Curry Laksa

IMG_1278

Curry Laksa is one of my all time favourite dishes. Unfortunately Malaysian Restaurants can be hard to come by, especially in smaller cities like St John’s and Victoria. Finding a plant friendly option for this soup is also challenging, given that it is typically made with chicken stock, chicken and often seafood. A few years ago, I tracked down a recipe in a book called Meals in a Bowl. The recipe was good, but I decided to play around with it a bit. I wanted to make it extra special, as I was making this as part of a belated birthday lunch for my Dad this week.

We lived in Malaysia when I was really little, and this was one of his staple lunch dishes while working in Kuala Lumpur. This probably explains why my comfort foods include spicy staples like Hot & Sour Soup, and Tom Yum, as I acquired a taste for spicy foods at a very young age. This curry paste recipe has a long list of ingredients, but including them all contributes to a very tasty final product!

Curry Laksa

Curry Paste Ingredients

4 stalks lemongrass, sliced and crushed
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup almond meal
3 serrano chilies (can be subbed for jalapeno or thai chilies for more heat)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground peppercorn
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro stems and leaves
6 keffir lime leaves
2′ piece burdock, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 c avocado oil
2 tbsp water

Additional Ingredients

2 Tbsp avocado oil
3 cups mixed mushrooms (I used shitake, oyster and king oyster)
6 cups Nourishing Vegetable Stock (or vegetable stock of choice)
2 cans organic coconut milk
1 block fried tofu (or protein of choice)
1/4 cup tamari
1 lime, juiced
2 packages udon (or for a gluten free option, rice and millet ramen)
1 package rice vermicelli
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime, sliced into wedges
Handful bean sprouts, or sprouts of choice

Chili Blend

1 tbsp avocado oil
3 thai chilies, thinly sliced
4 serrano chilies, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

Directions

If using whole spices, grind in a spice grinder until ground.
Combine all paste ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. I used a Nutribullet and found it worked really well.
Warm avocado oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Add mixed mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft and moisture has evaporated.
Add Curry Laksa Curry paste and stir to combine.
Sauté for couple of minutes, until fragrant.
Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes.
Add coconut milk, and bring to a low simmer. Add tofu, and let cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add tamari and lime juice.
While the stock is cooking, prep the udon (or gluten free ramen) and rice noodles according to package directions.
Add equal amounts of the two types of noodles to large soup bowls.
Thinly slice cilantro, mint and scallions, and mix to combine.
Warm avocado oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
Sauté thai, serrano & jalapeño chilies until soft.
Ladle Curry Laksa over the noodles. Serve with the herb blend, a wedge of lime and some of the chili blend (optional) to taste.
Bean sprouts (or other sprouts of choice) are also lovely with this, I didn’t have any on hand so they didn’t make it into the picture!

Are you a fan of Malaysian Cuisine, and if so, what is your favourite dish?

Advertisements

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

I am a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel, although their music has a melancholy note to it that always leaves me a bit sad. This line from Scarborough Fair kept popping into my head last night, and ended up being the inspiration behind one of the dishes for the mushroom themed belated birthday meal I made up for my Dad and Stepmom last night.

I had planned to serve the Sautéed Mushrooms below on Mary’s Gone Crackers as an appetizer, followed by a cream of mushroom soup. My first thought was to use Kimberly Snyder’s recipe out of The Beauty Detox Foods, as it is simple and delicious. But then I started playing around with a few different ideas. I have found that since doing the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification Course  I am much less likely to follow a recipe as it is written. Instead I often find myself perusing my cookbooks and kicking it freestyle. It is a creative process that I have come to love.

I found myself quickly leafing through Vegan Secret Supper, which provided our main, a delicious mushroom, lentil and walnut tourtière, paired with Meghan Telpner’s fabulous Gluten Free Vegan Pie Crust Recipe minus the sugar. There is a gorgeous mushroom consommé recipe in Vegan Secret Supper, which included two spices that pair beautifully with mushrooms, namely rosemary and sage. Next thing I know “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” is running through my head, and I have brand new inspiration for my soup.

I served the Sautéed Mushrooms on crackers, as was my original intent, but then I also kept some aside to use as garnish in my soup. I puréed the entire batch, to give it a rich and creamy texture, and loved that the sautéed mushrooms added a bit of additional texture and an extra punch of flavour to the dish. If you don’t feel like adding this step the soup is yummy on its own, but if you do have a bit of extra time it is definitely worth adding! I felt that fresh chives rounded out both dishes nicely, giving a delicate onion flavour to the final product. I have used truffled sea salt and truffle oil in these recipes, if you don’t have this on hand it is fine without, however it does add a lovely layer of flavour to the final dish.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp avocado oil
4 cloves garlic
4 cups mixed mushrooms, diced
Pinch smoked sea salt
Pinch truffle salt
Drizzle truffle oil
Fresh cracked pepper
Finely sliced chives

Directions

Warm up olive and avocado oils in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add garlic, mushrooms, and a pinch of smoked sea salt and sauté until soft and fragrant and moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated.
Finish with a pinch of truffle salt, a drizzle of truffle oil, fresh cracked pepper and finely sliced chives.
Serve on top of crackers of your choice (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers) and garnish with a bit of the finely sliced chives.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp avocado oil
1 lg onion thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp each parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme
1 tsp smoked sea salt
Splash (about 1-2 tsp) red wine vinegar
3 cups mixed mushrooms (I used oyster, shiitake, king oyster)
4 cups Nourishing Vegetable Broth (or veg broth of your choosing)
1 can organic coconut milk
Fresh cracked pepper
Small drizzle truffle oil
Small drizzle tamari
Chives for garnish

Directions

Warm avocado oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions and sauté until soft and brown.
Add crushed garlic, and stir until fragrant (about a minute).
Add herbs and smoked sea salt, and stir to combine.
Add a splash of red wine vinegar to deglaze the pot, followed by the mixed mushrooms.
Sauté the mixture, until mushrooms are soft.
Add 4 cups veg broth, bring to a boil and then lower heat to let simmer for 10 minutes.
Purée the soup in a high speed blender until smooth. I like doing this in my vitamix as it has its own vent. If your blender doesn’t I would suggest that you purée the soup in batches, to avoid a cream of mushroom soup explosion in your kitchen! My husband just pointed out that an immersion blender would work well too.
Return the soup to the pot, and whisk in the can of coconut milk.
Finish with fresh cracked pepper, truffle oil, tamari and garnish each individual bowl with chives.

What is your all time favourite mushroom dish?


Boxing Day Blues

IMG_1274-2

Over the past few years I have started to notice that Boxing Day can be a bit of a downer. There is so much excitement and festivity (and let’s be honest, stress) leading up to Christmas, when it comes and goes, far more quickly than I might have hoped, it can be a bit of a let down. I have come up with a few tips and tricks that I use to shake it off, and hope you will find them helpful.

Gratitude

This year I had so much to be grateful for. We had a low key & relaxed Christmas, spending most of the day in our PJ’s. We had an abundance of thoughtful gifts that were chosen with care and loving respect for our more minimalist approach and what my husband likes to call our “accessible hippie” lifestyle. Other years I would have gotten worked up about making Christmas “perfect” and would have spent Boxing Day focussing on the things I didn’t do (send out holiday greetings until today for example) but this year I chose to look at things in a different way. I chose to focus on all of the things I was grateful for, both with myself and others, and felt such a profound sense of peace and appreciation. Even if things weren’t so stellar for you, there is always the option to find one or two things that did go your way. Maybe there was some family drama at the annual get together, but you had a great chat with a friend or family member. I am starting to realize that there is always something to be grateful for, even if at times it is hard to see it. I have also realized that it doesn’t need to be big, even the smallest things plant seeds for a bigger shift in perspective, and greater happiness as a result. I am no Pollyanna, I still have challenging days, but starting this practice has made a huge difference in my life. My cousin Lisa Petr’s Zen of Why teachings were instrumental to this process, she has introduced me to some amazing gratitude rituals that have helped me make this part of my daily practice.

Get Outside

When I find myself overwhelmed by experiences in life (good and bad), my first course of action is to go for a long walk. I find the simple act of spending time outdoors does a lot to reset my headspace, and is a good dose of soul food. Especially if that walk includes lots of trees and green space. A good dose of fresh air (nice and brisk this time of year) really helps to clear everything out. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, or a bit down post festivities, going out for a long walk might be just what the doctor ordered. Admittedly I live in Victoria currently, which makes it a bit easier to do, but even when faced with snow banks and much colder temperatures in Newfoundland I still found this to be a wonderful practice.

Take In The Festivities

For me, part of the let down after Christmas has to do with letting go of all of the festive lights and fun activities leading up to the holidays. That being said, lots of the fun & festive activities last through the new year, so we have started extending the celebration by taking in various activities between Christmas and New Years. It helps prolong the holiday atmosphere and allows us to have lots of fun together as a family, providing a much needed post Christmas boost.

Find The Humour

It can be so helpful to find something that will put a smile on your face, whether it is the silly slapstick of The Three Stooges, or the crazy antics of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The latter will really help with the gratitude I mentioned above; seeing how crazy other people’s families can be is guaranteed to make you feel more warm and fuzzy about your own! Either way, with laughter comes a much needed boost in seratonin, and finding the humour is a sure fire way to help you reclaim your joy.

Give Consumerism A Pass

Great sales on Boxing Day can be incredibly tempting. However the experience of wandering an overcrowded mall, fighting off the hoards and masses can be disheartening. If live action shopping isn’t your thing, online sales have their own challenges, specifically the wallet shock you’ll experience when the expert marketing engaged to encourage optimal spending on your part hits home come January. I am giving it a pass this year, and find the prospect of relaxing over a warm beverage with my family to be very appealing.

Rest

With all of the craziness of the season (parties, mailing deadlines, shopping etc.) it is pretty easy to get worn down. We were thankfully on the mend cold-wise by the time Christmas arrived this year, however my husband and I are both exhausted after a very hectic month. Rest is the simplest thing in the world, but for us I feel it is incredibly beneficial. For the next week we are focusing on letting go of the to do list and making rest a priority, including ample down time and an earlier than usual bedtime. Sleep tends to be the first thing to go for both of us, we look forward to refilling the well and entering the new year in a calm and stress free state of mind.

I would love to know what your favourite post holiday pick me ups are in the comments below!


Milk (aka Holiday Nog) and Cookies for Santa

image

Over the past few years our ritual of setting out milk and cookies for Santa has shifted somewhat. We have gone from Almond Holiday Nog in a carton to a homemade variety, created with my friend Johanna at the same time as the Gingerbread Latte I posted a few days ago. I was pretty thrilled with the end result, as the ingredients were easy to procure, and were not dependant on a steady supply of the pre-made variety, which could get scarce around the holidays.

We have tried quite a few gingerbread recipes, but this is by far my favourite. Gluten free and vegan, it is also delicious and much less sweet than a lot of the other options we have tried. I am happy to discover lower sugar variations like this one, given the over abundance of sweet treats over the holidays. This recipe came my way care of a Sobey’s cooking class, hosted in St John’s care of my friend Katrina Hache. An RHN and all around health officianado, Katrina’s health wisdom and amazing recipes can be found here. We didn’t have a chance to make the icing this time around, however I have tried it with previous batches and it is amazing! I love finding a recipe that doesn’t rely on icing sugar.

Without further ado, here are our two favourite holiday recipes, perfect for nibbling on in front of the fire, and/or leaving out for Mr. Claus and any helpers he may have on hand. Enjoy!

Holiday Nog

Nut Milk Ingredients (makes 4 cups)

1/2 cup organic almonds, soaked
1/4 cup organic cashews, soaked
1/4 cup organic macadamia nuts. soaked
3.5 cups filtered water

Additional Ingredients

1/2 cup Chaga Chai
6 Tbsp maple syrup (or less, to taste)
4 Tbsp organic coconut cream
2 tsp fresh organic lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
1 tsp lucuma
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch ground clove
pinch ground cardamom

Soak nuts 2 hours to overnight, and rinse.
Combine in a high speed blender with 3.5 cups filtered water.
Blend for a couple of minutes, until fully blended and squeeze through a nut sack.
Rinse out the blender and pour nut milk back in.
Add additional ingredients, and process until smooth.
For a warmer drink, add a bit of hot water and/or let the high speed blender run until desired temperature is reached.
* For a holiday nog latte, add 1-2 Tbsp dandy blend when adding all additional ingredients.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread People – care of Katrina Hache

Dry Ingredients

2 cups almond meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Wet Ingredients

1 tbsp chia, ground
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean powder

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Combine ground chia seeds and warm water, and let sit for 15 minutes.
In a separate, smaller bowl, beat wet ingredients (including chia “egg”) with an electric mixer, or vigorously whisk. I combined everything in my Vitamix, and found this worked really well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Form into a ball, cover, and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
When the dough is firm and chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Place a large piece of parchment or waxed paper down on a clean, flat work surface. Lightly flour the paper with rice flour. I was making these with young kids and found I needed to keep applying brown rice flower to keep the dough from getting too sticky for them to handle.
Take part of the dough and roll it out to a little less than 1/4 inch thickness. Put the remaining dough back in the fridge to keep it chilled.
Cut the dough out using your favourite holiday cookie cutters.
Carefully peel away the dough around the cut outs.
Take a thin spatula and lift the cookies onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. A few more minutes of making makes them crispy, just keep an eye out so they don’t overcook.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool, then repeat with the remaining dough.
Let cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Icing (yields 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients

6 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk (from a carton or homemade, not the canned variety)
2 Tbsp coconut flour
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Blend al ingredients until smooth and let chill for 6 hours.
Warm slightly to mix and pipe onto cookies.

What is your favourite cookie or sweet treat to make during the holidays?


Quick and Easy Quinoa Veg Soup

IMG_0038

My two younger kids both woke up with coughs and sniffles, so my goal for the day was to try and get them back on the road to healthy town as quickly as possible. That meant giving them some homemade medicinal honey, elderberry syrup and this soup.

All three of my children are going through a selective phase at the moment. Which is unfortunate as I put a lot of time and energy into the meals I prepare, and it can be very disheartening to get negative feedback from the so-called peanut gallery afterwards. We have a standard policy of preparing meals with the understanding that if you don’t like it, fine but we are not making anything else. I fully respect their ability to choose what they do and do not like, however I am not prepared to be a short order cook. I have actively involved the kids in meal planning and food prep, which has initiated some really positive shifts in the right direction.

I made this soup with two goals in mind – to boost their immune systems, and to use up some of the ingredients in our fridge and pantry. If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you’ll notice that the sea veg blend (rich in minerals), vitamineral earth (full of so much goodness) and 14 mushroom powder (full of immune boosting power) figure prominently in a lot of my recipes. You can swap the water and this trio of goodness for vegetable broth, if these ingredients (or something similar) are hard to find in your area.

I know that a vegetable soup might not be the most festive choice for holiday posting, however it is pretty quick to put together and I figured it might come in handy during late nights of present wrapping. It also received a two thumbs up (and multiple bowl) seal of approval from my kidlets, which guaranteed its inclusion on my blog.

Quick and Easy Quinoa Veg Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbsp avocado oil
1 leek, finely sliced
2 lg carrots, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
2 lg cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp tarragon
1.5 tsp thyme
1.5 tsp parsley
1.5 tsp sea salt
6 cups water
2 tbsp sea veg blend
2 tbsp vitamineral earth
1 tbsp medicinal mushrooms
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup alphabet pasta
1/2 cup kale, thinly sliced (1 Tbsp spinach powder)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Heat avocado oil over medium heat.
Add leeks, carrots, celery and garlic.
Sauté until soft and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
Add tarragon, thyme, parsley and sea salt, stirring to combine.
Add 6 cups water, sea veg blend, vitamineral earth and 14 mushroom powder and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, and add quinoa and pasta, lowering heat to a rolling boil and letting cook for 12 minutes.
Remove from heat and add kale (or spinach powder), lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper.
Test for seasoning, adjust as needed and enjoy!


Soothing Bath Salts

Soothing Bath Salts

I am a big fan of self care practices. One of my all time favourite ways to take care of myself is to soak in a warm bath, especially if there are soothing salts and essential oils involved. I have experimented with adding separate ingredients to bath water, but had not previously tried my hand at trying an actual salt blend. Thanks to my herbal studies with Betty Norton and Learning Herbs I now have the knowledge and confidence to do just that. I used a recipe out of my Taste of Herbs recipe booklet as a starting point and branched out from there. I made use of magnesium rich epsom salts, combined with skin soothing dead sea and detoxifying himalayan salts. Baking soda contains lots of detoxifying benefits, and I elected to include a “calm” essential oil blend I found in Vancouver, which includes a lovely combination of lavender, ylang yang, bergamot and geranium oils.

I wanted to include dried lavender and rose in my blend, but was initially hesitant, as I am not a huge fan of big chunks floating in my bath. Even if you do enjoy the sensation of floating in flowers, I suspect pieces of dried flowers can do a number on your plumbing and require a lot more in the way of clean up. I decided to experiment with grinding up the dried flowers, to allow them to better incorporate with the salt blend.

There are so many different blends you could use, along with the base recipe of salts and baking soda. For my husband’s sore muscles post work, I would put together a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass, skipping the flowers altogether. Lavender is lovely on its own, for relaxation, and frankincense could be incorporated in a variety of blends for its many health benefits. If I were making a blend for my kids, I might grind up some dried lavender, chamomile and lemon balm along with a few drops of lavender essential oil. The sky is the limit!

The start up cost of purchasing ingredients may initially be higher, but when you look at the cost of most bath salt blends in the store (not to mention some of the synthetic additives that can sneak in) this option becomes much more cost effective, and potentially better for you.  I also appreciate being able to personalize the recipe, based on the person I am making the salts for and, if I am making them for yours truly, how I am feeling at the time. Plus all of these ingredients are easily obtained at a grocery store, pharmacy or health food store near you. For further detoxification benefits, you can add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar to the salts in your bath – something I learned about care of one of Kris Carr‘s awesome newsletters!

Soothing Bath Salts

Ingredients

2 cups epsom salts
3/4 cup dead sea salts
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup himalayan salts
1/4 cup dried roses
1/8 cup dried lavender
30 drops essential oil

Directions

Add dried roses and lavender to a spice or coffee grinder and process until finely ground.
Add rose & lavender powder, epsom salts, dead sea salts, baking soda, and himalayan salts to a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
Whisk salts as you add 30 drops of essential oil, one at a time, to avoid clumps and ensure all ingredients are evenly combined.
Store salts in a 2 quart mason jar, for personal use, or separate into smaller, 8oz mason jars (pictured above) to give as gifts. Adding pretty labels and fabric circles tied with ribbon is a lovely way to make your salts extra fancy!

What is your favourite bath salt combination of dried herbs/flowers and essential oils?


Peppermint Mocha

IMG_1254

My husband came down with a bad cold this week, after catching a chill working in the rain. In an attempt to help him avoid being sick over the holidays, I have created and dispensed a small arsenal of herbal remedies, some of which I will be including on this blog in the next couple of days.

In an attempt to do everything I could to help him beat this cold, I was also inspired to create this festive and immune boosting take on a Peppermint Mocha. I used dandy blend instead of coffee, which made for a much better option before bed. I also included magnesium rich raw cacao, immune supportive chaga, and pau d’arco, a tonic herb with wide ranging benefits, including immune system support. It also happens to be a herb that goes really well with chocolate! I elected to use honey as my sweetener of choice, given that it has many anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, in addition to many other benefits. I love the flavour combination of this nut and seed milk recipe, not to mention that it is rich in calcium (sesame seeds) and omega 3 fatty acids (hemp seeds). I  love that there are health supportive ingredient options like these that are delicious at the same time.

Happy holidays!

Peppermint Mocha

Immunity Tea

2 cups boiled filtered water
2 tsp pau d’arco
1.5 tsp Chaga powder

Nut Milk

3 cups filtered water
3/4 cup organic almonds, soaked
2 Tbsp organic cashews, soaked
1 tbsp organic hemp seeds
1 tbsp organic sesame seeds, soaked

Additional Ingredients

1 tbsp honey
2 Tbsp raw cacao
1 Tbsp dandy blend
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
1 tsp organic peppermint extract

Directions

Pour boiling water over pau d’arco and chaga powder and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and put aside.
Soak nuts and sesame seeds overnight.
Drain and rise, and add to blender with 3 cups filtered water.
Strain through a nut sack, and add 2 cups back to the rinsed blender. The remainder can be kept in a container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Add immunity tea, honey, raw cacao, dandy blend, vanilla bean powder and peppermint extract to the blender, and process until fully blended. This recipe makes 4 cups, enough to share with a friend or keep in the fridge for later use! To reheat, you can add the beverage back to a high speed blender and run on high speed until warm.

Enjoy!!


Supercharged Mushroom Pho

IMG_1240

Nothing says Christmas quite like a steaming hot bowl of Pho. Well perhaps not for most people, but in all seriousness, when parties start rockin’ and colds come a knockin’, I appreciate having a couple of nourishing immune boosting recipes in my back pocket.

This recipe has been in the works for a long time, 5 years in fact. When we first transitioned to a plant based diet, there were a few foods I simply couldn’t give up – Pho being one of them. Obviously thinly sliced cuts of beef and bone broth are not exactly veg-friendly, which led me to mushrooms, as they contain a similar, hearty and satisfying umami taste. Medicinal mushrooms (including shiitakes) contain strong immune boosting properties, which you can read more about care of The World’s Healthiest Foods and Dr Joseph Mercola. I have tested and tweaked this recipe many times, finally arriving on a final product that is both delicious and immune fortifying.

Oh and as a point of interest (and debate for my husband and I, on frequent occasions), Pho is technically pronounced “Fuh”, and not “Faux” (as I previously thought). This video, care of Huffington Post and An Choi Vietnamese Eatery in NYC gives an entertaining overview of the exact pronunciation, so that you too can have an authentic experience, be it out and about or chez vous.

Supercharged Mushroom Pho

Pho Stock Ingredients

12 cups Nourishing Vegetable Broth (or vegetable stock of your choosing) prepared with the following:
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups mixed mushrooms (I used king oyster, oyster, fresh shiitakes & shimeji)
1 piece lemongrass, chopped
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp whole star anise
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp schezuan peppercorns
1 tsp chili flakes
1 large cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves

Additional Ingredients:

4 cups mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 package organic tofu (or protein of choice), thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup tamari
1 package rice noodles

For garnish

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 lime, sliced in wedges
Thai chilies, thinly sliced

Directions

Combine stock ingredients and pressure cook for 20 minutes. You can also prepare the stock in a slow cooker for 2 hours (high) or 4 hours (low), or bring to a boil and then simmer on the stove top for a couple of hours.

Strain the stock, and return it to your pot. Add mushrooms and tofu, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the tamari and lemon juice. While the mushrooms and tofu are cooking, prepare the rice noodles according to the package directions.

Ladle the soup over rice noodles in large serving bowls, adding optional garnish ingredients as desired.

Enjoy!


Gingerbread Latte

IMG_1229

I have decided to do a series of posts to celebrate the holidays, focusing on fun and festive beverages, immune supporting foods, and DIY herbal recipes. Which means you will be hearing from me daily for the next week or so, as I share various recipes and holiday ideas. I hope these posts will help bring lots of festive cheer to your holiday experience!

I love festive seasonal drinks. There is something so special about bringing out specific foods and beverages for the holidays. Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like pumpkin pie, and one of the scents that makes me think of Christmas is the savoury/sweet combination of gingerbread.

While I appreciate the creativity of festive coffee shop menus and the fancy creations of skilled baristas, I have started making most of my holiday beverages at home instead. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth and much prefer to have a hand in the amount and type of sweetener used. I am more than happy to take a pass on the laundry list of additives and preservatives in most packaged syrups and milks. My blood sugar and adrenals can’t really handle the one two punch of a fully caffeinated & sweet Starbucks concoction, and I love that this way I can substitute with Dandy Blend, a wonderful, health supporting coffee alternative. I have also included maca, an energizing adaptogen, mesquite, a mineral rich powder with natural sweetness and a warm, nutty flavour, as well as a subtle hint of black strap molasses, an addition that helps round out the flavour and is a wonderful source of iron.

This is a quick and simple blender drink, ideal in a high speed blender. Feel free to add the spices to another variety of homemade or store bought milk instead. I prefer my gingerbread latte to be subtle in flavour, as I find some of the gingerbread spices can be overpowering. You are more than welcome to adjust as needed. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Latte

Ingredients

2 cups filtered hot water
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp dandy blend
1 tsp maca
1 tsp mesquite
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Fresh grated nutmeg to taste
1/4 tsp blackstrap molasses

Directions

Combine ingredients in a high speed blender and process until smooth.

What is your favourite festive beverage over the holidays?


Hot & Sour Soup with Chili Infused Sesame Oil

Hot&Sour

I have been a fan of hot and sour soup for as long as I can remember. I would take a piping hot & spicy bowl over veg noodle soup any day of the week. Even in our pre-plant based days, this particular soup got my vote over chicken noodle. During cold and flu season I find myself making lots of nourishing soup recipes, to help boost my immune system and keep me warm and toasty when temperatures are dropping outside.

I tried quite a few recipes before discovering the Bamboo Shoot Recipe out of Buddha’s Table, by Chat Mingkwan. While the cookbook is technically Thai (and one of the best cookbooks for Thai food I might add, vegan or otherwise, with from scratch chili pastes and all kinds of delicious recipes) I have found this recipe to be the closest to my preferred version of Hot & Sour. There are so many variations, the sky really is the limit. I like Schezuan style, which is tangy and very spicy, with a brown broth.

I have based this recipe loosly on the one in Buddha’s Table, with lots of variations and a few ingredient swaps. I adjusted proportions, and swapped out white vinegar for apple cider, which I consider to be a much healthier alternative, given its many benefits and uses. Chinese Black Vinegar is used traditionally, however I have done too much reading on food colouring, especially caramel colouring to be comfortable using it. I also swapped white sugar for coconut sugar, and have used fermented tamari in place of conventional soy sauce. I have swapped arrowroot starch for corn starch, as corn products often contain gmo’s and I find arrowroot starch works just as well. Your soup may not retain its thick texture with storage – however this is one recipe that holds up really well the next day as leftovers, as the flavours have a chance to infuse even more in the fridge.

By adding burdock, daikon and a whole slew of immune boosting ingredients in the broth, I am attempting to take the soup from delicious and nourishing to a powerhouse of nutrition. You can still reap all kinds of benefits with a regular vegetable stock, and please feel free to substitute any ingredients you may not be able to find locally. Asian groceries are often a good resource for some of the harder to find ingredients, but things like fresh burdock (aka gobo) may not be available everywhere. And yes, I did include a couple of canned ingredients, as I feel the soup benefits from bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, but you can always leave them out or try to find them fresh instead. Lotus root would be another lovely addition to this soup.

I have included a recipe for a DIY chili infused sesame oil, loosely based on a chili infused olive oil recipe I found on John Gallagher’s Herb Mentor site. I have mentioned this site before; it is an amazing resource for all things herbal, including many fantastic recipes.

Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

Hot & Sour Stock

1 batch Nourishing Vegetable Broth, with the following ingredients added:

1 tbsp szechuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tbsp star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 jalapeno (optional)

I love to let this soup stock cook in a slow cooker for 4 hours on low – you can also follow directions for pressure cooking or a quicker slow cook time (high for 2 hours)

Use 6 cups of this stock for the recipe, and store the remainder in the fridge or freezer for later use.

Soup Ingredients

2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 cup leek, washed and thinly diced
1 cup daikon, diced
1/2 cup burdock, peeled and diced
1/2 cup carrot, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2′ piece ginger, grated
2 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
6 cups hot & sour stock
1 350 g package organic tofu,cubed
1 small can bamboo shoots, sliced
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup tamari (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3 Tbsp arrowroot powder

For garnish

1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, sliced
Sliced thai chili (optional)
Chili infused sesame oil (optional – see recipe below)

Directions

Saute vegetables with garlic and ginger in avocado oil until soft, 8-10 minutes.
Add 6 cups stock, cubed tofu, along with drained & rinsed bamboo shoots and water chestnuts.
Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add seasoning (apple cider vinegar, tamari, coconut sugar & black pepper), and stir to combine.
Whisk together arrowroot powder and cold water, and add to the soup, whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with sliced green onion, cilantro, thai chili and chili infused sesame oil as desired. Serve immediately.

Chili Infused Sesame Oil

Ingredients

pinch smoked (or plain) sea salt
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 small thai chili, sliced (or a pinch of cayenne)
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 cup organic sesame oil

Directions

Combine all ingredients in an opaque jar, seal the lid, shake and let sit for at least 2 weeks, to allow oil to infuse.

What is your favourite comfort soup during the winter/cold season?