Cheesy Roasted Broccoli

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Snack time this afternoon ended up being a heaping plate of roasted broccoli. I am pretty thrilled that my kids enjoy broccoli so much. I make a point of mixing the seasoning up and ensuring it is not over cooked (aka mushy) for maximum enjoyment all around. This recipe can be prepared in a sauté pan as well, however I like having the inactive roasting time and free burner if I happen to be preparing this dish as a side with dinner.

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale have huge nutritional benefits, which is why I love eating them so much (in addition to the fact that they taste great!) Unfortunately they also contain oxalates, which can inhibit iron and calcium absorption. Thankfully cooking them and/or serving them with some kind of citrus helps to offset the oxalates and maximize absorption of these important minerals. I love the tangy combination of lemon and garlic, although I suspect other kinds of citrus would be lovely too.

I purposely let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. If you do this with crushed garlic before heating it, you will still fully benefit from its allicin, the cancer fighting compound that is optimized with raw consumption. As much as I love garlic I am not a fan of eating huge quantities of it raw (nor is my husband!) and I love that letting it sit for 10 minutes after cutting and pre cooking produces the same beneficial effect.

I added the lemon and hemp seeds after removing the broccoli from the oven as this optimizes the vitamin c in the citrus and the essential fatty acids in the hemp seeds, both of which degrade when exposed to heat.

This recipe works great with lots of different vegetables. I sometimes do a mixed pan of broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It works well with kale as well, although I would prepare this in a sauté pan when using leafy greens as your vegetable base.

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

2 heads broccoli
Avocado oil (enough to lightly coat)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 lemon, juiced
Generous pinch chili flakes (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut broccoli stalks and stems into equal sized pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, coat broccoli with enough avocado oil to lightly coat (the amount will vary with the size of your broccoli).
Add crushed garlic, sea salt and nutritional yeast and stir to combine.
Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Spread the broccoli mixture on baking sheets and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is lightly browned and still a bit firm when pierced with a fork.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and toss with hemp seeds, lemon, and chili flakes (if desired) and serve immediately.

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Decadently Delicious Lasagna

lasagna

Lasagna has to be one of my favourite things in the entire world. If it wasn’t so labour intensive we’d be eating it all the time! My lasagna recipe tends to change slightly every time I make it, usually depending on the ingredients I have on hand. I guess you could say the basic idea stays the same, with a few minor variations. In this case I was curious to see if I could come up with a nut based ricotta, to replace the tofu based recipe I usually use. We do eat organic soy a couple of times a week, but I find our digestive systems tend to handle nuts better overall. Especially when combined with noodles. I guess there is something to that food combining thing after all!

This particular batch of lasagna was the result of a birthday request made by my daughter. She shares my love of lasagna and would have it every week if she could. I really enjoy making this particular dish with my kids, it is fun to get them involved with making each of the different elements. I paired the pasta with her all time favourite caesar salad, from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. I have tried a bunch of different caesar salad recipes since we adopted a plant based diet, and hers is by far the best.

For the Basil and Nut Ricotta I used a blend of organic raw cashew, macadamia and pine nuts. They are  not inexpensive, but for a special occasion it is definitely worth it! I am sure cashews alone would work well also. I have been known to add a layer of daiya mozzarella on top, but decided to forgo that element this time around in favour of a simple topping of Vegan Parmesan once the lasagna had come out of the oven.

Decadently Delicious Lasagna

Ingredients

1 package Tinkyada Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles (or gluten free lasagna noodles of choice)
1 batch Shrek Spaghetti Sauce
1 batch Basil & Nut Ricotta (see below)
1 batch Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale (see below)
1 batch Vegan Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare fillings and set aside.
Prepare noodles according to package directions.
Spoon a thin layer of Shrek Spaghetti Sauce on the bottom of a 13″ Lasagna pan.
Add a layer of lasagna noodles, topped with half of the Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale, followed by half of the Basil and Nut Ricotta. Top with a layer of Shrek Spaghetti Sauce.
Repeat with another layer of noodles, Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale, Basil and Nut Ricotta and Shrek Spaghetti Sauce.
Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. Top with a generous layer of Vegan Parmesan and serve immediately.

Basil & Nut Ricotta

Ingredients

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil (+ more as needed)
1 head roasted garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1\2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Soak nuts for 2 hours.
Roast garlic, covered, in a 375 F oven for 25 minutes.
Strain nuts and add to a food processor with the roasted garlic.
Add nutritional yeast, basil, hemp seeds, lemon, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper.
Process until mostly smooth, with some texture remaining.

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale

Ingredients

2 Tbsp avocado oil
3 cups thinly sliced mixed mushrooms (I used shiitake, oyster and king oyster)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 head organic kale, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Sprinkle sea salt
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

Directions

Warm avocado oil over medium heat.
Add mixed mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are browned and moisture has evaporated.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so.
Add kale and sauté until it is bright green and slightly wilted.
Remove from heat, add lemon juice and sea salt and stir to incorporate.
Finish with a drizzle of truffle oil, if you are feeling particularly decadent!

What is your favourite way to make lasagna? Are there any must have ingredients you simply can’t live without?


Super Berry Milkshake

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Tonight after dinner my kids were still hungry, so I decided to put together a dessert to wrap up the meal. I debated between a few different options, all of which ended up being too time consuming, before pulling out a binder given to me by a close friend several years ago. In it I keep a record of my recipe creations, including this Super Berry Milkshake.

Milkshakes are usually made with a base of ice cream, but I have bypassed this rather time consuming step by using thick, full fat coconut milk and frozen berries. I found the end result to be as thick and creamy as its ice cream based counterpart. We are all in recovery mode after fighting off a nasty cold virus, so I wanted to pack this drink as full of nutrient dense foods as I possibly could. I included essential fatty acid rich hemp seeds, which in addition to being protein rich are also one of the few alkaline seeds out there. I also added immune boosting, antioxidant and amino acid rich, lycopene and beta carotene filled goji berries, polyphenol, anthocyanin and Vitamin C rich macqui berry powder, antioxidant and Vitamin C rich acerola cherry powder, and last but not least camu camu powder, which contains large amounts of easily absorbed Vitamin C. I elected to use vanilla bean powder and maple syrup as my sweeteners of choice to round out the tangy flavour of the powders I was using.

I was very pleased with the final result – delicious and good for us to boot. My girls gave it two thumbs up, they said it was “just as good” as the vegan strawberry milkshake we sometimes treat ourselves to at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe here in Victoria. At $7 a cup for the vegan friendly option they are definitely an occasional treat. I am happy to have arrived at an option we can easily make at home, with ingredients I typically have on hand. The superfood berry powders I mentioned above are far from cheap, but a little goes a long way, and the super boost of nutritional goodness definitely offsets the price tag.

Super Berry Milk Shake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed organic berries (I love the Organic Moov Berry Cherry Blend from Costco during the wintertime)
1 can organic coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
2 Tbsp goji berries
1 tsp macqui berry powder
1 tsp acerola cherry powder
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

Combine in a high speed blender and process until smooth.


Professor Cayenne Caesar

professor cayenne ceasar

A couple of months ago we made up a batch of Professor Cayenne in my Herbal Apprenticeship class with Betty Norton. I was excited to learn that Professor Cayenne has a multitude of benefits. It packs a powerful punch, and helps to hear up the body in order to sweat out toxins. It also helps to clear the sinuses and the lymphatic system, and is also wonderful for circulation (thanks to the cayenne, which has a plethora of health benefits). You can take this as a preventative measure, or to help ward off illness at the first sign of a bug. It is also great for helping move an illness through the body once it has set in.

After hearing about all of the benefits of this tonic, I was inspired to make up my own batch. I used a 64 oz mason jar for my home batch, which was much smaller than the jar we used in class. As a result my home batch ended up crazy potent! I have a high heat tolerance and was happy to drink the class batch straight up in a shot glass, but found my home batch worked best when mixed with some hot water and a touch of honey. To my mind a more concentrated batch equals more potent medicine and can always be toned down, so I have included the proportions I used at home. I also wanted to mention that I invested in some plastic lids for all of my home remedies. I avoid plastic wherever possible but chose it in this case as there is no chance of rust. Keep reading past the Professor Cayenne recipe for a recipe variation that gives a traditional Caesar a run for its money! Who says medicine can’t be delicious?

Professor Cayenne (care of Betty Norton)

Ingredients

3 heads garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Ginger (to fit the palm of your hand)
Horseradish (to fit the palm of your hand)
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bunches parsley
1/4 – 1/2 cup cayenne powder
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, to cover

Directions

Peel and chop vegetables and roots and add to a 64oz (1/2 gallon) mason jar.
Pour in apple cider vinegar until all ingredients are fully submerged.
Shake the jar daily for one week (making sure the lid is securely fastened – I learned this the hard way!)
Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark cabinet for an additional 5 weeks, checking the mixture periodically to ensure plant matter is fully submerged (I had to add a bit more apple cider vinegar at one point).
Strain and store in a 1L mason jar at room temperature.

We have been drinking this tonic off and on for a couple of months now. One night as we were sipping it win out customary hot water and honey, my husband mentioned that it would make a great base for a Caesar. This used to be one of my all time favourite drinks, before we adopted a plant based diet and started avoiding preservatives in our ingredient lists. My creative juices started flowing and I came up with the recipe below. It is a very close approximation, which I was pretty thrilled about. We were running low on our Wizard Brand Vegan Worcestershire, so I tried my hand at making a version from scratch. It definitely fits the bill, although a little goes a long way! You can thin it a bit with filtered water, as desired.

Professor Cayenne Caesar

Ingredients

1/4 – 1/2 cup professor cayenne
3/4 cup filtered water
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp organic crushed tomatoes
1 tsp vegan worcestershire (recipe below)
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp honey

Directions

Assemble ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Vegan Worcestershire

Ingredients

1/4 cup tamari or braggs liquid aminos
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp 5 mushroom blend (optional)
1/2 tsp sea veg blend
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/8 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground orange peel

Directions

Assemble ingredients in a small blender (our Nutribullet worked great) and process until smooth.
Store the sauce in a small bottle in the fridge, and be sure to shake before serving!


Chinese New Year Dumplings

Dumplings

This year Chinese New Year coincided with the Family Day Holiday in BC. We decided to mark the occasion with some culinary exploration, en famille. I found a great book at the library entitled Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats, which we used for recipe inspiration and to learn a bit about New Year’s stories and traditions, which helped inform our experience of the occasion.

We decided to make up some dumplings last night, as according to the book they are one of the traditional foods served at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We didn’t stay up that late with the kids, instead we enjoyed the dumplings while immersing ourselves in the often philosophical and always hilarious exploits of Kung Fu Panda. I appreciate that the films touch on themes of mindfulness and inner peace, presenting these concepts in a way that is accessible and makes sense to kids. I am planning to revisit parts of the second movie in order to write down some of the teachings as I feel they would be beneficial for all of us, pinned up on the wall.

I made up a couple of different components for this recipe, the first being an umami filling meant to take the place of the pork traditionally used. I also made up a vegetable filling, making use of nutrient rich and highly beneficial root vegetables like daikon and burdock. We are using these fillings for a couple of different dishes. The umami filling will go in the middle of sticky rice packets, and the vegetable filling will be paired with vermicelli noodles and rice wrappers to make up homemade spring rolls. I also have a chill garlic dipping sauce in the works, which I will include in another post.

I used a gluten free vegan rice pasta dough recipe care of Something Vegan, which turned out really well, although the dough is not as pliable as its gluten counterpart and needed to be rolled a bit thicker as a result. Another gluten free vegan dough we have tried with success is the one from Allyson Kramer’s Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats. This one contains xanthan gum, which allows for a bit of stretch, but still not a lot compared to dough containing gluten. I am curious to explore this further, to see if it is possible to create something that works properly when rolled to a thinner consistency.

Umami Filling

Ingredients

1 package smoked tempeh (I love the one by Green Cuisine, available at grocery stores in Victoria)
1 cup shiitakes soaked in 1 cup hot water
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup tamari or bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Five Spice Powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

Marinade 2 hours or overnight.
Strain tempeh and mushrooms.
Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add tempeh & mushroom mixture, cooking until mushrooms are soft, tempeh is cooked through and any moisture has evapourated.

Vegetable Filling

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 leek, washed & finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2′ piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup oyster and king oyster mushrooms
2 lg carrots, peeled
1 six inch piece daikon, peeled
4 six inch pieces burdock, peeled
1/2 savoy cabbage
1/4 cup tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp coconut sugar

Directions

Grate carrot, daikon and burdock (I roughly chopped mine and put it in my Nutribullet!)
Finely chop savoy cabbage.
Finely dice mushrooms and set vegetables aside.
Whisk together tamari, sesame oil and coconut sugar and set aside.
Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Once coconut oil has melted, add leek.
Cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft and liquid has evapourated.
Add carrot, daikon, burdock and cabbage, stirring until vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes.
Add seasoning and stir to incorporate.

Dumpling Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp braggs or tamari
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)

Directions

Whisk ingredients together and serve in small bowls for dipping.