Creamy Coconut Lentils

Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

I will make this short and sweet…thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for making my dream/goal of running my very own food blog a successful reality in 2013. I appreciate your support and encouragement so much. It’s a beautiful thing when you have an idea and it comes to life!

I am pretty sure 2013 had been my most eventful year of my life. Lots of ups (a few lows) and I am grateful for all of it. This blog has definitely been like a journal for me. A journal through food and photography 😉

My favourite dish combination has to be rice and beans…or PULSE and beans, if you will. I probably have a dozen variations that I make continuously and yet somehow my brain always think they are different. It is no surprise that dishes like this have been eaten globally for tens of thousands of years. It just works. Every time.

Wait…I may have just decided on a theme for my first cookbook 😉

“101 Ways to make Rice and Beans” or “Pulsating Beans”…a work in progress!

It is a meal in itself with only a few ingredients needed. In fact this particular recipe only requires about 4 ingredients plus a few spices.  And on these cold winter nights nothing satisfies they way this hearty dish can.

IMG_6213

 

For a slight variation it is fantastic with baked zucchini (I simply cut the zucchini lengthwise and bake at 350 for about 20 min with a little olive oil and sea salt)…yum!

IMG_6217

I hope and trust that the close of the past year is joyous and reflective for all of you!

Here’s to 2014 and all of the wonderful food possibilities.

Cheers.

Creamy Coconut Lentils

Serves 4-6

Prep Time 20-25 mins

Ingredients

4 cups cooked coconut jasmine rice (cook as per instructions using coconut water instead of regular water and then finish with 2 tbsp coconut oil once fully cooked)

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups of dry red lentils

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp tumeric

1- 400 ml can of coconut milk

sea salt to taste

handful of chopped cilantro

2 tbsp sriracha (optional)

  • Bring vegetable broth and lentils to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Then reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Approx. 15 mins
  • Add garlic powder, cumin, coriander, tumeric and salt. Stir to combine and then add coconut milk. Heat for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Scoop creamy lentils over the coconut rice and finish with sriracha and cilantro. Easy peasy!

IMG_6208

Protein Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

Well, until now  🙂

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

IMG_6103

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

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

IMG_6108

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

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

IMG_6113

Have a great week!

IMG_6094

Protein Pizza Sauce

1- 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1-14oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 tsp sriracha (optional)

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

Protein Pizza Dough

Prep time: about 1 hour

2 cups warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups organic unbleached white pastry flour

1 cup quinoa flour

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

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

IMG_6104

Best Stuffing EVER!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

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

It’s a beautiful thing.

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

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

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

IMG_6052

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

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

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

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

IMG_6062

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

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

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

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Loaf of rustic bread

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

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

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

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp finely grated orange zest

2 cups vegetable broth

IMG_6045

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

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

IMG_6065

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 😉

IMG_3574

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.

IMG_6027

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

The colours and the ingredients scream FALL!!!

IMG_6026

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.

IMG_6029

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!

IMG_5915

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 🙂

IMG_5905

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.

IMG_5892

  • Remove from heat and serve with Lemon Saffron Rice.

IMG_5906

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.

IMG_5896

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.

IMG_5881

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).

IMG_5886

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 😉

IMG_5882

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.

IMG_5890

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.

IMG_5833

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?

IMG_5832

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.

IMG_3305

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!

IMG_5820

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! 🙂 🙂 🙂

IMG_5829

Pancakes Pleeeease!

IMG_5811

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.

IMG_5801

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.

IMG_5793

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 🙂

images

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…

IMG_5745

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 😉

IMG_5761

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.

IMG_5756

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.

IMG_5754

  • 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.

IMG_5763

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 🙂

IMG_5698

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.

IMG_3180

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!

IMG_3092

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!

IMG_3091

IMG_3182

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.

IMG_3181

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