Cooking Delights

Monday, July 31, 2006

Kalamata Walnut Tapenade

Yesterday I made this kalamata walnut tapenade from Dreena Burton's Vive le Vegan It was amazingly delicious. I took it to a family get together and it was dimolished!

I am hoping to replace my cheddar cheese and kashi cracker habit with this. Like most dairy products, cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and riboflavin. However, because it takes about 8 to 10 pounds of milk (4 to 5 quarts) to make one pound of most types of cheese, just one ounce (about a one-inch cube) of cheese contains about as much fat as a cup of whole milk. In fact, most cheeses derive 60% to 90% of their calories from fat (with most of the fat being saturated).

The kalamata walnut tapenade on the other hand contains olives which are a very good source of monounsaturated fats and a good source of vitamin E. Also in the nutritionally dense tapenade are walnuts an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture. Walnuts' concentration of omega-3s (a quarter-cup provides 90.8% of the daily value for these essential fats) has many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function, to anti-inflammatory benefits helpful in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. The amount of omega 3 essential fatty acids is crucial for vegetarians like myself who don't eat fish.

I am also proud to say that the tapenade included fresh thyme straight from my herb garden. Loved this recipe.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Indian Take-Out

I had to post this because we have this great new Indian restaurant right around the corner that our entire family (all three of us) can eat at for $20 Canadian. I am not kidding. The cost of 3 samosas, chipati for 3, three dishes - lentils, ali gobi, and matir panir, plus rice is $20. Does that not seem incredibly cheap? It is hard to justify cooking at that price!

Another re-run

These are the summer roles from Vegan with a Vengance. These tastey treats are perfect on a hot summer day. Today's contents include glass rice noodles, juliened cucumbers, cilantro, peanuts, and juliened mango. I made the ginger dipping sauce from Vive le Vegan. Cilantro, which is also called corriander, has some interesting health benefits. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an "anti-diabetic" plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Friday, July 28, 2006


These are our favourite roasted eggplant and red pepper sandwiches. This night I decided to roast some garlic to serve with these tastey sandwiches. Roasted garlic is excellent smeared on your favourite crusty bread in the place of butter. I know all of you use garlic to ward off vampires, but did you know that garlic has a whole host of other health benefits? Numerous studies have demonstrated that regular consumption of garlic lowers blood pressure, and decreases platelet aggregation, serum triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol (the potentially dangerous form) levels while increasing serum HDL-cholesterol (the protective form) and fibrinolysis (the process through which the body breaks up blood clots), and stimulating the production of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessel walls, which helps them to relax. As a result of these beneficial actions, garlic helps prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. Garlic is also known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity - so eat up to boost your immunity.

Quinoa bowl with Alligator Pears

Here are some quinoa bowls I made using the avacado dressing from Vive le Vegan. Alligator Pears is the colloquial name given to avacados. The health benefits of avacados are many. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. Also, avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. Additionally, avacados contain the highest amount of the carotenoid lutein of all commonly eaten fruits, as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeazxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E) which has been shown to prevent prostate cancer.

Quinoa is an incredibly healthy grain that is actually a relative of the green leafy vegetables such as spinach and swiss chard! Again, the health benefits of quinoa are many. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

I sprinkled this rice bowl with cashews and pumpkin seeds. Nuts sometimes get a bad rap for being high in fat. The thing is, you can eat up, because they are a source of good fat. Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Pumpkin seeds are known to promote prostate health for men. The phytosterols compounds found in pumpkin seeds have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.

This quinoa bowl was garnished entirely with raw veggies. This is not only beneficial because it was a hot day but also because the enzymes present in raw food help aid in proper digestion of the food.

The quinoa bowls were realy simple to make. My four year old daughter particularly enjoyed garnishing her own bowl with the toppings that she liked... kind of like an ice cream sunday bar, only healthier!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

For breakfast sunny blueberry corn muffins from Vegan with a Vengance. Don't you love the colour of these babies?

For lunch veggie lo-mein with our fav. sweet and spicy tofu. Inspired by kaivegan

For dinner this great little number! Pre and post cooked. Inspired by Albion Cooks Puff pastry with pesto, basil leaves, tomatoes and brie cheese.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Home Made Indian

My Aunt and Uncle can make a wicked Indian dinner. They spoiled us with lots of vegetarian specials at our family pool party yesterday. They started cooking on Saturday night and didn't stop until Sunday at dinner time. The parathas alone took three hours to cook up! Check out this incredible spread! Parathas, dahl, curried cabbage, curried egg, chana masala. We definitely didn't go hungry!

Here are our plates! Yum!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Back to Fressen

Last night, thanks to Grandma babysitting again my husband and I headed off on a date to Fressen again. We had been talking about going back since we went last weekend! This time we took our camera.

I started with an apple ginger juice. I had wanted to try their green juice, but they were not able to get kale that night, so I had the apple ginger juice again. The amount of ginger in this juice gives it a real delicious kick.

The first thing to arrive at our table was arinated and braised fennel on top of sautéed watercress with a miso and hemp butter whip. This was the first time either of us had tried fennel... we will definitely be having it again. I actually now feel brave enough to try cooking it at home.

Second up was shredded jicima & celery root marinated in lime, chilies, herbs and hemp oil served on a bed of crispy watercress. This was the first time either of us had ever tasted jicima (pronounced hicima) before either! Jicima is delicious. If you have never tried it, you must. I will definitely be looking for this in the grocery store!

After that, a very handsome bartender brought us our deep fried cornmeal crusted oyster mushrooms served in a rice paper bowl with glazed pineapple and mango salsa. He complimented us on our choice as he laid this beautiful plate down at our table. I love having dishes like this when I am out, because I know I could never recreate it myself at home.

The final dish to arrive was a very rich resh lemony spinach pesto mixed with hand rolled barley and potato gnocchi tossed with asparagus and olives. Believe it or not, this was the first time myself or my husband have ever tried gnocchi either! LOL! My husband thought gnocchi was a cheese, so that is how unfamiliar he was with it! I think it will be hard to find a gnocchi that lives up to this one at home.

The most memorable part of the evening was as we were walking along Queen Street back to our car after dinner. We're walking along and I'm watching this guy telling this really animated story to his friend. I'm thinking man that looks like Rob Lowe, he even sounds like him... I feel like I am watching an episode of West Wing because he even gestures like him. As soon as we pass him my husband says, "Do you know who that was." I reply matter of factly, "Yeah, that was Rob Lowe" I turn around to check him out and guess what? He is checking me out!!!!! I kid you not. I had to include a photo of what I was wearing to explain why. I got this beautiful, fun and eye popping outfit from my sister's clothing store. This outfit is an attention grabber... guys oggle and girls give you dirty looks. Anyway, apparently it was even enough for Rob Lowe to give me a second glance! LOL! Now that is some serious external affirmation. Whenever I feel bad about my looks or my body I just have to remember that a celebrity, Rob Lowe, thought I was good enough to give a second glance!

Dreena's Apple Hemp Muffins

These are Dreena's apple hemp muffins from Vive. I changed them a bit because I didn't have applesauce, just two very sad looking bananas in the fridge, so I mashed them up to replace the applesauce. I also added some cranberries. I was going to add cherries but when I opened the jar I had in the fridge they had gone bad. :-( I love these muffins because they are made with ground oats, whole wheat flour and hemp seed nuts. This is a fantastic combination of fiber and protein. Like other oil seeds, the hemp nut consists mainly of oil (typically 44%), protein (33%) and dietary fiber and other carbohydrates (12%, predominantly from residues of the hull). In addition, the nut contains vitamins (particularly the tocopherols and tocotrienols of the Vitamin E complex), phytosterols and trace minerals. Overall, hemp's main nutritional advantage over other seeds lies in the composition of its oil, i.e. its fatty acid profile, and in its protein which contains all of the essential amino acids in nutritionally significant amounts and in a desirable ratio. Also, these muffins keep me going like nothing else. I had one for breakfast with a green smoothie, I went out and taught one fitness class and one yoga class and I wasn't hungry for lunch until about 2:00 p.m. I kid you not.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


This meal was a delicious source of fiber that kept me going all day. It is recommended that you get between 25 and 35 g of fiber a day. This lentil and pasta dish will put you almost half way there with 13 g of fiber for this serving. The whole wheat linguine from Italpasta boasted 7 g of fiber and the lentils 6g. Fiber helps you stabilize your sugar levels and keeps your insulin levels in check. With foods high in fiber the sugar strands take more time and effort to unravel, allowing the sugar to make its way into the blood stream in a nice easy flow. This meal was also a carb loading effort. I went to a nutrition for women course once that suggested women should load up on carbs just before their menstral cycle begins. Consumption of more complex carbohydrates may relieve PMS symptoms since carbohydrates drop seratonin levels as they raise insulin levels.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Easy Summer Cooking

It has been hot, hot, hot here over the last few days. Cooking has been easy with as little use of the oven as possible.

First up is a pasta salad. This salad was a bit disappointing considering the labour that went into it. It had baked tofu in it, so I even had to turn on the oven. I probably won't make it again.

We had the pasta salad with Ives soy "sausages" They are new and they were pretty good. We will probably have them again. Nice and easy in the summer. I like hot dogs and sausages so it is nice to have a vegetarian choice.

We picked lots of nice yellow beans from our garden. There seem to be some green ones in the mix too even though we didn't plant them.

Yesterday we had tacos... nice and easy without much heat generated.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Raspberry Pie!!!

My first raspberry pie of the season! It was so hot late last night when I baked it, but nothing would keep me from making it! My hubby said it was the best pie he has ever had. I used half the sugar regularly called for, so it was quite tart. In the end, I think that was part of the appeal. We ate half the pie late last night... goes against our usual no food after 8:00 p.m. rule, but honestly for fresh baked raspberry pie you must make exceptions.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Simple Summer Food and Raspberries

It is so hot here right now that cooking is out of the question. This morning I cooked up some quinoa so that I could make a quinoa salad. It was really simple... basically olive oil and lemon juice... so it was also really refreshing.

Good news too... we picked enough raspberries today to make a pie. A raspberry pie takes 4 cups and as you can see we got 'em !

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fressen Restaurant 478 Queen St. W. Toronto

Last night my husband and I went out for dinner. We chose Fressen restaurant since my daughter is at Grandma's for the weekend and we were able to go a little more upscale on account of not having our daughter in tow. I am totally sorry that I didn't take my camera, but I had no idea it was going to be as wonderful as it was. Honestly, it was the best gourmet meal I have ever had out. A real bonus considering it was the only vegan gourmet meal I have ever had out. We arrived at about 7:00 p.m. to a pretentious hostess telling us that she wouldn't be able to seat or serve us for an hour, if ever. I could see the steam coming out of my husbands ears as he said OK, forget it. But! I was persistant! I was not going to pass up my chance to have a night out at an upscale restaurant, so I said, "Could we sit at the bar?" With a quick change of events we were sitting at the bar. My husband even said, "Good Idea!" So, if you can get past the snobby serving staff, the food is totally worth it.

We started with cocktail style juices. My husband had apple ginger juice - the ginger had a real kick, so it was an awesome sipper. I had pineapple, strawberry lemonade. The pineapple made it really sweet, so it wasn't tart enough to be lemonade to me... however it was a delicious drink in its own right if you took away the expectation of lemonade.

I loved the concept at this place. Each item on the menu was $9. The waitress (who was the nicest of the lot) recommended that we order 5 plates for two people. It was so hot and humid yesterday that we decided to order 4 with the intention of ordering one more if we were still hungry. Each dish was served on a giant white plate with a beautifully presented tower of food. From where we were sitting at the bar we could see the chef labouring over each plate that left the kitchen until it was perfect. We had asparagus on a bed of quinoa with a sauce that I don't remember. We had a shitake mushroom and spinach mix in phillo. I had my first good experience with tempeh!! Woo hoo! That plate as an adorable tempeh fish and chips - the chips were sweet potatoe the size of those hickory sticks, but longer - yummo! We also had squash raviolo in a tomatoe sauce that was so fresh it tasted like they got the tomatoe plants straight off the vine that afternoon. We skipped dessert. They only had one on offer and it really didn't appeal. I had read a review that main courses were better than desserts so we decided to fill up there. It would have been nice if they had done something with fresh fruit thought.

Anyway, this is my new favourite veggie restaurant in Toronto. It is definitely worth the price of a babysitter... so we will definitely be having romantic nights out there in the future - but, we will call ahead for reservations.

I will link you to some of the reviews of the restaurant.

Now's Review
By the way I think it is heads and tails above Live (but I don't really like raw food) and I love Cafe 668 - the food is outstanding there... but Fressen is different, a great place for a nice night out if you want to get dressed up and make it really special.
Yummy Baguette
Martini Boys

Anyway, I highly recommend it. It was totally awesome.

The whole night was awesome. Just strolling Queen St. W. before and after dinner was so fun. I got a pair of really cool sunglasses from a street vendor and I could have spent my entire life's savings on hand made jewellry offered by another street vendor. After dinner we went to hear a friend of ours play in his band at the Bier Markt in the distillery district in Toronto. It was a total blast! We danced the night away with all the other 30 and 40 somethings in Toronto. This place had over 100 beers on tap. My husband and I broke our usual sobriety and enjoyed a sampling of beers from around the world. (I have a total weakness for beer - I think there should be beer tasting, the same way there is wine tasting) The best beer of the night was one from Kenya (where my husband was born) with a really cute elephant on the front. We tried to bring the beer bottle home, but the waitress cleared it while we were dancing. I can't remember the name of our friend's band right now, but I will ask him and post to their web site too. It was so cool because the band took pictures all night long with a digital camera of them and the crowd. It was like we were their best friends and they were partying with us. Apparently they post the pictures on their website so I will link to them when they are up. I love Toronto, there is so much fun to be had!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Garden Goodies and Easy Summer Suppers

Looks like our garden is starting to produce some organic produce.

First up are the peas and the yellow beans.

The tomatoe plants are also looking healthy.

We shall have lots of zucchini!

Our raspberry bush is producing some beautiful, big, plump raspberries - we are eating them right off the bush... if we could slow down our insatiable desire for raspberries we might be able to pause long enough to take a photo! LOL! We are hoping for a raspberry pie from the raspberries that ripen this weekend – that takes 4 cups however – and a lot of restraint!

Meals have been super simple around here. This is a quinoa salad on lettuce from our garden with corn on the cob.

Here is my daughter's dinner. She wouldn't eat the quinoa, but she did have a hefty serving of green salad. Lately my daughter has decided that she does in fact like vegetables (this after the last few years of detesting them). Now everyday she wants to try new vegetables to see how many she can add to her list of "vegetables that I like" So far we have: corn on the cob, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and red peppers. This weekend she is going to Grandma's house and she can't wait to tell her about all the vegetables she likes now. I have found having her help prepare the meals and try the vegetables raw really peaks her interest in trying more foods.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Crispy Tofu Pita Sandwiches

I love these crispy tofu sandwiches. The coating for the tofu is really easy. It is just nutritional yeast, wheat germ, garlic powder salt and pepper. The lettuce is from our own garden so it is organic. I also grated some carrots to put in the pita and spread some mayo on it. What a yummy dinner.

The unfortunate disaster of the chocolate hemp squares

I messed up big time with these squares. They are a goopy mess. It is really sad because the ingredients are not all that cheap. I couldn't find hemp seed nut butter anywhere so I ground my own. I think this part worked out fine. I think I messed up by not putting in enough cereal. It calls for 1 cup of cereal crumbs... I ground 1 cup of cereal and put it in... it seemed goopy, but I had high hopes that it would firm up in the fridge. Well, I think that 1 cup of cereal does not equal 1 cup of cereal crumbs. They tasted fantastic still, but they were impossible to eat. I can't wait to try them again... with the right amount of cereal.

Megan the Vegan inspired me

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of cereal inspired by Megan's post about her berried cereal! I put blueberries and strawberries on Kashi 7 Grain Cereal. I love this cereal. 7 grams of fiber. I miss the old name though.. Kashi Good Friends was cool.... so was the weird design on the old box.

For lunch today I made a noodle bowl... also inspired by Megan.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Silken Chocolate Tofu Pudding

This is another simple and delicious recipe from Nancy.

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (a little less than 1 cup) - I use carob chips
1 pckg. firm silken (aseptic packed) tofu (use mori-nu)
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar or brown rice syrup
dash of nutmeg

1. Melt choc chips and add 1 tbsp. of water

2. Put hte tofu in the blender first then add the melted choc. chips. Add remianing ingredients and blend til creamy. Chill. Enjoy!

I put mine in popsicle molds and then when the remainder of the batch was too small to make into a popsicle I licked the bowl (didn't make it to chill).