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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Indian Dahl Stew

Looking back at my blog posts I am shocked that I have yet to post an East Indian inspired recipe! I mean, how is that even possible really!?!

Indian dishes are some of my all-time favourite meals. I love all the spices and veggies and pulses and coconut milks and…holy moly I think I might be drooling 🙂

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With September Sexy Soups still going strong I am grateful for the abundance of fresh vegetables we have available at this time of year. Summer squash and root vegetables make me wanna stock up on chopped wood and sterilize mason jars for canning…FYI, I don’t do either of those, I’m just saying I get an ERG 🙂

This week I hosted a small Indian Feast for my friends. I worked all morning prepping my dahl, chopping veggies and baking naan (and by baking I mean re-heating) so come dinner time I could sit back and enjoy without the last minute rush that usually comes along  with hosting a dinner.

This stew is simple and straight forward. Not alot of messing around. Throw everything into a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven and slowly cook all the flavours until your guests have arrived and the wine is open.

Split peas are a great low-fat source of protein and are high in fibre. They are dried peas that have been mechanically split along a natural seam, so that they cook faster. You can buy either green or yellow split peas and either color can be used to make this dahl stew.

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I like to serve this with a few other Indian inspired dishes like coconut jasmine rice (simply use coconut water instead of regular water to cook the rice), samosas and naan bread.  Oh and loads of cilantro! This dahl is even better the next day so make the full size batch of my recipe below and you will have plenty for lunches or late night snackin’…not that I do that 😉

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Indian Dahl Stew

Prep Time: 50 mins

Serves: a small village

Ingredients:

2 cups split yellow peas, uncooked

6 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 med onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 cups veggies, chopped (carrots, zucchini, eggplant)

2 inch grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp tumeric

2 tsp mustard podwer

1 tsp cumin

2 -14oz cans diced tomatoes

1- 14oz can coconut milk

1 dropper of stevia

2 tsp Herbamare (or sea salt)

2 tsp sriracha (optional, add more or less depending on your heat preference)

A whole bunch of chopped cilantro

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven add 4 cups of broth and split peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 mins.
  • Meanwhile, in a large frying pan heat coconut oil and sauté onions and garlic for about 5-7 mins. Toss in chopped veggies and cook them for another 10 mins or so.
  • combine veggies with split peas in large pot. Add remaining ingredients (except for cilantro) including 2 more cups of vegetable broth.

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  • Simmer on medium-low heat for approx. 25 mins
  • Top with fresh cilantro and serve immediately with your favourite Indian East side dishes

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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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Spicy Paella Soup

I cannot even express how appreciative I am of all the new foodies I have been introduced to through Vegan MoFo over the past week. It’s a beautiful thing to see so many people from all parts of the world, share in the love of plant-based food. It not only feels like a celebration of vegan food but also a movement! So lets keep it going 🙂

In the past I have been vocal about my deep-rooted love of Spain and I thought it was time to revisit that intriguing part of the world (if only through our taste buds) for this weeks Sexy September Soups!

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Where I live the summer weather is still very much here but there are also a few rainy days in the forecast and a spicy bowl of Spanish goodness makes for a perfect meal. Tucked into your favorite chair with a blanket and a good book while the season changes around you, this soup works for a slow lunch or a relaxing dinner…or both, like a did yesterday 🙂

Choosing a vegan lifestyle is never about focusing on what you “cannot” eat but more about exploring all of the incredible foods that you have to choose from. It is also about compassion for others and making decisions to not put your own temporary satisfaction above others discomfort. Funnily enough, this week I found myself extending those beliefs into other parts of my life. It seems to me that when you align all parts of your life then what you eat, or who you love, or what you wear all become the same expression of who you are.  So I guess I’m feeling  spicy this week because I made my Spicy Paella Soup very hot, adding way more sriracha than my recipe called for 😉

Tomatoes are to be celebrated this time of year so nothing is better than a tomato-based soup. Seasonal ingredients just feel good for the soul. This soup is a perfect example of all the delicious foods that are available this time of year and all the wonderful choices that are available when you choose a plant-based diet.

Hasta pronto amigos 🙂

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Spicy Paella Soup

Serves 4-6 amigos

Prep Time: Approx 45 mins

Ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2- 14 oz cans of high-quality diced tomatoes

4 cups mushroom (or vegetable stock)

1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

1 tbsp ground up sea vegetables (I use a combo of nori & dulse pulsed in a small food processor)

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup frozen peas

4 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (for this recipe I use artichokes from a jar)

2 tsp sriracha (optional for added heat)

Salt & Pepper to taste

2-3 cups of Lemon Saffron Rice (see recipe below)

  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan and add onions. Cook for approx. 7-10 mins until onions are slightly brown. Add garlic, zucchini and red pepper to pan and cook for another 10-12 mins.
  • Add in tomatoes, mushroom stock, paprika, sea veggies, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
  • Reduce heat and add the frozen peas and artichokes. Simmer for 10 mins.

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  • Remove from heat and serve with Lemon Saffron Rice.

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Lemon Saffron Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 cups vegetable stock

2-4 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms

1 tsp saffron threads

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook rice according to instructions using vegetable stock instead of water. Add the mushrooms and saffron into the stock prior to cooking
  • When rice is cooked, toss in the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Set aside.

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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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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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Pancakes Pleeeease!

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Pancakes are about as close as I get to “baking” and lets face it eating pancakes for a meal is like skipping the actual meal and jumping right into dessert. And I do so happily 🙂

I like to make weekend pancakes when I am in the mood and sometimes you could even find me making pancakes for dinner during the week. Yep that’s right…PANCAKES FOR DINNER! No need to feel sorry for my kids any longer 😉

For many years prior to my food evolution, I am completely guilty of buying the bags of pancake mix and just adding water or worse yet, cow’s milk. But I have forgiven myself because as Maya Angelo says ” When you know better, you do better”.  And what I know now is that making my own pancakes from scratch is just as easy and allows me the benefit of knowing exactly what goes into the them.

No two batters are ever the same at my house. Sometimes I use only white flour (when I am feeling really good and by “good” I mean bad) and other times it might have fresh fruit stirred in.

GF Apple & Pecan Pancakes *add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped pecans and 1-2 chopped apples

GF Apple & Pecan Pancakes
*add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped pecans and 1-2 chopped apples

And as a super-duper treat, according to my son, I like to add 1/4 cup of  beet powder into the mix to create pink pancakes. Beet powder is a fantastic natural food dye that can be added to any baked item with only a mild flavour change and a HUGE nutritional benefit.

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At the heart of any pancake recipe is the flour. Which flour is best? I don’t think there is one answer to that question. We are fortunate enough to live in a time that allows us access to many, many flours. Everything from whole wheat flour to quinoa flour. Brown rice flour to chickpea flour. Spelt flour to tapioca flour. The list goes on and on. Not that any of these are “new” they just have not always been as accessible. The reality is that most of us can benefit from avoiding gluten and when you prepare your own batters or baked goods you have the ability to play around with the flour combinations. In this pancake recipe the flours can be substituted depending on your dietary needs or just for the fun of it! I find that rice flour seems to be less absorbent of the liquids so the batter tends to be a bit thinner and therefore creates thinner pancakes. White pastry flour creates the fluffiest of pancakes (see the Coconut Banana Pancakes below) and the tapioca flour is essential in getting a beautiful crispy edge to the pancakes. I would recommend to always include the 1/2 cup tapioca flour and feel free to experiment with the remaining 2 cups of flour needed.

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Whatever your preference I hope that this recipe inspires you to avoid the store-bought pancake mixes and get in the kitchen on a Saturday morning to make your pancakes the old-fashioned way…from scratch 🙂

Coconut Banana Pancakes * add 1/4 c. coconut water powder (or use coconut milk instead of soy milk) and 1 tsp. coconut extract to the batter. Finish with sliced bananas and dried coconut

Coconut Banana Pancakes
* add 1/4 c. coconut water powder (or use coconut milk instead of soy milk) and 1 tsp. coconut extract (instead of vanilla extract) to the batter. Finish with sliced bananas and dried coconut

Ultimate Pancake Mix

Gluten-free version in red

Serves: Approx. 6 people

Dry Ingredients

1/2 c. tapioca flour  1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix

1 c. rice flour   1 cup gluten-free flour mix

1 c. whole wheat flour  1 cup gluten-free flour mix

1 tbsp baking powder, aluminum- free

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients

2 1/2 c. soy milk  3 cups soy milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp non-diary butter ( I use Earth Balance), melted

1 flax “egg” (1 tbsp flax meal, add 2 tbsp of water, stir and let sit for 5 mins)

3 droppers of Stevia

2 tbsp maple syrup

  • add apple cider vinegar to soy milk in large liquid measuring cup ( I use a 4 cup) and set aside for 5 mins, this will create a “buttermilk” type effect
  • combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • add remaining wet ingredients into soy milk mixture and stir
  • pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine until everything is incorporated. A few lumps are okay.
  • heat a large frying pan and add coconut butter before adding the batter. Cook on one side until air pockets are visible and then flip…you can figure out the rest! Serve with the finest maple syrup you got. Enjoy.

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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