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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Eggnog Biscotti

Hellllooooo!

I am still here I promise!

This whole moving thing has proven to be more disruptive than I originally anticipated. Just trying to establish myself in my kitchen has been a part-time job. So throughout the last several weeks I have been relying on my “old” and favourite recipes. Not a lot of new creations happening for me right now but luckily old favourites are comforting and easy. There has been a lot of avocados and pasta dishes in my mouth lately 🙂

As I write this it has occurred to me that perhaps there is only so much creativity that can happen in one person’s brain at one time. Moving into a new space has required a certain level of creativity but I am also re-creating my work situation and well… actually my entire life situation! It’s exciting and at times, overwhelming.

My taste buds are looking forward to getting back in the kitchen to create new dishes for myself and my family. Until then I have decide to share with you a few of my favourite recipes from other bloggers, foodies and/or food professionals that are perfect for this time of year.

If you are a vegan then you need no introduction to ohsheglows.com. Angela posts incredible food ideas on her blog and will someday very soon be in every vegan’s cookbook collection. Her Eggnog Biscotti recipe is one that I have been making over the past few years for my loved ones at this time of year. When I say it is amazing, I truly mean it is A-MAZ-ING! I make as many batches as I can and yet still I always seem to not have enough. I always hide a few pieces for myself and only hand them out to a select few at Christmas time.

On a very important side note: If you have previously received these from me and are not receiving any this year, don’t worry, we are (probably) still good! I decided a few weeks ago to do only what is necessary to get me through the holiday season this year…and baking didn’t make the cut. So I apologize if you were hoping for a batch but I should be back to my MarthaStewart-self by next Christmas 😉

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do (actually maybe you can control yourself and eat a few less than I do).

I will be back in a few days to share another holiday recipe…

Vegan Eggnog Crunch Biscotti

Crisp, nutty, and chewy, with a lovely eggnog flavour, this biscotti will have you in the mood for the holidays in no time. In addition to using toasted nuts, I added some dried sweetened cranberries to give it a nice chewy texture. I bought some rectangular holiday tins from Loblaws, but you can also find tins at Michaels and some bulk food stores like Bulk Barn. It makes a lovely gift! See below for nutritional info.

Yield: approx. 17 pieces

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts, toasted (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 2.5 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (or 1.5 tsp pre-ground)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp pre-ground)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup + 1.5 tbsp vegan eggnog (I use Vitasoy Holly Nog)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Eggnog Glaze:

  • 1 cup organic icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegan eggnog
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp pre-ground)
  • tiny pinch of kosher salt & cinnamon, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 and toast chopped nuts for 10 mins. Remove and cool. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet to dry and mix with a spoon until it starts to come together. Now use your hands to squeeze together the dough and mix it completely, being careful not to overmix.

3. Divide the dough in half and place on prepared baking sheet. With palm of hand, press down each half to flatten. Place a piece of parchment paper over top of one half and roll it out into a log (approx 10 inches by 5 across and 1/2 inch thick), using your hand to shape as necessary. Repeat with the second log.

4. Score the logs with a knife and bake for 30 mins at 350F. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 325F. Cool for 5 mins on stovetop and then slice the logs. Gently flip pieces onto one side and bake at 325F for 10 mins. Remove from oven, flip, and bake another 5 mins at 325F. If you like the biscotti SUPER crisp, bake another 5 mins.

5. Cool for 1 hour on a baking rack and then store in a glass container. To prepare glaze, whisk all glaze ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Place glaze into a baggie, snip off the very end, and “pipe” over top.

Nutritional Info (makes 17 servings, per biscotti, without glaze): 161 kcals, 7 grams fat, 22 grams carbs, 1 gram fibre, 10 grams sugar, 2 grams protein.

(with eggnog glaze, makes 17 servings): 190 kcals, 7 grams fat, 31 grams carbs, 1 gram fibre, 17 grams sugar, 2 grams protein.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/12/06/vegan-eggnog-crunch-biscotti-giveaway/#ixzz2nYyoo0e6

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Who doesn’t LOVE homemade muffins!?!

I do.

Now if someone could just bring me some that would be fantastic! 🙂

So here I am in my new home trying to get my life back to its new normal. I have spent the last week and a half painting and moving. That’s right I said MOVING (who likes moving?…oh ya no one).  I am exhausted but content. Hopefully within this next week I will get back to doing what I do…sharing food ideas on Instagram (@figbasil) and creating new recipes with you all. I am looking forward to sharing some holiday sweets and appetizers in December.

Until then, my lovely friend Stacey has given me an amazingly delicious looking muffin recipe that she created just for my Fig and Basil readers. A huge thank you to Stacey for this!

Check it out and let me know how it turns out. Also go find Stacey’s blog at http://www.staceydeering.com

Have a great week! Emily

Stacey’s post:

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Anyone who has children knows that baking of some kind is almost a parental requirement, whether it’s a birthday cake, cookies or muffins. While some muffins can be loaded with sugar, refined oil and refined flour this recipe is the exact opposite. I try and find ways around refined ingredients without compromising taste.

This pumpkin bran muffin is dairy free, wheat free, gluten free and low fat. The quinoa and almond flour are high protein flours and loaded with oat bran, they are high in fiber. Oat bran is a soluble fiber which helps to clear the digestive system. The pumpkin puree adds a great nutritional boost, high in vitamin A and beta carotene.

Sweetened with pure maple syrup and molasses, unrefined sources, they are not overly sweet. I like to serve them with coconut butter, which is naturally sweet, and warm tea.

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Vegan, Gluten Free, No Refined Sugar

Yield: 12 muffins

Author: Stacey Deering, RHN, staceydeering.com

Ingredients

1 cup oat bran (gluten free if required)

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

6 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons molasses

3/4 cup almond milk

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

pumpkin seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper muffin liners in a 12 hole muffin pan.
  2. Combine the oat bran, quinoa flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground flaxseed with warm water, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add in the pumpkin puree, molasses, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mixed well. Stir in the raisins.
  5. Divide the batter equally into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

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Cauliflower Risotto

Change is a comin’

My reality right now is that I have a lot of balls in the air combined with ALOT of change happening. And for the most part I am okay with change and I am doing my best to embrace it. Not all change is bad and in fact, my life is a perfect example of difficult change and amazing change happening simultaneously. It’s all good!

Regardless of what’s going on in my life or your life, fuelling our body properly is an important part of being and feeling our best. And by best I mean feeling energized throughout the day, staying focused and never feeling deprived of food 🙂

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So this week I am excited to share with you a recipe that tastes amazing and will leave you feeling full of energy…Cauliflower Risotto! Cauliflower is one of those “traditional” veggies that maybe you relate to bad veggie trays or perhaps you believe that in order to properly enjoy cooked cauliflower it needs to be covered in a cheese sauce. No way!

Cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable and there are tonnes of modern recipes popping up all over food blogs. It is rich in potassium, folic acid and vitamin C , is about 25% protein and is among the cancer-preventive cruciferous vegetables.

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Pair this dish with something green to balance out its richness. I made it this week with a simple persimmon salad but it would also be fantastic with sautéed greens like kale or spinach.

Hope you are enjoying the first signs of winter. Because lets face it, regardless of whether or not you enjoy change, it will happen anyway 😉

Bye for now

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Cauliflower Risotto

Serves 4

Prep time: 30 mins

Ingredients

3 lbs. cauliflower (about 1 large head)

1/4 cup Earth Balance or whichever butter substitute you use

1/4 cup bread crumbs, I used 4 slices of GF bread toasted and then pulsed in food processor

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cashew cream (1/2 cup raw cashew soaked for 30mins, drain & rinse, blend in blender with fresh water until you get the consistency you desire)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 tsp white truffle oil (optional)

sea salt and pepper to taste

  • Trim core and cut leaves from cauliflower. break into chunks, then pulse in food processor until broken into tiny florets
  • In a large frying pan, melt 1 tbsp butter over med-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring until toasted, about 3 minutes. Add thyme leaves and toss to combine. Pour into small bowl. Wipe frying pan clean
  • Add remaining butter into pan along with cauliflower, shallots and vegetable broth. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring often until cauliflower is just tender, 5-7 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often until all liquid is absorbed, another 5-7 minutes
  • Stir in cashew cream and nutritional yeast and heat until boiling. Remove from heat and drizzle in truffle oil (if using). Season with sea salt and pepper
  • Serve in bowls and top with toasted bread crumbs

Halloween Hangover

Does anybody else wake up the day after Halloween and think “What did I just DO last night?” It quickly sets in that I willingly dressed my kids up in a ridiculous costume and encouraged them to fill there pillow case with as much candy as they could grab. All the while participating in the madness by stuffing handfuls of candy into my neighbours kids!!!…and there was NO alcohol involved in this scenario!

Today a friend reminded me of something that is an important issue especially the day after Halloween (and no I am not talking about how many mini chocolates bars I consumed!),  I am talking about  Red food dye.

I have blogged about this previously and so for some of you this might just be a reminder as well. And if this is the first time you are hearing about the dangers of our children consuming red food dye, then I am excited to be a part of your new awareness!

Here is a great article by Dr. Mercola on artificial food dyes;

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx

For most of us at parents, this time of year is a tricky time to maneuver through. On the one hand it feels so amazing to watch our kids get all ramped up on the idea of collecting candy. The wonderment in their eyes is almost too much cuteness per square inch. However on the other hand, we cringe at the realization that there is now more junk food in our home in one night than the total amount that passes through in an entire YEAR! We set ourselves up and then suffer the consequences of experiencing the worst versions of our kids for the next few weeks.

And WHY?…oh ya,  because they are stuffed into an adorable animal suit with only a couple of chubby cheeks sticking out and they all of a sudden believe that you have single-handedly created this utopia where fairies bounce down our streets and adults toss Smarties out their front door 🙂

Okay so I am being a total bummer right now 😦 For the most part we make it through each year and our children are no worse for wear. But lets not kid ourselves, red food dye is no joke. It is detrimental to our children’s health and it should be avoided at all costs. I recently read this article in the Huffington Post about this very thing…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-f-jacobson/mms-artificial-dyes_b_4116130.html

The most surprising part for me was the understanding that a few major candy manufacturers actually have an alternative to petroleum based red food dye in their products. Since red food dye is banned in Europe companies like Mars use natural food dyes for their European supply. What? Is it that simple. Why then are we not demanding the same treatment!?!

It only takes a few minutes to rummage through your Halloween candy and pick out the items that have this mood-altering, headache-making, hyperactivity-causing ingredient. And if you are not willing to remove the Skittles or M&Ms or Smarties then at least educate your kids to take out the red ones when then rip open the package…but seriously, blue food dye is not much better! Sorry if I have ruined your buzz 😦

I wish all you parents out there peace and patience during these difficult times 😉

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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Creamy Potato & Bacon Soup

When I was a kid growing up on farm in Ontario our meals consisted mostly of things that we grew, raised or got for free from other farmers. If my memory serves me correctly, there was not a day that went by that I did not have to peel potatoes. Potatoes worked for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they were cheap and we had ALOT of them. I used to think it was a form of torture to get your child to peel that many potatoes. Fried, baked, boiled or mashed I learned how to do anything with a potato. Back then I swore to myself that I would never, ever, ever eat potatoes as an adult and I would certainly never make my kids peel them!

(Okay so I was a bit dramatic!)

Flash forward 30 years and I still eat potatoes often…but truth be told I look for every opportunity to not have to peel a potato.

Potatoes are rich in nutrients, low in sodium, low in calories and negligible in fats. These amazing tubers are approximately 2/3 starch carbohydrate and about 10% protein. They have good amounts of Vitamin C and B’s and high in potassium. And lets not forget how easy they are to grow yourself. In my veg garden the potatoes take the least amount of maintenance and are extremely hardy. This year I planted a variety of red potatoes and harvest time has come just in time for this recipe 🙂

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If my dad was still around I have no doubts that he would have loved this soup. Creamy, full of potatoes and all of the addicting flavours of traditional bacon. My dad loved bacon but unfortunately probably a little too much 😦  Admittedly, this particular “food group” was a hard one for me to let of when I initially eliminated animals from my diet. So when I started to read the blogging buzz around coconut bacon a few months back I was so excited. Could this really work? I was skeptical but eager to find out for myself.

Side note: If you stumbled upon this recipe thinking that I would actually use real bacon then I am sorry to disappoint. No pigs were used in the making of this soup!…not even to peel the potatoes 😦

Needless to say I discovered that Coconut Bacon was amazing. Its crispy and salty and delicious. What more could a vegan girl ask for?  It is super easy to make and requires only a little bit of patience (for the soak time) so no reason not to try this for yourself…

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Coconut Bacon

3 cups unsweetened large flake coconut

1/4 gluten-free soy sauce (or you can substitue soy-free Coconut Aminos…duh! coconut and coconut aminos are just brothers from anotha mother…or sisters from different misters :))

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp liquid smoke

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

black pepper

  • Mix together all the ingredients (except the coconut) either in a small food processor or a handheld emulsifier.
  • Put your coconut in a closable container. Pour over the marinade and gently toss to make sure every piece has marinade on it. Then put on lid and store in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees C.
  • Spread coconut flakes with the marinade over a large cookie sheet. Bake for approx 20-25 mins. Make sure to remove the bacon after 10 mins and give it a stir as the edges with cook faster. Since every oven is different its important to keep an eye on your bacon and consider removing it from the oven anytime after 17 or 18 mins. It doesn’t need to be crispy at the time it is cooked as it crisps up as it cools down.
  • Allow it to cool completely before storing. This will keep in the fridge for a very long time.

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As September seems to have settled in nicely, potatoes and bacon just feels like the perfect comfort food. As I sit and eat a hearty bowl of this soup I am reminded of my dad, of my childhood and how much I love potatoes!…even if I have to peel them 😉

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Creamy Potato & Bacon Soup

Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 50 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tarragon

6 cups of vegetable stock

5-7 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 cup of Coconut Bacon (see recipe above)

  • Using your favorite soup pot, heat the oil on med-high heat and add the leeks. Cook for 3-4 mins and then add the garlic. Cook another minute and toss in the tarragon. Heat and stir for another minute.
  • Add the white potatoes and stir to coat with oil. Sautee for about 3-5 mins. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for about 2 mins.
  • Pour in the stock, add the bay leaves and liquid smoke. Allow the soup to a slow boil and then reduce to a low temp. Simmer at this temp for about 20 mins.
  • Turn off heat, remove bay leaves and let sit for 5 mins. Take approx. 1/3 of the soup and add to a blender. Puree and pour back into soup. Stir to incorporate.
  • Serve immediately with a generous portion of Coconut Bacon. This soup makes a great leftover, but be sure to leave the coconut bacon on the side until you are ready to eat as it gets soggy if left in the soup.

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In Love With Garlic, Soup

Happy Labour Day everyone! Plus an extra special Happy Birthday to my lovely mom and sister-in-law Lolly (who’s mothers took this day quite literally apparently ;))

What a difference a week can make!

Last week I was dealing with some tough stuff and drowning my sorrows in Mushroom Alfredo (which you all seem to really enjoy…the recipe I mean, not my sorrows). However this week my world feels lighter and brighter thanks in large part to my fantastic girlfriends, a short camping trip in the great outdoors and an unpredictably fun night out in Canmore.

Everything passes, the good and the bad. We are officially out of August and fall is just around the corner. There plenty of good things heading our way: harvesting the garden, changing of the leaves, boots & scarves, and most importantly the kids are back in school!!! (insert your own happy dance here). 

And along with all of that comes a change in the kitchen. Maybe you have more time to prep dinner or more than likely you have less time to prep dinner. Either way this time of the year somehow brings this weird juxtaposition of change and stability. The best way to transition through September in the kitchen is one-pot meals and when I think one-pot meals, I think soup.

September happens to be Vegan MoFo and I am excited to be apart of it this year. If you are not familiar with it then be sure to checkout www.veganmofo.com There are some amazing food bloggers creating some incredible food and this platform helps unite everyone.

My theme for September is SEXY SEPTEMBER SOUPS. That’s right, I said sexy.

Spicy, velvety, sweet, seasonal…all things that just sound sexy in my culinary mind.

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First up is the marriage of two things I love most this time of year- garlic and soup.

With only a few ingredients, minimal chopping and no need to hang over the stove, there is no reason you cannot whip this soup out on a weekday after work (and before the ten other things you are committed to doing).

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Finally lets not forget the most obvious reason to indulge in this soup- cold season! With the kids back in school viruses become inevitable and garlic is one of the most powerful immune boosters. If you cannot get this soup into your kids then at least do it for yourself. The only thing worse than a coughing, runny-nosed child is a coughing, runny-nosed adult. Gross.

So on that note, here is the first of four Sexy September Soups 😉

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In Love With Garlic, Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour

Serves approx 4-6 people

Ingredients

2 heads of garlic, with tops cut off

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 cups of vegetable stock, preferably homemade

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp Harissa

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle garlic heads with olive oil. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and roast until tender, about 30-35 mins. Let cool, then squeeze cloves from papery skin.
  • Bring stock, potatoes, bay leaves and roasted garlic to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 mins. Remove from heat and pick out the bay leaves.
  • Let cool slightly. Working in batches. puree in a blender until smooth (don’t fill blender more than half way so that it does not explode). Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a small scoop of Harissa and your fav rustic bread.

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Mushroom Alfredo uncensored

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

Life is not always a bowl of cherries. Sometimes life is difficult and the only way to get through it is to march right through it…but there are no rules that say you cannot do it with a large bowl of pasta and a glass of wine!

I had plans to bring you another lighter & summery-er (?) dish as we finish out August but instead I thought Screw it!, this is what I ate this week and it was freakin amazing. I am learning that I cannot always direct this blog, sometimes I gotta just let it direct me 🙂

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Alfredo sauce (as we know it today in North America) is a comfort food that usually includes cream, butter and cheese. Just mentioning those three ingredients in the same sentence probably makes some of you perk up! However if you are here for my opinion (which I will assume most of you are) then I say why not be a little more kind to ourselves, particularly in our comfort foods. Dairy is hard on our digestive system, our immune system and our adrenals.

The simplest solution to anyone out there that is doing their best to avoid dairy is cashew cream. And when I say simple, I MEAN SIMPLE! Ounce for ounce this “magical” nut cream can replace most any dairy ingredient in a recipe and making it yourself takes less than 30 seconds. Okay, well there is a soaking time to be added on to that 30 seconds but I am trying to make my point dramatic 😉

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Once you have the cashew cream made then you are only minutes away from the creamiest, most satisfying bowl of All Of My Worries Are Soon To Be Gone Alfredo Sauce!

So put on your stretchy pants, pour a glass of your favourite white wine and escape from the world for a few glorious moments.

I won’t tell anyone 😉

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Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

Serves 4 people

Prep Time: 25 minutes plus soaking time for nuts

Approx. 1 1/4 cup Cashew cream (start with 1 cup raw cashews, soak for 1 hour or longer. Rinse and add to blender with 1/4 cup fresh water. Blend thoroughly until super creamy)

2 tbsp Nutritional yeast

1 garlic, minced

1 tbsp non-dairy butter (I use soy-free Earth Balance)

1 tsp truffle salt, or regular sea salt if you haven’t bought yourself a jar of the truffle salt yet 🙂

1 small white onion, thinly sliced

2 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and sliced length-wise

2 tbsp Coconut oil

  • With the cashew cream still in the blender add the nutritional yeast, garlic, butter and salt. Blend until fully incorporated and set aside

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  • In a large frying pan heat the coconut oil and add the onions. Cook on medium heat until golden brown. Approx. 10 mins.
  • Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5-7 minutes

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  • Turn off the heat and pour the Alfredo sauce into the hot pan to gently heat the sauce. Stir well and then add your favorite gluten-free pasta. Serve immediately.

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Coconut Curry Bisque with Mushrooms

So life has resorted back to its new normal and I am happily working away in the kitchen again this week.

Although I must say that I definitely have a case of “Island Brain”  that I am hoping will stick around for a bit longer. I find myself daydreaming of the beach and genuinely not caring about how much gets accomplished each day 🙂

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One of the best things that came home with me from Vancouver Island was two bigs bags of mushrooms. Now, I know what you are thinking……….”It’s not even Chanterelle season yet!!!” And you’re right but I still managed to get a good supply of BC dried Chanterelles  and that is good enough for me. I also scored some sweet Morels that I have not decided what to do with just yet.

I knew I wanted to put these beautiful french fungi into a soup and so this next recipe is perfect for highlighting their unique flavour.  So if you are fortunate enough to live in an area where Chanterelle can be purchased (or picked) then I would recommend you make the investment. They take your taste buds to a whole other level! However, you can easily substitute any variety of mushroom that you may have available to you.

Plus any excuse to cook with mushrooms makes my son excited to be in the kitchen and chop…

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Lets talk coconut oil for a minute. In recent years people have slowly been introduced to the health benefits of cooking with this oil as opposed to vegetable or even olive oil.  Sometimes the information can be confusing for people and generally when someone hears saturated fat they run in the other direction. Coconut oil is a different variety of fat than most saturated fats. First of all its an extremely stable oil which makes it ideal for cooking at high temperatures for long periods of time. Others oils have less structural stability and will oxidize when exposed to heat or light and become rancid. Consuming rancid oils adds more toxic load to your body. Secondly, coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) whereas the most saturated fats are long-chain triglycerides and the liver is able to convert MCT’s into energy quickly and effectively. Providing all kinds of health benefits for you! I would encourage you to read this article by Dr. Mercola if you are interested in more information on cooking with coconut oil http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html or just go ahead and buy yourself a tub of coconut oil and starting using it 😉

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The combination of coconut oil, coconut milk, curry and mushrooms make this one of my all-time favorite soups. It is a meal onto itself but adding a little bread never hurts. It is also great for freezing so if you want to double up on the recipe and save it for another time, that works too.

I hope you are enjoying your first weekend of August. Where I live it doesn’t get much better than this; the sun is out, my garden is  grown in and colourful, and heavy jackets and gloves are still securely tucked away 😉 OH and did I mention that I have a bag of Morels?! Therein lies my gratitude for this week.

See you next weekend.

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Coconut Curry Bisque with Mushrooms

Prep Time: Approx. 30 mins

Serves: 4-6 people

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 large onion, chopped small

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

2 large carrots, chopped small

2 celery stalks, chopped small

4-5 cups of fresh mushrooms (or a combination of reconstituted dried mushrooms & fresh) I like to use a variety of mushrooms in this soup. Chanterelles truly are so delicious in this bisque but I also added cremini, oyster and a few portobellos

2 mushroom bouillon cubes

2 tbsp red curry paste

2 cups of water

1- 14oz can of coconut milk

1 lemongrass stalk or 2 tsp dried lemongrass put in a cheesecloth pouch so that it may be removed when bisque is finished

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp Truffle salt (or plain sea salt if you don’t have truffle salt)

  • Heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottom large pot.  Add onions and cook until they are opaque, 5-7 mins. Then carrots, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and celery and cook for about 7-10mins or until they start to brown slightly.

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  • Crumble in the mushroom bouillons and add the curry paste. Stir and cook for 2 mins.
  • Next add the water, coconut milk, lemongrass and fresh lime juice. Simmer on a medium heat for about 15-20 mins. Stirring and tasting occasionally to ensure you have the correct amount of salt. I like to add a bit of truffle salt at the end to enhance the soup but you  may not need any additional salt. If you used dried lemongrass then be sure to remove the pouch now before serving.

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