Friday, February 22, 2013

Edamame Spinach Pasta Salad

Husband made din-din again tonight. As usual, he "just threw something together". Pasta, edamame, spinach, tomatoes and a tasty dressing. See that big bowl? It was so yummy, we ate the entire thing between the 2 of us. 

The dressing is a refreshing blend of coriander and lemongrass, with a bit of chili paste for heat. Just adjust the seasoning as you like, but keep in mind, once the salad is tossed it needs to be eaten the same day as the dressing will wilt the spinach. Or, toss all ingredients except the spinach, add it just before eating. Husband had actually layered everything (see pic, spinach on bottom) and then just put it back into the fridge until I got home. Yummers!

one big handful fresh spinach
2 sliced tomatoes
1 cup raw pasta, cooked and cooled
1 cup raw edamame 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp chili paste
2-3 Tbsp lemongrass paste
2-3 Tbsp coriander paste (or 1/4 cup fresh coriander)
salt to taste

Toss all ingredients. Eat. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Veg Italian Wedding Soup...sort of.

Tonight I made a simple soup, something that`s been kicking around my head for awhile. I can`t remember the last time I had Italian Wedding Soup, but I kinda sorta remember the flavour, and this recipe comes pretty close. At some point I`ll try making mini-meatballs, but whatever, ground round and lentils make a nice quick tasty alternative...

1 small onion, in small dice
1 celery stalk, in small dice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 pk Yves Italian ground round
1 tomato, small dice
1 carrot, grated
3/4 cup white wine
1 mushroom bouillon cube
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
3/4 cup cooked lentils (Puy lentils preferred)
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
ground pepper & salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in onion and celery, fry until golden, 3-4 minutes. Add ground round, continue frying until browned, stirring to prevent it from sticking to bottom of pot. Add tomato, carrot, wine, bouillon cube and Israeli couscous. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch or so, and bring to boil. Continue boiling until Israeli couscous is cooked through, add more water as needed. Finally, add lentils, paprika, salt and pepper, and simmer 1 minute longer.

Sprinkle with veg parmesan cheese to serve, and crusty bread to soak up the broth!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Starbucks' Chocolate Cinnamon Loaf - veganized, reduced in fat & sugar

I'm weak. I've come to accept that despite my efforts to be "good" when it comes to sweets, I MUST have a little something here and there. I'm working towards doing a 10k open water competitive swim this summer, so I NEED to be good, but I also need to balance it with the inevitable cravings to have a little somethin' somethin'. 

This afternoon, I decided to give my hand at making a loaf similar to Starbucks' "Chocolate Cinnamon Bread." Yep, before the holidays I was especially weak and had this on my morning commute to work a few times. yum yum yum. Much to my surprise, Starbucks had actually posted their own recipe online! Seriously surprised they would give away the recipe for something they make money off of, but hey, awesome. 

Not so awesome is the nutritional profile. Just look at the original recipe...1 1/2 cups butter and 3 cups of sugar to 2 cups of flour, yikes. Sure, that makes 2 loaves, but still, from the perspective of ratio that still crazy. I decided to both veganize the recipe and reduce the fat and sugar. I made 1 large loaf, and 6 muffin-sized. The muffin sized-ones pop out of the tin easily, the loaf wasn't an issue but the top has a nice crusty crumble to it, making it a little harder to turn out without ruining the look of it. Just let it cool a bit, maybe cut it in half and be gently when turning it out.

The loaf doesn't have the same look, it doesn't rise as high as the original version but the taste is dead on, even with half the sugar and 2/3 the margarine. I'm really pleased they posted the recipe, and seeing as how I've already had 2 of the muffin-sized ones, it's safe to say this recipe will be a keeper. I'll freeze some of it. Maybe. Depends. Weak, weak, weak...

1 cup margarine (2 sticks), room temperature, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar of choice
6 eggs' worth of egg replacer (prepared with water)
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups dutch pressed cocoa
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plain (or vanilla) soymilk
1 tsp vanilla

Cocoa spice topping
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cocoa
pinch of ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Prepare 2 loaf baking pans - I spray my pans with cooking oil, then shake a spoonful of floor along the bottom and edges, I find it helps make sure nothing sticks.

In a mixing bowl, use the electric mixer to blend the margarine and sugar. Add in the egg replacement, scrape down sides and mix until smooth.

Mix remaining dry ingredients together. Measure out the soymilk. Keeping the mixer on, add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture bit by bit, alternating between wet and dry.

Turn batter out into prepared pans, and sprinkle evenly with cocoa spice topping. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes, be sure to check if done with a toothpick - sometimes vegan goods are a bit more dense, and need a bit longer.

Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.

Once cool, move to a cutting board to slice. 

Makes 2 loaves, one can be frozen whole or in slices if needed, for up to a month. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Smoky Basil Chickpea Bowl

Husband made supper tonight, this is what he came up with. The first spoonful was barely in my mouth when I popped up from the table, grabbed my camera and started taking pics. Apparently this is a source of irritation. "NO, you CAN'T eat that YET. I haven't taken my blog pics." Well, this time I snapped pics of my own bowl, and then devoured its contents. 

My hubby like to cook from whatever's around, and never, ever cooks from recipes. Tonight's creation was a hit...smoked paprika, fresh basil, lemon juice seasoning a mixture of couscous, chickpeas, corm and grated carrots. mmmmmmm. 

And, the best part, no cooking. He made this in a large mixing bowl without using a single pot or pan...

Fully sated, I'm now kicking back with a brown cow (does anyone else actually still drink these? how nineties) made with soy milk and peppermint mocha Kahlua over ice, and listening to Belle and Sebastian. Did I mention we gave up watching tv during the week? Well, we watch one hour a night to chill, but otherwise it's sewing, or food stuff, or just hanging out. For your listening enjoyment as you read over the recipe: 

Serves 4

1 cup dry couscous
1 cup corn kernels
1 large carrot, shredded
1 can chickpeas (drained)
2 Tbsp olive oil
sriracha hot sauce, to taste (2-4Tbsp)
lemon juice (to taste, 3-4 Tbsp)
"fresh" basil, we use one of those tubes of herbs, frozen cubes would work - dry basil flakes wouldn't be that great though, you want a real herby zing here. to taste (2-4 Tbsp)
smoked paprika (2-3 Tbsp)
spicy seasoned salt, or regular salt with a little cayenne

Layer the following ingredients, in this order, in a large mixing bowl: couscous on the bottom, then carrot, then corn, lastly chickpeas. Pour in 1 cup boiling water, and cover with a lid of some kind (very important, steams the veggies while it absorbs into couscous). Let sit 7-8 minutes, remove the lid, fluff and stir with a fork. Stir in oil, lemon juice and sriracha hot sauce. Add basil, mix in thoroughly, and then season with salt. 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Breakfast Bagel Bun Sammies

Wow, where has the year gone?!? It's been forever since I've posted anything new. I've had a great year, new job, new adventures, but none of them in the kitchen, unfortunately. But this week, as fellow Ontarian Vegan Dad announced the end of his blogging activities, I realized I really missed getting creative in the kitchen and putting my recipes out there for the veg world to try out. And, I'm getting really sick of eating pre-made/frozen meals from the grocery store - thank goodness for husband and the nights I come home to a hot meal he's prepared. What's worse, is I really have no excuse..Vegan Dad = 4 vegan kids, wife in grad school, 3 book projects. Yeah, beotch, get off your lazy butt, cook something, and blog about it. Done.

Today was an especially productive morning, I'm trying harder to be more organized and part of that is prepping food on the weekend to ensure I have breakfasts and lunches during the week. Here's what I came up with: breakfast bagel bun sandwiches. There's a small coffee shop  on the ground level where I work, they make something similar. But, it's pricey, and the egg is some kind of weird "egg-like" product. Blech. No more.

Here's what I did...

1. Make a batch of this bagel dough (plain), but instead of shaping them like bagels roll out flat circles of dough, about 1/2" thick.

2. Rise, boil and bake as directed, but reduce the temperature to 410 degrees. Keep an eye on your "bagel buns" to make sure they don't overbake and dry out.

3. In the meantime, prepare your fillings. Make a large omelet of your choice, either with eggs/egg whites, or the yummy vegan from the Post Punk Kitchen. Include spinach or pan-fried veggies in your omelette if you like, and get out something saucy - pesto, for example, or give Erős Pista a try (Hungarian hot pepper paste, look for it in little euro speciality shops). Slices of this vegan Spicy Hickory Maple Seitan Bacon would totally rock. Grab your favourite cheese slices too!

4. If you're going to be wrapping up your breakfast sammies to store in the fridge, make sure your bagel buns, omelette and fillings are cool before you assemble them. Otherwise you'll wind up with condensation and the bagel bun will get soggy, gross.

5. Cut your omelette into the number of portions you're making. Carefully slice the bagel bun, smear your favourite spread on one half and start stacking up your fillings on the other.

6. Wrap up in plastic or foil wrap, and store in fridge. These last for days, but if you're picky like me, I won't eat anything that's been in the fridge more than 2-3 days  :-)

Keep up with Vegan Dad on his facebook page.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hungarian Flaky/Puff Pastry unyeasted, traditional & veganized (Hajtogatott leveles tészta)

My dad's side of the family came to Canada from Hungary, and like many families, some of our fondest memories were the incredible meals we had together. Food plays such an important part in who we are, and I was fortunate to have a grandmother who cooked and baked traditional Hungarian foods for us. 

When I was in my late teens, maybe early twenties, my grandmother showed me how to make the dough for her almas kifli, which translated means apple crescent pastries. I watched her work, and took notes on a little index card. Years later, I found the card, and decided to give it try as a surprise for my father. Problem was, my grandmother didn't measure a thing...the card simply read: flour, fat, salt, water. Yikes! Over the past couple of years, I've reworked variations of her ingredients and technique, and finally hit the jackpot last week. The dough is as close as I can get to her recipe, and that makes me happy.

Hungarian pastry is robust and filling, nothing delicate or dainty here, so don't be afraid to roll it out thick when making your pastries. Use this dough for jams, apple, poppy seed, or walnut to follow. As for veganizing the recipe, little does anyone know that I have never used butter - I always bake with Earth Balance, a vegan margarine. Use the blocks, not the spreadable kind (2 blocks = 1/2 lb). 

Plan ahead, this recipe takes at least a day or two, lots of time is needed to chill the dough. Not sure if it's worth it? Here's a sneak peak at what the final product looks like in full almas (apple) action. 
Recipe to follow...   :-)

Makes 12-20 pastries, depending on type. I strongly suggest you double the recipe!

Traditional version:               Veganized:

1/2 lb butter, softened           1/2 lb vegan margarine, softened
4 cups flour                            4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt                            1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vinegar                       1 Tbsp vinegar
2 egg yolks                            1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
ice cold water as needed        ice cold water as needed

Start by mixing your 1/2 lb butter/margarine with 1/2 cup of the flour, I use a hand mixer to make things go a little more quickly. Next, cut 3 pieces of parchment paper, and spread out your mixture into 3 thin layers, approximately 3-4 mm thick. Put on a baking tray in fridge for an hour or two to chill. 

When you've put your butter away to chill, start making your dough. The only difference between the traditional and vegan recipes is that the 2 egg yolks are substituted by an additional 1/4 cup vegan margarine, which you should work into the flour with a fork or pastry cutter before mixing with the other ingredients. I actually used a bread mixer for this part, but my grandmother used a good old-fashioned wooden spoon. Mix the remaining ingredients until a smooth elastic dough forms, adding more flour or ice water as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for 4-5 hours, overnight if possible.

Now you're going to work the butter/margarine layers into your dough. Roll up your sleeves, you're going to need to put some muscle in it! Remove 1 butter block from the fridge, let it soften just a little while you roll out your dough. The dough should be rolled out to about 3-4 mm thick, or at least 3 times the size of your butter block. Use a lightly floured surface to roll the dough out, you want to add as little additional flour into the dough as possible. 

Lay the butter in the center of the dough, and fold over edges as pictured. Roll out dough again to three times the size of a butter block, and repeat the folding and rolling again with remaining butter blocks. 

Flour your dough and surface lightly, only as needed.

My grandmother used to refrigerate the dough for an hour or two in between rolling in the butter blocks, 
but I find if you're sort on time it still 
works well if the butter is chilled and you simply roll in all three pieces in the same go. 

Wrap in plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 4-5 hours, or overnight. Do not skip this step! The difference in using the dough right away versus letting it chill thoroughly is incredibly...sure, your pastries still look nice and taste great, but chilling the dough greatly changes the appearance and flakiness of the layers. The last time I made these, I used only 1/2 of the dough right away, and made the second batch a couple of days later - the second batch was incredible, the dough has a hearty crispiness common to Hungarian pastries but still melted in your mouth. I had zero appetite at the time, but still managed to eat two.

I'll post some Hungarian filling recipes soon, but you could use this dough for almost anything. Another key step to beautiful results is to  keep the dough chilled until the very minute you are ready to roll, fill and bake it! Preheat your oven, have your fillings ready.

In the traditional recipe, before baking brush the tops of the pastries with an egg that's been beaten first with a tablespoon of water. For the veganized version, brush with soy milk or leave plain, they'll still be delicious!

Bake pastries at 440-degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Watch your pastry carefully, especially if your oven runs hot - you don't want these to burn. Dust liberally with powdered sugar, if desired. Store in a covered container.

Calorie count? Trust me, you don't want to know. This recipe actually uses less butter than my grandmother's, cause you know, I was trying to keep it light.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hungarian Tomato-Pepper Stew with Seitan Bacon (Lecsó)

Lecsó (leh-cho) is a simple stew of several ingredients favoured in Hungarian cooking - peppers, tomatoes, and onions...and of course, a generous dousing of paprika. When made in the traditional fashion, the onions and peppers are fried in bacon fat until crisp, tomatoes are then added and the whole thing simmered until it resembles a thick tomato stew. There are actually quite a few variations; served with boiled potatoes or cooked with rice or egg barley (tarhonya), served as is, with bread or as a savory pancake filling, thickened with beaten eggs or with a fried egg on top, with bacon or kolbász sausages, and of course, with sour cream if one desires.

Veganizing this recipe was actually quite easy - I used cubes of seitan bacon from this recipe to impart a smoky flavor. It's optional though, you could certainly make this without the bacon. The photo above kinda looks like it's mostly peppers, but that's just the pic, there was plenty of tomato goodness going on. Try to get yellow Hungarian peppers if you can, but otherwise standard green ones will do just fine. This is a very simple dish to make, and can be served as a main course or a side made for a great lazy day lunch.

Splurge on some decent quality Hungarian paprika - the Spanish variation is just not the same. More on that later, remind me to tell you about the time I got into an argument with a Polish butcher (during my omnivore days) over the me on this point.

Makes 4 large servings.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 servings seitan bacon or store-bought equivalent
3 large green peppers, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2-5 Tablespoons sweet and/or hot Hungarian paprika
  *add as much or as little as you like, depends on your own tastes
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
black pepper (if desired)
1/4 cup sour cream of choice

Heat up a skillet or pot, preferably non-stick or ceramic (pictured is an 'Earth Chef' ceramic frying pan, awesome). Cube the seitan bacon and fry in 2 Tbsp of the oil until nicely browned, then remove and put aside. Fry the onions and green peppers in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil until browned, add the garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika and continue to cook for another minute - be careful to not let the paprika burn on the bottom of the pot! Add the tomatoes, put on a lid, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until the veggies are all well-cooked. 

During the last 2 minutes of cooking, throw in your seitan bacon to impart a wonderful smoky flavour. mmmmmm...serve with a Tablespoon of sour cream and sprinkle with paprika.

Per serving: 219 cals, 13g fat, 17g carbs, 312mg sodium, 4g fiber, 11g protein. (PRO40.2/19%,CHO64.1/29%,FAT112/52%)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade bagels - quick method

I have always wanted to master making homemade bagels, and I have to admit I was really pleased with how these turned out. The recipe is fairly simple, but the method of finishing the bagels take a bit of time - about 1.5 to 2 hours, start to finish. Worth it? Yes. And, if you're watching calories like I do, check out the counts below - reasonable portion size means they are far lower in calories than store-bought larger varieties.

This recipe is the "quick method" in that the dough goes together quickly. Other recipes involve using a starter that gets made 24hrs beforehand, kind of like a sourdough bagel, and we'll try those one day soon too. But for now, here's a great simple way to serve up something homemade. Have fun with the various flavour options, pictured here are double-chocolate chip...mmmm...what a way to start the day.

Makes 12 large or 16 medium bagels.

4 cups flour (try 1/2 white, 1/2 spelt or whole wheat)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp quick-rise instant yeast
1.5 cups warm water

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix into a dough, adding just enough water to incorporate all of the flour - the dough should still be fairly stiff. Knead for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, you may still notice some of the yeast speckled throughout the dough - that's ok, it will dissolve eventually. Cut the dough into 12 or 16 equal pieces, depending on how large you want to make them. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Take a piece of the dough, and knead it slightly. Using the palms of your hands, roll out the dough into a long rope. Bring the ends together to make a circle, and squish them together so that they stick. Now slip your hand through the circle, keeping the joined end under your palm, and gently roll it back and forth to smooth out the area that was joined together. Voila! A perfect circle. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Start a large wide pot of water to boil, and turn on your oven to 425 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. I found that the shaping process took the most the time I was done, the first few bagels were risen and ready for boiling. No problem, I boiled and baked in 2 batches. To boil the bagel, take 2-3 bagels and lay them in the boiling water. They will expand as they boil, so don't crowd them. Boil for 1 minute, flip them over, and boil 1 minute more. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove them from the water and allow any excess water to drip off. Lay on baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crisp you like the surface. Cool on a baking rack to allow the bottoms to remain crisp too, if you cool them on the sheet condensation will build up and bottoms will be soft while the tops are crispy. These are super-amazing toasted!

lemon cranberry: add 1-2 Tbsp lemon zest and 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the bowl as you add the ingredients together at the beginning of the process.
flax/sesame/sunflower seed, etc: add 3-4 Tbsp whole or ground seeds to the bowl as you add the ingredients together at the beginning of the process.
blueberry or cherry: yikes, fresh berries will make a huge mess - go with 1/2 cup dried fruit instead, available in the bulk or baking section of your grocery store. A little pricey but what a treat!
cinnamon raisin: add 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins to the bowl as you add the ingredients together at the beginning of the process.
double-chocolate chip: add 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the bowl as you add the ingredients together at the beginning of the process, and when you go to punch down the individual pieces of dough in order to roll them out, add 1 Tbsp of mini chocolate chips per bagel while you knead. Don't add the chocolate chips at the very beginning of the process, they will simply melt when you add in your warm water.

Per large plain bagel: 149 cals, 2g fat, 30g carbs, 196mg sodium, 5g fiber, 5g protein. (PRO19.7/13%,CHO114/76%,FAT16.2/11%)
Per medium plain bagel: 112 cals, 1g fat, 23g carbs, 147mg sodium, 4g fiber, 4g protein. 
**adjust the counts to include additional ingredients if you make one of the variations

Sunday, January 29, 2012

German pretzels (Bretzeln)

I tried pretzels (Bretzeln) for the first time a few months ago, while travelling in Germany with husband. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches made from pretzels from a small food counter in the Nürnberg train was love at first bite. The surface was salty and crisp, the bready center was soft and yummy and delicious. I knew once we returned to Canada that I would have to try making them - the first time, we ate them all on the very same night, every single last one. Sooooo gooooood. 
Here is a modified version that turns out a pretty good Bretzel, but without the traditional use of food-grade lye bath. It does not taste the same, the surface has a little less flavour, but it is simpler and yummy all the same. I plan to order the lye soon, because I do want to make authentic Bretzeln to remind me of our adventures in Germany, but for now these are a great treat and will go well with hot mustard or served up as yummy sammies for lunches. 

Making Bretzeln is a little time-consuming, so it's a good weekend baking task to do between other chores. Well worth the effort, you won't be disappointed!

Makes 10 large pretzels.

1.5 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp malt powder or sugar
3.5 cups of white flour
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 cups warm milk of choice
2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp coarse salt, for sprinkling

Put the yeast, sugar, 2 cups of flour, salt and warm milk in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to work the dough, mix for about 2-3 minutes to activate the yeast. Clean off the beaters, and work with a wooden spoon to mix in the remaining flour. Turn out on to a clean surface dusted with flour. Knead for 4-5 minutes, and shape into a ball. 

Drizzle the oil into a clean mixing bowl, and spread it around the bottom and sides. Place the dough ball into the bowl, and pat the top with the oil on your fingers to cover the exposed surface - this prevents the dough from drying out while it rises. Place in a warm spot for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Turn out the dough on to a clean floured surface, and knead for 1 minute. Cut the dough into 10 equal parts. With your hands, roll each piece of dough back and forth so that it forms a long rope about the thickness of your index finger. To keep things authentic, leave the middle of the rope a bit thicker, this will form a 'Bauch' (belly) at the bottom of the pretzel once formed. Allow the dough to relax for 5 minutes - use the time to start a large pot of water to boil, and to turn your oven on to 425 degrees.

Shaping the pretzels is simple. Place one of the ropes in front of you, take each end in one hand, and bring them together and twist once. Lay the ends down on the 'belly' of the rope, using a bit of water and pressure to make the ends stick. Cut across the belly with a sharp knife. 

To boil the pretzels, place a pretzel on a spatula and lower into the boiling water. Use the spatula to push the pretzel under the water, and hold it there for exactly 20 seconds. Lift the pretzel out of the water, and allow any excess water to drain off. Place on your prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt while the surface is still wet. It's best to boil the pretzels one at a time.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until nice and browned on top. Enjoy!

Per Bretzel: 184 cals, 2g fat, 36g carbs, 350mg sodium, 15g fiber, 5g protein. (PRO12%,CHO80%,FAT8%)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chickpea Swiss Chard Sauté

And we're back! After a couple of months of craziness - which included a change in career, new job, and new work/travel schedule - I'm back to cookin' up some bitchin' food in my little kitchen. Here's a simple but delicious dish, adapted from Plenty, which was given to me by my sister. Wow, will do a review of the book soon, but I can say husband flipped through the book, every page or so said 'make this'/'and this'/'this too'. Gorgeous food, wonderful pics. 

But I digress. My new schedule means a little less time each night to prepare dinner, so meals that can be prepped ahead are a dream. You can chop the veggies, cook the chickpeas, and mince the herbs ahead of time...goes together in about 15 mins, which is mostly the stove doing all the work. Here, I've bulked up the veggies a little, cut back the amount of oil called for in the original recipe, and swapped out yoghurt for sour cream. Yummy lemony chickpea goodness!

Makes 4 hearty servings.

1 large bunch swiss chard
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots, in small dice
1 large white onion, in small dice
1-2 tsp caraway seeds
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 large garlic clove, minced
2-3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, shredded
2 Tbsp fresh mint, shredded
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
1/2 cup sour cream (choose soy if making vegan)
1 Tbsp olive oil, to drizzle

Heat oil in pan, sauté carrots and caraway seeds in olive oil on medium heat for about 4 mins, then add onions to the pan and keep cooking until nicely browned. In the meantime, prepare the swiss chard. Cut the leaves away from the stalks - chop the stalks, and blanch in boiling water for 3 mins. Remove the stalks from the water. Once carrots and onions are nicely browned, add the swiss chard stalks & leaves, cilantro, mint and garlic to the pan and saute until the chard leaves wilt. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice or couscous. Add a dollop of the sour cream, and drizzle with olive oil...sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper....and serve! Light-tasting but filling.

Per serving, not including rice/couscous or side of your choice: 352 cals, 12.3g fat, 49g carbs, 842mg sodium, 16g fiber, 20g protein. (PRO21%,CHO51%,FAT28%)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making a vegan party cake in a pinch... and a little info on breast cancer prevention too!

Yeah, that's right, this cake has "cleve" (cleavage). You probably don't expect to see breast cancer prevention in a post about vegan cake, but here it is! One of my staff recently organized a celebration lunch pot luck for a beloved friend and team member who was nearing her 10-year anniversary of being cancer-free, and it was a fun occasion to make a themed party cake as well as spread the word about prevention. What a great way to launch October, Cancer Awareness Month...

When I asked Mado if she minded sharing her very personal story with my blog readers, she answered of course, since it's rare we share and celebrate good news related to struggles with cancer. To learn more about her story, scroll to the bottom of this post. I've also included a link to learning about breast self-exams, early detection is critical so show your "girls" some support by checking them out regularly, or pass the link along to the women in your life...

And now a little about cake, specifically using packaged mixes to save time. Whipping up a party cake in a jiffy is challenge enough, but if you're hosting an event for someone with particular needs (ie, vegan or intolerant/allergic to dairy) it can be even more intimidating if you don't know that suitable products exist. You may not always have time or even know how to make something from scratch...the bra cake above was made with "accidently vegan" Duncan Hines products. Simply use egg replacer when making your cake mix!

Breast self-exam, check out your girls on a regular basis!

Madeleine's story - a celebration of life...
In was in 2000 when my husband was taking a nursing course. This section happen to be on how to do a breast exam and that night decided he would practice what he had learned that day and discovered I had a lump. The next day I made an appointment to see my family doctor.  As a result of my first appointment, because I never had lumps before, my doctor indicated that it was most likely normal. As I was close to my menstrual cycle, she asked me to wait about 2 to 3 weeks after it was finished and if it was still there, to make a second appointment to which I had to do. She decided to send me for an ultrasound to which I did. As the lump was a certain size, they decided to remove it and have it tested. They removed the lump and no cancer was present at that time, however, the tissue was a little yellow, thus, to be on the safe side, they decided to take more tissue out. It was successful  as they were able to confirmed to me that no cancer was present.

One month after my daughter Bryanna turned one years old, I noticed another lump at the same place. I had to go through an ultrasound, as they did not like what they saw, sent me right away for a mammogram that same day. At that time, they decided to remove the lump and this time it was cancerous. About two weeks later had to go through another surgery and this time removed over 30+ lymph nodes. On this happy note, the cancer had not spread and was located only were the lump had been removed. In light of this, as I was in the first stages of breast cancer, I had to visit a Radiologist and Chemotherapist at the Cancer Centre at the General Campus. They recommended radiation and for chemo, it was not at must, however, as this was not the first time I had lumps and could have more that was not detected, I decide to make that treatment as well.

I received my first chemo treatment one week before X-Mas of 2001 and lost my hair within the first few days. I had to receive 5-6 treatments every three weeks or so, depending if my sells were back to its normal strength. I was very nauseated. My first treatment was not so bad and was spending a couple of hours at the Cancer Centre, however, as the treatment continued, it got worse and by my fifth (5) treatment was spending most of my days at the Cancer Centre because they had to give me medication before and after treatments for nausea, than, to come my nerves and to flush out what needed to be removed from this treatment. Had lost of problems placing the intervenes to which had to put warm towels to help my veins get to the surface. Even thru these treatments managed to still go to work, however, by the fourth (4) treatment, could only work about two (2) days a week. Once finished, I started radiation in May 2002 and had to go three (3) times a week for a period of four (4) weeks. I was lucky, as some people loose their appetite and burns very easily to which I didn't.

The only thing that I have been experiencing with all this ordeal, is that I have lost feeling under my right armpit and sometime, when my arm is swelling and hurting, I have to wear a special arm band to help reduce these systems. Also, I've gone through several cellulites episodes in the last three (3) years to which had to get a central line put in to be able to give me my antibiotics through intervenes.

I can honestly tell you, with all the positive support from my husband, my girls Crystal and Bryanna, my mother, my in-laws and being positive myself, was able to survive this ordeal and do not wish this on anyone and I don't know if I could go trough it again.

I am getting close to celebrating my 9th years being cancer free. I have been blessed with a third daughter named Anastasya to which just celebrated her 7th birthday recently. It is very hard for me, every time I hear of someone been touched by this complicated disease, as it always worries me that it will come back.

Mado, 2010

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Apple Spelt Biscuits

I needed something to act as a conduit for some jam-to-mouth activity. This biscuit served up just fine, caramalized ginger rhubarb jam made it safely into my tum-tum...

Makes 12 small biscuits.

1.5 cups white flour
1.5 cups spelt flour
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar of choice
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup yogurt of choice
1 apple, peeled and grated

Put flours, margarine, salt, sugar and baking powder into a food processor. Pulse until margarine breaks up and a crumbly mixture forms. If not using a processor, simply use a large bowl and break up the margarine with a fork. Add in yogurt and apples, and pulse a few more times until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the container.

Turn out onto to a floured surface, and gently kneed for a minute. Roll out, cut into shapes. Please on a baking sheet that has been oiled with cooking spray. Bake for 18 mins at 350 degrees.

Per biscuit: 141 cals, 5g fat, 22g carbs, 666mg sodium, 3g fiber, 4g protein. (PRO12.9/9%,CHO83.2/59%,FAT45/32%)

Caramalized Ginger Rhubarb Jam

What started off as an accident turned into a delightful treat. I decided to be a little adventuresome and make a jam with crystalized ginger. I turned my back from the stove while the jam simmered, and started cleaning up a little - completely forgetting to check on the jam. The liquid had evaporated quickly, and the fruit was a little scorched to the bottom of the pan. I gave it a quick stir and taste, to discover it was now caramalized and taaaaaasty, I've never had a jam with a sharp ginger kick. Be careful, never take your eye off the jam like I did, but let this one boil down until it turns golden brown and starts sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Makes 5 x 125ml jars.

1/3 cup crystalized ginger, in small dice
rhubarb, thinly sliced - enough to make 4 cups
1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh or concentrate
1 cup raw or white sugar
1/3 pouch liquid pectin

Sterilize jars and lids using this method.

Put fruit, ginger and sugar in a large pot, and boil for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep a careful eye on the jam, let it boil down until the fruit starts to scorch on the bottom of the pan. Use a splatter screen if you have one, or put the lid on partway - the mixture spits as it thickens, so be careful! At this point, if there is foam on top you could skim it off, but frankly I didn't bother. Stir in pectin and boil 1 minute more. By this point, your jam will have darkened considerably, into a golden brown.

Remove mixture from heat, ladle into jars and process in hot water bath following these directions for 10 minutes.

Per Tablespoon: 39 cals, 0g fat, 10g carbs, 2mg sodium, 0g fiber, 0g protein. (PRO0.462%,CHO37.7/97%,FAT0.3/1%)