Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vegetable Dinner Piled High

A vegan dish - sauteed, boiled, fried, and layered - homemade and healthy, it includes (from top to bottom) ...

  • a quick and easy raw tahini lime dressing made with tahini, fresh lime juice, water, cumin, salt and pepper
  • a bunch of organic and fresh kale sauteéd in balsamic vinegar
  • slice of tempeh pan-fried with a few dashes of tamari sauce
  • shredded broccoli lightly sauteéd in sesame oil
  • Organic quinoa cooked and kept plain as the base for this dish

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    A Picnic in the Park

    Mountain goats at the High Park Zoo
    A lovely weekend for a picnic and with a long weekend coming up there will be plenty more time for picnics in the sun.  This picnic was in Toronto's beautiful High Park area.

    Our lunch came from The Big Carrot, an amazing shop similar to Whole Foods Market but on the east end of Toronto.  On the menu (pictured here): Vegan paella (bottom), Lentil Paté (to it's right) and Mary's raw gluten-free crackers.
    Vegan Paella from The Big Carrot

    Scarlet with her treats.
    A picnic wouldn't be complete without a treat for my sweet - okay, no more rhyming!  We did get Scarlet something yummy and fishy to chew on, mostly to distract her while we ate our own food and so she wouldn't feel left out.

    Community Garden in High Park
    High Park is a gorgeous, massive, very green and flourishing park on the west end of Toronto.  Within it there is a Zoo, Community Gardens, swimming pool, tennis courts, dog off-leash area, and much more.  Plus many events like concerts and plays are hosted there.

    Baby goat (I think) from the High Park Zoo

    A resting Bison from the High Park Zoo

    Scarlet, chillin'
    A relaxing puppy? She was actually eyeballing the chipmunks and squirrels, at least it kept her distracted.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    I'm in Love! ... with my Garden

    Edible flowers - Pansies
     I absolutely am completely in love with my garden and here's why ...

     Lettuce is amazingly resilient 

     Cabbage is stunningly beautiful.

     My lettuce garden is almost too beautiful to eat but I imagine it will taste delicious nonetheless!

     I have more kale then I will know what to do with (not showing, about 5 more kale plants)

     You can grow potatoes pretty much anywhere, even in a bag on a balcony, it will grow...

     and it will be beautiful.
     Tomatoes grow wickedly tall!

    My first strawberry.
    And finally, my lovely herbs! Just hanging around.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Toronto's Great Urban Race ... Alright. Excellent!

    Whaaaooooo!  It's Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World and they've taken over the Toronto streets! They were running around like mad men, solving clues and taking photos on what was possibly one of the hottest days yet this year. Alright. Excellent.

    Why was all this crazy action taking place? It was the Great Urban Race of 2011!

    Tembo Elephants at King & Bay
    First up, we joined a family of elephants for a photo opportunity.  Thanks to Simone for her sweet Google skills for finding our hot spots in the city! (Tembo, Mother of Elephants)

    Toronto Hot Dog stand
     Photo with a street vendor. Check!

    Some dude in Toronto
    Photo with a stranger in a sports jersey. Check! 
    Showing off our skills at Steve's Music
     We finally got a rock out a little at Steve's Music Store on Queen.  Excellent!

    Garth showing off his brain skills at Science City
    Science is cool.  Here Garth shows off his scientific excellence at Science City.

    Camera face
    Whaaaa! Garth is totally pulling off mimicking that statue at Bau-Xi gallery.

    Look at me, I'm a tree.
    My turn to show off my excellent relaxing skills with some yoga at Iam Yoga.  The rest of the race, not so relaxing!

    Finishing the Great Urban Race
    We totally rocked the end, finishing in the top 30 with time but unfortunately our totally bogus penalty set us back 30 minutes.  Denied!

     Overall it was a most excellent day and race. Party on!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Vegetables on top of Noodles with a Side of Delicious

    Rice Noodles with Pepper and Mushrooms

    For the bowl:
    - 1-2 cups of cooked white & black Soba Rice noodles
    - 6-7 large mushrooms, chopped
    - 1/2 orange pepper (any pepper will do), chopped
    - 3-4 stalks of green onion

    For the Dressing:
    - About 3 tbsp (each bowl) of Dragon sauce

    1. Sauté your vegetables how you like it in a non-stick cooking pan or use a touch of coconut oil.

    2. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    To assemble:
    1. Start with the cooked rice noodles (cook as directed on package), as your base for the dish.

    2. Top off with your vegetables.

    3. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the Dragon sauce on top and ...

    Bon Appetite!

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Feeding Christina: Part II

    This was my sweet brunch meal attempt that was definitely successful in completion and in taste but a huge fail in serving Christina.  Why? Walnuts! As I finished the last touches on this delicious, gluten-free, vegan dish I forgot one more allergy to consider - nuts!

    Well she definitely appreciated the effort and happily enjoyed her bowl of gluten-free cereal while Mike and I ate the crumble.

    Lesson here: Have a house guest visiting? Be sure to triple-check if they have allergies, what they are exactly and adapt your recipes accordingly ... ahhhhh nuts!

    Apple Walnut dried Cherry Quinoa Crumble
    Original recipe from GLIVING website. 

    For the Crumble:
    1 cup walnut halves
    3/4 cup quinoa flakes
    1/2 cup quinoa flour
    1/4 cup tapioca flour
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 cup maple sugar (or I used 1/4 cup maple syrup because it’s what I had)
    6 tbsp melted coconut butter

    For the Apple Filling:

    6 medium or 3 large apple, chopped into medium cubes
    1/2 cup dried cherries
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    Dash of fresh grated nutmeg
    2 tbsp maple syrup
    2 tbsp agave nectar
    1 tbsp tapioca flour
    Pinch of sea salt

    For The Crumble:
    1. Preheat oven 400.
    2. To make topping: in a medium bowl mix together quinoa flakes, quinoa and tapioca flour, sugar, walnuts and salt.
    3. Drizzle in oil one TB at a time, mix with wooden spoon.
    4. It should look crumbly, with clumps and wet sand.
    5. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until chilled (can chill overnight).

    Instructions For The Filling:

    1. Toss everything into an 8×8 inch glass baking dish.
    2. Mix everything to combine.
    3. Sprinkle reserved topping evenly over apples.
     4. Bake in the middle rack of oven for 15 minutes at 400.
     5. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are soft.
     6. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Feeding Christina: Part I

    Best dinner ever! Well, at least one of the best vegan/gluten-free dinners I've made in a long time. One of my favourite things to be is hostess, especially to my visiting out-of-town friends and of course I especially love cooking for them.  So, I was more then happy to riffle through my recipe books and websites to find some delicious summer meal ideas for my visiting friend this weekend.

    On the menu so far ... last night I quickly whipped up a Quinoa Tahini salad that included chopped spinach, tomato, cucumber and chickpeas with a creamy lemony tahini dressing.  Simple, savoury and super filling.

    Tonight (best home-made meal I made/ate in a while) included vegan Black Bean burgers, Big Greens salad and left over Quinoa tahini salad.  I found the Black Bean burger recipe on one of my favourite websites, Fat Free Vegan but I of course adapted it.

     Black Bean Vegan Burgers

    1.5 cups cooked black beans
    1 cup cooked brown rice
    1/2 cup chopped orange pepper (any pepper will do)
    1 small onion chopped
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    2 tbsp ground flaxseed 
    2 tbsp quinoa flour

    1. In a food processor, mix the beans, peppers and onion until most of the chunks are smoothed out.

    2. Add the remaining ingredients except the rice and quinoa flour to the bean mixture.

    3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the rice.  This is when you can get your clean hands dirty and mix everything up really well.

    4. Add the flour as needed to harden the mixture a bit so it's not so moist.

    5. Using about one large spoonful at a time form circular patties to fry up in a pan.

    6. Cook just until browned well on each side of the patty. Cooking times may vary depending on your taste.

    Bon Appetite!

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    DIY Gardening: Planting a Lettuce Family

    Step One: Purchase a wicked, Eco-friendly and recyclable, 18 inch (depth) container to do your planting in. Then get your Tim the Toolman grove on and drill some holes into the bottom of it (for your water drainage system to work).

    Step Two: Fill the bottom of your tub with rocks, preferably pebble like rocks which can be purchased at any garden centre or if you are really, really bored and have the time, hit a gravel or rocky road and start collecting!

    Step Three: This is an optional step but it was suggested by my father, and I think it's a great idea, to add a layer of crumpled newspaper. The newspaper will help absorb excess water.  And this newspaper gets extra bonus cool points since it comes from the remains of an old NOW magazine paper.

    Step Four: This option is NOT optional seeing as earth is necessary for plants to grow in.  What is optional is your choice of dirt.  In this case I am using a combination of peat moss (light, fluffy and dusty dirt) with organic potting soil (dark and moist).

    Step Five: Start adding your pretty little lettuce plants to the pot.  I planted four in total plus a couple of strawberry plants which I learned grow well next to lettuce ... unless of course the Internet lied to me.

    Step Six: Proudly display your new lettuce Greens/strawberry garden and take of picture of it. Oh, and it's a good idea to water your plants at this point it just at wee bit.

    Lettuce and strawberries do need a sufficient amount of water, especially during the early stages of growth but be sure not to over water your plants.  Your new water drainage system will help!

    holes + rocks + paper = Happy Plants

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Red Curry Tempeh & Spinach Rice Noodles

    Some nights you just need to take some time out for yourself to relax and enjoy the evening. To not run off to the gym right after work or hit the trails, etc. Time to just do what's needed at home, for yourself, like whipping up a wicked dinner for you and your boyfriend.

    I couldn't come up with a clever name for this one but it was delicious nonetheless.

    Red Curry Tempeh with Spinach Rice Noodles

    For the noodles:
    * 1.5 - 2 cups of cooked rice noodles
    * 1.5 cup of freshly chopped spinach
    * 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
    * 1-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

    Mix ingredients together in a bowl Tip: add a bit of olive oil to the noodles before adding the rest of the ingredients so that they won't stick..

    For the noodle sauce:
    * 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
    * 2-3 tbsp sesame oil
    * 2 tbsp filtered water
    * 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    * 1/2 tsp dried dill
    * 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    * Salt and pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients together well.

    For the Tempah:
    * 1 package of organic plain tempah, sauteed on medium-low heat, in water for about 10 minutes
    * 2 tbsp filtered water
    * 2 tbsp tamari sauce
    * 2 tbsp sesame oil
    * 1/2-1 tbsp red curry paste (add as much as you prefer depending on your level of spicy)
    * 2 tbsp organic soy milk
    1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.

    2. Mix the water, tamari, sesame oil, red curry paste, and soy milk together in a small bowl very, very well.

    3. Cut the tempeh into about 8-10 squares or rectangles.

    4. In a separate bowl, add the panko crumbs. Coat each piece of tempeh in the sauce then transfer to the panko crumbs to cover completely.

    5. Lay your tempeh pieces to an oven safe, sesame oil coated baking dish. Bake for about 16-20 minutes.

    Serve on top of Spinach noodles.

    Experiment! Enjoy!

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Balcony Garden Week 7: An Update Gallery

    The garden to date, organized, green and growing beautifully.  Here I have placed my lettuce plants on a shelf, the pea plants on the top and right next to it the tomato and mint.  It's amazing how quickly everything is growing and if not watered properly how quickly the plants change - example, from green and lush to limp and yellow.  It's an interesting learning experience so far ...

    On this shelf, clockwise from top to bottom: Lemon balm, broccoli (soon to be transferred), cabbage, broccoli, and strawberry.

    As I experience and read from my many, many gardening books I am learning a lot along the way. For instance, the broccoli plants will be need to be transferred to deeper pots to be eventually "earthed up" because the crown will get very heavy as it matures.

    My lovely little tomato tree - well, not so little already - this sucker grows fast!

    And who said you  can't grow potatoes on a balcony in a container (in this case mesh bag) - ha! We'll see what comes of this but so far the potato plant is going strong, I love it!

    Close up shot of one of my cabbage plants ... can't wait to see this one flourish!

    Pretty peas all in a row.  I will eventually (soon) have to add a string running horizontally across the plants to help them grow upright.  These guys like to latch onto their supports as they grow.

    And the newest addition to the garden: Lavender Lady

    Know any great gardening tips?
    I'd love to hear them, please share!

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Father's Day Food Ideas

    Looking to do something extra special for dad this Father's Day? Instead of going out why not make him a lovely healthy or hearty meal on his special day or bake him his favourite loaf of bread.

    Here a few things I've made in the past that could work for dad, whatever his lifestyle or taste, there's something for every dad (just follow the links or photo captions):

    For the Carnivore Dad 
    From my pre-vegan days, actually, it has been a year ago this month since I changed to a vegan diet.  Hard to believe I used to eat meat and cheese not that long ago.  Here are a couple of meaty ideas for the non-vegan dad:

    Gluten-free crust Pizza
    This pizza is hearty and pretty healthy and the bonus, it has a gluten-free pizza crust! It was made with veggies and chicken.  For a vegan option you can sub the chicken for tempah or omit it.

    Butter Chicken with salad, vegetables & potato wedges
    Once upon a time I made a Butter Chicken for my family with Spinach strawberry salad, vegetables and Potato wedges (pictured below).

    For the Vegetarian/Vegan Dad:
    For the very health conscious dad some vegan meal options are a great way to go! You can always add some light cheese options to make it vegetarian.

    Rice with tomato and basil
    One of my first of many vegan recipes I shared on this blog, from Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet, Rice with Tomato and Basil.

    Tofu nuggets with Kale
     Perhaps if you're very clever you can trick your father into believing his meal is chicken with these Tofu "chicken" nuggets.
    Vegan Quiche
     Better then the real thing and so much healthier too, Vegan Spinach Quiche - a great breakfast or brunch option for dad.

    Hearty Vegetable Stew
    It's Summer and hot outside but this very delicious, very hearty and very healthy Sweet Summer Stew is sure to be a lunch hit on Father's Day.

    For the Raw-food Eating Dad:
    For the very super health-conscious dad some raw food options (even includes dessert!)

    Raw Pad Thai
    StRAWberry Pie

    For the Dad with a Sweet-tooth: 
    For those who don't have time to go all out and make a full lunch or dinner but still want to do something 'sweet' for dad, bake some bread or cookies:
    Chocolate Zucchini Loaf
    Strawberry Honey Bread
    Oatmeal Cookies
    What do you have planned for Father's Day?
    Leave a comment, suggestion, idea ...would love to hear from you!
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