Saturday, December 8, 2012

Super Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

These are, without a doubt, the very best pancakes I've ever eaten in my life. And, they're vegan! I tried out the recipe posted over at Post Punk Kitchen and now these are a regular breakfast item around the house. They turned out perfectly - light, fluffy, and satisfying!

These are really quick and easy to make, so you can whip up a batch for breakfast anytime. They'd be great for a lazy weekend indoors. They are wonderful covered in maple syrup or topped with fruit. We've had them with bananas and strawberries, pears and apples, Cookie Butter, or just straight up with maple syrup.

Here's the recipe!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup almond milk (or soy milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.
Measure the milk into a measuring cup. Add vinegar and ground flax seeds, and use a fork to vigorously mix the ingredients until foamy. This will take a minute or so.

Pour the milk mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the water, canola oil and vanilla and use a fork to mix until a thick, lumpy batter forms. That should take about a minute. It doesn’t need to be smooth, just make sure you get all the ingredients incorporated.

Preheat the pan over medium-low heat and let the batter rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly coat the pan in oil. Add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for about 4 minutes, until puffy. Flip the pancakes, adding a new coat of oil to the pan, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Pancake should be about an inch thick, and golden brown.

Rest pancakes on a cooling rack covered with tin foil until ready to serve. To reheat, place pancakes in on a baking sheet covered with tin foil in a  300 F degree oven for 5 minutes or so.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Banana Bread in a Bundt Pan

I had three overly ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter and an evening at home...what a great excuse to bake some banana bread! This is very easy and quick to prepare. I found out that I don't own a loaf pan (I will have to remedy this situation very soon!) so I used a bundt pan instead. For the bundt pan, simply make one and a half servings of the recipe below and pour into the bundt pan. The recipe below is the amount you'll need for a standard loaf pan.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 tbsp ground flax seed 2 tbsp corn meal 1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil) 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup mashed banana 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Stir the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flax and corn meal). Then, in a separate bowl, stir together the oil, sugar, banana, and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and then stir in the walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red Lentil and Roasted Tomato Pasta

This is one of my first attempts at making a tomato-based pasta sauce from scratch, and the lentils were a delicious and nutritious addition to the meal! This sauce does take a little bit of time as you have to wait for the tomatoes and peppers to roast in the oven, but it is well worth the wait. The recipe comes from The Naked Kitchen, but I have modified it slightly as I found it needed some more spices and flavor. I added some spices that you may typically find in a tomato sauce - basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. I omitted the bay leaf and parsley that was originally found in the recipe. Feel free to use whatever spices you enjoy!

I used a whole box of whole grain macaroni pasta - feel free to use your favourite shape of noodle for this one. I found the amount of sauce perfectly covered all of the pasta.

3-4 cups cherry tomatoes
2 bell peppers (I used yellow ones), halved with stems and seeds removed
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1/2 tsp each - basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes and peppers in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place the on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

2. Place them in a food processor and blend for a minute.

3.  Saute the onion and garlic in remaining olive oil. Add salt and pepper and saute for one minutes longer.

4. Carefully add red wine and simmer for a couple more minutes.

5. Add the lentils, water, tomato mixture, and spices. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until lentils are soft and tender. Serve.

We also made this great side salad to serve with the pasta! It has dandelion greens, lettuce, radicchio, cucumber, onions, peppers, beets, and vegan croutons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Video: Cute Squirrels at the Park

On the weekend, I posted a photo of a cute squirrel that I was feeding at the park - I also took some video as well of a couple of adorable squirrels there! Here is a short Youtube video of a few of them - enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quick Vegan Alfredo Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I tried a while back, had great success with, and totally forgot about. Well, this yummy pasta was resurrected tonight and it made for a great dinner! This quick and easy vegan Alfredo sauce is not only delicious, but filled with all sorts of good-for-you ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini and soy milk.

I used the recipe from the Vegan Yum Yum blog, and the recipe can also be found in the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook! I added steamed broccoli and orange pepper to the pasta for even more yumminess/nutritious veggie action!

The whole sauce recipe is made by throwing all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and then adding it to the cooked pasta. Super easy.

1 cup soymilk
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp Earth Balance margarine
1 tbsp Tahini
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch nutmeg
4 cloves of garlic
Black pepper, to taste

Once you blend everything together, add it to the drained cooked pasta in the same pot, and heat it all together on medium heat. Add the steamed broccoli and orange/red/yellow pepper if you choose to do so. Stir until heated through and serve.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cute Squirrels at the Park!

Today, I spent the afternoon walking to the park and feeding the squirrels. Many of them would come running towards me, eager to take a peanut right from my hand! I caught a picture of this one sitting right beside me while he ate his peanut.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beans... Green and Purple!

A forgotten blog post from the summer that was started and never completed. Here are some of the beans that were growing in the garden - green and purple ones! There were also some yellow wax beans growing. We didn't get very many in the end, but it was fun to watch them grow and eat a few of them!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Volunteer Day at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Last Saturday, I volunteered for the first time at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. My cousin and I decided to spend a day on the farm for the Sanctuary's Fall Volunteer Day to help out this wonderful organization. I've donated and visited there in the past, but this was my first time providing any help in the form of physical labor.

Their Fall (and Spring) Volunteer Days invite anyone to come and help out, whereas if you'd like to be a regular volunteer, you have to go through some training. I'm thinking of becoming a regular volunteer in the Spring!

We helped out with many various chores around the farm. It is a large farm with barns, visitor areas, a pond and trails through the forest that need to be maintained. It is difficult for the owners and regular volunteers to do these chores as they are regularly tending to the care of the donkeys. My cousin and I started out with spreading out grass seed in areas where visitors will spend time, and pulling weeds from around the paths.Of course, between doing the yard work, we couldn't resist spending some time with the citizens of the farm - the donkeys!

If you've never heard of the Donkey Sanctuary before, this is a little bit about the charity from their website:

Since 1992, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada has been a refuge for donkeys, mules and hinnies who have been neglected or abused, or who can no longer be cared for by their owners. The Sanctuary rescues the donkey with hooves so long it lives in constant pain and cannot walk. It saves a terrified mule shivering in a pen in a slaughterhouse. It offers a home to a much-loved donkey whose aging owners can no longer provide adequte care. At the Sanctuary, the animals are provided a welcome and often life-saving peaceful haven after years of suffering and neglect.

Each donkey has his or her own bio up on the website, so you can read more about each individual's story. The farm is also home to goats and sheep!

After pulling weeds and spreading out grass seed (and enjoying some lunch), we helped in the forested area with loading dead tree branches and sticks into a trailer. As a group, we worked together to clear out four truckloads full! This will help visitors be able to explore the trails more easily and was necessary for regular maintenance of the area.

The best part of the day was being able to spend time with the animals! It was very rewarding to help out at such a wonderful sanctuary for the animals! I'm so happy that places like this exist. If you are interested in volunteering, they are always looking for extra help - please visit their website!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Strawberry Lemon Mini Donuts

Here is another use for the mini donut pan - Vegan Strawberry Lemon mini donuts! I mostly followed the recipe from the Healthy Slow Cooking blog with a couple of substitutions. I didn't have any lemon basil or lemon mint on hand, so I used a tiny bit of fresh pineapple mint in the glaze. I also added a little bit more strawberries and lemon than the recipe called for, so these were definitely more along the lines of "Strawberry Lemon" donuts for me (instead of calling them "Strawberry Basil" as in the original recipe).

I found these to taste quite cakey, like tiny little muffins with holes in the middle. They really aren't all that bad for you, considering they are baked treats.  Whole wheat flour and agave nectar are used in the donut themselves, and they have a light glaze on top made from powdered sugar and lemon juice/zest. I mean, I'm not fooling myself into thinking that they are healthy, but there are a million worse treats out there I think!

So, if you're looking to try a new donut recipe that is something different from the standard vanilla or chocolate one, give these ones a try! You can find the recipe at the Healthy Slow Cooking Blog.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Got Milk? You Don't Need It.

From LearnStuff:

Got Milk?

Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Garlic & Onion

We had a huge bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard from the Farmer's Market and didn't quite know what to do with it. Rather than add it to a salad or a stir fry, we wanted to make a side dish that highlighted the chard. Paul searched all over the web for a great recipe and ended up combining a few different recipes together to make one amazing little creation! There were different elements of various dishes that we liked, so he took the best of all of them and the result was really yummy. Please note here that it is important to add some salt to the dish. We tasted it without salt and it was nothing special, but with a little bit of salt, it was so so good.

1 bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard, with the leaves cut crosswise and the stems trimmed
2 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head chopped garlic
handful of dried chili flakes
1/2 onion, chopped

Melt the butter and oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low. Add the garlic and the pepper, and saute for 1 minute. Add the chard and coat by stirring. Cook until tender, stirring for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon if you'd like!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Vegan Thanksgiving

Roasted Vegetables

I'm Canadian and in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. This post might seem a little bit strange as Thanksgiving here is long over, but I'm finally getting around to posting about our Thanksgiving dinner this year! It works out for my American friends, as you'll get a sneak preview of some things you might think of making for your Thanksgiving feast!

Let me start out by saying that I've never had a "traditional" Thanksgiving meal in my life! Since I was raised vegetarian, my family never had the typical turkey dinner. In fact, we rarely made any deal out of Thanksgiving and just made our favorite dishes that day, whatever they might have been at the time. This year, Paul and I decided to make a hearty, warm, rustic Thanksgiving dinner that would out-do any meat-eaters' holiday feast!

On the Thanksgiving menu:

  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • Cinnamon Apple Crisp with Vanilla Soy Ice Cream for dessert
Roasted veggies are nothing new around our house - we make this one all the time! It seemed to fit perfectly into this meal. If you're interested in the recipe, please check out one of my past blog posts. We probably used some different vegetables at the time, but feel free to use whatever ones you like! This time around, we used: sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic, red and orange pepper, asparagus, and parsnips.


Stuffing - can you believe I'd actually never tried stuffing before? Stuffing screams Thanksgiving and I really enjoyed this new dish in my life! Here is the recipe that we used:

  • 10 cups 1/2" bread cubes from whole wheat bread
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp Herbes de Provence (or 1 tsp sage and 1 tsp thyme)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a large shallow casserole dish.
  2. Toast the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in the oven until golden brown. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic, and celery until soft.
  5. Add the spices and the black pepper and stir.
  6. Add the vegetable stock and stir until it is all absorbed. Start with 2 cups and add more if needed so the mixture is moist and clumping together, but not soggy.
  7. Bake in a covered shallow casserole dish for 25 minutes. 
  8. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes to form a crusty top.
Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy

Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy - It's difficult to photograph this one. But trust me, it's incredibly delicious. We made the mashed potatoes and poured the mushroom gravy over top of them. Gravy was another thing that I've actually never tried before! The bigger chunks of mushrooms in the gravy made it so, so tasty. Here are the recipes:

Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes (or any potato that you choose)
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance margarine (you can use olive oil instead if you'd like)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dill or chives (we used chives as Paul isn't a fan of dill!)

Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Add the potatoes and cook until tender (15-20 minutes). Drain. While still hot, mash the potatoes with the other ingredients, and top with the dill or chives.

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup white or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence (or 1/2 tsp each of sage, thyme and marjoram)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt the Earth Balance, and then add onion and mushrooms. Saute for a minute or two over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce. Slowly add flour, stirring well to combine and prevent lumps from forming. Reduce heat and let simmer. Add the spices, salt and pepper, and keep stirring. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly until the gravy thickens.

And then....what would Thanksgiving dinner be without dessert?! We made this delicious Cinnamon Apple Crisp!

Fresh out of the oven!

We made this Cinnamon Apple Crisp from Isa's recipe over at Post Punk Kitchen. It was perfect when served warm from the oven and topped with vanilla soy ice cream! Yum!

Apple Crisp with Vanilla Soy Ice Cream

Filling Ingredients:
  • 4lbs (about 8) apples - peeled, cored, quartered, and cut into 1/4" slices
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, squeeze lemon juice over sliced apples. Add the arrowroot and spices making sure all of the apples are coated. Move the apple mixture to a 9x13" glass baking dish and drizzle the maple syrup over it. Cover with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping: sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together. Fold the wet into the dry mixing with a fork until well coated and crumbly.

When apples are done baking, remove from oven and toss, then flatten them evening with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the topping over the apple minute and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until the top feels crispy. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veggie and Tempeh Stir Fry with Mae Ploy Sauce

We made a delicious stir fry the other night and it was pretty simple and fast to create! We just chopped up all of the veggies we had in the fridge (broccoli, onion, pepper, hot pepper, fresh homegrown sprouts, fresh Thai basil), fried up some tempeh, and made some rice noodles. I usually will fry the tempeh first in some grapeseed oil until it is browned on the sides, and then I'll add the veggies and the sauce. In this case, we used Mae Ploy, a sweet chili sauce from Thailand. Hopefully you are able to find this at your local grocery store because it is so delicious - just the right amount of sweetness and spiciness (along with the hot peppers we added!).

Once the veggies and tempeh were cooked a bit in the sauce, we put the whole mixture over some rice noodles.  And that's it! It was a satisfying and nutritious meal with loads of vegetables, and it really was not difficult at all to make.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peppers and Tomatoes are Ripening!

Over the last few days, we've been able to pick some fresh peppers and tomatoes straight from the garden. The tomatoes have been gobbled up fairly quickly as there are only a few of them, but as more start to turn red, I hope to use them in some recipes. The peppers have been used in salads and stir-fries over the past few days for lunch and dinner.

Pictured above, you can see a whole slew of Hot Banana Peppers (which have a mild spiciness to them) and two Red Rocket peppers (that are a bit spicier!).

Out of the two Hot Banana Pepper plants, I've picked almost all of the peppers by now and there are still a few small ones growing. Between the two plants, we will have picked about 15-20 peppers in total, which is pretty good for just a couple of plants!

We still have many, many other peppers growing on other varieties of plants, too. Stay tuned!

The smaller cherry tomatoes, "Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato" are turning red first out of the bunch as they are a lot smaller than the others. The ones that are pear-shaped are the "Red Pear Tomatoes". They're a little bit bigger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a Roma tomato. You can see just how small the tiny tomatoes are in comparison!