Tag Archives: soy-free

Chickpea leek and mushroom casserole (slow cooker, vegan)

We love a good creamy dish around here. Actually that’s a lie. We are more of the acidic type. So although I like potato leek soup no one else does. I had a beautiful, gigantic,  organic leek screaming to be used and potatoes threatening to start sprouting. I needed to do something and from experience even Jamie Oliver doesn’t make a leek soup my kids will eat. Seriously I tried. I had to eat leek soup for days.

IMG_5349I find that sometimes given the restrictions in our diet it gets a little monotonous. No matter how varied the ingredients I feel like I’ve seen it all before. So I have been venturing out to use flavours less common in vegetarian cuisine. This dish isn’t a big stretch since I use thyme a lot. But there is no tomato, no cumin, no coriander, and has a more significant sweet/acid balance than I usually cook with.

I spent some time on google basically looking for a recipe I could swap the protein out of but that used the leeks and potatoes. I came across this. The dish has bacon and chicken. I swapped those out for cashews and chickpeas. Cashews for the fat from the bacon and chickpeas cause they sound like chicken. Sorry that replacement choice was no more enlightened than a pun.IMG_5351

Cashew Chickpea  Casserole

SERVES: 6                     PREP TIME: 10min                   SLOWCOOK: 6hrs


1 very large leek (pale parts), quartered then chopped
2 white krantz potatoes, peeled and diced
3 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
200g cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews. Rinsed.
1.5 cups white Kedem grape juice **
Splash of white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
.5-1 cup water or more broth (make sure there is enough liquid in slow cooker!)
3 sprigs fresh thyme. Or approximately 2 tsp dry.
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt


Dump in slow cooker,  6 hrs on low.

If you want to make this on the stove, saute the leeks, green onions and garlic in olive oil about 6 min or until softened, add the other ingredients, bring to boil then allow to simmer for 20-30min.

Serve: on Quinoa* with a bright vegetable side (I served this with beautiful green brocoli) No pictures because it was the babysitter who was home for this meal.


*I suggest cooking your quinoa in broth, it really gives it a nice flavour and texture, or adding spices to your water. I added dried onion to my water for this meal.

Baby Friendly: The cashews (if you use raw) get very soft, so provided you have introduced your child to nuts, this dish can be served as is or lightly mashed with a potato masher for a young child. I havent tried rendering it into a puree but if you do let me know!

**Cooking for the adults? Have wine in the fridge? replace the grape juice and vinegar with 400ml of white wine




Strawberry Heaven (Vegan Yogurt-Pudding)

I love berries. Summer is ending and I will seriously miss the fresh local berries. Continue reading Strawberry Heaven (Vegan Yogurt-Pudding)

Behind the curtain (Chickpea Tabbouleh)

mint There has been a lot on the news ever since Robin Williams death about suicide and depression.  We often hear about people “going off the deep end” (where did this expression come from anyway?). In general however, mental illness is a secret illness, one that does not garner the attention of ALS, with people dumping ice over their heads;  the elite esthetic of breast cancer; or the macho bravismo of a month of facial hair for prostate cancer. But that is fine, fundraising campaigns wont erase the stigma that is attached to a mental illness and that is where I have a bone to pick.

Don’t ask, Don’t tell. It is amazing how different medical and psychiatric illnesses get treated, not just in the workplace. I think some of the problem is that all too often because it’s an invisible illness and people tend to the stoic, its hard for people to believe that so and so could be suffering in such a way, and often its seen as escapism or a weakness. 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems in their lifetime, not everyone needs to miss work, not everyone finds themselves in a hospital and some never even find their way into treatment but regardless, suffering is suffering. And chances are that person you are whispering about feels worse about their illness than you do about them try to be nice, supportive and recognize that their stay for depression, bipolar, eating disorder, schizophrenia, is the same as if they had appendicitis. You would be surprised how many top employees suffer, their resiliency keeps them going but does not make it easier.

As a manager, I know that there is a good chance I have employees and colleagues who have dealt with mental illness and in fact in the past tense people do tend to be fairly open about it. Current tense, as in “my job performance is suffering, it is because I am dealing with clinical depression” is more rare, the person suffering is liable to say something more along the lines of “I am so sorry I am falling behind in my work, I haven’t been sleeping well, my kids are exhausting, so I am really tired, I am going to get back on track” This is entirely plausible so why dig deeper? I could but I have learned that in my role I cannot be both someones boss and their therapist, despite my clinical background.  We have an EAP, and I regularly refer people to it. The service is there, but that does not mean that the attitude is, or that stigma doesn’t exist. I have heard lots of derogatory terms tossed about in regards to psychiatry. Negative implicit attitudes towards people who are or have been off for psychiatric reasons. I will be the first to admit, I do not think that psychiatric conditions, true mental illnesses rather than a stress reaction, with the exception of PTSD should be workers comp claims, but not everyone on sick leave is paid by workers comp.

What people do not often realize is that the best and the brightest often have traits that make them extremely susceptible to mental health problems. But it is also what makes them good at their jobs. It is also what keeps them from admitting to the problem, sometimes until it is too late.

What about parents, particularly parents of older children, there is so much information and resources about postpartum depression and some about postpartum psychosis. But there is very little about depression in a parent of an older child, and what is available from academia anyway is very discouraging, all of a sudden not only does the parents whole world seem black and dark and hopeless, they feel like they have doomed their children to the same life because research seems to indicate the child of someone with a mental illness, the offspring of depressed mothers, are at higher risk of depression and mental health problems. This is scary stuff.

mentillnessYet, mental illness is still taboo. It is still stigmatized, even within the health care community. No one wants to hear about it. They will bring flowers, cards, gifts and loving attention when your heart, lungs or other vital organs are compromised, but the psychological, which does FYI come from an organ, the brain, a pretty essential one too, that well that just gets a quick uncomfortable “get well soon” and to get back to the workplace the risk of losing ones job.

What/whom do you think of when you hear Mental Illness?

I am sure you are not picturing your role model, favourite celebrity, childhood hero, boss, employee or best friend. But it’s entirely possible that they have or are suffering from one of the many mental illnesses that lurk invisibly among us.

It is time to change your perceptions.

parsley and onionsAs a thank you for listening to my views on a very serious problem, here is a delicious recipe of sunshine and happiness. Tabbouleh is my happy food.  I am still trying to mimic the tabbouleh of my childhood, true Lebanese tabbouleh, the kind I can still only get in sit down expensive Lebanese restaurants Daou and Ezo. This recipe is not part of that process however, it was an attempt to make a quick lunchbox for the kids that would be fresh and delightful. It turned out wonderfully, took only 15min to toss together, and the fresh ingredients photograph beautifully so here you are:

And its another allergen-free special.

Chickpea Tabbouleh

Serves: 4-6                     Prep time: 15min                             Cook time: NONE

1 bunch parsley (just the leaves, remove all stems)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 small red onion (for milder taste use a green onion)
1 19oz can of no-salt added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
pinch pepper
pinch allspice

Remove the leaves from the parsley and mint, discard the stems. wash and dry well. Put in food processor with the red onion (roughly chopped) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. put in bowl and add the chickpeas.

Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and allspice together and pour over the salad, mix well.

I love this the next day, when the flavours have all intermingled. chickpeatab3

Apple Twisties Salad.

IMG_4249[1] Apple-zucchini salad with roasted chickpeas.

Twisties: a word made up to entice a couple of 4yr olds to try radish. It is now used liberally that we have a spiral cutter.


Serves: 4 or more (4 as a very satisfying meal)

About:  Although my kids do like salads and veggies, certain words scare them. Zucchini is one of them. There is something about the name that causes mass hysteria in this house. Twisties goes over better, in fact the zucchini here became “pasta twisties” The crunch of the roasted chickpeas and the sweetness of fruit salad and its dressing make this a surefire hit. Continue reading Apple Twisties Salad.