Category Archives: Nut-Free

Summer black bean and corn salad 

  There are recipes for black bean and corn salads everywhere. So how original is this one? I have no idea but my kids devoured it. Not sure if they were just really hungry or if they loved it but I sure did and am very happy to share this ridiculously simple salad recipe that helped me find a use for some of my leafy green celery. 

  Black bean and corn salad 

As a meal this serves 2, as a side 4. 

Ingredients

  • About 2.5 cups of frozen peaches and cream corn 
  • 1 can no salt added black beans, drained 
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper 
  • Fistful of celery leaves. Chopped. (About 1/4 cup when chopped)

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (adjust higher if using a large lemon)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pinches cumin
  • 1 pinch garlic powder

Method

Combine salad ingredients it a bowl and set aside to let corn thaw. (15-20 min)

Mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. 

Toss all to combine and serve! 

  
Seriously this dinner came together so quickly last night. I didn’t care if anyone even touched it but everyone tore right in. I served it as a meal with a pickle on the side just because my kids love pickles and olives. But it would make a fantastic side salad for a bbq. I will probably double the recipe next time so that I have leftovers for my lunch and not just the kids! 

Carrot Adventure.

  I got a beautiful assortment from Lufa farms in this weeks basket, but it came with a few challenges.

What to do with

Green Tomatoes (challenge in progress)
Carrots with full beautiful leafy tops (Challenge achieved)
“no so pretty” bag of veggies. (challenge achieved)

The not so pretty bag of veggies was the first thing I tackled, there were 2 onions in there, I also had some carrots nearing the end of their life span in my fridge and celery only fit for cooking. one thing came to mind. Stock. I had never made stock before but how hard could it be. I had fresh herbs growing outside and the veggie scraps from the meal I was making at the time. So in the pot with water went the onion, carrots and celery with an eggplant bottom, some bits of cauliflower stem  and a bunch of fresh parsley and a bunch of fresh oregano. the end result was a beautifully fragrant and flavourful broth (I added salt) that just cannot compare to what you buy in a box!! but now I just enlarged my challenge list to include:

Make something with homemade stock (Challenge achieved)

And then inspiration and a good google search hit. and I managed to deal with all but the green tomatoes in one delicious meal:

  Carrot PB soup with Vegan Carrot top pesto

I mostly stayed true to the respective recipes with the following variations:

SOUP:

I used 4 cups of my homemade stock instead of stock and water. I used chilli powder, ginger and garlic powder that I mixed into the peanut butter before adding to the soup, (instead of chilli sauce, something I do not have in my kitchen) I used an inversion blender because I find it does a better job with less risk of exploding in your face.

PESTO:

I used unsweetened coconut as it didn’t specify, otherwise I followed this and it turned out absolutely delightful. its slightly tangy citrusy notes go so well with the thai flavours of the soup.

  

Bagel and a salad 

I am a montreal bagel addict. There is just no two ways about it. Do not give me a New York bagel that’s just bread. My favourite is pumpernickel closely followed by cinnamon raisin. There is a restaurant that serves montreal bagel sandwiches and salads and they make this great artichoke salad. After exploring the options in my fridge for lunch today I found plenty of salad ingredients including olives and artichokes. And this salad was born. Delicious with a buttered bagel (I use earth balance, I love it ). 

I’ve gotten lazy on the pictures. Mostly because I never think about posting a meal until after I eat it. 

  1. I started with a bed of micro greens (pea) from Lufa farms, chopped up some grape tomatoes, orange pepper, green onion, a little green jalapeño, tossed in some artichoke hearts, and sliced green olives and topped it with a scoop of lightly smashed chickpeas and a tad of nayo with a little sea salt (would work with tuna or salmon too if you eat fish) and dressed with a Red wine vinegrette. I wouldn’t call the salad beautiful, but it sure was tasty. It requires a toasted bagel for eating some of the salad on like a cracker. A dog to Hoover up the floor of bagel seeds always helps too. Personally a nice glass of ice tea makes a perfect match and I enjoyed yogurt with granola as a dessert. 

There is no recipe exactly because this is one of those things that gives well to what’s on hand and the salad dressing is simply equal parts oil and red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper. The chickpeas are literally just smashed with a potato masher salt mayo and a little garlic if you like. Super easy. Works well with any leftover sandwich spread actually. I enjoy hummus with these flavours. Experiment. Trust me you will be rewarded. 

A noisy meditation 

  What I wouldn’t give for a few moments to breathe. A minute even 30 seconds where there are no sirens, no trucks, no pitter patter, no fans or air conditioners, no squirrel squacks or the call of seagulls (who brought seagulls into my hood? Oh yeah that great big medical installation in my backyard.) just silent meditation retreat caliber silence. But living on a main thoroughfare in a major city means this is just not an option. So I need to take a new look at these noises, this constant stimulus and find my own peace. Be aware and acknowledge the sounds without judging them without letting them cause suffering. This however is easier to say than to do. It’s easy to ignore sounds to tune them out. But that usually leads to tuning everything out. So tonight I am enjoying the silent sounds of my oatmeal. I recognize the kids talking rather than sleeping. I hear the buses, I hear the traffic and the fan but I am attending to the sound of the spoon against the bowl, the oat bran mixing with my saliva and the squishy pop of the juicy raisins. It may be a strange comfort food but a bowl of hot cereal with raisins late at night is a symbol of relaxation for me. I like a certain texture in hot cereal and prefer oatbran or cream of wheat to actual oatmeal. here is my recipe for a good sized bowl of oatbran

Cinnamon Raisin Oatbran

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oatbran
  • 1 cup milk of choice (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 cup (more as needed) water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of brown sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients into a small pot and turn heat to medium. Stir occasionally until it starts to bubble then stir consistently until desired consistency. I promise you, in our instant oatmeal world, the effort required to make this is beyond worth it. My daughter also adores this as a breakfast or before bed snack. Takes about 10 min total about 4 once boiling. 

 Same recipe works with regular 3-minute oats too. With steel cut oats you need a lot more time. Cream of wheat use 4tbsp  and up milk/water a bit. 

  

Really Simple Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

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I got a little worked up about the amount of soy and processed foods I was giving my kids as part of a vegan diet this summer, but was freaked out by coconut oil and was just against anything “fake”. Then a good kick in the pants reminded me that everything in moderation is OK. In fact its even good (seriously, think about it) and this cream cheese icing (delicious and totally fake) was born. Whomever decided Icing should be made healthy needs to be shot. Icing is good. Icing is decadent. Icing should be nothing but delicious. this one is. The other beauty of simplicity is that it allows time for more important things, like finding 2 minutes to care for yourself, something as moms we often forget to do.
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Happy Birthday to Me, a cake we can all enjoy. I am always happy when no one, including myself, feels left out of a celebration. I really love cream cheese icing, (and cheesecake) and the veganized versions of these things aren’t always quite what I was hoping for. I am so happy to be able to share this ridiculously simple cream cheese icing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegan butter ( I use earth balance)
one container (8 oz) vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti, its the only one we like)
1.5 cups of icing sugar (or more, taste/texture)

to add complexity feel free to flavour with citrus (orange zest and a tbsp of juice or lemon zest and 2 tsp lemon juice)

Method:
Using an electric mixer cream the butter and cream cheese together, add icing sugar (best done in small amounts at a time and citrus if using and mix until smooth. refrigerate until you need to use it it keeps about 5 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen, but it does change the texture slightly.

Smother on cakes, cookies, or eat with a spoon. ( more disclosure, this is what happened to the leftover after icing my birthday cupcakes) probably fantastic as a dip for your fruit.

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Stroganoff

My mom will hate me for saying this, but I hated all beef dishes growing up, not because I hated beef per-say but because she couldn’t cook it. (our dog refused to eat leftover meatballs) I only realized this as an adult. So every once in a while I try my hand at a recipe that as a child made me nauseous.

This week it was a Beef Stroganoff, but since we do not eat beef, it was Tofu Stroganoff, inspired by Isa Chandra’s Tofu Mushroom Stroganoff which looked just so delicious but way too complicated for my mood that day I set out to modify the recipe to meet my tastes, and my kitchen. Its still a little complex but less time consuming and fewer dishes to wash than using cashews to make a truly creamy sauce and I am not a cream sauce kind of girl, I love fresh tomato sauces and that is why this has very little in way of creamy ingredients and is instead has luscious fresh tomatoes.

This is a photo-less post unfortunately until the next time I make it because its been a mad house around here.

Tofu Stroganoff

Serves: 4                     Prep time: 10 min                              cook time: 30min

Ingredients:

350g of pasta (ideally a broad noodle, or something like fusilli)
1 package extra firm tofu in thin strips
a total of 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp of salt
4 large cloves minced garlic
2 portabello mushrooms cut in half then thinly sliced
1/2 pkg (about 130g) cremini mushrooms (white mushrooms ok too)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2 large italian tomatoes or 3 small, diced
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk substitute (or milk) – I suggest soy
2 tbsp arrowroot starch (or 1 tbsp cornstarch)

Method:

cook pasta according to package

in large frying pan heat 1 tbsp oil over medium and add tofu, toss occasionally until tofu takes on some colour. Sometimes I find a spatula helps flip the strips to keep one side only from browning.  cover and set aside.
If you only have one pan you can transfer the tofu to a dish and reuse the same pan. (this also means you can likely use less oil for next step)

Add remaining oil to frying pan and saute onion and garlic until onion is transparent.
add mushrooms and thyme and continue cooking until mushrooms soften and begin to brown. Add the fresh tomatoes, white wine, salt and pepper. Reduce wine over high heat (about 5 min) before returning heat to medium.

while the wine reduces, in a small bowl, mix arrowroot starch with a few tbsp of the milk substitute until smooth, add rest of milk and the vegetable broth and mix well.

add the broth/milk mixture to the pan and stir well, cook until sauce thickens, adjust salt, pepper and thyme as needed add tofu. mix well, lower heat to low, put pasta pot back on burner and mix the sauce into it.

Serve!

This keeps well in the fridge, but I don’t think I would attempt to freeze it.

Also feel free to take on my rule for cooking with wine:

When cooking with wine it is completely acceptable even if you are alone to enjoy a glass as well.

I am looking forward to experimenting slowly with recipes that I couldn’t get into as a kid that maybe now I will like with a veg twist. If you have a favourite let me know!!!!

Quick, Easy, Delicious tofu-steak burgers.

IMG_6305 My children love just about anything between two pieces of bread, but the word “veggie burger” and its associated ketchup, mustard etc get a particularly joyful reception. But homemade veggie burgers are a pain in the rear, they dont always stick, they require things I do not always have on hand (like my eggplant burgers) they are time consuming to make. I had time to make dinner when I last made these but I didnt feel like stressing over dinner prep and I wanted it to be both adult and kid friendly. I started looking up easy tofu burgers, with the idea that it would be easier than bean based burgers, but they all involved various stages of mashing, processing, forming and breading. I quickly gave up. We love pan-seared tofu around here, and I figured if I cut a tofu brick into 4 I would have 4 thick square tofu steaks, which would be a perfect burger. and from there, I got creative.

I should mention I want to eat this every night this week. This burger can be made vegetarian or vegan, I had the vegetarian version, my kids the vegan one.

Tip: Start the toppings before the tofu, the burger should be the last things prepared.

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Avocado and Carmelized Onion and Mushroom Tofu Steak Burgers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Burgers:
1 brick extra firm tofu, pressed to remove excess water
garlic powder, salt and paprika to taste
1-2tbsp Olive oil.
buns of your choice

Toppings:
Onions:
onions cut in strips about 1/8th in thick,
1-2tbsp safflower oil
water (or white whine)

Mushrooms:
1 pkg mushrooms, (I used brown)
1 clove garlic – minced
olive oil,
white wine vinegar (or white wine)

Tomato

1 avocado, lemon juice

shredded Daiya cheese (for vegan/parve/allergy option) or goat cheese (dairy)

Method

Start by preparing the fixings, mushrooms and onions first.

Mushrooms: using a good frying pan on medium-high cook the garlic- I used a non-stick pan here, I wasn’t after the browning juices, but if you use a regular pan you will get the delightful juices up when you add the white wine vinegar after which is great. once garlic is softened add the mushrooms cook until there is no liquid and the mushrooms are greatly reduced, add a few splashes of white wine vinegar, stir and remove from heat.

Onions: heat safflower oil over medium heat, depending on your burner you may even want medium low to keep onions from burning. add onions and cook slowly until a nice crust has built up on the bottom of the pan (use a regular pan, you want this!) and the onions have become very very soft and golden. add water (or wine) to deglaze the pan and the onions will absorb these juices keep adding til you get the consistency you like. I ended up adding a lot of water because I really wanted that juicy sugary melt in your mouth texture. when ready I turn heat to low and add the sauteed mushrooms to the pan, I then use the mushroom pan to prepare the tofu (no washing, let those flavours transfer).

For the Burgers: re-heat pan used for mushrooms and add a bit more olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. cook tofu for approximately 5 min on each side (until a light golden brown). They are done and ready to serve.

Avocado, mash the avocado with a fork and a little lemon juice.

Assemble the burgers:

spread the avocado thickly on the bottom bun, (If avocado isnt your thing, use mayo/nayo here or for added creaminess use both!). Add the tofu steak, onions and mushrooms, a scoop of goat cheese or a sprinkling of daiya cheese a tomato and the top bun.

MAKES A MESS! keep a fork on hand to eat the escapees!