Category Archives: Soy-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! 

If you like olives, pasta and fun ingredients, this is for you.

I recently posted about the carrot top pesto, (Which I am about to make again as I get carrots today in my basket), I have used it in the soup, spread it on bread, and made a pasta out of it. All were excellent, but this, this was the best. Another pasta dish, I made it using the leftovers from our first carrot top pesto pasta. The first pasta I didn’t prepare, my mother did and did not realize I had given her enough pesto for an entire box of pasta and she only used half the box so it was extremely strong. it was still good but needed a little tweaking to be perfect. well I used the leftovers to make this: IMG_0266Served with a swiss chard and romaine salad, this became a nothing wasted meal. I love it when all the ingredients can be used and nothing finds its way to my garbage – even the leftovers got used, the kids took them for lunch as a pasta salad with some tofu added for good measure. The swiss chard ribs are in the pasta and the leaves in the salad. We grew the swiss chard in the kids garden, a project my mother made for them this year, hot peppers, carrots, green beans, lettuce, chard and tomatoes. a beautiful little heaven of home grown foods.

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This meal came together slowly, I actually intended on just making a salad, ignoring the leftover pasta. But after de-ribbing the chard I realized I needed to do something with it. I thought caramelized onion and chard would make an interesting saiad topping so started that, then inspiration took over, i had a handful of cherry tomatoes left so chopped them in half and added then to the mix, then remembered the pasta in the fridge, and that was it. I tossed a bunch of pitted kalamata olives in to the mix and  as everything cooked down I added wine to deglaze and make a bit of a reduction before adding the pasta and some water. Tossing it all in the same pan the pesto thinned out and the flavours really work well together, unlike the flavour of typical pesto this is more citrusy with a hint of coconut. (there is coconut in the pesto itself and 1-2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk was added to the pesto to make the pasta.) I really like it but that might just be a personal taste preference.

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Hot or cold this dish is fabulous, although because I like warm olives, I do prefer it hot. I used an angel hair pasta here but really anything would work. what is also interesting is I DO NOT LIKE PESTO! I never have. Maybe its the cheese, or the pine nuts because neither feature here. I would actually bet this would be good on Zoodles (but I really have an issue with restricting carbs too much. use a whole grain pasta (pictured is “Smart” pasta) or something fun like buckwheat or rice if you have celiacs. Glass noodles would be killer here.)

Here I give you the correct amount of pesto for the correct amount of pasta, but you can also adjust to taste.

Carrot-top pesto pasta with Olives and chard.

Serves 2 (increase amounts to serve more we only needed this much)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
ribs from a small bunch of swiss chard, chopped into strips
1/4 cup white wine
10 pitted Kalamata olives
6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
170g pasta of choice
3  tbsp of Carrot Top pesto
1 tbsp coconut milk
water if needed.

Cook pasta and add the coconut milk and pesto to it, set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a regular frying pan (don’t use a non-stick pan for this) add onion and cook until translucent, add the chard and continue cooking until chard softens. when a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan its time to add that wine. (this is my favourite part). now add the olives and tomatoes when the tomatoes. When tomatoes have softened you can add the mixed pasta and toss to mix and coat. you may need to add some water here. Serve!

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. 

  

Never Ending Coleslaw Battle.

Coleslaw is something that seems on the surface so friggin easy to make that anyone could do it. Well, that was false, or at least I am not cut out to make coleslaw. Until today. I have no idea what finally clicked but I finally got the proportions, textures, flavours, and well not to toot my own horn or anything, but when you spend 2 years making bad coleslaw and finally score….. It is PERFECTION.

There really isn’t much else to say but that you should all make this. and the bonus is it doesn’t make the truckload most recipes make. ( I blather a bit after I give you the recipe)

 

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Coleslaw that finally rivals the restaurants

Total time:15 min                                                                    Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
Salad

1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 small red onion
1/3-1/2 red pepper, julienned in short sticks1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1.6 oz sugar (I weighed this out, but is about 3 tbsp)
1 clove garlic (minced or pressed)
1.5 tsp dijon (use mild for kids or use less)

Method:

Chop the onion and cabbage in a food processor (or shred with a knife). add the grated carrots and julienned peppers.

Shake the dressing ingredients in a jar or whisk in a bowl, dump over veggies and toss. refrigerate before serving for best flavour.

IMG_6120  I realized a few things as for my previous errors

1. I tended to take the easy route and toss everything in the food processor. Clearly even just aesthetically the different veggies do well with different textures.

2. I was too light on sugar

3. I was too heavy on vinegar

4. I really do not like celery seed as much as I thought I did in my coleslaw. Oregano is much better.

Sweet potatoes…. I love you, I love you not

IMG_4493We hung out with our cousins one weekend this summer (well many weekends, but one particular weekend inspired this post). It was fun, and I discovered that their kid too used to love sweet potatoes and now turns his nose up at them. I’ve heard this strange story from other parents too. I understand sometimes liking things sometimes not, I understand liking only certain preparations of foods, but going from basically a sweet potato monster to absolutely refusing to eat them, this fairly typical toddler transition baffles me.

For us, and my cousin, this happened sometime before their 3rd birthdays. Now, just after their 4th birthday I am starting to see a sweet potato revival. I have continued to cook with and serve sweet potatoes. Usually accepting that the leftover sweet potato dish would be my lunch.

I really like sweet potatoes, it was the magical food on holiday plates. Cooked in generous amounts of butter and brown sugar candied sweet potatoes and I are good friends. Yet even prepared this way (with vegan butter) my children refused to touch them, I was baffled. I still am because I am drooling just thinking about these!

I tried mashing them with vegan butter, brown sugar, pumpkin pie type spices and still nope. I tried plain and boiled
(sometimes with toddlers the simpler the better) big nope. I tried in soups and stews, which worked only if accidentally ingested. I tried fries (only if the frozen variety, made by the grandparents and served with mayo). I roasted them in very shape I could think of (nope). I was out of ideas. Then my mother had a craving for sweet potato chips. So we made some. In the oven, with olive oil and salt. And 2 out of 3 preschool aged children ate them. (The lone hold out has since relented to these) We had a collective mom mouth drop and a way to make sweet potato chips for the future:

Sweet Potato Chips

serves: 6                prep time: 15minutes          bake time:40min approx

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes cut into chips, carefully!, with mandolin or by hand
1-2  tsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 400
Lay sliced potato out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (you may need to make 2 batches) sprinkle half the salt and the pepper over the potatoes drizzle the oil over them toss with your hands to coat them all toss with rest of salt and the lay in a single layer on the baking sheet, any that don’t fit just keep aside for the next batch.
Bake for about 45 min turning once or twice, watch carefully as they go from perfect to burnt very quickly. They are still a little soft when “perfect” allow to cool a few minutes on a cooling sheet or wooden board. They will crisp up a bit more as they cool.

Easy, healthy (use other seasonings, or salt preparations like herbamare to cut back on the sodium content), and sweet potato hating kid approved!

Since this particular weekend, homemade sweet potato chips and fries go over extraordinarily well. We even had a french fry dinner.