole was definitely a crowd-pleaser.

For your next social gathering I suggest that you get yourself some sweet strawberries, a succulent mango, fresh cilantro, a lime and a couple of ripe avocados and make this appetizer. Your friends will love you forever. (And you’ll love yourself even more if you reserve a half a cup for sole snacking later in the day…just a thought).

You may also want to consider treating yourself and your family to this cookbook. Angela’s beautiful and mouth-watering photographs will have you licking your lips and begging for more wholesome, plant-based foods.  mmmm – so many dishes and so little time.  You just gotta laugh when asked, “you’re a gluten-free, vegan? what do you eat?“.


Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip

This is a sweet, hearty, and unquestionably addictive dip made from red lentils and a pureed sweet potato.  Served alongside some gluten-free crackers and raw onion bread, this dip was a huge hit at my sister’s Annual Boxing Day Party.

I adapted this recipe from Mathew Kadey’s “Curry Lentil Squash Dip” . Not having a winter squash in my pantry,  I decided a sweet potato would make a delicious and easy substitution.      Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip and Spread

This satisfying dip is chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, and protein.  It also contains no oil which is often hard to avoid in so many dips. It’s also pretty awesome spread on toast the next morning! 🙂


  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked, skinned and pureed
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse red lentils and place in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain excess liquid and let cool.

Once lentils have cooled, blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Wishing you all lots of love, joy and laughter for the remaining holiday season! May 2014 be a happy and healthy year for you all!

Kale and Leek Tofu Frittatas


For my family , tofu frittatas have become that go-to food you pull out of the freezer when your day goes awry and you don’t have time to whip up something healthy.   When my daughter was eating these en route to the skating rink this past week, I knew I had to post the recipe.  So many of us struggle to find a healthy snack or meal for our kids when life just gets too busy.  Tofu frittatas are that perfect “finger food” that will prevent you from making a quick stop at your local fast food restaurant.

I used Elisa Ray’s tofu frittata recipe from her plant-based and allergy-friendly blog, eating whole.  I made one substitution (kale for spinach) and one addition (leek) from her original recipe in hopes that they would mimic the mini quiches I used to make quite frequently for the kids.  My daughters said they taste just like those quiches and I am thrilled!  No eggs, dairy, or gluten in this recipe!  Add whatever veggies suit your fancy.  Our favourite combination is kale and leek.

Instead of eggs, a block of firm tofu is the base of this recipe.  I recommend that you use an organic tofu in all of your tofu recipes.  Tofu is made from soybeans and right now in Canada and the U.S., nearly all non-organic soybeans are genetically modified.  If you are at all confused about soy or tofu, I suggest you read this – one of my earlier posts.  Hopefully, this will clarify things for you.

If you have small children, use your mini muffin pan and make mini frittatas.  Actually, my ten year-old daughter has renamed these as tofu bites.  They are a perfect size for small mouths.  They are also a perfect size for when you are on the go and wish for a mess-free trip. 😉


An Uber-Delicious Lunch

Yesterday, my husband and I had my mom over for a late afternoon lunch.  Considering that this is day 5 of my raw diet,  I decided that I would make a protein-packed mixed green salad with a few  surprises.


collard wraps

These wraps are so delicious and nutritious!  They are a great alternative to flour or corn tortillas and, in my opinion, they travel much better.  I have taken collard wraps on car trips and to various  outings and they always hold up nicely.

To make collard wraps, take one collard leaf and remove its stem to form two halves.  Each leaf will make 2 collard wraps.  Lie each leaf flat and spread a heaping teaspoonful of cashew and walnut pate along the bottom of the leaf.  Add long strips of sliced cucumber and green onions.  I added some grated carrot and sunflower sprouts, as well.   Roll each leaf up lengthwise and place on it on a serving dish.


  • 1/4 cup each of ground whole raw cashews and walnuts; set aside (you can grind nuts into a powder, but I like to leave mine with chunkier bits)
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized miso*
  • 1 teaspoon green nori flakes*

Place celery, vinegar, garlic, miso, and nori in a food processor and pulse a few times until you have small pieces.  Add ground cashews and walnuts and mix.

* miso – a fermented paste, often made from soybeans,  full of live enzymes and bacterial flora

* nori flakes – a seaweed that grows off the coast of Japan, high in iodine

Second surprise – Maple Candied Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

    I found this recipe in “RAW FOOD, Real World” by Mathew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis.   These “can’t-stop-eating-snacks” were made in my dehydrator* (112 degrees Fahrenheit/44 degrees Celsius for about half a day).  If you own a deydrator, I would encourage you to use it,  but, if you don’t, you can put them in your oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit/163 degrees Celsius for about 10-15 minutes.

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (if using a dehydrator, soak for a few hours then drain)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Toss the ingredients in a bowl and spread on a dehydrator tray or a lightly greased cookie sheet.

* Dehydrating food at low temperatures allows the food to maintain its live enzymes, nutrients and vitamins.   Did you know that raw pumpkin seeds are packed with protein (100 grams of seeds provide 30 grams of protein!)?

Third surprise – KOMBUCHA!!


I didn’t make this kombucha.  This is Synergy’s Gingerberry with a cocktail pick of organic cranberries.  Kombucha is a fermented, sweetened tea full of probiotics.   I have been addicted since my first sip.

When I was a kid, I loved to go out for dinner with my family to restaurants that had a salad bar.   I just loved the idea of choosing my own ingredients and mixing my favourite veggies together to make a satisfying and delicious meal.

Today, late night dinners in our house often consist of a salad bar.  When it’s just too late to start cooking and “take out” is not an option, this salad is IT!  I like to spread out the ingredients in small bowls on my kitchen counter and hand each member a dinner plate to go to it.  Kids love it because they get to choose the gems for their greens, not mom.


This was my salad this afternoon.  It looks busy, but it was awesome!  I started with a big handful  of organic, mixed greens.   I then tossed in a variety of chopped vegetables (peppers, cucumber, and green onions – that was what was available in my fridge on this day) and some jicama sticks.  My fridge also had in store a wonderful variety of nuts and seeds (raw sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and almonds)  and I tossed them in the dish, too.  For my mom and husband,  I finished it all off with some maple, candied pumpkin seeds and my homemade salad dressing.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • dash of Bragg’s liquid soy seasoning
  • squirt of agave syrup
  • minced garlic clove
  • splash water

Stir with a fork and pour over salad mix.  Enjoy!

I hope this post inspires you to make your own collard wraps and salad bar lunch!  Be creative.  If you have some mixed greens and veggies in your fridge, why not throw a salad together.  Simple. Easy. Fast. Delicious. Uber-Nutritious.   Gotta love that!

*** A BIG THANK YOU to my mother, Valerie Dale, for coming to lunch with her camera.  My mom took photos of our collard wraps, salad, and kombucha!