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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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

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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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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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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Portobello Tacos

I hope you all are enjoying this lazy July weekend!

I am completely guilty of being 100% submerged into summertime and this may have created a bit of a writer’s block!?!  With the kids being out of school and no real routine in place, it’s a free-for-all around here. These days I am usually torn between working in my garden, creating recipes in my kitchen, food photo sessions for my Instagram account (yes, I actually do that), the kids and their social life or keeping myself moving either on my bike or at the gym…Tough life I know!

But the reality is that alot of changes have occurred over the last month leaving me to fall behind on some of my responsibilities and  I feel somewhat out of balance. Not in a “Help me I am drowning!!!” kind of way. More like a “Oh!…did I forget to do that?” kind of way 🙂  But lucky for me, I am not in a huge hurry to get myself back to balance just yet so I will continue to be aware of the imbalance for now. And when it comes to this blog, it is never far from the front of my brain. I am always creating and thinking of things to share with you all.

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Over the past two weeks all of my meals have been about using what I have at hand, to avoid more visits to the grocery store, while still pulling together delicious and simple dishes. This recipe could definitely fit into the “Simple Summer” category. I think I have made this 3 times over the past two weeks and everyone loves it. And when everyone loves it, then I know its worth sharing. The clean, whole foods and light flavours make this perfect for this time of year.

I also have been experimenting with my hummus recently…and I have discovered that the possibilities are endless! In this photo session for the Portobello Tacos I was using a Radish & Cilantro hummus combo which paired really well with the radish greens I used in the tacos. Another great one was this Cilantro & Lime Hummus that I paired with some leftover steamed purple cauliflower (pulsed in the food processor before folding into the hummus). It is packed full of amazing nutrients and the only thing anyone cares about is how great it tastes 🙂

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A trick that I learned a long time ago was to prep caramelized onions when I have a bit of time so that they are quick to use whenever a recipe calls for it. The sweet and savoury onions are one of my favourites and can be used in just about anything. Just this morning I added them to my avocado toast for breakfast. But it’s important not to rush the cooking process of the onions to fully bring out their natural sweetness. So try to prep these when you have a good 45 mins to watch over them and give an occasional stir. I like to use red onions but really any onion gives great flavour. You can cook them down with olive oil, coconut oil or Earth Balance with a good amount of sea salt. Cooking a large batch allows you to have extra for pizzas, sandwiches or salads.

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This week we are heading on our summer vacation on the West Coast. As always, I try to rent places that have great kitchens so that I can continue to prepare most of our meals (I have been known to pack important kitchen utensils and spices in my luggage to bring on family vacations). Being away from a cutting board is never a vacation for me! I am fortunate enough to be able to return to Tofino, BC for a few weeks to explore and relax with the kids. I am looking forward to trying a couple of new restaurants (well, new to me) and utilizing all of their amazing local produce for my own creations. I hope to be able to share some of this with you while I am out there.

Before we know it the summer will be just another passing season and complaining about the cold weather will be part of our regular conversation again. So I hope that you are enjoying the perfect imbalance that comes with this time of year and that you are still finding joy in your kitchen!

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Portobello Tacos

Prep Time: 30 mins or less (if you have the caramelized onions pre-prepped)

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients:

8-10, 6″ corn tortillas

1 cup of hummus, homemade with your favourite flavours is the best option

1 cup caramelized red onions

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for tortillas shells

1 tsp truffle salt, optional

3 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and cut into 1/4″ slices

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

6-10 cheery tomatos, sliced in half

a handfull of greens, ie. radish greens, micro mixed greens

a small bunch of cilantro, chopped

your favourite hot sauce, optional

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place mushrooms slices into pan and sprinkle each piece with truffle salt or regular sea salt. Cook about 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

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  • Pre-heat outdoor BBQ to a medium heat. Drizzle olive oil onto large plate and with your hands lightly coat each side of the tortilla with the olive oil.
  • Add tortillas to grill and grill for approx. 3 minutes each side. Watch carefully as each grill is different and the “hot spots” on your grill will cook some of them faster than others. Remove and immediately fold them in half to shape them before they cool and harden.
  • Lay out your buffet of tacos toppings and allow each guest to make their own version of Portobello taco. Serve with a side of hot sauce for those you like it a little spicier.

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  • For added enjoyment be sure to be sitting outside on a patio with a cold Corona close by 😉

Avocado Sushi Bowl

One of my very favorite foods is sushi. Unfortunately for me, I am not very good at rolling sushi!

If I have to I can, but it requires a tremendous amount of focus and patience for me to build a solid sushi roll. And plus I don’t really enjoy it as much if it does not look pretty…it changes the flavour somehow 😉 So one night before dinner I was craving sushi and wasn’t excited about having to call in an order, then wait for it to get here. There has to be an easier way, I thought!

I started to think about what sushi feels like and tastes like in your mouth, because lets face it, other than the presentation that is all that really matters when it comes to food! So that is how it started for this recipe, I just decided to throw all the ingredients of my favorite sushi roll into a bowl… a deconstructed sushi roll, if you will.

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Of course you can modify this dish to represent your favorite sushi very easily but for me it has to include avocados! The sweet, buttery, dense texture of avocado transports me into a mini vacation. There is not a sandwich, rice bowl or tortilla chip in the world that doesn’t benefit from having an avocado near by. It is one of those perfect whole foods that falls into its own category, a “special” fruit. The avocado shares this category with only the olive, the kiwi, the persimmons and the pomegranate. However in alot of ways the avocado is more like a nut than a fruit, with its high amount of oil and its dense concentration. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat which is easily burned for energy, this is considered a healthy fat! They are also a good quality carbohydrate and protein, contain a substantial amount of B vitamins and are a good source of Vitamin C and A. Everything your body needs. Awesome for your skin, your hair, and most importantly, your brain!

And because I cannot be “good” all the time, I like to indulge in a little vegetable tempura with my sushi. It is a simple and quick thing to make at home with only a couple of ingredients to use with which ever fresh vegetable you have available. I use a straight forward recipe given by Masato Nishihara, the executive chef of Kajitsu, an elegant vegan Japanese restaurant in New York City. He believes that the best tempura batter is in its most traditional form, without eggs. Here is his method for fantastic tempura;

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1/2 cup or as needed for dipping
  1. Pour oil into a large wok or pot so that the oil is two inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat until oil is 350 degrees. Set aside a baking sheet with a rack lined with paper towels, and a small long-handled fine-meshed strainer for removing excess fried batter.
  2. Pour 1 cup ice-cold water into a medium bowl. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, and whisk to blend lightly. Place about 1/2 cup cake flour into another bowl. Dip each slice of vegetable into dry flour, shake off excess, and then dip each slice of vegetable into the batter.
  3. Fry the vegetables in batches to be sure they are not crowded. Place 4 to 5 vegetable pieces in the oil and fry, turning once or twice, until golden and crisp, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Using the long-handled strainer, remove excess bits of fried batter to keep the oil clean. Transfer to the baking sheet to drain. Continue until all the vegetables are fried.

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So I hope you also enjoy this simple summer recipe, and trust me, your mouth will never know the difference!

ボナペティ
Bonapeti
Avocado Sushi Bowl
Serves: 4-6 people
Prep Time: 30 mins
Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked jasmine or sushi rice, cook according to directions
2 ripe avocados, remove peel and pit, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 med cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp wasabi powder (or more depending on your preferences)
2 tbsp finely ground nori sheets
a handful of cilantro
2 tbsp soy sauce (or a great alternative is Coconut Aminos)
Garnish with pickled ginger, optional
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  • Toss all ingredients, except the rice, into a large bowl and combine. Set aside until you are ready.

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  • Once your rice is cooked (or sometimes I like to prep it earlier in the day and leave it at room temperature), I quickly fry the tempura vegetables and place it altogether in a bowl and top with some pickled ginger.

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