July 4, 2010

My new favourite salad

I’m not sure how to account for this, but lately my inner avocado monster seems to have been on vacation. Normally, I eat at least a half avocado per day, usually massaged into a massive kale salad and consumed on my lunch break. But over the past week or so, my usual kale-avocado combo has felt entirely unappealing. It’s not the kale, because I still go through that greeny goodness like nobody’s business, so it must be the avocado. Maybe I’ve finally grown tired of eating variations on this salad theme, or maybe my body is trying to tell me something. At any rate I was inspired to make a new kale creation , and thus here we are.

The inspiration for this salad started with one of everyone’s favourite raw foodies, Sarma. In a recent blog post, she wrote about her new pumpkin seed salad. I had never used pumpkin seed oil before, but just last weekend I randomly encountered it in one of the health food stores I frequent, so I picked up a bottle. (It just so happened this purchase took place while I was taking a break from G20 protests in Toronto. I’ll save for another day the story of how I then had to stash the bottle in my office building for the rest of the day. In case of a police search, I wouldn’t want to end up with a concealed weapon charge. Seriously, things were that crazy here over the G20 weekend.)

Pumpkin seed oil is fabulous! I wasn’t expecting it to have such a dark green tint – it will even stain your hands slightly. The bottle I bought claims to be cold-pressed so I’m assuming it’s raw.

The remaining inspiration for this salad came from my bountiful garden. I’ll post some new pics soon, but let’s just say things are growing well. I’ve been harvesting tons of kale, romaine and red leaf lettuce recently, and the herbs on my rooftop patio are a never-ending source of joy. Here’s the delicious result — fresh greens and herbs massaged with flavourful oil, topped with crispy cucumber and fennel, and pine nut parmesan.

Pumpkin Seed & Parmesan Greens

Ingredients

3 cups of kale, torn into pieces

1 cup of romaine lettuce, torn into pieces

1 cup red leaf lettuce, torn into pieces

2 tsp pumpkin seed oil

1/3 bulb fennel, thinly sliced

15 slices English cucumber (peeled if your cuke isn’t organic)

small handful each of thai basil, mint, parsley and chives, chopped coarsely

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

In a large salad bowl, massage the greens with the pumpkin seed oil. Add fennel, cucumber and herbs to the bowl and mix well to combine.

Next, make the pine nut parmesan by processing all ingredients in a coffee grinder until totally combined – it should be crumbly and slightly oily. Scrape it out of the coffee grinder and sprinkle on top of the salad. Devour with gusto!

If you don’t have pumpkin seed oil, olive oil also tastes beautiful. And if you don’t feel like shelling out the big bucks for pine nuts (those suckers can break the bank), I suggest using another oily nut instead, like walnuts or macadamias. You can use a food processor as well for the raw vegan parmesan, but you might need to triple the recipe so the processor has enough to work with. I find the coffee grinder is ideal for small batches.

I hope my American friends are having a fabulous Fourth of July! In Toronto, we are having our own celebration today – Toronto’s world famous Pride Parade! This is my first year marching in it and I’m beyond excited to a) join in on the fun, and b) more importantly, support my friends in the queer community and work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression

July 2, 2010

Key lime pie smoothie

Happy belated Canada Day! With our nation’s birthday falling on a Thursday this year, it means that many kind employers, including mine, have closed their doors today to allow us Canucks to enjoy a 4-day weekend. Coupled with my G20-related 4-day weekend last weekend, and next week where I’m taking Thursday and Friday off to be in a friend’s wedding in the Maritimes, I’m doing pretty well for time off! The rest of this weekend will be spent in the gym, the garden, and getting some Vitamin D on my rooftop patio 🙂

I made this little sip of heaven yesterday after the gym, and it was so good that I just have to share the recipe. It contains Sun Warrior protein (like most of my favourite smoothies) because it was a post-workout smoothie. But feel free to omit the protein if you don’t have any on hand or just don’t feel like you need it. I might suggest adding a pack of stevia powder if you do skip it since Sun Warrior is sweetened with stevia.

Key Lime Pie Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

1 frozen banana

1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior protein

1/2 green apple, roughly chopped

1 lime – juiced and zested

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp spirulina (for colour)

1 cup ice

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until completely smooth. Enjoy!

Note: You can leave out the xanthan gum if you wish – it acts merely as a thickener. You could try replacing it with a tablespoon of chia seeds if you have them on hand. Also, if you want to make this extra decadent, try adding a tablespoon of coconut butter, or some avocado.

Finally, I’d be a bad blogger if I didn’t leave you with some photos from last week’s dessert creation day with Nelly. We made the raw tiramisu from Sweet Gratitude and it was unreal! Layers of chocolate and vanilla cream, sandwiched between espresso soaked cake layers, all topped with cacao powder. So good. The recipe requires many different steps, but none of them are particularly difficult. Try this one soon!

June 19, 2010

Good eats and good friends

I had the great pleasure of spending time today with a few fabulous ladies, including Nelly, Lisa, Patrizia and Jenny at our long-planned and highly anticipated get together! Part of the reason I started blogging in the first place was to connect with other like-minded foodies, so spending the day with a bunch of awesome raw-oriented vegans was a total treat. I’m very grateful the thunder showers forecast for today held off because we were able to enjoy a delicious meal on the patio and sip on some sangria.

We snacked on some pretty awesome food, much of it from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials. They were pretty much all hits – so many winning recipes in this book!

I made cheddar kale chips, onion rings, and mango salad. It’s hard to go wrong with kale chips! The onion rings were OK, but just OK. They didn’t wow me… the buckwheat breading was too thick, perhaps? At any rate, probably my least favourite recipe from Ani’s new book so far, but with so many other stand-outs, it’s no big deal.

Nelly made tostadas – corn-based tortilla, topped with chipotle cheese, lettuce, salsa, walnut-based taco meat, and sour cream. So delicious!!!

Lisa brought some amazing blueberry lavender ice cream. It reminded me that I really need to start using lavender more often! Topped with some of my leftover cashew lemon cream, it was divine.

Patrizia brought vegan chocolate fudge cake and I am a lucky girl because the leftovers are now in my fridge 🙂 And Nelly, moon pie machine that she is, brought some of those babies.

I also made some amaretti cookies. Yum.

Thankfully, I was able to convince Jenny to take some of the goodies home with her so I wasn’t responsible for eathing all the leftovers! My waistline is thankful.

Kristin was supposed to join us but something came up at the last minute, so we didn’t get to sample the chocolate torte she was planning to bring. Next time! And there will definitely be a next time, so even more can join us. Wish all of you were here with us! Thanks ladies, for a wonderful afternoon!

June 14, 2010

Raw crepes from Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials

Like pretty much every other raw foodie out there, I had been eagerly anticipating the release of Ani Phyo‘s new un-cookbook, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials. I finally bought it last weekend and have been planning out what to make ever since.

The first thing I dished up was raw coconut bacon – yum! I’ve been making my own version of coconut bacon for ages, but I always used coconut chips for instant gratification. Ani’s recipe uses young coconut meat, which, after dehydrating, becomes deliciously smoky, salty and chewy. I brought some in for my carnivorous co-workers and it got rave reviews. Sorry, no photos of the bacon, but I do have this photo of the young coconuts I picked up for coconut bacon purposes. The husk was trimmed all the way down to the shell! I didn’t recognize them at first. Even after the grocer was kind enough to point them out to me, I had to stare at them for a minute before it clicked that these white spheres truly were young coconuts. Has anyone else seen these? They seemed extra tough to crack, but I did like that they took up less space in my grocery bags.

On Sunday, I tried my hand at Ani’s raw crepes. I made two kinds – apple and banana flax. They were both great, but I think I preferred the apple variety, as they were lighter and seemed to fold slightly better. Both kinds were dead easy. Blend up the ingredients, dehydrate overnight, and brunch is served!

I also made two kinds of fillings – lemon cream and a Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut cream. (As an aside note, they’re spelled “kream” in the book but for some reason words like “kream” and “mylk” just drive me nuts. So I will stubbornly continue with “cream”.)

I filled these babies with the two kinds of cream, and organic peaches and strawberries. In my opinion, the best combination was apple crepes/lemon cream/peaches! The chocolate hazelnut cream was awesome too, but something about the tart lemon + succulent, juicy peach combo is just perfect for summer.

We ate these babies upstairs on the rooftop patio and it was glorious. Happy Monday, everyone!

June 13, 2010

Almost raw frappuccino

I’ve never been much of coffee person. I love the smell, and like the taste, but coffee isn’t something I crave, think about or consume with any regularity. I guess there was a brief stint in high school where my friends and I ate disgusting fast food every day for lunch and drank lots of Tim Horton’s iced cappuccinos. But I think I liked those not so much because of the coffee, but because of the sugar and fat. Yuck! (For non-Canadian readers, Tim Horton’s is basically like Dunkin Donuts. Classy.)

Anyway, I recently got it into my head that it would be fun to create a frozen coffee beverage. I keep hearing about how good the new Starbucks vegan frappuccinos taste, and Lisa posted an awesome-looking recreation a couple of weeks ago, so I figured it would be fun to make my own healthier version at home.

Before we go on… yes, I know coffee isn’t raw, and it’s supposedly acidifying and therefore not great for you. And do I care? Not particularly. I have so few bad habits these days that a cup of coffee once a week or so isn’t going to do much damage.

This recipe is actually almost raw, with the obvious exception of the coffee. It includes Sun Warrior protein, because I like drinking this after my morning gym sessions on the weekend. I find the Sun Warrior also helps thicken up this frosty treat. If you want to skip the protein, go ahead — just add more banana, cashews and/or chia instead.

Raw-ish Frappuccino

1/2 cup almond milk (preferably raw, or use Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze if you’re lazy like I sometimes am)

3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee, chilled (preferably organic and fair trade!)

1/4 cup cashews

1 tbsp chia seeds

1.5 scoops vanilla Sun Warrior protein

1 frozen banana

1 tbsp maca powder

1 cup ice

Instructions

Blend the almond milk, coffee, cashews and chia seeds in a high speed blender until silky smooth. Add protein, frozen banana, maca and ice, and blend until ice is completely pulverized.

A fun variation on this is a Chocolate Raw-ish Frappuccino: simply add 1 tbsp raw cacao powder and/or use chocolate Sun Warrior instead. Add some agave or stevia if you find the cacao makes it too bitter for your taste.

Hope you enjoy! For someone who is an infrequent coffee drinker, I’ve always found it strange that the caffeine in coffee never gives me a buzz. Am I the only one who seems immune to the caffeine?

June 12, 2010

Girls night out at Rawlicious

I was lucky enough to hang out with one of my favourite blogger friends last night, fellow Torontonian Nelly! We hit up the backyard patio at Rawlicious for some tasty raw food, tea and conversation. It’s so fun to meet someone in person whose life you’ve been following online for ages. There is always so much to talk about! In fact we kept yakking way after the restaurant closed and eventually started to worry we were keeping them there for us (although they said we weren’t). Jenny was planning to join us, too, but sadly could not make it in the end.

We started out with the nachos, which came with olives, hot banana peppers, green onions, salsa, guacamole and raw vegan sour cream. Totally tasty.

Nelly had the nightly special, the meatloaf. (It sounds funny saying “meatloaf” instead of “nutloaf” but that’s what they called it!) WOW. It was stellar and we are both dying to find a similar recipe. Does anyone have a good raw nutloaf recipe?

I had the caesar wrap with a side salad. It was equally delicious! It was wrapped in a yummy collard leaf and included some nice, chewy croutons.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the usual dessert-focused fare on our blogs, we were both too full to stuff in any sweets. But Nelly had kindly brought me some of her moonies (this girl is a moon pie machine). We tried to bribe the restaurant staff with a moonie in exchange for the meatloaf recipe but no such luck. We left them one anyway 🙂

Nelly’s awesome moonies weren’t the only thing I left with after our Rawlicious feast… I also bought a new spiralizer – the lovely Paderno kind that makes the very best veggie noodles. I already have a Saldacco spiralizer but the thin noodles it produces are no match for the thick ones the Paderno spits out! It’s not like I really needed another kitchen appliance but what can you do… now I just have to find some cupboard space for it.

Now, for some other fun news. A few of us raw/vegan/food blogger girls from Toronto have been planning a little get together next weekend at my place to share raw desserts and any other yummy food that anyone wants to bring. We’re thinking next Saturday afternoon would be good, and we can enjoy the sunshine on my patio if the weather cooperates. So if you want to come, leave a comment or email me at rawcandyblog@gmail.com.

June 6, 2010

Raw goodies in the mail + Veggie Pride

Last week was chocolate-filled for me, thanks to Heathy! My prize for winning her ice cream cake challenge was a package of raw treats prepared by the lovely lady herself. I’m not sure if I could possibly have been much more excited when I learned the parcel had arrived that day in the mail. There was some of Heathy’s coconut vanilla crunch granola (wow), some raw chocolate caramel turtles (amazing), an orange chocolate bar with gojis (delish), chocolate hemp butter-filled cups (decadent), chocolate truffles (mmm), and fruit and nut chocolate clusters (awesome). Here’s a photographic recap for your viewing pleasure. Thanks, Heather!!

Yesterday I had a great time walking in Toronto’s inaugural Veggie Pride Parade. The best part was finally getting to meet my bloggie/Twitter friend Lisa, the Vegan Cookbook Critic! She’s every bit as sweet in person as she seems on her blog. Thanks for the walk, Lisa! It was a beautiful day outside, and was made even more wonderful by the positive energy exuded by Toronto’s enthusiastic veg community.

Me and Lisa, choosing compassion

After the parade, we went to a potluck at my community garden (I made socca!), and I had the pleasure of meeting two fellow gardener ladies who are also into raw food. We chatted green smoothies, dehydration, sprouting and raw carrot cake. I ended the day feeling lucky for good friends and good food. Here’s a photo of my plot at the garden – everything is growing so well!

From left to right, I have brussels sprouts, collard greens, carrots, beets, celeriac, chard, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, dinosaur kale, regular kale, and red cabbage. My patio garden is growing equally well – the kale is totally massive, and so is the rainbow chard. My patio peas are getting big, and my chickpeas are really taking off. I became obsessed with trying green chickpeas after reading this article – apparently they’re the new edamame. I’m pestering my local Whole Foods to start stocking them. But in the mean time, since I couldn’t find them in stores, I figured I’d grow my own.

I’ll end on this note: Nelly, Lisa and I agree us Toronto raw girls need to have a raw dessert party sometime soon. If you’re in the city and might like to join, let me know.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

May 30, 2010

Nut butter “fries” + socca

Despite the hot weather in Toronto this past week, I’ve had the urge to cook on several occasions (as opposed to my uncook, my usual activity). Maybe it’s because I buggered up my knee (again! why?!) playing softball last night and craved comfort food. Or maybe it’s because vegan food bloggers are continually coming up with recipes that are too good not to try. I think that must be the latter, because both of these treats are ones I first drooled over on other blogs.

Last weekend, after a big day of patio furniture shopping, I wanted something quick and nutritious to eat. I’d been eying nut butter root veggie fries since I first saw Angela make them on Oh She Glows. The original recipe is by Ricki, of Diet, Dessert & Dogs. (Both of these ladies have awesome blogs – check them out!) I didn’t have parsnips on hand, but I did have carrots. Here’s my take:

Carrot & Nut Butter “Fries”

Ingredients

3 large carrots, cut into fry-sized chunks

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the nut butters, soy sauce and cinnamon in a bowl. Add carrots and ensure they are well coated. Spread carrots on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

The verdict? Delicious! They didn’t last long. I’m lucky I managed to snap a photo before devouring them.

The other cooking adventure I want to share is something I first saw on Pure2Raw – socca! Lori and Michelle posted some mouthwatering photos and recipes of this French flatbread, and I’ve been dying to try it ever since. Today was the day – I picked up the necessary garbanzo bean flour this afternoon, I selected some rosemary from my patio garden, and I was set. Here’s what I did:

Rosemary and Onion Socca

Ingredients

1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour

1 cup water

2 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a small onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rosemary, chopped

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl until completely mixed. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. (Or the whole day if you have the time – it makes the socca creamier. If not, don’t worry – it will still taste amazing.) Add onions and rosemary. The batter will be very soupy — this is fine.

Grease a large cast iron skillet with the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Place in the heated oven for a few minutes until the pan is hot. Remove from the oven and pour in the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Place skillet under the broiler for several minutes to make the top crispy.

Voila! This flatbread is better than words can describe. The outside is crisp, but the inside is soft and custard-like. I ate it plain because I found the rosemary and onions were flavourful enough, but you could add any number of toppings to dress it up. I could definitely see it tasting great with some hummus, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Thank you Lori & Michele – I had never even heard of socca before you posted about it!


May 24, 2010

By request: Amaretti Cookie recipe

I had a request from a reader, Lorri, who was looking for the recipe for the amaretti cookie I used in my Chocolate Cherry Amaretto ice cream cake. Truth be told, I didn’t write the recipe down when I made it, nor did I snap photos because I ate most of them too fast, but here is my best attempt at recreating the magic!

Note that this recipe calls for fine almond flour: I make mine by grinding almonds in the food processor until they are about as fine as they can get before becoming oily, then sifting through a flour sifter to separate the coarser pieces. You can skip the sifting step if you like – they will taste the same.

Amaretti Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups fine almond flour

1/4 cup maple sugar

1 tbsp agave

1 tbsp water, or as needed

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp almond extract

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well-mixed. Add water as needed to create a dough-like consistency, but don’t let it get sticky. Roll into desired thickness, cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to a lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 115F for 24 hours or until desired firmness has been reached.

*For a quicker, no-dehydrator-required version, omit the water and add 2 tbsp melted coconut oil. Cut rolled dough into desired shapes and place cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes or until firm.

May 23, 2010

Garden update + Spring Herb Dressing recipe

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, and so far it has been a great one! We kicked it off with a trip to Ikea on Saturday, on a mission to find patio furniture. We’ve been looking for weeks, but have had one hell of a time finding a set that would fit out the narrow window-door that leads to our rooftop, where the patio is located. But Ikea never lets me down – success!

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Toronto, so I took advantage by spending a little time in my community garden plot, and a little more time tending to the potted plants in the patio garden. I’m so excited by how much the kale has grown in the three weeks since I planted it. Same thing with the herb! My mint, basil and cilantro have become especially huge – here are some progress pics.

I also planted some new little kale plants, along with a few rainbow chard.

So I took advantage of the bounty of spring herbs and created a new salad dressing for my kale, broccoli raab and cabbage salad.

Spring Herb Dressing

Ingredients

1 avocado

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp tamari

handful each of chives, cilantro, parsley

Instructions

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.