Friday, June 25, 2010

Evergreen Brickworks Farmers Market

One of my absolute most favourite things to do in the summer is to visit Farmer's Markets.

I love waking up super early on a Saturday morning (I'm talking like 6:45am early), getting what I need together (usually run to the market to get my morning workout in) and make my way out with my gorgeous pup, Scarlet.

I sometimes feel like we're the only ones who exist that early on a Saturday morning, it's nice. At that time the Moore Ravine is quiet, beautiful and serene.  It's the greatest path to take to get to my favourite Farmer's Market: The Evergreen Brickworks Market

What I bought ...

Local organic kale (because it's my new obsession) and Niagara organic cherries
Put them together and what do you got?  A strange Sarah-Lyn salad creation of course!

Cherry Kale Salad

3-4 bunches of fresh kale, chopped
1/2-1 cup of fresh cherries chopped (seeds removed)
1 tsp olive oil (for cooking)
1 tsp Mrs. Dash spice
3-4 fresh basil leaves chopped
1-2 tbsp of balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup shopped or whole almonds (optional)

I basically mixed all the ingredients together in a pan and satayed with the olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

I also enjoyed the cherries in a nice bowl of organic rice crisp cereal.

Moore Ravine - Beltline trail

One of my most favourite booths at the market - this woman makes the most delicious, healthy and gluten-free backed goods!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pizza is Usually my Favorite Comfort Food

I've realised this week that eating vegan hasn't really been a stretch from my usual diet.  Granted, there have been a lot more carbs then I would normally like to eat but that's mostly on my part and I know with time I'll figure out a good protein to carb ratio for me.

The biggest challenge this week, you know, besides trying too cook and bake after my bike accident, was attending a work BBQ and smelling all the meat cooking on the grill and being strong enough to resist eating any of it, which I was! :)  The veggies burger was actually so good that I didn't feel I was missing anything.

Today I made this "pizza" if you can call it that.  The crust was amazing but already made and the veggies well, I love mushrooms but I, until now, have never actually tried radicchio.

The Lesson: If cooking with something new, taste it first before you start cooking with it, surprise, you might not like it.

The pizza came out great, I didn't have truffle oil but I used truffle infused olive oil (VERY expensive though, I think regular olive oil is fine enough) and overall it cooked well and came together but the major downfall, I did NOT like the radicchio - hello, bitter much!?

Not my first choice a vegetable to go on a pizza that's for sure lol!

The Lesson: You can't win them all - some things you'll love and some things will just taste awful.  That's the amazing thing about being a self-taught baker and cook, you learn through experience and trial-and-error, that's how you improve and learn what tastes great or not.

I still share this recipe with you because perhaps you'll have better luck then I, perhaps you'll love radicchio as much as I love kale (another vegetable with an acquired taste).  My only suggestion for next time: I would probably buy some soy or rice based feta cheese to sprinkle on top.

Vegan Radicchio Pizza with Truffle Oil
This recipe has been altered, the original recipe is from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
Serves 2 to 4

1 large head radicchio
Truffle infused olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 fresh healthy whole wheat crust (I used an already cooked crust)
5 large mushrooms chopped
1. Cut the radicchio in half, then slice each half crosswise into thin ribbons (as thin as possible).

2. Dress the radicchio and mushrooms with enough truffle infused oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.

3. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees F.

4. Toast the pizza crust in the oven for 7 minutes or until it is heated through and slightly golden but not crunchy.

5. Scatter the dressed vegetables over the pizza crust and return to the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the radicchio is warm and just starting to wilt. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bike Helmets and Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

So yesterday, as I eagerly rode my bike to my boxing class, I learned a very valuable lesson: the importance of bike helmets.  It's been raining for a few days here in Toronto but I was certain the Don River path would be okay, as long as I paid attention and didn't ride too fast.  Famous last words!

Coming down a hill, after picking up some good speed climbing up the other side of it, I didn't expect that a mud patch just ahead would make my night, but it did.

All I remember is trying to avoid the mud but then losing control of the bike, flying head first off of it landing on my bad left knee and left hand (both bruised and scratched up pretty good) and then somehow gliding on the pavement, scraping my whole right arm and hitting my helmet-protected head on the bike handles ... I think ... it's all a blur now but I definitely do remember feeling my head being hit and thanking my lucky stars that I wore my helmet!

It could have been way worse! No sprained anything or broken bones (knock on wood) and I was able to pick myself up (after sobbing on the ground for about 10 minutes) walk my bike back up a fifth of the way to meet a very friendly neighbour who picked me up.

Second Lesson: Get to know your neighbours! You never know when you might need a hand and you'd be surprised at how willing some people are in helping you.

So after my initial shock, anger, frustration and pain what was my next logical thought? To bake cookies of course! lol Which I did after I cleaned myself up, dusted myself off and scolded my dog for trying to lick my wounds.

These cookies were quick and easy to make and tasted amazing, in my opinion, they were the perfect remedy after my accident - that and the lovely glass of white wine I shared with two fellow neighbours in my building who also came to my rescue!

Thanks to Craig, Sarah and Georgina ...
I have the best neighbours in the City!

Oatmeal, Walnut and Dried Cherry Cookies
This recipe has been adapted, the original recipe is from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Makes 10 to 12 cookies

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup demerara sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. molasses
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the syrup, oil, vanilla extract, and molasses. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Fold in the dried cherries and nuts.

Using your hands, roll tablespoon-size scoops of dough into balls. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet and press down slightly on the balls to flatten the tops. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a baking rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sweet Summer Stew

This stew is probably best served during the cold nights of Fall or Winter but I love sweet potatoes and couldn't resist trying this recipe.  I've never be a fan of making soups and stews, it was always just easier eating them out of a can right? Never again! The amazing aroma produced while making this stew was good enough to make any mouth drool over.

This stew is great for a hearty, healthy dinner on those cold nights or rainy days like today!  This fantastic stew includes brown lentils which is super high in iron and protein - an excellent plant-based substitute for meat.

Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew
Original recipe from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, p. 166

Serves 4 - 6

1/2 cup salflower oil (I used canola oil)
1 medium onion, diced (I used half of a red onion)
2 small tomatoes, diced (I used about 3/4 cup of grape tomatoes, chopped)
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
Pinch of fine sea salt
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes
7 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup brown lentils (I used green lentils)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep pot.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until the onion starts to soften.  Stir in the tomatoes and ginger and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and a pinch of salt.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes, then taste for seasonings; try to use only enough salt to heighten the flavours.

Add the sweet potatoes, broth and lentils.  Stir well, and bring to a boil over high heat.  When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are soft.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Should Have Listened to my Mother

For years my mother has been making this amazing Portuguese Collard Greens soup, don't know the name of it and don't have the recipe (yet!) but she always said it was good for me.  I didn't believe her but mostly because I didn't want to eat that weird dark green veggie soup!  I should have listened ... collards are amazingly good for us, similar to kale, they are a leafy green vegetable pack full of vitamins.

I tried out this fantastic recipe from The Kind Diet last night and loved it!

Sicilian Collard Greens
Original recipe from The Kind Diet p. 176

Serves 2 or 3

1 bunch of collard greens
2 Tbsp pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp raisins
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Use a sharp knife to out the central rib and stem from each collard leaf.  Rinse the leaves in a sink of cool water, lifting them into a colander to drains a it (you want some water to remain on the leaves).

Toast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry skilled for about 5 minutes or until golden.  Shake the pan often to keep the pine nuts from burning.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Place the garlic and oil in a large skilled, and sauté over medium heat for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the damp collards and stir, then over the pan and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add the raisins and pine nuts, and stir.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar, cover,  and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good Morning Granola

 I really love breakfast! It is probably my favourite meal of the day and it's the best meal to truly carb-load, guilt free.  Last night I made granola from The Kind Diet book to try this morning for breakfast.

 I had a bowl of organic rice puffs topped off with one sliced banana and a 1/3 cup of the granola and rice milk.

This organic cereal is fantastic, its not sweet at all but it fills me up and is light and healthy, much better for you then traditional cereals.  Just add fruit or a spoonful of agave for sweetness.  I also find if I use less of this cereal then I normally would with traditional out-of-the-box cereals and just add other things like fruit and granola and I still feel satisfied and the cereal last longer (buying organic can be costly!)

Mom’s Granola
Recipe from The Kind Diet, p. 201

Makes 2 Quarts

6 cups quick-cooking oats
½ cup maple sugar (I used Demerara Sugar, it's what I had on hand)
¾ cup wheat germ
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup sesame or sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped nuts or raisins
½ cup salflower oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F

Spread the oats on a rimmed baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes. Transfer the oats to a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar, wheat germ, coconut, seeds, and nuts or raisins. Stir to mix well, then add the oil, syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix until everything is moistened.

Spread half of the mixture on each of 2 rimmed baking sheets (or bake in 2 batches), and bake for 10 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to brown evenly.

Let the baked granola cool on the pans, then transfer to a bowl and still until crumbly. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Vegan Weekend

So far my first couple of days eating vegan have been pretty good and I do feel great ... a few slips here and there, that dairy I tell ya, it just sneaks up on you - but overall it's been good and pretty easy!

This morning I made Pumpkin Bread (p. 202) from Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet.  I made a few adjustments and actually made half of what the recipe called for and I still had enough for two loaves.
I think I used WAY too much pumpkin puree though, it came out a lot moisture then expected but it was still delicious and not too sweet which I liked.  I substituted the maple sugar and syrup for agave nectar and used rice milk instead of nut milk.
You can see how the bottom is a little soggier then the rest, probably from the pumpkin puree or water/flax seed combo.  Lesson here: Measure everything carefully!

This afternoon I also made a fantastic rice dish from her book (p.151).  It's a perfect quick dish to make if you have a busy week.  I made a big batch of it which should last me a few days for my weekday lunches.

Hot Rice with Cold Lemon, Basil, and Tomato
This recipe is slightly altered but the original recipe if from The Kind Diet, p. 151

1 cup I used brown rice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 pinches of sea salt
2 pinches or more of fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup or more of grape tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Cook Rice as directed (I used a rice cooker).  Once cooked transfer the rice to a mixing bowl.
Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Mix everything well, add the tomatoes and sprinkle with basil.
Toss to combine, and serve.

For dinner, I had one serving of this rice dish with a cup of cooked red beans with hummus (for the protein protein of my meal).  It was quick, simple, clean, vegan and more importantly satisfyingly delicious! :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

How Kind Am I?

This week I started reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. Now, I’ve read other vegetarian, vegan, even raw cookbooks before and tons of information on why eating meat is not only morally wrong but ethically and environmentally wrong too. However, no other book has hit home more for me than hers so far. Not sure why really, I mean I know she’s not an expert but she does speak from personal experience and does cover a lot of research and facts – some stuff that I really didn’t want to hear but know it's probably true.

Her book since has inspired me, yet again and frankly it’s really turned me off of eating meat and dairy all together but one step at a time. I gave up eating red meat years ago and recently tried a vegetarian diet (just couldn’t give up eggs to go vegan!)

However, the more I read and the more I learn the more determined I have become to "be kind." Now I’m no preacher and I definitely am not one to judge others, everyone is free to live and do what they feel is right for them, I appreciate that.  For me, I strive to always do what’s right for me and what feels good for me (okay, not always, yes I have indulged many, many, MANY times eating chocolate and other very, very bad things) but what I liked about her book is that it got me thinking … what’s right for the world, for the environment?

After all, it’s not all about me!

I would like to think that I try my best to live green, to reduce, reuse, recycle, etc. etc. but when it comes to food how much thought do we really give as to where that food came from? I mean really came from and how? When you really start to think about it it’s actually a very scary thought!

I guess what I am getting at here is that as much as I strive to live a better, healthier lifestyle have I really considered how I've tried to better the world or the environment beyond changing a light bulb or turning my office computer off each night? Have I considered that in fact, eating vegan could in turn improve my health and lifestyle even further!?

So, like everything else I do in my life, I’ve set a goal for myself …

The Challenge: Starting today I am going to try to lead a strictly vegan lifestyle and diet, with the help of her book of course. Starting on Sunday I will blog one recipe a day until next Friday (June 18th) that I have tried and I’m sure enjoyed!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the goodies in her book:

This one kind of reminds me of the Cranberry Kale Salad I made, can't wait to try this one!


I miss eggs already :(

Friday, June 4, 2010

Orange You Glad I Love Blueberries

I made this wonderful loaf for a breakfast option this week; it's low-gluten (used some spelt flour) and low-fat Blueberry Orange Bread.  I love blueberries in everyway but lately my favourite way is in baked goods. They are healthy and sweet and make a wonderful addition to any breakfast or brunch meal like bread or oatmeal.

Blueberry Orange Bread

- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 cup gluten-free flour mix
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- 2 tbsp of canola margarine
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ cup 100% pure maple syrup
- ½ cup 100% orange juice
- 1 cup fresh blueberries

1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan (or use parchment paper, which is what I used) and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and orange peel, before making a well in centre and set aside.

3. Stir together margarine and boiling water until margarine is melted. In a medium bowl, combine egg, syrup and orange juice, and stir into the margarine mixture.

4. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

5. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55-60 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing loaf from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

7. Wrap in foil and store overnight.
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