28 October 2014

Nourishing Wellness Bowl

As you may have noticed, things have been a little quiet around the blog lately.  I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks after enduring a little health hiccup.  I'm very grateful that it turned out to be a minor issue in the end, but the last 5 weeks or so have been incredibly stressful as had me seeing various doctors, enduring tests and examinations while they tried to figure out what was going on.  Long story short, and without getting into all the details, there was a lump and now there isn't.  And hopefully that will be the end of that.  I'm still taking it easy, but I am really feeling good about being able to move on with healing and focusing on my wellness.


I'm so thankful to be feeling well again and more like myself and actually wanting to be in the kitchen.  I've been eating pretty simple foods lately for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because they're easy and quick and wholesome.  But what my meals may have lacked in creativity and sparkle, they've made up for in simple goodness.  Today's recipe is exactly along those lines.

Warm, chewy, short grain brown rice and hearty, protein-packed lentils cooked together in my rice cooker (my favourite life hack // no-fuss way to prepare them!), with shredded carrots and Brussels sprouts, massaged kale, and a creamy tahini dressing.  Plus some raw kimchi for a little fermented kick too. 

Wholesome, delicious perfection.

Feed your growling tummy and fuel your body with this wholesome, filling, real food.

Nourishing Wellness Bowl
serves 2

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/4 cup french lentils
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 stalks lacinato kale (aka black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1-12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1/4 cup raw sauerkraut or kimchi
1 tsp olive oil

Maple Tahini Dressing
makes about 1/2 cup

2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1/4 cup water

In a small pot, bring the water to a boil.  Add the rice, lentils and salt and stir.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.  Alternatively, add them all to your rice cooker, press the "ON" button and walk away (win!).

Wash and dry the kale.  Strip the leaves from their stems using a sharp knife, stack the leaves and chop them into bite-sized pieces.  Drizzle with the olive oil and massage it into the kale for a minute or two. 

To make the dressing, simply whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and maple syrup.  Thin with as little or as much of the water as you like (this will partially depend on the thickness of the tahini you use and also on your personal preference) and season with the salt.

Once the rice is cooked, assemble everything into 2 bowls and top with the Maple Tahini Dressing.

It feels good to be back in this space.  I've also been testing an amazing new pumpkin pie recipe for you fine folks too... hopefully I will be back later this week (or weekend) with it!

Until then, wishing you all wellness too.  XO

10 October 2014

Greens 24/7

YOU GUYS.  I know I haven't said as much as a peep lately about that book thing I've been working on, but I am ready ( and SO excited!) to share a little sneak peek with you today!  I finished editing the manuscript way back in August and now it's just a matter of waiting for it to arrive on my doorstep.  Eeeeek!  Greens 24/7 is set to be released by The Experiment on January 6th, but if you can't wait until then, you can totally pre-order it here.  And for my friends and readers across the pond, if you order a UK copy it will be published by Apple Press (and there will even be a different cover for you!).

I can barely contain my excitement about this and I know you're going to get excited too once you read a little more about Greens 24/7 and take this sneak peek at a few of the gorgeous, mouth-watering photographs from the book.  I am so, so lucky to have had Jackie working on this with me.

I mean, come on!  And I can tell you that the rest of the book is just as impressive.

Here's more about the book (from my publisher's website):

Greens 24/7 
More Than 100 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Recipes for Eating Leafy Greens and Other Green Veggies at Every Meal, Every Day

Green veggies galore—with all their benefits—made delicious in every meal from breakfast to dessert

Yes, they’re good for you—but who knew greens could be so much fun?
If you’re trying to eat more greens but find yourself in a salad rut, Greens 24/7 is here to bring delicious, healthy veggies to every meal of the day, from breakfast to dessert. Spinach in pancakes? Kale in cornbread? You bet!

The 100+ innovative recipes pack a seriously healthy punch with more than 40 green veggies, featuring classics like broccoli and zucchini, superfoods like chard and Brussels sprouts, and unconventional greens like spirulina and kelp. Recipes include:
  • Chocolate Superfood Smoothie
  • Pesto Polenta Fries with Spicy Aioli
  • Zucchini Noodle Bolognese
  • Samosa Burritos with Peas
  • Lemon and Parsley Olive Oil Cake
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Avocado Torte
With Greens 24/7, you can have your cake—and your kale, too!

There will be events announced in the near future so that you can get your copy in person, so stay tuned for that!  Also, if you are one of my local friends, SAVE THE DATE for November 29th - I'll be hosting the first in a series of cooking workshops and I'll be sharing recipes from the book!  More on that soon :)

For now, have yourselves a wonderful weekend.  And a happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian peeps!  I'll be cooking up a cruelty-free feast on Sunday and you can catch a peek of that via Instagram.


06 October 2014

Crispy Fried Tofu

Do you have that one dish in your repertoire that you always think of when you're stumped for what to make for dinner?  You know the one - it's quick and easy, requires only a handful of ingredients and everyone loves it?  For me this is "that dish".  This is the dish that started my love affair with tofu and it's one that I've made countless times over the years.  It's also the one that I've been asked for the recipe for time and time again.

This dish goes back, all the way back, to my university days.  There was small little gem of a place in Guelph called Cafe Aquarius that we used to eat at.  It was run very casually with counter service and an open kitchen.  The walls were lined with local artists' work, meals were served on mismatched plates from a second hand shop and the food was amazing.  Not that I can actually comment on the entire menu, because I am fairly confident that over the course of my 4 years there I ordered a grand total of - wait for it - ONE menu item.  That's right folks, without fail, every single time I had the Crispy Fried Tofu, served with brown rice and a pseudo Caesar salad.

Near the end of my 4th year when a friend of a friend who once worked there shared the ingredients of the recipe with me, I wrote it to memory and have been making it ever since. (As you'll see, it's so simple this was not a difficult task!)  I must say, this was likely the dish that converted Mark to tofu.  For reals.  This tofu has magic powers.

I've actually been meaning to share this recipe on Cupcakes and Kale since my first months of blogging but it just never happened.  (Seriously, this had been in my draft folder for over 3 years!)  Finally the time has come, and this goodness will be shared!

It's so simple a recipe but I promise you, you will love it.  Really and truly, you will.
THIS is tofu.

Crispy Fried Tofu
serves 2-4

1 350g-400g block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari (use gluten free tamari if needed)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp oil for frying

Optional coating add ins: toasted sesame seeds, hemp hearts, garlic powder, dried herbs, cayenne powder.

Drain the liquid from the tofu, wrap it in a clean tea towel and press it by placing it under a cast iron skillet or a plate that's weighted down with several books.  After several minutes, remove the tofu and slice it into 10-12 pieces.  Place it and the tamari in a shallow dish to marinate.  If you have them time, leave it for 10 minutes to an hour.  In a pinch, I've been known to leave it for only 5 minutes before moving on.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Place the nutritional yeast in a dish and one at a time, coat each tamari-marinated tofu slices before placing them in the hot pan.  Cook for 5-6 minutes a side until golden brown and crispy.  But here's the trick - only flip t he tofu once and resist the urge to shake the pan or lift the pieces to check on them - too much movement and you'll end up losing some of the delicious coating.  And trust me, you want all the crispy, noochy coating.  Serve it any way you like, but my favourite way is a la Cafe Aquarius with brown rice and a fresh, green salad and a little extra tamari on the side.

And for what it's worth, in my opinion, it's best enjoyed with an old university friend.

01 October 2014

Vegan Baby: 22 Months

It's been a while since I've flooded your blog readers with photos of Woodrow, so here's a little peek at our growing boy.  And I'm afraid this post might just mark the final installment in the Vegan Baby updates because it's become very clear that what we have on our hands is no longer a baby.

We are officially in toddlerhood.  Aside from his shear size (Anyone out there who thinks vegan kids are slight can come try to sling this guy around for a day.  Oy.), there's his growing sense of independence and risk taking, the word explosion that just hasn't quit, and of course the tantrums too. 

Currently he loves playing with a train set we inherited, making "sushi" and "cookies" out of play-doh and reading books.  Outdoor time has been especially fun over the last few weeks and we've gone for lots of "hikes" along the creek near our house.  There is so much for Woodrow to see and do and he can spend hours looking for frogs, watching ants, smelling flowers, and picking up stones & tossing them into the water.  Simple things are the best.

He loves helping in the kitchen, especially when it comes to mixing and measuring things, and in particular baking muffins (cake as he calls them).  It's never a tidy process but I'm okay with that because I love that he loves to cook with me!

It's been getting easier communicating with him now that his language is emerging.  It's amazing how quickly he picks words up these days and what he chooses to use.  Some of his more often spoken phrases include "Oh! Somebody's house." and "Oh! Somebody's car." pointing out at every car and house we pass.  "No frogs in Mama's house!" he likes to exclaim at 5am and we have no idea why but it's hilarious every time.  "I working." when he's busy playing and you ask him what he's doing.  It's often quite hilarious.  Here is one of our recent conversations that took place while he was busy playing and I tried to convince him it was time to have lunch:

Me: Woodrow it's lunchtime.  We are having soup and toast and hummus.

Woodrow (hopefully):  Ummmm.... Cake?

Me: No darling, we don't have any cake.  We have soup and toast and hummus.  Would you like to sit down for lunch with Mama?

Woodrow (very matter-of-factly): No Mama I don't.  I working. 

With parents as strong-willed and spirited like Mark and myself, it's no big surprise that we have quite little personality on our hands.  As my mama gently reminded me recently, I apparently wrote the book on being a spirited child, so call it my just desserts.  Woodrow is wild and wonderful and quiet and cuddly from one moment to the next.  Two things I'm sure of are that parenting is exhausting and also the best thing ever. 

Only two months until he's 2.  Wow, that happened fast.

27 September 2014

Cornmeal Plum Cake

This recipe came to be all because of those plums I made reference to in my last post .  As lovely and sweet as they were just on their own, they seemed to be just the perfect thing for cake.  They were so darling and small - only about the size of golf ball, so if your plums are bigger, you may only need 4 or so. 

Although not the prettiest of cakes, it has a certain rustic charm to it.  And it's got a little heartiness to it too given the addition of cornmeal and flax eggs.  And since it has fruit in it too, it's totally fit for breakfast as well as dessert.
True story.

I realize that stone fruit season has come and gone for us in Ontario for the most part, but I reckon this cornmeal cake would be equally delicious with the addition of berries too. Or maybe with pears and some crystallized ginger too.  Mmmm, now that will be perfect for fall.

Cornmeal Plum Cake
serves 8-10

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal + 1 teaspoon for the pan
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp flaxmeal + 6 Tbsp warm water)
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup coconut sugar or unrefined cane sugar
2/3 cup room temperature vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
7-8 small plums, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 350f.  Lightly grease the sides of an 8" round cake pan and then dust with a teaspoon of cornmeal.  Cut a round of parchment to line the bottom and set aside.  Alternatively, you can use an 8x8 brownie pan lined with parchment or greased and dusted the same way.

Mix together the flax egg, to it add the milk, and set aside.  Mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and vegan butter.  To it, add the flax egg mixture and dry ingredients, stirring well until a thick batter is achieved.  Pour this batter into the cake pan and spread it out evenly with a spatula.  Top with the plums, cut side down, and press each one gently into the cake batter.  Place in the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes, until the top has lightly browned and a toothpick tests clean.  Remove from the oven to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan and serving.

I made this cake both with coconut sugar and also with unrefined cane sugar (pictured).  The coconut sugar, gave the cake a darker colour and a deeper flavour of molasses.  I completely understand that it may be a cost prohibitive ingredient (one that I very rarely purchase myself because of its price), and so I also tested it with the regular unrefined cane sugar that I stock my pantry with.  This sugar lightened the cake up significantly but both were absolutely delicious.  Moral of the story?  Use what you have on hand, and I guarantee you'll be a happy camper.