Saturday, 28 December 2013

Whole Food Blonde Macaroons

I've never actually had a traditionally made macaroon.

The first one I tried was at the raw vegan restaurant I was working at in Toronto, and man were they addicting. But the ingredients we're not my general M.O., cashews, coconut oil... 

By no eans is this recipe low fat, it's packed with coconut goodness, but it is whole food, nut-free-, gluten-free, flour-free, dairy-free goodness.

They're great for serving at parties (hint, hint: New Years) since they are a handheld goody that just melts in your mouth. Plus, they are so easy to make, that you can get your non-kitchen savvy friend to make them to help you with all the preparations. 

Parties, while they used to be frequent in my life, are now usually reserved for special occasions. The crowds aren;t my scene anymore. I much prefer the intimate small dinner "party" but I'd throw a party anytime just for an excuse to make these. (It's also great that I can downsize the recipe to make just a few, party for one?)

That being said, I've had my fair share of gatherings the past few weeks and I can't wait to get to Costa Rica and have a nice schedule of writing, training and making magic happen!

T minus 4 days until departure!

I've had about as much winter as I can enjoy, once the -25C starts coming along, I'm pretty much sick of it. I'm so lucky to have the opportunity this year to stay warm! Now, I will still be delivering the recipes, some cold weather comfort, some raw tropical goodness. 


Back to the Macaroons!







Macaroons 

Ingredients:

- 2 cup + 3 cups dried coconut divided
- 1/2-1 cup water
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- If chocolate, add 1/2 cup cacao or carob
- Pinch salt. 

Pre-heat oven to 180F/

In a high speed blender or food processor, dump in the first 2 cups of coconut, maple syrup, vanilla and salt (and cacao/carob if using), Start blending, adding water if needed, until the mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, pour the blender contents in and add the other 3 cups of coconut. Fold in well until everything is homogenous. 

With an ice cream scoop, form the "dough" into it and then place on a parchment lined backing sheet. 

Place in the oven for 2 hours, until the outside is slightly crispy but the insides are still moist.

Enjoy!!

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Baking and I haven't been the closest of friends in the past year or so. We used to be bffs, I'd make cupcakes for nay reason. Happy event? Chai cupcakes. Sad event? Cookie crumble cupcakes. Small informal gathering? Cupcakes. You get the drift.



I even once made treats for people while I was on a juice fast.

The fun thing is, these treats really open up people's eyes to vegan or gluten free food not tasting like cardboard. They bring the possibility that hey, this might be doable! Thats really what I thrive to do with food, is open people's eyes to the vast array of amazing delicious food, that is both good for you and everything else.



That being said, I also now thrive to eat a very clean, whole foods and high raw diet with little processed anything. Flour isn't something that I use very often. I even buy the made-from-grain pastas and occasionally breads. So baking anything becomes a tad bit complicated.

But, there is always a way! Black bean brownies are number one on my list now for several reasons: they are entirely whole foods based, I can make them low fat, there's no flour and I can use any sweetener I want.



These also come out the way I like em, soft, gooey,fudge like and decadent.







Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:
-  1 can black bean, or equivalent (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup cacao or carob
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1 cup coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Put all ingredients into a blender, and blenddd until smooth.
Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper and pour it in. 
Bake for 40 mins, or until the edges start coming away from the sides of the parchment paper.

The middle will still be very fudgy, kinda like half baked brownies, which is what I always used to do when I made them regardless of with what mixture. 

 Top with your fave toppings, I used coconut.

Enjoy!!

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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Green Bean Casserole Pasta

Mushroom soup and I have a long lasting relationship. As a kid, it was one of my favorite lunches. Once I went vegan though, we had a little bit of a break. But had I known how simple it was to make it, I don't think that would have happened!

Although, now I have to find a low fat raw vegan way to make it, so that I can have it more than once in a blue moon... If you haven;t guessed, it isn't exactly a low fat recipe, which is what I strive for. However, there is nothing wrong with a high fat meal meal now and again. I stick with an 80/10/10 mentality, which is 80% carbs, 10% or less of each protein and fats in terms of caloric intake. This is something that I like having over time, so it's not like I'm strict on having my ratio.

After going through every kind of "diet" imaginable, this makes me feel at my best. No need for restrictions or fancy foods, just what nature gives us in it's simplest form or very minimally processed, combined to make great tasting meals. Also, having tried the low carb approach, I would never recommend it simply because I (and others I know)felt horrible on it, and the cravings are enough to make anyone go coo-coo. There is also so much scientific evidence against forgoing carbohydrates that everyone should take a second look. I am planning on writing an entire post or series on healthy eating and a more nutrition approach to food. 

This recipe is so simple, yet so flavourful, it'll knock your socks off and warm your feet.


I chose gluten free quinoa penne for my vessel, but it's also great over rice or even potatoes.







Green Bean Casserole Pasta

Ingredients:

- 2 cans of coconut milk, or equivalent home-made*
- 2-3 cups green beans, cut into thirds.
- 2-3 large Portobello mushroom caps, minced.
- 1 medium onion, minced.
- S/P

Pasta of choice (or rice, quinoa. Can also be served on it's own as a soup)

In a large deep pan, or pot, saute the onions in a few tablespoons of water until translucent. Add the mushrooms and beans and let cook until mushroom begin to release water. Make sure to shake your can of coconut milk well before adding them in. If you prefer a much thicker sauce without using flour, only put one full can coconut milk and the fat from another. Let cook until everything is nice and melded together. Taste and add seasoning to personal preference. 

If you find that the sauce doesn't thicken up like you want it to, add a bit of flour whisked into water to thicken up. I don't usually use flour, but I prefer doing this than cooking down the coconut milk because it can be finicky and decide to separate if overcooked. 

* Try to avoid using the boxed coconut milk, it isn't thick enough and doesn't cook as well as canned.  If you want to avoid cans, make your own coconut milk instead.

Serve over any kind of carbohydrate and...

Enjoy!



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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Chipotle Scalloped Potatoes

With the holidays around the corner, I always like to think up an awesome vegan feast for the big meal. Although I don't think I've ever made the entire thing, it's a greta backup and all the recipes can be used throughout the season.

All events, in my mind, are about the food.

Coming over for dinner? I'll make a three course meal just cause I'm in the mood. Or at the very least I'll make something that you'll personally enjoy even if I've never made it before. I've actually even thought of making up a form to fill out for everyone that comes over so I know everyones likes and dislikes. I think that just might be taking it a little too far though...

I think it's pretty obvious to say that people always get excited when they eat over.

Anywho, the winter holidays are a great excuse to make a whole ton of food. Which means I get to experiment, probably my most favorite thing in the world. I do want to start making much more raw meals though, my breakfast and lunches are still mostly fruit, but I am really missing my salads.

This recipe will probably surprise you, since well the main ingredient is potato yes, but it's also the secret to the sauce. Potatoes with potato sauce, only in my world. Turns out its amaaazing. I got the idea from a potato soup I made not too long ago, that I will be posting soon. It was so creamy and velvety that it just clicked that i could make amazing scalloped taters with the same concept. After I made the sauce, it also came to me that the sauce would be amazing as a mac and cheese. Versatility 101 right there.

Without further adieu...








Chipotle Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

- Enough sliced potatoes to fill your baking dish

Sauce:
- 5-6 small potatoes, boiled and cooled.
- 3/4 cup nooch
- 1/3 cup coconut milk (not the canned stuff, the carton stuff)
- Water, as needed.
- Pepper
- Lemon juice
- Chipotle pepper flakes

* You can also top it with any other vegetable, I added asparagus this time around.

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to personal preference.

One layer at a time, lay down the potato slices and cover in sauce. Repeat until filled and cover.

Bake until cooked through, about 40 mins.

Let cool a few minutes.

Enjoy!!

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Soul Warming Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

There comes a time when you have to accept that it is officially winter. Yesterday was that day here in Ottawa. We got about 30 cm of snow overnight, which cast the entire scenery in a cold white glow, which I do admit is quite beautiful to look at from the warmth of the house.

It's not that I hate winter. I love the snow, at least in theory. When I'm bundled up and all, it's not so bad. But the cold winds and dirty slush aren't my idea of a good time.

I do have to say that this year I am very lucky to only having to endure live through a small part of it. My lucky partner on the other hand left this morning to the sunny and warm Costa Rica, where I'll be joining him after the holidays.  He only got about three days of it all, of which I am slightly envious.

Nonetheless, this cool weather has me in the kitchen concocting warm comforting dishes, without all the fat that is. I find that most people find themselves reaching for the higher fat food this time of year, probably because our bodies are searching for more energy to keep warm. Really, it's because our society chronically under eats carbohydrates, the fuel our body truly needs. The easiest way to fill that void is with very calorically dense, but not so optimal, foods.

This chili is a bit more protein dense than I usually go for, the bean provide more than enough for most peoples daily quota, along with a healthy dose of fiber to keeps things running smoothly. (pun intended!) Add some rice or quinoa to boost the carb load of the meal.





Soul Warming Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:

- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3-4large tomatoes diced, or 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- 2 can each black beans and red kidney beans
- 1 package org. non-GMo frozen corn.
- Cumin
- Cayenne
- Black Pepper
- White pepper
- Paprika
- Chipotle chili flakes

In the biggest pot that you own, or well a large one in case you own any of those ginornmous ones used for extra large batches of foodness, sweat the onion with a little bit of onion. 

Add the peppers and sweet potatoes and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

Now add the sauce, the diced tomatoes if you are using canned, if not wait until the sweet potatoes are almost done to add the fresh ones. Throw in all the spices as desired. Simmer on low heat.

When the veggies are half done, add the beans and the corn. Bring back to a low simmer and cook long and slow until everything is cooked through.

This stuff is even better the next day so I tend to make it beforehand if serving at an event. It's just one of those things that gets better everytime you reheat it (well within reason...). 

Serve as is, or over rice of quinoa.

Enjoy!


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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fiery Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

There is no doubt in my world that soup is the ultimate cold weather food. Seeing as fall has sunk its toes into the ground, and winter is peeking from behind the clouds, I figured now was the perfect time to post this recipe. It used to be a constant in my world this time of year last year, I'm pretty sure I made it at least once every two weeks, always a batch that lasted me a few days.

During my 4 month 100% raw stint, I do have to admit that it one thing that I was missing until I discovered the awesome world of raw soups blended until warm. But that is subject matter for another post!

The greatest part of this soup? I got to eat the whole pot to myself. 

Somebodyyy wasn't the biggest fan of it. Which is fine by me when it comes to this soup. 

This somebody is also leaving for Costa Rica in just over a week, which leaves me with some time to fill until I join him in January. At least I have a few replacements to use as my testers, which is good since I plan to fill up my camera with a bunch of new food porn so that I have a bunch to tide me over this next big move, especially since I plan to eat a whole ton of fruit in Costa Rica, and not too much cooking will be happening so expect a ton of amazing raw food dishes!

I will, however, be working on some books to be released sometime in 2014, so keep an eye out for those.

Now, feast your eyes on this delicious pot of orange gold.

Sweet and spicy, it's simplicity betrays it's delicious flavours from the roasting that caramelizes the squash so that the spice perfectly balances the taste. 






Fiery Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

- 1 whole butternut squash
- 2-3 sweet potatoes, diced.
- 1 onion, diced.
- Water or veggie broth, to cover vegetables.
- Hot sauce, to taste.
- S/P

Put your whole squash in the oven at 400F and roast that baby for about 40 mins, or until a fork goes right through.

When that's done and cooled, dice your onion and cook it in a large pot with a bit of water to prevent sticking until translucent.

Add the sweet potatoes and cook for a few minutes, then add water to cover. Bring to a bubbly boil then simmer for 12 minutes or until almost done. Cut your squash in half and scoop the seeds out into the compost. Then scoop the yummy flesh into the pot of simmering goodness. 

Once everything is cooked through, using either a stick blender or in batches in your blender, whirl until smooth.

Back in the pot, season with S/P and hot sauce until it's just as you like it.

Serve nice and hot.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Super Simple Collard Burrrrritos and Guilt Free Tortilla Chips

Sometimes you just have to take it as it comes and find a way to make it all work.

After a rather uneventful move from Toronto to our temporary home here in Ottawa, I came to discover that we don't have high speed internet, just an internet stick that quite frankly reminds me of dial up after having a crazy fast fiber connection at our condo. But hey, it's better than nothing.

With adjusting to my temporary life here, I've been struggling to get organized and get everything rolling again. Between prioritizing schoolwork so that I graduate before our big move to Costa Rica for the winter and working a new job with more hours than I had at the restaurant in Toronto, blogging has been a constant on my mind, but not something I've been very successful at apparently.

Hopefully I've gotten all under control now and post will return to their normal frequency.

Today's recipe is warming, simple and comforting. The three main things on my mind lately when it come to nourishment. Fruit quality and availability isn't really comparable here in Ottawa to what it is in Toronto, especially with the access we had to the Ontario Food Terminal. So we've been eating a bit more rice, potatoes and other whole food carbs to fill in the blanks.

When avoiding gluten and most flours, it may seem difficult to make certain dishes that used to be staples. When it comes to wraps, most ones on the market that are conveniently pre-made are either not to my taste or just full of things I'd rather not consume. The best part is that you don't have to settle if you feel the same way. Collards are the perfect replacement that are just as easy to use, plus you get a serving of greens in. There are a million ways that you can fill them, this one is easy, fast and bursting with flavor.

I chose to also include in this lovely meal, a side of home-made fat free tortilla chips that are so easy to make that they barely warrant a recipe. All you need to find is some 100% corn tortillas (I bought mine at Whole Foods) and cut them into triangles, bake at 450F until crispy. If you want them flavoured, you just need to toss the triangles with desired spices (maybe a bit of liquid to get them to stick, although I haven't tried this, so experiment at your own risk).






Super Simple Collard Burrritos

Ingredients:

- 4 large collard leaves, stem cut off.
- 3-4 cups of cooked rice
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- Salsa, as desired.
- Chili powder
- Cumin
- Hot Sauce

Optional Toppings:
- Guacamole or avocado
- Chopped red onion
- Cashew Sour Cream

Rinse collards well and pat dry with a kitchen towel, then gently slice off the thick part of the stem that runs through the leaf, being careful not to tear the leaf. Then at the top, where the stem was cut, slice off a bit of each corner of the leaf. 

Pile on the toppings, starting with the rice, spices, hot sauce, beans and finishing with the peppers and salsa, leaving a third of the bottom and sides empty

Fold closed as follows: 

Grab the bottom third and fold it over the toppings, then grab the sides and fold over, keeping it closed with a toothpick threaded through.

Serve with guilt-free tortilla chips and dip of choice.

Enjoy!

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Monday, 28 October 2013

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream


Well it seems like fall has officially come to Toronto. We woke up this morning huddling for body heat, since we usually sleep with the window open because this condo has this weird tendency to be warm. Not so great of an idea last night!

It's also our last few days here. Prepping for a move back to Ottawa for a few months, I haven't had plenty of time to cook meals more complex than potatoes and hummus. Or even think much about new ideas. So it's been back to comfort staples, which I really don't mind, since eating simply is what I love best!

It's pretty obvious how much produce we eat around here, when all the boxes that we've used to pack have been from the fruit that we've eaten over the last while. Banana boxes are my favorite to pack with since they seem to be the perfect size for basically anything, are super strong and have handles. Not to mention they stack perfectly. Just another benefit of eating tons of fruit.



Now to the ice cream.

Even though I am not so happy about the cold, it definitely did not stop me from indulging in this treat. After having made pumpkin puree from the awesome local sugar pumpkins my partner got me, I didn't really want to just make the usual pumpkin pie and soup. Also, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to make the pie yet, since I don't use flours of any kind, it's going to be a bit of a challenge unless I make a raw crust.

So this lovely dish came to life. A fat-free, whole food, no-processed-sugar delicacy that everyone can enjoy! It's loaded with sticky good for you ingredients that make this not only a decadent treat, but a healthy one too.






 Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Ingredients:

- 6 large bananas, peeled, cut and frozen.
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 10-14 dates, soaked,
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I made my own, below)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. 

You can serve immediately which will be more of a soft serve, or you can put into a freezer safe glass container and freeze it for a few hours to scoop it like I did. 

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger (I actually used fresh)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Enjoy!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Three Ingredient Chocolatey Milkshake

My dog ate my brownie.

Now other than the first reaction, of being concerned for her having eaten chocolate once again (I swear she's developed an immunity), I was sad. Mostly because baked treats are a rarity in my foodie life, by choice of course. I have them occasionally, but in reality I prefer the vibrance of a low fat, no oil lifestyle that enables me to feel my best.

So maybe she was doing me a favor more than anything.

After that incident, I figured why not make something that will satisfy that sweet tooth while being healthy in every way?

And so the Chocolatey raw vegan mylkshake was made, and it doesn't even involve any mylk!

I love simplicity, even more so when it's made of ingredients everyone has easy access to.




Raw Vegan Chocolatey Mylkshake

Ingredients:

- Bananas, both frozen and fresh.
- Coconut sugar
- Carob or cacao powder (I prefer carob here)
- Water

The amount of each ingredient used is up to you, if you want a thicker shake, use more frozen than fresh bananas and less water. 

You can also control the sweetness and chocolate factor, I used 1/3 cup coconut sugar and 1.5 tbsp carob powder for 10 bananas (6 fresh, 4 frozen).

Enjoy!

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cheap Eats: Chickpea Curry

We all have those recipes that we can make blindfolded with one arm tied behind our backs. That used to be boxed mac and cheese in my world, it's an understatement to say that things have changed.

Before going veg, I was basically hopeless in the kitchen, I could do the basics and thats about it. Which meant that I relied far too much on pre-made or packaged meals. I thought that real cooking was either difficult or too time consuming. How wrong was I?

When I went veg, I had to rely on myself a bit more and became much more adventurous in the kitchen. I also watched a ton of food shows to gather inspiration skills and knowledge about flavors, spices and food combinations. This was the beginning of a much healthier and happier relationship with food.

Now the kitchen in my sanctuary, my therapeutic space where anything is possible and failure just another adventure. Plus, I get to eat it. Win-win.

This recipe is warm, comfort in a plate. It's easy and cheap to make, which makes it a staple and a go-to for me for all occasions, from a mid-week dinner to feeding a group of 12 people. I'm pretty sure the price on this one comes out to less than 10$ for a family portion, or two hearty appetites such as ours.



Chickpea Curry

Note: I made the tomato sauce from scratch here, but for an even quicker meal you can use store bought tomato sauce or thicken the sauce with sun-dried tomatoes in the blender to reduce cooking time.

Ingredients:

- 3 large tomatoes, chopped.
- 2 tbsp ginger, chopped.

Blend the tomatoes and ginger until smooth.

- 1 large onion, chopped.
- 2 large red peppers, chopped.
- 1 lb mushrooms sliced
- 1 large can chickpeas.
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- Cayenne pepper, to taste.
- S/P, to taste. 

In a large sauce pan, cook onions with a bit of water for 2-3 minutes, then add all other veggies and spices. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and cook until sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Add chickpeas and warm throughout.

Serve over rice or quinoa.

Enjoy!!



Thursday, 3 October 2013

Comfort Food: Very Veggie Shepherds Pie

I've recently discovered the amazing world of reddit. There is such a massive array of topics on there, but as can be expected I went straight for the food. I found a great subreddit called veganrecipes where I occasionally share recipes and find amazing ones as well. I definitely recommend checking it out!

Through that group I found out about a subreddit called 52 weeks of vegan food. Of course I was curious and just had to check it out. Basically there will be a theme for every week for the next 52 weeks and people post recipes. Simple, awesome. Bonus is that I can post about my recipe adventures here and then it gives me less brain work for at least a post a week. Which means more posts! But unlike Vegan MoFo, which is intense, the demand isn't everyday and much much more manageable.

So this week's theme is comfort foods. When I think of comfort foods, two things come to mind: my favorite foods now and my favorite childhood foods. They are quite different from one another.

If this question were asked specifically for now, I would say sushi and a creamy dressing salad, well really mostly any ethnic rice dish tickles my comfort food fancy.

As for childhood foods, shepherd's pie is at the top of the list. Not the prettiest dish, it has many good memories attached of both my mom and grand-mother making them for me and my brothers.

Fortunately veganizing this dish is a cup of tea, although I do love a challenge. Simply replace the bottom layer with lentils and other veggies, a few spices and such. The rest stays the same. I also made this low fat by not using margarine or mylk in the potatoes. Just a little cooking water and god quality potatoes and they are just as creamy.






Very Veggie Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients:

- 5-6 large potatoes, boiled and mashed with 1/2-1 cup cooking water.

- 2-3 cups corn kernels (I used organic frozen corn)

- 1 medium sweet potato, diced.
- 2-3 medium carrots, diced. 
- 1 medium onion, diced.
- 1 bell pepper, diced.
- 2 can brown lentils, or equivalent cooked.
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Cook all veggies in this order: onions (2-3 mins) add carrots and sweet potato (4-5 mins), add pepper and lentils along with all the spices. Add water as needed to keep the veggies from sticking. 

When all the veggies are done, put them into a large oven safe glass deep dish. Add the corn on top followed by smoothing out the potatoes. Place into the oven on broil just to heat throughout and brown the top slightly.

Serve as is or with organic ketchup! 

Enjoy!