Monday, December 7, 2009

Vegan Chewy Chocolate Brownies

My friend over at A Season to Taste has been asking for this recipe. It's taken a while to post it though! I first got it from a cooking workshop we put together at Le Frigo Vert over ten years ago, and the brownies are truly amazing! They are soft, rich and chewy. And very easy!

Vegan Chewy Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup water
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cocoa
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts

Stir together the 1/2 cup flour and water in a saucepan over low heat until very thick. I use a whisk initially to stop it going lumpy. Then cool the mixture to room temperature. (This is important!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. (I've used two 8 x 8 pans with success as well.)

In a large bowl combine the sugar, salt, vanilla, and cocoa. Add the cooled flour/water mixture. Stir together. Add the oil and mix well until smooth and the oil doesn't separate out of the batter. (This can take a while.)

Add the remaining flour, baking powder and chopped nuts. (*For a chewier brownie replace up to 1/2 cup of flour with ground almonds. Highly recommended!) Mix well until all ingredients are blended. The batter will be fairly thick.

Transfer batter to pan(s). Bake 25-35 minutes until firm and a knife inserted into the centre comes out 'clean.'


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegetarian Diets Get the Nod from the ADA

The American Dietetic Association has had a positive position on vegetarian diets for well over a decade, possibly longer, with the publication of their position paper in 1997 (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November 1997, Volume 97, Number 11).

Well, now they've reaffirmed that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet is "appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes" (Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282) I think the inclusion of "all stages of life" is very important. While most people are now accepting of vegetarian diets for adults, vegetarian--and especially vegan--diets for children and pregnant women are still frequently frowned on.

Another keyword here is 'well-planned'. Simply substituing lettuce, broccoli or rice for the traditional meat on your plate doesn't cut it nutritionally. But well-planned doesn't have to mean complicated. Here are a couple of tips from the folks at Vegetarian Nutrition and the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Salsa Time!

Well, the weather outside may still be chilly, but I've already got my summer tastebuds on. This simple recipe for homemade salsa takes about 10 minutes to make. Serve it alongside slightly warmed corn tortillas as a dip, or to top off vegetarian burritos or tostadas. It also works really well on top of baked marinated tofu, veggie burgers, or vegetarian meat-style loafs. Or add a couple of cups of cooked chickpeas for tasty light lunch.

Fresh Raw Salsa
1–2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, diced
spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 avocado, stoned, peeled and diced
juice of 1 lime

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

With your hands, mix together the chillies, tomatoes, onions and coriander in a bowl. Squeeze slightly as you mix.

Add the avocado, lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top Vegetarian Athletes

A neat slideshow from the folks over at

"It's still a common question: can vegetarians perform as well as their carnivorous counterparts in physical competition? Take a look at each of the top level athletes in this slideshow, and you should have your answer. These 10 vegetarian athletes rose to the top of the sports world--without any help from meat."

Watch slideshow.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

The other day the vegetable market near me had a special on cauliflower. I happen to love cauliflower, so a bought a few heads. My freezer was running low on prepared soups (great for lunches and unexpected guests!), so I decided to have an evening of soup-making. Or rather, about 30 minutes of soup making--this recipe is so easy. I also made a batch of cheese sauce for the freezer using a thicker and cheesier version of the same recipe (see end of recipe for how I did this). It's adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup
Serves about 6

1 large cauliflower, cut up
1 carrot, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
4 cups water
about 3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups cups extra old cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp dill
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed

Boil the cauliflower, carrot, onions, and garlic in 4 cups of salted water until soft. Puree everything in a food processor or blender. Add milk to adjust thickness. Transfer puree back into saucepan. Add cheese, dill and caraway seed. Heat and serve. (Garnish with a bit of fresh dill or caraway and grated cheese.)

Tips: Use the milk to adjust the thickness of the soup. If you have a really big cauliflower head, you may also need more water. This recipe also works well as a straight cauliflower soup without the cheese, however because of the carrot the soup will be a pale orange. To make a cheese sauce instead of soup, use less water or milk and more cheese.

When I made both the other night, I tripled the recipe without the cheese and made a lot of thick puree of the cauliflower 'soup'. Then I added about a cup of extra old cheese (grated) to about two cups of the puree. That give me a jar of cheese sauce for the freezer. I diluted the remainder of the puree with milk. That gave me the cauliflower soup, about half of which I froze like that. To the other half I added extra old cheddar to get a cauliflower-cheese soup.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exploring Raw Food

Raw foodism is philosophy and lifestyle that promotes consuming foods in their raw form. Some folks believe that raw or living food provides more vital energy and numerous health benefits, as well as leaving a smaller ecological footprint. I haven't looked into raw food extensively, but I have had the opportunity to taste some really interesting raw food meals over the years, and I've found them really flavourful and tasty with interesting textures.

If you'd like to try some raw food, Crudessence Cafe (105 Rachel West) is a raw food juice bar, café, and catering service in the Plateau Mont Royal district. It also offers courses in preparing raw foood and it's health benefits. .

I also came across a raw food meetup group that has regular raw food potluck. Raw-food curious are welcome.

And I wish I could remember the name of it: There is also a raw food caterer in the Laurentians. I've come across them regularly at the Val David Marché D'Eté.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In my Corn Pudding recipe last week I said you could just omit the eggs in the recipe without much impact. I actually discovered this accidentally since I made the recipe once and forgot the eggs. But simply skipping eggs in recipes doesn't always work. Eggs are often used in baked products because of their binding and leavening properties. So what do you substitute when a recipe calls for eggs?

A good substitute in muffins or quick breads is one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with two tablespoons of cold water, per egg. And if you don't mind altering the flavour a bit, half a banana, mashed, substitutes quite nicely for an egg in most baked products as well. Silken tofu can replace the traditional cream cheese and egg in cheesecake, and tahini is a great way to keep vegetarian loaves and burgers together. Of course, there are always commercial egg replacers, but read the ingredients carefully, sometimes they do contain egg white.

Lastly, if eggs are the centrepiece of the recipe--say in an angel cake or a soufflé, you may be out of luck. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Smoothie Heaven

I can tell when the season starts to change from winter to spring because I start to trade in my morning porridge and dried fruit for a bowl of yogourt and fresh fruit. Or, if fresh fruit isn't in season yet, a yogourt-based smoothie using frozen fruit. For me, it's important that I get a dose of protein and whole grains in my breakfast. This breakfast smoothie fits my bill, and fills my tummy, nicely.

Breakfast Smoothie
1/4 cup of oatmeal
1 small banana
1 cup of frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup of low fat yogourt
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup juice (like orange or orange-strawberry-banana)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

For entire recipe: 410 calories, 17 g protein, 4 g fat, 83 g carbs, 34% RDA calcium, 20% RDA iron

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Corn Pudding

Every now and again I rediscover this recipe. A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a simple yet somewhat exotic recipe to bring to a potluck, and even though I probably haven't made this dish in years for some reason it sprung to mind. It was a definite success. For a vegan recipe, this dish can be made without the eggs and using soy milk and a vegan cheese.

2 1/2 cups of frozen corn (about 2/3 of a 750 g bag)
4 spring onions
3-4 medium green chilies, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
300 g Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup of yellow cornmeal (#250)
1/2 tsp baking powder, low-sodium
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs (optional)
2 Tbs of butter, unsalted
2 1/4 cups of lowfat milk
2 Tbs lemon juice

Put a large baking dish in cold oven and set oven temperature to 425 F. Combine milk and lemon juice together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

While oven is heating, dice the red peppers and chilies, and chop the spring onions. Dice enough cheese to measure 1 cup and grate the remainder of the cheese. Break the eggs into a small bowl and quickly whisk them lightly.

By now, the milk and lemon juice should have started to curdle. Add the eggs, vegetables and cheese. Stir to combine.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Add butter to the hot dish and swirl it around until the butter is melted and the sides of the dish coated. Set it down on the stove top.

Quickly add the milk/vegetable mixture to the cornmeal mixture in the big bowl. Stir until just combined. (Do not overstir.) Pour the corn mixture into the hot casserole dish. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl. Top with grated cheese.

Bake in upper third of the over for about 25 minutes at 425F, or until golden and firm but slightly soft in the centre. Remove from oven. Let pudding sit fr 5 minutes and then serve.

Serves 4 as a complete meal or about 8 as a side dish.

For 1/8 of recipe: 335 calories, 17g protein, 19 g fat, 27g carbohydrate, 41% RDA calcium, 6% RDA iron.

This recipe was adapted from International Great Meals in Minutes published by Time Life Books.

What to Write

I've spent the last month or so in a quandary because I recently find myself with time to start posting on this blog again. But what to say? I can't just suddenly start posting recipes and tips after a whole year hiatus. Well, I could, but it seems to odd to me. So I've been putting off writing about all the wonderful ideas perculating in my mind and the kitchen, because I simply didn't know where, or when, to start.

A friend commented to me today, "well just get going on it." And she's right of course. There really isn't anything magical or mystical about it. Either I get going, or I don't. So, here I am, getting going on it. Now to poke Michael....