Monday, September 26, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato and Kale Couscous


This is a quick and easy side dish that won't disappoint! Cooking the coucous in vegetable stock instead of water makes it incredibly savoury, while the sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves add fresh flavours and bursts of colour. Feel free to add tofu or white beans for a tasty vegetarian/vegan main dish.

Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups couscous
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
1 and 1/2 cup fresh kale
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the couscous. When the couscous puffs up after about 30 seconds, turn down the heat to low and allow it to simmer. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and kale, then cover the saucepan with a lid. Allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Super-Charge Me Oatmeal Cookies


In my books, the perfect oatmeal cookie is crunchy and crispy on the outside but soft and chewy in the middle - and these cookies definitely fit that description! I've seen variations for these nutritious, vegan cookies all over the blog world so I decided to make them using the ingredients I had on hand. Not only do I love the fact that they taste incredible, but they are also super healthy so it's a win-win recipe!

Ingredients:

2 cups quick oats
1 and 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
2/3 cup flax meal
1 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. almond butter or peanut butter
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the quick oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, coconut, raisins, and walnuts.

In a separate bowl, combine the flax meal, maple syrup/honey/agave, almond/peanut butter, vanilla, and applesauce/banana and stir until mixed. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Drop rounded spoonfuls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets and lightly flatten. The cookie dough will be very sticky and it won't spread much while baking so be sure to flatten them to the thickness you would like your finished cookies to be.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container on the counter or freeze for longer storage.



*Recipe adapted from Eat Drink and Be Vegan

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir Fry


 

Stir frys are one of my favourite meals because they are so quick, simple, and versatile. They are filling without being too heavy, and a foolproof way to create a balanced meal of veggies, grains, and protein. This stir fry is made with tofu, but it could be substituted with chicken if that is your preference. If you've never prepared or tried tofu before then don't be intimidated! This technique of cooking it is very simple and results in a flavourful vegetarian main dish that even meat-eaters will enjoy!

Ingredients:

Tofu marinade:
3 Tbsp. plum sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1/2 398mL/14oz. can pineapple chunks in juice
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 slab firm tofu

Stir Fry:
3-4 cups vegetables - Use a combination of any of the following: broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, peas, carrots, bok choy, cabbage, baby corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts. To save time you can by the packaged pre-cut bags of stir fry vegetables.
2 servings (about 2 cups) of noodles, rice, or cousous

Directions:

First, prepare your tofu by draining the excess water from the package and cutting the slab in half. Cut the half slab into two even pieces and place on a folded paper town or a clean, dry dishcloth. Place another folded piece of paper town on top of the tofu and gently press down with your palms to squeeze our the excess water. Once the paper towel is wet, change to a new piece and repeat. Be careful not to crumble the tofu while doing this. Once most of the liquid has been squeezed out, cut the two pieces into four smaller pieces and set aside.


Prepare the marinade by stirring together the plum sauce, soy sauce, applesauce, green onions, and half the pineapple juice from the can in a sealable container or bowl. Add in the prepared tofu pieces and coat them with the marinade. Add in half of the pineapple chunks from the can and then cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight for the most flavour, or for at least 30 minutes.

After marinating, place the tofu pieces and the pineapple chunks on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Reserve the marinade to use as a stir fry sauce. Turn your oven to broil and cook the tofu and pineapple for 7-8 minutes on one side, then carefully flip them and cook for another 7-8 minutes on the other side. The finished tofu should be lightly browned all over, crispy on the edges, and firm to the touch.
The tofu before cooking

After about 15 minutes under the broiler - all cooked!

While the tofu is cooking, prepare your stir fry by cooking your vegetables in a small amount of oil and water in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. When they are almost done, pour the reserved marinade into the skillet. Cook your your noodles, rice, or couscous according to the package directions and divide it evenly onto two plates. Top with the stir fry vegetables, the prepared tofu and pineapple chunks, and serve. Serves two.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blueberry Walnut Scones


There's nothing like a warm scone fresh out of the oven, slathered in butter, for a comforting breakfast. These scones are incredibly dense and moist due to the addition of sour cream in the dough. The blueberries add delicious, juicy bursts of the flavours and colours of summer while the walnuts provide a satisfying crunchy texture.

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling on top
Pinch of salt
5 Tbsp. (1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp.) cold butter 
2/3 cup sour cream
1 egg 
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (don't thaw if using frozen)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets with non-stick spray or butter, or cover with parchment paper. For a quicker, easier method, you could also use a 12-cup muffin tin to bake the individual scones in instead.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Grate the cold butter into the bowl with a box or hand grater. This will mix the better into the dry ingredients better and help to achieve a crumbly texture. It is very important that your butter is cold and not at room temperature for this step!

Add in the sour cream and egg and stir to mix. The dough will be very sticky at this point. Gently fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently with your hands until it comes together in a large ball. At this point you can use 1 of 3 methods to make the scones. Using a rolling pin or pressing down with your palms, spread the dough out into a circle about 9-10" in diameter and 2-3" in thickness, then cut it into 8 even wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheets. You can also just pull off individual handfuls of dough from the large piece of dough and drop it onto the prepared baking sheets (I used this method), or you could pull off pieces of dough and place them in a muffin tin to bake. Sprinkle cinnamon on the tops of the scones before putting them in the oven.

Bake the scones for 20-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container. You can also store in the freezer in plastic wrap and a freezer bag or airtight container, and then just defrost them as desired. These are best enjoyed fresh on the day that you make them!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vegan Cheese Sauce/Dip


This is a delicious "cheese" sauce that is perfect for vegans and those who are avoiding lactose! The nutritional yeast is what gives the sauce it's cheesy flavour and also makes it a great source of protein and B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast that is grown for its nutritional value. It looks like yellow flakes or powder and you can find it in natural health food stores, in the natural food sections of some grocery stores, and sometimes in the bulk bins. The cashews give it a thick and creamy texture once they are processed that makes this sauce perfect to use as a veggie or chip dip, salad dressing, sandwich spread, in eggs, with pasta, or with any cooked grains. I enjoyed it as a veggie dip with some fresh cucumbers and carrots I got at the Farmer's Market this weekend! :)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer into a serving bowl or airtight container. Keep refrigerated for up to one week.


*Recipe from Love Veggies and Yoga

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread


This banana bread is incredibly moist and also a healthy, vegan alternative to more traditional banana breads that are heavy on the sugar and fat. There are no ingredients that you would have to go out of your way to purchase in order to make this recipe (which, with some vegan baking you do), and the flavour and texture of the banana bread is wonderful. My whole family loved this loaf and it disappeared in one day at my house!  

Ingredients:

3 large ripe bananas
2 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
1/3 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 cup agave - You can substitute with pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw first if using frozen)


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with vegan margarine.

In a small bowl, mix the soy or almond milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice/vinegar and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it curdles. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the remaining lemon juice/vinegar, the curdled soy/almond milk, agave, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix the batter or your loaf will be tough and rubbery.

Place your blueberries in a small bowl and lightly coat them in a small amount of flour. This will prevent them from sinking in the batter. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the top of the loaf comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan to cut and serve.


*Recipe adapted from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Tofu Salad


Make the most of the last days of the hot summer weather with this light and tasty tofu salad. It makes a great vegetarian main dish or a substitute for tuna or egg salad in a sandwich.

Ingredients:

1 block firm tofu, drained and pressed
1-2 celery stalks, finely diced
4-5 baby carrots or one large carrot, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/3-2/3 cup hummus - Adjust the amount of hummus to your liking. Less hummus will make a more crumbly salad and more will make a creamier salad.
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Drain your tofu of all water and press it between some paper towel to get the excess moisture out. The less water the better so that it will crumble nicely.

Crumble the block of tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Add in your diced vegetables, hummus, dijon mustard, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and salt/pepper. Stir until well combined, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavours to marinate. Serve on its own, in a sandwich, or tossed into a salad. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.



*Recipe adapted from Clean Eating Chelsey