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!