Tag Archives: food

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?“.

 

Ottawa’s Veg Fest, The Allergy-Free Cook and a Wild Blueberry Bundt Cake

The kids are back in school and I am one happy camper.  (But don’t tell them this).  As much as I love the kids being home and all of Summer’s fun-filled moments, I am now looking forward to getting back into some sort of routine.  Especially the routine of doing what I absolutely love – and that is writing about all the delicious gluten-free and plant-based dishes that have made the voyage across our dining room table and into our much appreciated tummies.

This particular post is well overdue.

Back in June, I had the pleasure of attending Ottawa’s 5th Annual Veg Fest (and its 1st Annual Yoga Fest) with my extremely veg-curious sister.  I absolutely love hanging out with this girl!  She nearly always makes me laugh – not when we were kids, though 😉 – and she is so enthusiastic about trying new things.

We were super excited about our Veg Fest weekend.  This event had an excellent line up of speakers including a showing of the 2011 documentary film “Forks Over Knives”.

There was one lecture that particularly sparked our interest.  It was a lecture by Canada’s own Laurie Sadowski.   After grabbing a couple of Simply Raw’s black bean wraps and a bottle of Flexi Lexi’s green lemonade, we made our way into St. Paul’s University Amphitheater for an extremely informative lecture on “Gluten-Free Vegan Baking”.

I immediately liked Laurie, otherwise known as “the allergy-free cook”,  from the moment she told us that she was in love with her Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Naturally, I hung on everything this girl had to say.   Let’s just say that Laurie is a wealth of information and, quite frankly,  a walking encyclopedia on gluten-free flours.

I was quick to buy Laurie’s cookbooks shortly after her presentation.  It’s no wonder her books were flying off her display table!  Laurie uses nutritionally superior flours in all her recipes such as, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff flours.  These flours contain more fiber and protein than rice flour – a flour which is prevalent in so many commercial blends.

Knowing that I am a freak for cookbook authors and culinary celebrities, my sister snapped a picture of me with Laurie.  Here I am proudly holding autographed copies of her two books 🙂

Laurie Sadowski

Laurie’s recipes are all gluten-free and contain no dairy or eggs.  Her latest book “The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies” (2013) is also soy-free.   Laurie uses minimally processed sweeteners in all her recipes.  One cookie that is absolutely loved in our house is her “Chocolate Chunk-Tahini Cookies”.  These cookies are sweetened with maple syrup – one of my personal favourites. 🙂

gluten-free chocolate chunk-tahini cookies

My sister was loving her role as photographer this particular fine day.  Here, I am standing all giddy-like with Natasha Kyssa (you may recall my raw food cleanse posts) and Flexi Lexi (we loved her green lemonade!).

Both my sister and I are looking forward to next year’s Veg Fest.  As far as I know, the date has not been released, but we have it “penciled in” from mid to late June.  We are also looking forward to Laurie Sadowski’s new cookbook, “The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Pies and Desserts” which is expected to be released later this year.

I will end this post with a dessert that I made last month.  The recipe is from “The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies”.   I made it as a bundt cake and it turned out perfectly delicious.  Let’s be honest –  it’s addictive.  Seriously.  Try stopping at one piece.  (My daughters and I are guilty of polishing off half of this cake, within minutes,  while standing in the kitchen watching it cool).  Thankfully, I remembered to take a photo before we dug in.

Wild Blueberry Bundt Cake

WILD BLUEBERRY (BUNDT) CAKE

  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unrefined sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk (I used lite)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) wild blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil bundt pan.

Put the flours, baking powder, lemon zest, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a dry whisk until combined.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer,  beat the sugar and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy and well combined. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk, the vanilla extract, and vinegar. Beat until combined.

With your mixer on low-speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) and the remaining coconut milk (in 2 additions).  Beat well after each addition.  Turn off the mixer and stir in the blueberries using a baking spoon.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan using a rubber spatula.  Smooth the top with the spatula.  Bake in the center of your oven for 40 to 55 minutes*, until golden brown.

* If using fresh blueberries, check your cake with a toothpick after 40 minutes.  Frozen and very juicy berries will require a longer baking time.

Enjoy!

Grilled Teriyaki Veggie Kebobs

We just returned home from another fabulous few days at the family cottage.  The weather was beautiful, but a little on the cool side for swimming.  At least it was for me.  A good northerly wind certainly didn’t stop the kids.  Do they ever get cold?

It was a great weekend! My mother-in-law and father-in-law from Toronto joined us for some delicious gluten-free and vegan meals.  I am absolutely thrilled that they enjoy my cooking and are so willing to try new dishes.  This recipe received many compliments from the young to the old.  So, I just have to share it!

Around mid-morning on Saturday,  Bailey, our little chef in the making, carefully threaded an assortment of cut vegetables (organic tofu, sweet peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and cremini mushrooms) on some pre-soaked skewers.  She did make a special one with only tofu, as a treat for all her hard work. 😉

The uncooked kebobs were placed in a glass container with a lid.  The lid allowed for a “shake and twirl” during the marinating process.

The veggie kebobs were marinated in a delicious Teriyaki Sauce adapted from Lindsay Nixon’s cookbook Everyday Happy Herbivore.  Like all of Nixon’s recipes, this sauce contains no added oil, which you tend to find in so many sauces and marinades.  I went with a Teriyaki flavour because it was requested by “Kay”, my 14 year-old.   A super choice, if I do say so myself!  I left the kebobs to marinate in the fridge for a good portion of the day while we enjoyed the beauty of the lake.

That evening, under my husband’s supervision, Bailey grilled the kebobs while Oma made a mixed green salad and I prepared some brown rice.  The kebobs were grilled on a relatively low heat for about 15 – 20 minutes.  They were turned often to avoid  charring.  (We are not a fan of charred veggies).  Using a cook’s brush, Bailey applied a bit of marinade to each kebob as they were cooking.  Since there was no oil in the marinade,  there were no flare-ups. 🙂

I really wish I had a photo of the finished product on a bed of brown rice.  I just wasn’t thinking.  We were three-quarters of the way through our meal when I realized that I had forgotten a plated photo.  Unfortunately, this is typical for me.  I’ll blame it on my impatient stomach.

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

TERIYAKI MARINADE

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos*  (or gluten-free and organic soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch (cornstarch would work, too)
  • about 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • about 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • a little lemon juice
  • 3 tsp coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • dash of red pepper flakes

Whisk well all the above ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk for a couple more minutes.  Let cool.

Once cooled, pour marinade over container of uncooked veggie kebobs.  You may want to reserve a little marinade in a bowl to be used during the grilling.  Place container of kebobs and marinade in the refrigerator.

Occasionally turn the kebobs  to allow sauce to coat each and every vegetable.

* I used coconut aminos to replace the soy sauce in this recipe.  Many individuals have an intolerance to soy and my husband is one.  Using coconut aminos allowed him to enjoy the Teriyaki flavour of our grilled vegetables without any digestive upsets.  As for the kebobs, he removed the tofu and shared it with other family members. 

Please note that there is absolutely no need to go on a frantic search for a “meat alternative”, like tofu for these kebobs.  A varied, whole foods, plant-based diet is perfectly healthy and contains all the protein your body needs.  Tofu is certainly not necessary to make these kebobs a complete meal!

Interested in learning more about tofu and soy?  Check out my thoughts here

Here are a couple of beautiful photos my daughter took this weekend of the lake. 🙂 She so wanted a loon or osprey shot!  Maybe next time.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Caesar Salad, Dressing and Parmesan Cheese

Creamy, tangy, and oh so garlicky, this Caesar salad recipe is a winner.  Dinner guests that tend to be “picky eaters”,  will never know it’s gluten-free and vegan.  Unless, of course, you tell them which I personally tend to reveal long after the plates are licked clean. 😉

vegan caesar salad_edited-1

This recipe comes from Kris Carr’s book, Crazy, Sexy Diet.  If you don’t mind a little sass, this book is an excellent and quick read.  Kris explains in an easy-to-understand way how to take total control of your own health.

VEGAN CAESAR SALAD AND DRESSING (from Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr)

  • 1 cup * Vegenaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic (or more!)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Pour desired amount over chopped romaine leaves, slivered or chopped red onion,  and gluten-free croutons, if desired.  Using tongs, toss the salad to evenly coat the romaine leaves. Sprinkle top with a vegan Parmesan cheese (see below for a quick and easy recipe).

Store extra dressing in a jar in the fridge and use it later as a spread on sandwiches, steamed vegetables (it’s so yummy on steamed asparagus!), or as a dip for your raw veggies.

vegan caesar dip

Here is a simple recipe for a Parmesan cheese that we absolutely love on our Caesar salad or pasta dishes.

VEGAN PARMESAN CHEESE

  • handful of raw cashews
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • sea salt to taste
  • some fresh parsley (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until you have coarse crumbs.  Store unused Parmesan in a glass jar in the fridge for future use.

If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet, I highly recommend this Caesar salad.  It satisfies any cravings you may have for cheese or other dairy foods.

* Not familiar with Vegenaise?  You may want to read here for its comparison with a jar of mayo.

Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I read this quote not too long ago and I can’t agree with it more.

Last month, we were fortunate enough to abandon our not-so-nice Spring weather and drive nearly 3,000 kilometers to the sunny state of Florida.  I have an aunt that lives in a heavenly nook on the ocean in the Florida Keys.  Knowing we are avid travelers, my aunt has asked us several times to visit her – all the while enticing us with tales of iguanas, alligators, dolphins and some fabulous kayaking.  My husband and I finally decided earlier this Spring that June was the right time to pack up the family and pay my aunt a visit.

One of the first things we noticed when we finally pulled up to my aunt’s home was that she was surrounded by a splendid crop of palms and they were all lush with coconuts – beautiful, green coconuts!

Fresh, young, green coconuts are a true gem.  If you were to crack one open, you would find a nearly clear liquid that is mildly sweet, refreshing and fat-free.  This liquid is called coconut water.  Chock-full of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, coconut water is known in the tropics as a “natural sports drink” due to its ability to combat dehydration and heat stroke.  According to Bruce Fife, N.D., in his book Coconut Water for Health and Healing, coconut water has also gained popularity for its amazing “anti-cancer” and “anti-aging” properties.

With temperatures reaching the high 30s (Celsius),  you can imagine our excitement at having so many green coconuts right there within arms’ reach.

With some fruit smoothies and a kayak through the mangroves in mind, my husband, Dan, set out to harvest some coconuts.  This became a ritual each morning we were in the Keys.

Once cut from the tree, Dan would carefully cut off the top of each coconut.

He would then puncture a hole at the top.

The coconut water was finally poured into a large glass. We received nearly 2 cups from every coconut.

You may want to consider adding coconut water to your water bottle before your next outdoor adventure or workout.  Compared to commercial sport drinks and fruit juices, coconut water has far less sugar and contains more electrolytes and nutrients.

However, like most food products,  when choosing a brand of coconut water, it is very important to read the label of the product carefully.  Some brands do contain added sugar, artificial flavourings, and preservatives which make it no better than a flavoured drink.  Look for a brand that is “not from concentrate”.  You should find one in your local health food store and in the natural foods section of your grocery store.  It may cost a little more, but so worth it!

Brendan Brazier, professional Ironman Triathlete and formulator of Vega products, uses coconut water as the base ingredient in many of his sport drinks recipes.  One of our personal favourites is Brazier’s Classic Lemon Lime Sport Drink (from his book, Thrive Fitness).  Along with a full water bottle, my daughter likes to take this drink with her to the ice rink for training.  It’s super easy to make – just blend all ingredients together in a blender.  If you enjoy a sweeter drink, try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup. 😉

  • 2 large Medjool dates
  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • juice from 1/4 lime
  • sea salt to taste

sportsdrink

Apple Pie for Dinner!

apple pie

I felt like Superwoman this weekend because I got so much accomplished.  On Saturday morning, I was in the mood for a change so I moved some furniture around in my living room.   Gosh, that feels good!  I then cleaned the house like crazy from top to bottom including the dreaded task of switching the summer clothes over to winter clothes in all our dresser drawers and closets.  That also meant filling 2 large garbage bags for our local charity of clothing that no longer fits.  You have no idea how much I despise this task of cleaning out closets and drawers!  Our Hub is going to love me for it, though.

To treat my girls and myself to a job well done, I decided I would make my apple pie and have it for dinner!  (Well,  I did make a cauliflower and leek soup in which we ate a small bowl first).   The pie was delicious!  My girls had 2 big pieces and thought I was….. THE. BEST. MOM. EVER.

Made from quinoa flour, rice flour and arrowroot starch, this crust is crumbly, light and gluten-free.   I got the recipe from a book I recently borrowed from our library, “Quinoa Cuisine” by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser.  I love to bake, but I have never considered myself a baker.  Probably because I’m not a huge sweets eater.  I really prefer savory dishes.  Also, baking is not as forgiving if one makes small mistakes.  I was proud of myself today, as this crust was perfect for the not so experienced baker.

The original recipe calls for 1 cup of butter.  Use your favourite vegan butter.  I used Earth Balance.  I baked the empty pie shell for about 15 minutes, as per recipe instructions.  However, I baked the pie shell at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, not 400 degrees.  (I always hesitate to cook or bake at such a high temperature!).  My pie shell looked wonderful.  After the pre-baking,  reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees F for the baking of your filled pie.

Recipe for quinoa-rice flour pie crust – http://www.scribd.com/doc/100924595/2/Essential-Recipes

I substituted a flax meal gel for the eggs and cashew cream for the sour cream or heavy cream.  I made the cashew cream in my food processor with a cup of  soaked cashews,  lemon juice and coconut sugar.  The center of this pie was creamy and sweet – caramel-like because of the coconut sugar.  Now, who doesn’t like caramel?!

apple pie slice

APPLE PIE FILLING

FLAX MEAL GEL

  • 3 tablespoons of flax meal
  • 9 tablespoons of hot water

Mix together in a separate bowl with a fork.  Let sit while you prepare remaining ingredients.

CASHEW CREAM

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 30 minutes in water), rinsed, and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water

Mix together in a food processor until a smooth consistency is formed.  Add:

  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • flax meal gel

Mix together.

APPLES

  • 5 large organic McIntosh apples, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
  • fresh lemon juice

Mix sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Pour mixture from food processor into pre-baked pie shell.  Place apples in the filling allowing for some overlap. (My daughter did this part for me). Bake pie at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing (if you can wait that long!).

Have it for dinner – because you deserve it! 😉

Our Boo-tiful Day

hallowe'en

As I write this, I am trying very hard to ignore my scary kitchen!  The table that I wiped 3 times still feels sticky and I spy pumpkin guts on the ceramic floor.  My cat is feverishly playing with an abandoned pumpkin seed and I see a drool of chocolate on the kitchen cupboard.  The sink is overflowing with dishes, the dishwasher is full to the max, and I don’t have a clean tea towel in the house!

But…today, my family had a wonderful afternoon of pumpkin carving and treat making.  I forgot that with each year, the pumpkin carving takes a bit longer.  The girls’ pumpkins are becoming so detailed – it’s a shame we only admire them one night of the year.  It’s tradition for us to sip away on boo shakes (non dairy this year) while we work meticulously on the features of our pumpkin.  Afterwards, we sit back and admire our work while we munch away on roasted pumpkin seeds.  This year, I added another special treat – Chocolate SunButter Cups.   These candies are easy to prepare and so addictive.  Warning – do not serve these treats on a school night.  I’m not sure what I was thinking!  See here for the recipe…..if you dare! http://www.livingwithout.com/recipes/chocolate_sunbutter_cups-2198-1.html

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!!

pumpkins