Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Soft and Fudgy Vegan Brownies

I have to say that these are the best brownies I have ever baked - they are chocolaty, fudgy, gooey, soft and delicious...and they're vegan with no dairy or eggs in sight!

This picture isn't the greatest as I snapped it quickly after eating a couple of them while the brownies were still in the pan. You can find the recipe over at the Cooking Vegan Food Up North blog. The only change I made to the recipe was adding 1/2 tsp vanilla and using regular granulated sugar, as opposed to using vanilla sugar that I didn't have.

You can definitely wow any chocoholics or dairy-loving friends with these brownies! I wouldn't have been able to tell that there weren't any dairy or eggs in these.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tempeh in Coconut Sauce

A couple of nights ago, I made way too much rice for a stir-fry so we had tons of brown rice left over in the fridge. I needed to use up all of this extra rice and I didn't want to buy any new groceries. As it turns out, I had all of the ingredients required to prepare this tempeh dish and it ended up being a delicious dinner!

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

1 package tempeh, sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
2 chili peppers,diced
2 tsp sugar
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, grated or chopped fine
Thai basil, chopped
4 cups cooked rice

Saute the tempeh in the oil until browned. Add the onion, cumin, ginger, and garlic; saute for one minute. Add the coconut milk with the pepper, hot peppers, sugar, and Thai basil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Since Paul and I tend to like our veggies to taste a little more fresh and crispy, I think I will make a few small alterations for next time. I will fry the tempeh as usual, and then add the garlic, ginger, and cumin to saute for a minute. Then, I will add the coconut milk, sugar, hot peppers and Thai basil as per the recipe. When the mixture has about 3-5 minutes left to cook, I will add the bell pepper and onion to the mix.

In addition, I think I will add some green beans and bamboo shoots because there is a dish at a Thai restaurant that I love ordering that has those two ingredients. You really could add any of your favourite veggies, like broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, snow peas, or any others.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fresh Restaurant in Toronto

Whenever I'm shopping or walking around downtown Toronto with my girl friends, we always try to stop at Fresh if we get the chance. Last week, we did just that! Once again, Fresh did not disappoint and we enjoyed a satisfying, delicious, and nutritious lunch. I'm so happy that my friends, although not vegan themselves, totally embrace vegetarian food!

Fresh is an entirely vegetarian, almost completely vegan (with the exception of adding cheese to items if requested) restaurant with an emphasis on fresh food and juices. Pictured above is my main course meal, the Sam Houston burrito with a kale salad on the side.  The burrito included slow cooked soy & sweet potato taco filling, sautéed peppers & onions, salsa, avocado chipotle sauce, lettuce and alfalfa sprouts...yum!

I also ordered a side of quinoa onion rings with vegan garlic mayo on the side. These were super crispy and so tasty! I actually was so full from my burrito that I never ended up eating more than one of these in the restaurant, so I packed them up and brought them home to share with Paul. Amazingly, these onion rings were not soggy a few hours later and still tasted really yummy.

Sarah ordered the Grilled Vegetable and Pesto Burrito on a lettuce leaf rather than inside a whole wheat wrap. Look at all of those yummy veggies! The ingredients included grilled red pepper, zucchini & sweet potato with pesto, house mayo, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, and alfalfa sprouts.

A trip to Fresh would not be complete without ordering one of their fresh fruit smoothies! I couldn't resist ordering the Tropical Transfusion - a mix of pineapple, coconut, strawberry and banana. It's the second best thing to actually being in the Caribbean sipping a tropical beverage!

Be sure to get out to sample Fresh for yourself at one of their three locations in Toronto - at Bloor & Spadina (326 Bloor St. West), 894 Queen St. West, or Queen St. W & Spadina (147 Spadina Ave).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Raw Tacos with Walnut Taco Meat and Cashew Sour Cream

I was shopping on Friday at McEwans Grocery at "Shops at Don Mills" in Toronto, which is a fancy grocery store with lots of unique items. They had an entire raw section with many pre-packaged lunches, including various zucchini noodle bowls with different sauces, raw lasagna, and desserts. Amongst the pre-packaged dishes were these taco wraps, similar to those that I've tried in the past at raw restaurants. Using these wraps, I attempted to prepare a raw taco dish at home myself. It was actually much easier to do than I expected!

I made Walnut Taco Meat as the primary filling for the tacos, as I've enjoyed it in the past at some raw food restaurants. It was extremely easy to make, using walnuts, soy sauce, olive oil and spices. Please do not over-do it with the food processor as your walnut taco meat could quickly turn to walnut butter! It only took a few whirls in the food processor to chop it up to a chunky consistency. For both the Walnut Taco Meat and the Cashew Sour Cream, I used recipes from the My New Roots blog. I did substitute regular soy sauce for the nama shoyu and in doing so, the recipe came out a little salty for my liking. I would recommend cutting back on the 2 tbsp soy sauce in the recipe to 1 tbsp if you are using regular soy sauce.

2 cups raw walnuts
2 Tbsp. nama shoyu (raw, unpasteurized soy sauce)
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Then, I prepared the Cashew Sour Cream. It was just as easy to make as the Walnut Taco Meat - I just threw some ingredients together in the food processor! Start by adding all of the ingredients together except the water. Then, add the water 1 tbsp at a time and process with each tablespoon, until it has reached the consistency that you like. I opted for a very thick paste, using only 4 tbsp of water. You might want it to look more like a dressing, so you might end up using all 10 tbsp.

1 cup raw cashews
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
10 Tbsp. water (approx.)

In each taco wrap, place some walnut taco meat, cashew sour cream, fresh salsa, or other toppings you may like. We put diced onions and chopped cabbage in our tacos. You might want to include guacamole, cilantro, peppers, or any other veggies that you like!

These were so delicious and I will definitely be making them again! It was also surprising how filling these tacos were - they made for a very substantial and nutritious meal. Hooray for being able to create restaurant-quality raw meals at home!