Protein Pizza

So I hope you all enjoyed your short week last week, because honestly it messed me UP!

I spent most of the week thinking it was the day prior.

My inner dialogue sounded something like this…”Oh shoot I cannot do that on Tuesday cause I have that thing, oh, actually, hold on a second, it’s Wednesday never mind. Oh crap! It’s Wednesday I am supposed to be at that other thing :/”

So here in lies the reason that I am sending out my blog post on Monday instead of my usual Sunday. I really hope this does not mess you up for the rest of the week 😉

Thankfully in the kitchen I don’t adhere to any weekly food schedules, you know like Taco Tuesdays.  So throwing together meals was just as wonderfully spontaneous as most weeks are. I started last week with an idea that I couldn’t let go of and that was that my kids are not getting enough protein. Not that I am jumping on the “protein bandwagon” because as a mostly vegan adult I have no concerns about getting enough protein. My kids however are another story. If you let them, kids will very quickly (and without warning) jump into a “food rut”.  Sticking with what they know, or like, can somehow turn into a less than colorful plate…Brown rice pasta with butter or cheese pizza (both non-dairy, of course)…neither of which carry alot of protein!

Well, until now  🙂

I am a huge lover of beans. I could eat them at every meal and usually try to sneak them in to a few dishes throughout the week. But more often than not, I find them carefully removed and resting on the side of my kids plates 😦 My heart breaks a little each time.

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On Tuesday this week I was whipping up a homemade pizza sauce for dinner and a tiny little light bulb went off in my head. Why not hide the beans in the sauce? Brilliant! (my inner dialogue said) I had some fresh white beans in the fridge so I threw them right into the food processor with the rest of the sauce. Could it really be that easy? I felt a little like Jessica Seinfeld 🙂

Up until this point no one is aware of any of my deceptive behaviours and watching them inhale their pizza was enough to make me smile. Because the sauce wasn’t the only thing that I “rigged” with protein 😉 I also substituted some of the white flour with quinoa flour and it was completely undetectable.

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This sauce is also great as a pasta sauce or shoved into a quesadilla

But don’t be fooled by the veggie pizza pictures…those were for me. The kids still want their “cheese” pizza, but at least I know that I have controlled the amount of sugar, salt and protein that they are eating with this homemade pizza sauce. And that is a small victory that I feel good about 🙂

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Have a great week!

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Protein Pizza Sauce

1- 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1-14oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 tsp sriracha (optional)

  • Add all ingredients into a food processor and combine until smooth

Protein Pizza Dough

Prep time: about 1 hour

2 cups warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups organic unbleached white pastry flour

1 cup quinoa flour

  • Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees for 10 mins and turn it off.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let sit until the mixture begins to bubble, about 5-10 mins.
  • Add the salt and olive oil to the mixture. Slowly add the pastry flour. When the dough starts to thicken, use your hands to mix in the quinoa flour and knead until smooth. Place the dough in a large oven-safe bowl that has been lightly oiled and cover with plastic. Set the dough inside the oven until it has doubled in size , about an hour.
  • When the dough has expanded, place a floured flat surface and roll out the dough.

From here, the sky is the limit with whatever toppings you enjoy most! On this pizza I have added grilled zucchinis, chopped orange bell peppers, steamed asparagus ribbons and finished with Herb de Provence cashew nut cheese.

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Best Stuffing EVER!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

However it is that you celebrate or acknowledge this holiday, one thing seems to be a common thread amongst us all and that is appreciation!

It’s a beautiful thing.

And what’s easier to appreciate than good food? Well, good food prepared by someone else! I don’t get to say this very often (because I truly enjoy creating and prepping food) but last night I was totally spoiled by my dear friend Theresa’s amazing holiday meal…and I didn’t even lift a finger 🙂

No exaggeration, this stuffing was phenomenal. At one point towards the end of the meal I was so stuffed I thought I might roll myself home and yet I involuntarily reached over to the dish of stuffing and scooped myself another helping. Now that is appreciation. Sweet, unapologetic appreciation 😉

It was so good in fact, that I couldn’t leave without getting the recipe.  Then I woke up this morning and headed to the grocery store to pick up the supplies I needed to make it for dinner tonight. I tweaked a few ingredients to make it totally vegan (replacing the butter) and substituted a sourdough loaf.  It turned out just as delicious as Theresa’s version so I would say this recipe is fool-proof!

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The oyster mushrooms are definitely a highlight of this stuffing. If you have never worked with oyster mushrooms you will probably be surprised to find them right beside your less-expensive mushrooms in most supermarkets. These sweet mushrooms grow on trees and are harvested in the fall. They are extremely versatile (ideal for soups, stir-frys, stuffing) and their sweet aroma is not lost in the cooking process.

But let’s not sugar coat this, stuffing is just well-seasoned and decorated bread! In all it’s glory, this stuffing is a sweet and savoury dish that should be enjoyed once (or possibily twice) a year without guilt.

I hope this recipe has found you in time to share it with your own family feast this year but if not then save it, or pin it, or do something so that you can impress everyone with your mad cooking skills at your next holiday meal!!!  

Enjoy the long weekend in whatever way that brings you appreciation of your family, your friends, food, oh and lets not forget wine…we should not forget to show appreciation of a good bottle of wine 😉

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Rustic Bread Stuffing w/dried cranberries, hazelnuts and oyster mushrooms

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Loaf of rustic bread

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

1lb (500g) oyster mushrooms, stem trimmed, torn into strips

2/3 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts (to toast, place on baking sheet, bake at 350 for 14 to 18 mins, stirring half way)

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp finely grated orange zest

2 cups vegetable broth

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  • Heat the oven to 375. Oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Put the cranberries in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand 15 mins; drain.
  • Remove the crust from the bread and cut the bread into 3/4-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine the bread, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 mins.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350
  • Melt the Earth Balance in a 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 1 to 2 mins.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, mix the bread, cranberries, mushroom-shallot mixture, hazelnuts, parsley, chives, thyme and orange zest. Stir in the broth. Toss well to combine; the bread should absorb most of the broth.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing in the prepared dish and cover with foil. Bake for 5 mins; then remove the foil and bake until crusty and golden, about 35 mins.

Make Ahead: Combine all the ingredients except the broth up to 4 hours ahead. Add the broth, put the stuffing in the and hold at room temperature, covered, up to 1 hour before baking.

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Autumn Chili

Hello foodie friends 🙂

I intended on posting this recipe last week while it was still technically September soups month here on Fig and Basil, but somehow the weekend got away from me 😦 I feel a sense of guilt when I have been away from writing for too long. Not that I assume you are all fading away to nothing from lack of food inspiration but I trust that you at the very least look forward to them!

And if I could place blame for a moment, I would have two words…Breaking. Bad.

I finally caught up with the rest of the planet and began binging in this series. I am hooked and only half way through Season 4 (so nobody tell me what happens ;)) At this point I am convinced that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are merely characters played by Walt and Jess to throw us off their real identities! But there is no need to indulge in my crazy

Fall is definitely here and surrounding us all with change. Change in the air, change in the trees, change in our clothes and if your immunity health has also changed (for the worse) then you are not alone. Almost everyone I come into contact with these days is getting a cold, in the midst of a cold or just getting over a damn cold.  The writing is on the wall, this time of year it is so crucial to take care of your health!

Besides getting a regular 7-9 hours of sleep every night and drinking a tonne of clean, filtered water, the single most important thing is your diet. So lets focus on what is beneficial to our immune systems.  It’s quite simple really, you cannot get enough of seasonal fruits and veggies this time of year.  And Mother Nature is no dummy! It is no coincidence that it’s harvest time for most fruits and veggies. Apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, beans, kale, pears…everything your body needs is being provided exactly at the right time. But lets not confuse the pumpkin spice latte as a seasonal necessity 😉

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Chili is definitely a recipe that has been around the block a few times. Everyone has their version and it has been tweaked a thousand times. Therefore I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but perhaps provide you with an inspiration to add another ingredient to a well-loved dish. Acorn squash is a perfect pairing for chili and provides a huge boost of nutritional benefits. This winter squash not only has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and insulin-regulating properties but for this time of year it is an awesome source of Vitamin C.  And as an added bonus acorn squash is a great source of fibre and low in calories.

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I couldn’t make this next recipe more autumn-ish if I tried 🙂

The colours and the ingredients scream FALL!!!

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Autumn Chili w/acorn squash

Prep time: 45 mins

Serves: approx. half of the Breaking Bad cast (6-8 badasses)

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 med yellow onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

3 portobello mushrooms, chopped

15-20 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried thyme

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces

2- 28oz cans of high-quality tomatoes (I use one crushed tom and one whole peeled tom but use whatever combo you like)

1- 28oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 whole cinnamon stick

1/8 cup raw sugar

2 avocados, peeled and cubed

handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

  • heat olive oil on medium heat in your best soup pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3-5 mins.
Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

  • add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 mins. Toss in thyme, cumin and chili powder and stir.
  • add squash, stir and cook for about 3-5 mins.
  • finally add in the remaining ingredients (except for avocado and cilantro) plus using one of the tomato cans add a half a can of fresh clean water. Turn up temperature to med-high until you get a gentle boil. Place on lid, lower heat down to med-low and cook for about 15 mins. Remove cinnamon stick and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Serve in bread bowls and finish with fresh chopped avocado and cilantro.

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