Muhamarra

A few years ago when I was in school taking studying Holistic Nutrition, I met a beautiful chef who shared the same love of food as I do (albeit not vegan food but I adore her nonetheless).  Her name is Christina and among many other things she is a Red Seal chef, Holistic Nutritionist and operates a gorgeous blog  www.honeyandvanilla.com

Throughout my time at CSNN she introduced me to several simple and delicious recipes. I had never experienced Muhamarra before she passed on the recipe and I was over the moon excited once I tried it. This dip works with anything- cucumbers, baked sweet potato medallions, crackers, bread, whatever!

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Pomegranates are a fruit that contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to improve the skin, bone quality, digestion, cardiovascular health and much more!!!

I have used this spread numerous times for different types of get togethers or holiday parties and it is perfect for this time of year. What screams HOLIDAYS more than pomegranate?…aside from a spiced rum and holly nog 😉

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So please do not skip out on the pomegranate molasses. If you don’t know already it has so many uses and tastes delicious. Buy the large bottle (stick with me) and I will help you figure out how to use it!

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Muhamarra

Created by HoneyandVanilla.com

1.5 cups walnuts (lightly roasted)

12oz jar roasted red pepper (or if roasting yourself then use 2 bell peppers)

1/4 cup EVOO

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried chili flakes

salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt. Allow  to rest in fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Cut up you favorite veggies or pita bread and serve on the side.

Quick Tip: Scoop muhamarra dip into a large Ziploc bag and then cut a small opening in one corner to create a piping bag!

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To create the sweet potato medallions I used a thin sweet potato to start, peeled it and then cut into equal slices. Lay them on a baking sheet coated with a small amount of olive oil and bake at 350 for approx. 20-25 mins (turning half way through)

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Also great served simply as a dip for raw veggies…

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Smoked Tofu Rice Wraps

So we have been in a bit of a heat wave this week. It has been steady at around 30 degrees for most of the week and that is a wee bit hot for me. I am more of a 21-23 degree kind of girl but my veggie garden and flowers are loving it so I will put up with it…that is until the colder weather sets in and then I will find a different temperature to complain about 😉

I have been trying to encourage myself to take my own advice and find dishes that do not require the stove or even the BBQ for that matter! (Did I mention it was HOT?)

Plus my lettuce is fully ready in my garden so they are continually calling out for me to eat them. Fresh lettuce from the garden requires almost no preparation. A little olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and some salt & pepper is all that it needs. This side can accompany almost any main dish and for this rice wrap meal it is perfect.  My favourite lettuce combo is butter lettuce and arugula plus a small handful of hemp seeds for a little crunch and some much needed manganese, magnesium and iron.

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Eating raw foods is SO beneficial to your body. Raw foods contain vitals elements of the Earth and are essential in a healthy digestive tract.  I admire those that can incorporate a larger portion of their diet to raw foods however the best that I can maintain is about 20% of raw food. However there is no need to pull out your calculator and become one of those people! Just check in with yourself every once in awhile and ask yourself when was the last time your meal was uncooked. If its been a while then plan for a hearty salad for lunch tomorrow or revisit some of your favourite raw dinner recipes. Don’t forget my Pad Thai  with kelp noodles recipe or my Arugula Cashew Cream Sauce. Or how about these Smoked Tofu Rice Wraps?

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You don’t need your chef’s papers to roll rice wraps and they definitely are not as difficult as sushi to construct. Rice paper is much more forgiving and extremely inexpensive so even if you get a tear you may be able to hide it or just toss it and start again. You will need a large dinner plate filled with warm water to rehydrate the wrap before you begin. I usually leave the rice paper in the water for about 1-2 minutes then lift and allow the water to drip off slightly before rolling. But they certainly do not need to be dry as any remaining water will be absorbed into the rice paper by the time you are ready to eat.

A few key points that I have found to help in the rolling process is to start with your ingredients piled closer to one end and then ensure that you pull the sides as tight as you can before you roll. Other than that, it only takes 1 or 2 tries to really get the hang of it.

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Your choice of filling is really up to you but I would highly recommend some smoked tofu for substance… well, also for the incredible flavour! Smoked tofu is readily available wherever you purchase your tofu and is a ready-to-eat product. I have become obsessed with it and I am now finding myself cutting it directly from the block as a snack.  In these rolls I have used carrots, cucumbers, yellow bell peppers, smoked tofu, cilantro and basil leaves. Be sure to take the time to chop everything thin as it makes for a more enjoyable bit. If you have a mandolin (you know the one you purchased years ago thinking that you would always use it and never have) then this is the time to pull it out!

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Lets not forget about  THE DIPPING SAUCE, the single most important component of this meal. If you do it properly then you should be picking up the side dish, putting it directly to your mouth and drinking it…you know, like when you are finished your cereal and cannot bare to leave the sugary milk behind in the bowl and don’t have the self-control to just use your spoon 🙂

There are a few store bought dips that are pretty good if you would like to make this meal even easier but why not make your own?

Here is a recipe for a dip that I like to use for my rice wraps;

Spicy Peanut Ginger Dip

1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce (or soy-free coconut aminos)

2 tbsp natural peanut butter, crunchy or smooth it doesn’t matter

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili garlic sauce (or add 2 tsp if you like it spicier)

1 tsp ground ginger

2 droppers of stevia *you could use 1 tbsp of honey or 1 tbsp of agave if you want also

2 tbsp water

  • combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together and then pour directly into your mouth! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Eating…Vacation-style!

Greetings from Tofino!

I feel like this is more of a postcard than a blog post but lets just run with it 😉

We have been here almost two weeks and life is darn good on this side of the our beautiful country. The weather has been slowly improving however I am just about done with having to suit up 2 kids in wetsuits (somehow they miraculously turn into jellyfish when I try to push through their limbs…arghhh). However any complaints out here is better than a great day elsewhere!

I have had alot of free time in the evenings to indulge in fun things (other than being in the kitchen) and I love to share things that I think are awesome! I finished this book, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, you must read. I finished the entire season of Netflix’s newest show Orange Is The New Black, you must watch…but be advised this is not for minors…or prudes 🙂 I also discovered one of the most fantastic food blogs EVER, Thug Kitchen www.thugkitchen.com…you must check it out. Again not for children since every post is laced with “bad” words but totally hilarious and full of great information.

For this trip we have been staying at a house on Chesterman Beach and the kitchen set up is pretty fantastic considering I have slightly high standards in that department.  I realized that I really enjoy stocking up a new kitchen, determining the essentials and then creating dishes from the basics.  Every morning I bike into the closest market and pick up a few fresh items like avocados or cilantro for the days meals.  It’s a way of life I could get used too 🙂

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Most mornings have started with the most amazing bread ever, from 600 Degree Bakery, along with avocado slices and a flax milk tea latte. The kids are finding their own way around the kitchen and grabbing fruit or raisin toast for breakfast when they are ready. We seem to be splitting our time between the ocean and our new favorite hot spot, Kennedy Lake.  So packing beach lunches into a mini cooler has become a routine this past week.  I have been making everything from smoked tofu rice wraps, tortillas stuffed with avocado, rice and hummus to carrot & apple coleslaw with chick peas.

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Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest I have stumbled upon a super easy and tasty substitution for pasta that I have made for dinner a few times. Sweet potato “noodles” are quicker to make than regular noodles, are totally gluten-free and look WAY prettier 😉 The cooking instructions are simple: using a vegetable peeler (or a julienne peeler of you have one handy) peel sweet potato, heat a small amount of oil/butter in a large frying pan (I used Earth Balance), toss the potato and some sea salt into the pan and sauté for approximately 5-10 mins depending on the thickness of your sweet potato pieces.  Done.  You can eat just as it is (which is the way the kids prefer) or add a tomato sauce. You’re welcome!

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But I do not want to mislead you to think that I have been making ALL of our food on my vacation! We have been eating out plenty…more than we ever do in our regular life. My new favorite eating spot in Tofino, Sobo. I have read numerous article about their delicious approach to sophisticated flavours in a very laid back setting and as it turns out everything I read was true!  Their lentil burger with kale chips was out of this world good and the polenta fries were inspiring. My favorite dish so far  is the Cold Noodle salad which is a combination of Soba noodle, peanut Thai dressing, fresh veggies and a gorgeous greens blend that they refer to as the “Nanoose Edibles”. But an honourable mention to their Tofu pockets with Shiitake  mushrooms. Yum!

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The things coming out of their kitchen should be available to everyone, in any city, and any country. Local, seasonal, whole foods converted into delicious combinations by clearly talented people…what a clever idea!

I can’t forget to mention another new obsession here in Tofino and that is the newly opened juice and smoothie joint, The Juicery. Located just steps away from the Tacofino truck, The Juicery offers amazing fruit and veggie juices and totally delicious smoothies. The bonus is the options. You can substitute coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or add Vega One protein powder, spirulina or even bee pollen. If you are here then you need to pay them a visit.

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So as my love affair with Tofino continues, I shall be heading home this week to the one place I love more than anywhere…my kitchen!

See you next week.

Emily

Chickpea of the Sea

Hello Foodies!

I just want to take a minute to check-in and express my gratitude for all of you out there that have stuck with me thus far.  I have “officially” been at this for 10 weeks now and I could not have even imagined how much joy and passion it has sparked in me.  I genuinely look forward to selecting, prepping and photographing each week’s recipe.  It has literally turned into a part-time job for me 🙂 I have also learned quiet a bit about myself in these past weeks. I have learned that I use ALOT of beans in my cooking! Until now I hadn’t really thought much about it. A big surprise for me is how my blog has rekindled my love of writing. But probably the biggest lesson that I have taken away from this experience is that even though each blog is like my “baby”, I need to send them out into cyberspace and allow them to fall where it may. Remembering that some recipes with be more popular than others. This lesson has proven more of a challenge for me.

Having said that, I really encourage you to ask me any questions going forward about ingredients or cooking methods. Your comments help me to stay connected to what is happening on the other end of my blogs and I appreciate your interest. As I said, I spend a fair amount of time each week making sure the recipes are exactly right.  I am a free spirited cook, which means I generally throw things together without any structure or recipe per se. This is not a habit that is easily broken. If I have missed anything in a recipe or didn’t explain something properly, let me know (remember you are my recipe testers for my highly successful future cookbook!!!)

So onward and upward.

This week’s recipe is by far my most favourite lunch right now. Yes, I also have a few lunch recipes! Did you think I only prepared dinners?

I make this salad at least twice a week and keep it in the fridge for a quick snack. This should sound (and taste) very familiar to most of you. The only difference from its original form is the main ingredient. Instead of using canned tuna, I use chick peas.

For the most part, when I am in a situation where I explain to someone that I don’t eat meat the response is pretty good. People are becoming more aware of the health risks of eating animals that are pumped full of antibiotics, farmed at rapid speeds and slaughtered in inhuman ways. However, it still surprises people when I say that I also do not eat fish. Fish? Why would you not eat fish? They are lean, high in Omega’s and a good source of protein!!! I always find it harder to explain because, for me, it’s more of an environmental issue and it varies from fish to fish. So if you are interested in hearing what I have to say about tuna then read on. If you are tired of my “ranting” then skip ahead to the most delicious plant-based, deli-style sandwich you have ever had!

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Going, going, gone…

Tuna species are amongst the most commercially valuable fish on Earth. Critically, many tuna stocks are fully exploited or overfished. The WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) has made it their mission to transform the global tuna market and to improve the way tuna fisheries are managed. They have focused there efforts to the 7 most vulnerable species of tuna : the Atlantic, Southern and Pacific bluefin, Bigeye, Yellowfin, Albacore and Skipjack (which is the main supply of canned/processed tuna). According to the WWF the world tuna catches, for just canned tuna, have increased by almost 1 million tonnes (yes that’s right ONE MILLION tonnes) over the last 30 years. With a global total of all legally fished tuna coming in at approximately 9.5 tonnes per year.  The advanced technologies in fishing gear has played an important role in the increased tuna fishing. Even the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), who to-date have been extremely conservative about implementing any tuna bans, acknowledges their concern on their website as it relates to tuna fisheries stating “With the fully and over-exploited status of most stocks of tuna, more concerns related to tuna conservation and fisheries management are likely to arise in the future. ” So while the WWF and FAO are doing their part to ensure our oceans and fish are protected and restored, the fisheries are only responding to the demand and if we lower the demand then we have the control to reverse this situation.

The bottom line is that the ocean is a delicate and amazing ecosystem that requires everything to be in balance.  This substantial increase in the fishing of tuna inevitably affects that balance and it is not far fetched to say that some species of tuna may become completely extinct in the near future.  The ocean is a vital component of our Earth’s well being and that directly affects you and your children and their children, etc. We are creatures of habit but we are also intelligent and free thinking. It’s in our best interest to explore new foods and moderate the foods that we consume too much of.

Chick peas, as I have said in previous blogs, are amazing little beans that are packed full of nutritional vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked chick peas contain 19g of protein, 12g of dietary fibre and have zero cholesterol.

So if you are a lover of tuna salad sandwiches then I am asking you to explore something new with this recipe. I would encourage you to make your  “Chickpea of the Sea” sandwich the way you would normally make a tuna salad. After mashing the chickpeas, the palette is open for creativitiy.  Some like to add crunch with pickles, onions and celery (like I do), while others might prefer a simpler variation with only mayo, salt and pepper. But do not skip out on the sea vegetables for this dish, the are an important part of the flavour.  You may be surprised to know that this creamy, crunchy and “fishy” salad tastes almost exactly like a tuna salad…and you can enjoy it with a clear conscious!

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Spread this liberally on your favourite whole grain bread, use it as a dip for rice crackers, or to make it gluten-free and scoop it onto a fresh, crispy Gala apple slice to satisfy your 3pm hunger. It also tastes incredible as a grilled sandwich (aka Tuna Melt).

Enjoy.

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“Chickpea of the Sea” Salad

Prep Time: 15 mins

1 can (14oz) Chickpeas, drained and rinsed…or if you are cooking from dried then use 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soak, cook and let cool (if you have forgotten or would like to try it out, checkout my “Garbanzo for Apples” recipe to see detailed instructions on how to use dried chickpeas)

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1/2 small red onion, chopped,

2 large dill pickles, finely chopped

2 tbsp of pickle juice (you know that delicious stuff that your pickles are chillin’ in)

2 tbsp ground sea vegetables- I use the Nori and Dulse combo again for this one (refer back to the “Pantry Curried Lentils” recipe for this concoction)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

juice 1/2 a lemon

3 tbsp Veganniase (or your mayo of choice)

1 tsp dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

  • Place chickpeas in medium size mixing bowl and use a potato masher to mash the chickpeas until about 80% mashed. Large chucks are okay.
  • Throw all remaining ingredients into bowl and mix thoroughly. Ideally you want to put this in the fridge for about an hour to incorporate all of the flavours into the chickpeas.
  • If you are going for the “Tuna Melt” then add your favourite dairy or non-dairy cheese between 2 pieces of bread and grilled like you would a grilled cheese. Deeeee-lish!

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