Protein Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

Well, until now  🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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Have a great week!

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Protein Pizza Sauce

1- 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1-14oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 tsp sriracha (optional)

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

Protein Pizza Dough

Prep time: about 1 hour

2 cups warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups organic unbleached white pastry flour

1 cup quinoa flour

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

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

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Best Stuffing EVER!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

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

It’s a beautiful thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

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

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Loaf of rustic bread

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

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

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

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp finely grated orange zest

2 cups vegetable broth

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

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

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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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