Veggie Pâté

Happy New Year everyone!

After a super rejuvenating visit home, I’m back in Calgary for my first winter out west. I truly had a wonderful Christmas holiday visiting friends and family, and although it was busy as heck, I feel extremely thankful for having such fun and caring people in my life. Being in a new city is exciting, but sometimes I miss having the familiarity and history that I have with people and places back home. The visit was just what I needed to start off the new year.

Since I’ve been back from my trip, it has taken a while to get back into the kitchen routine. Let’s be honest; eating plant-based can require a lot more prep time than the standard American diet (SAD). Especially if you want to eat on the cheap, making your own beans, hummus, pâtés, nut milks, nut cheeses, etc, can take up a good chunk of your regular routine (although if money allows, you can usually buy these items). Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of cooking I feel like I have to do in the week to make whole foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And, sometimes I feel as though a lot of vegan bloggers and writers don’t address how much more work it can be.

On the other hand, I was recently watching an interview with Canadian plant-based cookbook author Dreena Burton, and she brought up a good point that eating home-cooked foods, whether or not it is plant-based, takes more time than to just reheat a pre-made meal. Eating healthy, no matter what, takes a bit of elbow grease. I believe that the extra time I am investing in home-cooked wholesome food is an investment in my long-term health. And, that is what I want to remind myself during the times I feel overwhelmed by the prep work.

And that’s all I will say about that. I just wanted to address this issue that I believe many vegan writers don’t. The recipes I write about here do take time and prep, but they are cheap and worth the effort if you can find the time to make them.

Today I want to write about a recipe for veggie pâté, which is a delicious vegan food that I honestly cannot get enough of. When I was living in Quebec, veggie pâté was available at any grocery store, but this is not the case in Ontario or Alberta. So, like many other vegans out there, making it myself is a good alternative, and it freezes well (hello pâté sandwiches for weeks!). You can put this stuff in salads, wraps, sandwiches, and crackers. Here’s my recipe, inspired by many different recipes from all around.

Ingredients
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds (baked from raw at 350*F until golden and smelling, around 10 minutes)
1 small sweet potato or regular potato, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp sage
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

I started by preheating the oven to 350*F. In a food processor I pulsed the sweet potato, carrot, and onion until it was almost a puree. I transferred the mixture to a bowl and stirred in the flour, nutritional yeast, sage, oregano, paprika, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper. I transferred the mixture back into the food processor and added half the sunflower seeds. I blended the mixture until it was a uniform consistency. I transferred the mixture back into the bowl and stirred in the rest of the sunflower seeds. The mixture was baked in a lined and greased loaf pan for 45 minutes, but it could take up to one hour. The pâté is done when it feels firm on the top and the edges are golden. Keep an eye on the pâté at around 40 minutes, as the edges can over-cook, and you may need to add some tin foil for the last bit of cooking.

My favourite way to eat veggie pâté is on toast with hummus as a base and avocado and sprouts on top. I had no sprouts, but you get the idea in the picture below. Best breakfast, lunch, or snack EVER.

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Dehydrated Goodies: Powdered Veggie Stock and Date-Nut Chewies

Merry Christmas!

December can be such a busy month! I’ve been juggling two jobs while squeezing in time for getting into the holiday spirit and getting my Christmas shopping done. This year I bought my gifts with a theme in mind: hand-made and local. I bought lots of gifts at Market Collective, which is a fun event in Calgary that hosts local artists selling their creations. I also decided to make a couple things in my dehydrator, and I’d like to share them with you today.

I got these recipes from a book called Dry It – You’ll Like it! by Gen Macmaniman. I received it for Christmas one year, and it is a great guide for drying fruits, veggies, and herbs, and includes instructions for building your own dehydrator.

Dehydrating is fun, and a great way to save produce that is in season, or that may go bad before you have a chance to use it fresh. At Thanksgiving I dehydrated all the extra fresh herbs I had: sage, parsley, and thyme. I also made cran-apple fruit leather, and go absolutely cuckoo for dehydrated apples and bananas. In my opinion, having a dehydrator is perfect for anybody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, and who is looking to incorporate more raw foods in their diet. Check out this recipe for rosemary seed crackers from a previous post.

Please note that if you are considering buying a dehydrator, look at product reviews before purchasing, as the first one I had lasted only a month past the warranty date, and it looks like I’m not the only one that happened to. It’s also great to buy a dehydrator that you can control the temperature.

So, back to my little Christmas project. I made soup stock and date-nut chewies to include in my gifts to my family. Here is what I did:

Veggie Soup Stock
Yields around 20 tablespoons of powder, or 20 cups of stock (when added to 1 cup of boiling water per 1 tablespoons of stock)

Ingredients
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
4 celery stalks, cut into sticks (I also dehydrated the leaves)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup spinach

Note: You may use a wide variety of vegetables. The book suggests cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, green beans, horseradish, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, peppers, spinach, tomato, or watercress. I chose what I thought would go together nicely.

Directions
I placed all the vegetables in one layer on dehydrator sheets. I have four sheets, and all these veggies took two rounds of dehydrating to complete. They were dehydrated at 135*F for about 6 hours. Time may vary depending on how thick the vegetables are, how crowded the trays are, and how juicy the vegetables were to begin with. I removed the vegetables that felt completely dry, and continued to dehydrate the ones that were still damp. You can add more vegetables once there is room on the trays. To check the vegetables, remove the heat source and let the veggies cool down first. If it feels dry, it probably is.

Next, I placed all the dehydrated vegetables in a high-speed blender and blended until the vegetables were a powder. This took a couple minutes of blending. Be sure to let the blender rest before opening it, as the powder is very fine and smokes into the air.

I divided the stock into two plastic baggies of 10 tbsp each, and added the keep-dry packets that come with sushi and other dry foods. I didn’t want the stock powder to be exposed to any moisture.

I wrote the following instructions on each baggie: “Mix 1-2 tbsp of stock with 1 cup of boiling water and let rest for about a minute. Add ground flaxseed to thicken, if desired. Use in soups, stews, and gravy.”

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Voila! Home-made powdered vegetable stock! Because it’s dry, it’ll last for a long time. Store it away from sunlight and moisture.

Date-Nut Chewies
Ingredients
3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Macintosh apples (or another kind of apple), cut into pieces, skin on
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup raw almonds (recipe called for walnuts)

In my high-speed blender I mixed the oil, maple syrup, apples, and vanilla extract until smooth. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients and blended until smooth. The original recipe indicates that you should use ground oats and sunflower seeds, but I did not do this because of how powerful my blender is. Plus, I thought some chunks would be OK.

Next, I spread the mixture out on two dehydrator sheets, making them pretty thick (about 1/2 inch). I dehydrated them for around 6 hours, then cut them into small squares, separated them from each other, and continued to dry them for another 8 hours.

These chewies are a great snack that resembles an energy ball. I was expecting it to be more candy-like or cookie-like, but it definitely tastes like a healthy snack. The first one I tried, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure if I should give them as gifts, but after having a few more, the taste grew on me. This recipe made a lot, so I’m glad they turned out!

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Curry Hummus

Well, hello! Nice of you to stop by. Today I’d like to present to you a delicious gem of a cookbook I found at a second-hand book store. The book is called Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by the Canadian Queen of Vegan, Dreena Burton.

I had no intentions of buying any books as I went into the shop Fair’s Fair, located in Calgary. Tom was looking for a particular book that he knew they had, and I immediately bee-lined it for the cookbook section while waiting for him to find his book. My jaw dropped when I saw one of Dreena Burton’s books, as I have wanted to own one for a long time. I was first introduced to her cookbooks two years ago, when I lived with a woman for a short while, who owned the book Let Them Eat Vegan. I poured over this book and drew a lot of inspiration from her. You can find blog posts of mine from 2013, when I experimented with the recipes from that book.

I have since discovered that she has written several books, has an amazing website, and is soon to release a new cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. One of the many things I admire about her is raising a vegan family. I think it is important for children to learn about veganism early in life: to normalize it and promote its lifestyle.

I already knew that every recipe would be a total hit, but I am completely amazed by the creativity and variety of recipes in this book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. There are some really tasty-looking tofu recipes, and the hummus recipes look to-die-for. That’s why I started off with this lovely variation on a classic dip.

Here is my experience with the recipe Curry Chickpea Hummus with Pappadums.

Ingredients
2 cups chickpeas
Lemon Juice from 1 medium lemon (classic me, adding way more lemon than called for)
2 tbsp seed butter (original recipe called for cashew butter)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flax oil (or olive oil, as the recipe calls for)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp agave nectar (sweetener)
Pepper, to taste
4-5 tbs water (I found I needed more like 7-8)
2-3 tbsp raisins or currants (don’t skip this!)

I blended all the ingredients, except for the raisins, in a blender until smooth. I added the water little by little until the hummus was at the consistency whereby a cracker would dip in without breaking. I added the raisins and pulsed the blender to break them up a little.

I made my own pita chips by baking pita bread in slices, drizzled with olive oil an dashed with salt, at 350*F for 5-7 minutes on each side. I do this whenever my pita bread is stale and about to go bad. It’s a great way to quickly use it up without throwing any away.

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Again, this humus is fantastic. I’d have no trouble at all polishing off one batch to myself in a few days. I would never suggest that you don’t double it!

Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Halloween everyone! Here is a quick smoothie recipe I’ve been making with some leftover roasted pumpkin that I froze after Thanksgiving. I thawed it and have been making smoothies with it, and also added some to a batch of veggie chilli. This smoothie made a delicious and festive breakfast this morning.

Pumpkin is really good for you. According to The Everyday Squash Cook by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight, and Kerry Knight, pumpkin has vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, vitamin B5, phosphorous, and potassium.

Serves: 2

Ingredients
1 yellow banana
1 cup pumpkin meat (mine was roasted at 350*F for about 40 minutes, and cooled)
4 dates, plus extra dates, agave syrup, or maple syrup to taste
4 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

I prepped all the ingredients and blended them in my blender, enough to ensure that the dates were not chunky anymore.

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Voila!

Sushi Wraps

Holy cow, moving takes a lot out of you! I have spent the last month settling into my new apartment, and am loving the cozy space Tom and I have created. I am currently working at a bakery as a bread baker and enjoying it; I also get to make croissants, which are my favourite pastry to make, I have decided. Despite the fact that I am baking some things that aren’t vegan, I get to bring home lots of fresh, delicious bread. Out of the five kinds I make, four are vegan.

For a while now I have thought about posting a sushi recipe on here. My reluctance was due to the fact that you can put pretty much any vegetable in sushi and you’re good to go. What could I possibly offer?

Now and then one of the vegans I follow on the internet posts a sushi-style wrap, and about a year ago I started making them for myself for lunch. It takes quite a bit of chopping and prep, but the good news is that you can make a bunch of the fillings and make sushi wraps at a moments notice for days! (I do recommend making them to order) Here is my recipe.

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Serves: ~4

Ingredients for Wasabi-Soy Dip
1/2 cup veganaise or plain hummus*
1/4 tsp wasabi powder or wasabi paste
1-2 tbsp soy sauce

Ingredients for the Sushi Rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice, cooked according to the package directions (sticky rice works better)
4 tbsp rice vinegar, or more if desired
2 tbsp agave nectar, maple syrup, or sugar
1 tsp salt

Ingredients for the Wrap**
1 pack Nori sheets
1 Sweet potato, cut into thin fries, brushed with oil, and baked in the oven at 350*F until tender (about 20 minutes)
1-2 Carrots, julienned
1 avocado
Bean sprouts
1/2 cup Edamame beans, shelled
Optional: toasted sesame seeds

To make the dip, in a small bowl, I placed the wasabi powder and mixed it with a few drops of water and stirred until a paste formed. I added the soy sauce and the hummus, wanting an easy-to-spread consistency. When I ate the dip on its own, the wasabi gave it a kick, the soy sauce gave a saltiness, and the sesame seeds made it all come together (see note for what I did with the sesame seeds). If using veganaise or pre-made hummus, add toasted sesame seeds when assembling the wrap.

I cooked the rice, and mixed in the rice vinegar, salt, and soy sauce. Brown rice does not stick together as well as sticky rice, but still does the job.

To assemble a wrap, I placed a nori sheet on my cutting board, shiny side facing down, and lines facing horizontally. I spooned enough rice on the sheet so that it is one layer (leaving one inch free along the top side). In the centre of the rice, I placed my filling ingredients horizontally: a few pieces of carrot, sweet potato, sprouts, and edamame beans. I drizzled/spooned some wasabi-soy dip on top. I made sure the ingredients would be tasted in every bite!

I carefully rolled up the wrap, starting at the bottom and rolling over top the vegetables and tucking the start of the sheet under the vegetables. I wet the last little bit of nori with rice vinegar and tightly rolled the whole wrap together. I cut the wrap in half before eating it. I also found that two wraps like this made a good lunch***. Be prepared to use a fork after eating if you use brown rice 😉

*I made my own hummus, but instead of tahini, I added lots of toasted sesame seeds (about 1/2 a cup for the whole can of chickpeas), which gave the sauce an incredible taste. I suggest either adding pureed toasted sesame seeds to the dip, or sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on the rice before rolling.

**Besides the nori, all the vegetables are optional. Feel free to play around with the ingredients; add whatever you want/have. Other suggestions: fried or baked tofu, broccoli stems, lettuce, mushrooms, red pepper, red cabbage

*** A fun variation is using rice paper instead of nori, which you can soak in water for about a minute before wrapping (make sure to put it on a piece of plastic wrap, as it can stick).

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Note: In the picture there are pinto beans instead of edamame beans. They were a good substitute, since I didn’t have edamame beans, but are not my first choice when edamame beans are on hand!

And, a final note: if you don’t want to make a wrap, you can make it into a buddha bowl! Put the sushi rice in a bowl and cover it with the filling ingredients and top with crushed nori and sesame seeds.