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Creamy Avacado and Asparagus Pasta

June 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I love anything green.   It’s my favourite colour.  From the bridesmaid’s dresses in my wedding to anything St. Patrick’s day.  Green, Green GREEN!!  I LOVE green and this pasta dish is no exception to the rule.

Not only do I love the colour green, but you can usually get a sense of the nutritional value of a vegetable by its green colour.  Asparagus is:

  • Low in calories, only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.
  • Contains no fat or cholesterol.
  • Very low in sodium.
  • A good source of potassium
  • A source of fiber (3 grams per 5.3 oz. serving
  • An excellent source of folic acid
  • A significant source of thiamin
  • A significant source of vitamin B6
  • One of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.

And to compliment that asparagus, avocados contain high amounts folate, and potassium. Avocados are also higher in potassium than bananas are, and will fight high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease.  avocados contain good fats and are extremely high in monosaturated fats.  These fats will improve the healthy fats levels in the body and help control diabetes.

Avocados are high in fiber. Most people do not get enough fiber in their daily diet-avocados contain about 10grams of fiber per one avocado.

Avocados maximize nutrient absorption from vegetables. Eating a few slices of avocado with a salad promotes the body’s ability to absorb health-promoting carotenoids which provide the body with much-needed nutrients.

Avocados can actually be used to promote a healthy weight. Despite its high caloric and fat content, this fruit can be helpful in promoting weigh management. This is because its monosaturated fats speed up metabolism, as well as give the person eating it a feeling of fullness quicker and thus, reducing the temptation to eat foods high in sugar or carbohydrates.

This dish is both creamy and delicious and loaded with nutrients.  Modified from the recipe on one of my favourite food blogs http://ohsheglows.com/ this dish still whips up in about 15 minutes flat.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  6 minutes
Serves:  2

1 medium-sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste (i’ve used 3 cloves, but I I love garlic as much as I like green, so you could also take it down a few notches here if you are a vampire)
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Basil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used kamut udon noodles)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 10 spears asparagus sliced thinly
1/4 cup pine nuts for sprinkling

Bring water to a boil stove-top to cook the noodles.

Place everything in a food processor except for the asparagus (and the noodles).  Blend until creamy.  If you need a little bit extra liquid to loosen the mixture (it should be thick and creamy, but not stiff) you can add a bit more lemon juice.

Boil the noodles according the the package directions.  If you use the soba noodles as I have, they only take about 6 minutes.  Throw the asparagus into the boiling water with the noodles when there is about 3 minutes left in the noodle cooking time.

Drain the noodles and asparagus and toss with the sauce.  Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve with garlic toast.  Heaven.

*note:  this pasta actually makes about 3 servings if you are having bread with your meal.  It does save in the fridge for about a day before it starts to lose it’s green and turn a off-green (but it still tastes great as leftovers the next day!)


Cornish Pasties

June 9th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Game 4.  Although the sun has started to shine and the atmosphere has started to feel warm and summery and my palate usually sways towards fresh salads and raw foods at this time of year…. I had a hankering for a little pub food to spice up game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs….with a SwapMeat twist of course!

When I think of English pub food, I think of Fish and Chips, Cornish Pasties, Chips and Gravy – a heart attack on a plate so to speak.  Yum!!  And for that reason I steer clear of animal product as I would be down the pub every night!  Tonight however I’ll replicate those tasty treats into a healthier version of pub on a plate with my gluten-free bean pasties and nut butter parsnip fries.  This meal should keep you out of the cardiac ward for a while longer.

A pasty, sometimes known in (West) Cornish dialect as tiddy oggy, and sometimes as pastie or British pasty in Canada, is a filled pastry case, associated with Cornwall and Devon, in the south-west of England, UK. It is made by placing the uncooked filling on a flat pastry circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The traditional Cornish pasty, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe, is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked. Today, the pasty is the food most associated with Cornwall and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy according to Wikipedia.

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Makes 6-8 medium pasties

**I have also filed these under “quick dinners’ because if you make extra and freeze them uncooked, it’s just a matter of throwing them in the oven on a night where you have less time to make dinner!

For the Filling:

3-4 peeled and chopped potatoes (I prefer a waxy variety)
½ peeled and chopped onion
2 carrots
3 tsp vegetable stock granules
1 cup rinsed and drained kidney beans
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to at 375F.

I have some pastry left in my freezer from a Quiche recipe I made a few weeks ago which I will use.  If you want to make it from scratch, you can find the recipe here.  Alternately, you could use your own favourite pastry recipe.

To make this like a traditional “meat” filling, you can process your raw vegetables in a food processor by shredding them.  This will give the filling a more “minced meat” like consistency.  Alternately, you could chop your veg into about 1cm cubes for a chunkier filling, but I might suggest that you sauté the filling in a pan before filling the pasties if you choose to go this method.  Once your vegetables are chopped or shredded, transfer them to a bowl, add the beans and the vegetable stock granules.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

Roll the pastry out to about 1/8” thick and cut into about 4” rounds.  Spoon the filling into the centre of each pastry circle. Dampen the edge of the pastry with water, fold pastry over to form a half circle and pinch together.

Place the pasties onto the prepared baking sheet, brush each non-dairy milk,  and prick with a fork to let the steam escape.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with Nut Buttered Parsnip Fries (they will change your life)!  Or a fresh green salad.

Go Canucks GO!!

Pesto Gnocchi

May 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

This is good stuff – what more can I say?  This dish comes together in about 20 minutes flat.  A gnocchi dish is incredibly easy to make and is very inexpensive.  My neighbourhood grocer,  Donalds market, has gnocchi on sale this week for $1.39 a package, and in this recipe, that serves about 4 people.  I keep packages in the freezer and when I’m running short on time, gnocchi can go straight from the deep freeze, right into the boiling water and be done in about 3 minutes.  I load this up with mushrooms and grape tomatoes – but you could really add any of your favourite veg – play around!

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes


1 375g pkg gnocchi
grapeseed oil for sauteing
1/2 recipe for vegan pesto
10-15 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
4 cups mushrooms (chopped or whole)
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup frozen green peas

I recommend reading through this recipe before you begin.  You want to time your gnocchi cooking time with the sautéed vegetables so that everything is ready at the same time.  This can take a bit of practice. If your gnocchi is done a little too quickly, it will sit aside and stick together.  You want to avoid that.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  When it boils, you will add your gnocchi keeping in mind that the gnocchi only takes about 3 minutes to cook – so you can really wait right until the end of the veg cooking to do this..

I like to cut my vegetables into pieces that are about the size of a piece of gnocchi.  Sometimes I’ll leave the mushrooms whole for a textural treat.  I’ll leave that up to you.

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat some oil and saute the mushrooms until tender (about 10 minutes)  I do all of this as my water for the gnocchi is heating to a boil.   Add the red pepper to the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes.  I never want to overcook my vegetables.  You will lose the nutrients and the crispness of the lightly sautéed veg is a nice textural compliment to the gnocchi.

You want to time the cooking of your gnocchi with about the time you add your red peppers to the sautéed mushrooms as the gnocchi will take about 3 minutes to cook – it’s very quick.  You can tell they are done as the dumplings float to the surface.  As the dumplings start to float to the water’s surface, add your frozen peas to the sautéed vegetable mixture.  Give a good stir and then drain your gnocchi (again, this is a timing thing.  You want your peas to stay nice and green and not turn brown from over-cooking).

Add the cooked gnocchi to your sautéed vegetables and about half a recipe (about 1/2- 3/4 cup) of your pesto.  Toss with the chopped grape tomatoes (you don’t want to cook these – the heat of the gnocchi and sautéed veg will just bring them up to a nice temperature).

Voila.  Dinner in about 20 minutes.

*note – gnocchi does contain wheat flour.



Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

May 1st, 2011 § 10 comments § permalink

The original recipe for the Quiche’s batter can be found at Vegalicious Recipes.  I’ve altered a few things from the original recipe and added a few of my favourite Quiche vegetables. I’ve also used a vegan, gluten-free pie crust.  I found it really difficult to develop a gluten-free pastry recipe that was similar to a wheat crust (and tender and flakey like a wheat crust).  In the end, I chose to use a flour mix from the Gluten Free Pantry that was formulated for a pie crust.  It worked beautifully and took the guess-work out of the flour ratios.
1 x 9″ wheat free pie crust
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups wild mushrooms
1/2 lb fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
8 tablespoons chickpea flour
5 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I’ve used unsweetened almond)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tomato, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese

Slow roasted Garlic Cherry Tomatoes for the top

Preheat the oven to 400 (F).

For the slow roasted tomatoes, slice 2 baskets of sweet cherry or grape tomatoes and place in a roasting pan.  Chop 6-8 cloves of garlic and toss into the tomatoes with a little olive oil.  Slow roast at 250F for about 2 hours.

In a saute pan, saute the asparagus until al-dente. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Santee the mushrooms until they start to sweat and lose their liquid.

In a blender, mix the chickpea flour, water, soy milk, vinegar, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, and tomato.  Puree until it is a smooth batter.

Cover the bottom of the raw pie shell with a layer of fresh pesto. Place the sautéed vegetables in the bottom of the pie shell and sprinkle with Daiya cheese.  Pour the batter over the vegetables.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the batter becomes solid.

Top with roasted cherry tomatoes and enjoy!

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

April 19th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Before Daiya became available in Canada, I used to order a cheese-less pizza from the local pizzeria and pretend like it was something enjoyable.  It somewhat filled the gap – but nothing like the real thing if you are a lover of cheese.  Cheese was something that I was afraid I would miss dearly when I gave up the animal product, but it was only a matter of time before there was a fantastic vegan equivalent on the market… Daiya cheese.

First it came in the form of Loving Hut; my little guilty pleasure vegan fast food hangout that served pizza topped with great toppings and Daiya cheese Loving Hut also made things like vegan Caesar salad, “chicken” nuggets, and poutine made with mushroom gravy and Daiya mozza!  I was in heaven if the need to indulge ever came over me.  Then, one sad day, Loving Hut burnt down and it never came back.  It still brings a tear to my eye to think of it.  Sadly Loving Hut fell off the Vancouver circuit.

But one day – one GLORIOUS day, Daiya cheese came to Canada!  Now all North Americans alike can make a perfect pizza that doesn’t cost them a Loving Hut arm and leg.  My pizzas taste (If I may toot my own horn) like pizza found in the land of the boot – it doesn’t get better than this!  I can’t say enough wonderful things about this stuff.  It behaves EXACTLY as cheese should.  It melts, it stretches, it re-heats beautifully – it IS cheese!  Daiya does a cheddar and a mozza version of shredded cheese and they have recently added a new flavor:   PepperJack!  Tonight my vegan friends, we gave this new heavenly flavor a whirl on one of our Canucks playoff game pizzas.  The outcome?  Brilliance.

I can’t take credit for these pies.  Jason made them both from scratch tonight (dough and all!).  I’m not posting a specific recipe for toppings with this blog entry because pizza is really a personal creation.   He made a “Meat” Lovers pie with Daiya PepperJack and an Italian Veggie with Daiya Mozza.  The one thing I would suggest is that you don’t want to use too many vegetables that contain a lot of water or you will end up with a soggy crust as the water is released during baking.  If you really want to load your pizza, I’d suggest cooking off, or roasting the veg in advance, but on pizza, sometimes less is more.  A few mushrooms, some spinach, a little red onion….the list is wide open for you to create the pizza masterpiece you can call your own.  Finish with a light layer of Daiya and bake in a 450F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble and the crust is golden.  Here is Jason’s pizza dough recipe, but you can always use a pre-made pizza shell in a pinch, which you can buy at most grocery stores.


1 cup water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups spelt flour *
1/2 + 1 tbsp kamut flour*
1 3/4 tsp yeast

*you could use any glutenous flour here

Jason made this in the bread machine on the dough cycle, but you could just as easily make it by hand.  In the bread machine place all the ingredients into the machine in the order that they appear and set the machine as per the instructions for the dough cycle.  If making by hand, combine the water, sugar and yeast.  Let sit for a few minutes and then combine with the dry ingredients.  Knead by hand until a dough consitency is reached, and then let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour in the bowl under a tea towel.  Roll and top with your favourite toppings.

We baked this pizza on a pizza stone in the oven at 450F for about 25 minutes.  Makes two medium-sized thin crust pizzas.

Happy Pizza Night everyone!

Pesto Mushroom “Risotto”

March 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

With a lack of sleep the night before, and early rise this morning followed a long day of work, dinner tonight had to be quick, simple, and satisfying.  You can all relate I know!
Pesto can take something plain and somewhat bland, and turn it into something bold and satisfying as you are about to find out.  I’m calling this “risotto” because it isn’t risotto in its traditional form made with Arborio rice, cream, butter and cheese.  The cannellini beans and the pesto give my version of risotto that creamy, “cheesy” texture that fool your buds into thinking otherwise.  If you don’t have the time to make your own pesto from scratch, or you don’t have the means, Jason recently discovered a great little vegan pesto product by le Grand.  The only down side to this product is the protein content (there isn’t any).  I make my fresh pesto with cashews which supply the protein needed, but if you in a pinch and want to try this ready-made pesto, you can always mix in a little nutritional yeast to boost the protein, or sprinkle the dish with seeds or nuts (or even better…both!).

Servings:  4
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  35-40 minutes


½ cup short grain organic brown rice
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 cups mushrooms, quartered
Grapeseed oil for sautéing
¼ cup fresh or ready-made pesto
1 15oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the rice according to the directions.
As the rice is cooking, wash and chop the vegetables.

About 10 minutes before the rice will be finished, heat a little oil in a large sauté pan and add the mushrooms.  Sauté about 5 minutes.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and let the mushrooms sweat slightly (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove the lid and add the beans.  The mixture will be a little soupy at this point.
With the heat at medium high, continue to cook the mushrooms and beans until the juices have cooked off.  Once the mixture has no liquid, remove from the heat and add the rice, pesto, and tomatoes and toss together until mixed. Toss gently, trying not to mash the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and garnish with a basil leaf or sprinkle with some sesame seeds or toasted pine nuts.

Relax with a large glass of red wine and enjoy!

Vegan Living Caesar Salad

March 24th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Two of my most favourite things from the “old days” are Caesar Salad and Chicken Fingers.  Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve created the exact dish in vegan form?  It’s true!!  I’m really NOT joking.   My Caesar Salad is an adaptation from Troterr and Klein’s book Raw.  For the “chicken fingers“, Gardein makes an amazing version.  I actually have a really hard time believing that they are not real thing.  While made with soy, something I usually try to avoid, I treat myself  on occasion to this 90 calorie version of the old days…


1 head Romain lettuce
3/8 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove of garlic (as I don’t mind garlic, I usually add 2 or 3 cloves)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1tbsp nutritional yeast
1tbsp Nama Shoyu
1/2 tsp dulse flakes
1/2 tsp raw agave nectar
1/2 cup of water (may need a little less or more – add slowly)
1/4 cup water, reserved to help adjust thickness of dressing
freshly ground pepper to taste (I add quite a bit)
2tbsp capers

Clean and dry the lettuce and tear into bit size pieces.  Set aside.

For the dressing, put everything on the ingredients list (except the lettuce and capers) into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.  How much dressing you like on your salad is really up to you, but I start with a few tablespoons and then toss with my clean hands until all the lettuce is coated.  Add more dressing if desired and toss again with the capers.  You can add croutons to your salad if you choose (I haven’t this time but stay tuned for a recipe in the future.  If you are adding store bought croutons, be sure to make sure they are animal free.).  Guilt free comfort food….

Butternut Squash Rancheros

March 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A play on the classic breakfast option, Butternut Squash Rancheros is rich, mildly spicy and truly satisfying on a cold winter night.   I’ve adapted this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen to include some leafy greens and some cheesy nutritional yeast to boost the protein and B12 content of this dish.

1 medium sized butternut squash
olive oil for baking
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1  yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups baby spinach
15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Sliced scallions to serve
raw sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel the butternut squash and slice off the ends. Chop the bulbous part off and scoop out seeds. Slice everything widthwise into just a little under 1 inch thick slices.

Drizzle one tablespoon of oil onto the baking sheet and dredge butternut slices in oil. Drizzle the remaining oil over the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, then flip, sprinkle with a little salt, and bake another 15 minutes. It should be cooked through and a browned at this point.

Turn the heat up to broil. Place baking sheet under broil and cook for about 5 minutes, the squash should be dark brown in places caramelized. The rings may cook faster than the other slices, so remove them sooner if necessary.  In the meantime…

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan, over medium heat. Dry toast the seeds in the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and a few shades darker, just be careful not to burn. Raise the heat to medium high, add the oil and saute the onion, peppers and garlic for about 10 minutes, until onions are browned.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the beans and tomato sauce until blended but still slightly chunky.  Add to the sauteed mixture on the stove.

Add the nutritional yeast and stir until combined.  Add the spinach, and continue to cook over medium heat until heated through and the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes.

You can serve this on either a place or a pasta bowl.  Pour a layer of saucy beans in the bowl and top off with 2 or 3 slices of squash. Garnish with scallions and a dollop of raw sour cream.

Creamy Avocado Alfredo

March 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I have come across variations of this recipe from time to time in my travels, and keeping with the St. Patrick’s day green theme, I decided it was time to give it a go.  I took this recipe from one of my favourite blog spots “Oh She Glows” and I don’t think I changed a thing.  This dish only takes about 15 minutes to make!

I did speak to Angela on the post regarding leftovers on this meal.  Does it keep?  She hadn’t tried it and wasn’t sure it would.  I put my leftover sauce in a container for lunch the next day and covered the surface with some seran wrap before putting the lid on.  I tossed my cooked noodles slightly in a little olive oil, kept them separate, re-heated them in the lunch room, then tossed them with the sauce.  It hadn’t browned one iota.  Green as the day she made it…

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used 3oz spelt udon noodles and they were beautiful)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Make the sauce as the pasta is cooking by placing everything into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

When pasta is done, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.*

*I only tossed half my sauce with half the noodles, stored them separately in the refrigerator overnight as mentioned above, and took the remainder for lunch today.  Delicious!

Sweet Potato or Yam Falafel

March 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

One of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver is Nuba, which I discovered long ago when I had broken my arm and searched the city for vegan options on which to survive.  Since then the restaurant has taken off and opened several locations.  To this day my mouth waters when someone mentions their name.  They make THE BEST falafel on the planet and their Najib plate is to DIE for.  Seriously.

Speaking of falafel, I have seen this recipe floating around the past few weeks, first on the blog site 101 Cookbooks which was then posted to Oh She Glows as part of the Recipe Link Love.  I LOVE falafel, so I had to try it.  I didn’t sprinkle with sesame seeds as I didn’t have any, but feel free.  I found this recipe to taste a little more like Indian pakoras than Lebanese falafel, but tasty none the less, and definitely worth a go.  I will work on authenticating that Lebanese taste in future posts.

2 medium sweet potatoes (yellow) or yams (orange), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
a scant cup (120g) chickpea flour
a splash of olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Peel and cut the sweet potato into about 1″ cubes.  Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until the potato is tender.  Remove from heat, mash and let cool.  I did this the night before so that when I came home from work the following day, the potato mixture would already be cool and making this dish would be speedy!

Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well.  Make sure there are no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).

Using a couple of soup spoons (put a well-heaped spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides) or a falafel scoop if you have one, make the mixture into falafelly looking things and brush with a little oil. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown. I turned mine over at about the half way mark so that the other side would have a chance to crisp too.

Makes about 18 falafel, enough for 4 – 6.

I served mine with a dollop of hummus, fresh garden salad and some cauliflower drizzled with lemon and olive oil and sprinkled with some course sea salt.  Delicious.

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