Category Archives: Recipes

‘Tis the season for soup

By Pamela

All summer long, soup is the enemy. It’s hot, it’s hearty, and it’s the last thing I want to eat when it’s 30C. But now that winter is arriving, the soup’s on nearly every night.

Currently, my favourite soup to make is one I just made up: kale and white bean. It of course has lots of garlic as well, some tomato, and I even throw some nutritional yeast in. It’s the total package. Kale is about the healthiest thing ever, and the other ingredients aren’t too shabby either. Everyone at my house loves it. It’s also supergood to send in someone’s lunch the next day. The best part: it’s really easy to make, and uses simple ingredients.

Kale and white bean soup
Serves 6

1 onion, finely minced
A bunch of garlic, also finely minced
One tomato, chopped up
6 cups vegetable stock
2-3 cups of shredded kale
1 can of white beans
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
A generous amount of pepper

Sautee the onion in some olive oil. Throw in the garlic and tomato.

Add veg stock, and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Eat, with crackers or without.

More joys of nutritional yeast

By Pamela

When I was first thinking about becoming vegan, it was long before vegan cheeses were palatable or even available. I used to post on a well-known vegetarian message board, and it was there that a very kind vegan took me under his wing and introduced me to nutritional yeast. He even sent me some by mail all the way from the Southern United States, because I had no idea where to buy it in Ottawa.

Nutritional yeast.

(He actually sent it twice, because the first time he sent it, it was confiscated by customs! I eventually received the first package many months after the second one arrived.)

Nutritional yeast is super healthy (as its name implies), and also very delicious. Not so much on its own, but it is very versatile and can be used to make nice cheezy sauces. Given that I used to be a cheese-a-holic in my pregan days (yes, it IS possible to stop eating it and still enjoy food and life), that’s a good attribute for something to have.

Nutritional yeast is a source of protein and vitamins, especially B vitamins, and is a complete protein. It’s also low in fat and sodium. Some brands, although not all, are fortified with vitamin B12. Nowadays it can be found at virtually any health food store, it’s at Loblaws, and even Bulk Barn.

"Faux poulet"
I’m going to share one of my favorite nutritional yeast recipes, that also incorporates another favorite at our house: faux chicken. I’m not huge on fake meats, but this one, like nutritional yeast, is amazingly versatile and can stand in for any recipe that calls for chicken breast. They’re made by President’s Choice and are widely available at Loblaws and its sister stores for about $12.99 for eight “breasts.” As the five year old at home puts it, “Le faux poulet…c’est très bon.”

Here’s my recipe (original as far as I know, I didn’t source it from anywhere). Please forgive me if it comes out a bit weird, I don’t actually follow a recipe for this and it’s my best guess:

Cheezy pasta with greens
(Serves four)

About 300 grams of rice pasta (rotini or penne)
2 breasts of faux poulet, cut into strips
3 cups of kale/spinach (small pieces)
One tomato, diced
about 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 TB olive or flax oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. Red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)

Cook the pasta. Drain. Rinse.

While it’s cooking, in the biggest frying pan you’ve got water saute the greens, tomato and the faux poulet until greens are limp and the poulet is warmed through.

Dump the pasta in. Stir everything around. Add the oil, nutritional yeast, seasonings. Stir it all around until well-combined. If you’d like it to be a bit creamier add some more oil or water. Keep on low heat until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Cheezy pasta with greens.

Tales of Cake and Frosting

By Erin

I’m not sure how many of you know this, but the NCVA is developing a restaurant outreach program whereby we try to encourage and teach local omni restaurants to be more vegan friendly.

As part of our restaurant outreach package, I wanted to include a really easy and delicious dessert recipe since, even at the veg-friendliest restaurants, vegan desserts are rare.

I settled on chocolate cake since there are so many great vegan ones out there. Specifically, I opted for one of the recipes that helped Chloe Coscarelli win on the Food Networks “Cupcake Wars.”

Check out an article on her win at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/tasty-vegan-food-cupcakes-show-it-can-be-done/.

She was also interviewed recently on “Animal Voices” a Toronto-based radio show. Check that out at: http://animalvoices.ca/2010/10/05/vegan-fitness-nutrition-ultramarathoner-brendan-brazier-dr-occhipinti-chef-chloe-coscarelli/

Anyway, I’d already tweaked the recipe a bit…a little less sugar, instant coffee because I never have espresso powder…but now I wanted to do a test run with the recipe as a two-layer cake. No big changes required, just needed to find the right baking time. Looking at other layer cake recipes, 350 for somewhere between 28 and 36 minutes seemed the norm.

I figured since this was an experimental cake, I’d run another experiment while verifying the bake time. Have you ever noticed how adamant vegan bakers are about not overmixing cake batter? Apparently it leads to tough cakes, fallen cakes, cakes that don’t rise at all, and various other types of badness.

But if that’s the case, why do all boxed cake mix instructions tell you to beat the hell out of their batter for two minutes?

I don’t get it.

So I decided to put it to the test. Layer number one was “mixed lightly until just incorporated” while layer number two was beaten violently à la a boxed mix.

I baked layer number one for 33 minutes. It fell a little bit, making me think I should do layer number two for 35 minutes. Which I did, and, when it came out of the oven, I honestly thought that it was the winner. It was big and poofy and had a smooth, glossy surface. I envisioned myself calling out all the know-it-all vegan chefs and telling them to stick their light incorporation and accept that fact that, evil omni or not, Duncan Hines has been doing cakes since they were in short pants so if he says beat, dammit, beat!

But then layer number two deflated. Here’s a shot of the two layers side by side. The one on the left is the beaten one. Quite the difference in looks!

Now on to the icing.

I recently found a recipe for great fluffy vegan icing. Turns out the secret is a pound of fat. Ever notice how often the secret ingredient is a pound of fat?

That recipe is below:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners does one using unrefined sugar, for a mere thousand dollars a bag)
½ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat until fluffy (about 5-7 minutes). For a chocolate version, add ½ cup of cocoa.

I was planning to go with that recipe. But then I discovered Mimicreme Healthy Top whipped topping. While this stuff is healthy only in comparison to sucking on the tailpipe of an idling car, it is very delicious. Plus, it boasts a level of fluffiness that simply cannot be achieved using traditional ingredients.

So I decided to try mixing some sugar, coffee and cocoa into the Mimicreme to create a fluffy mocha icing.

I began by pulverizing some sugar and instant coffee in my partner’s coffee grinder (I’m sure he didn’t mind), then tossed that and a few tablespoons of cocoa into the unmixed Mimicreme. The stuff looks terrifying just out of the box, by the way. Remember when Tyler Durden retrieved the bag of fat from the liposuction clinic dumpster? Like that, only square.

Then I whipped and beheld the miracle that I had created.

The stuff was yummy, but seriously weird. First, even though I’d added a good half cup of dry ingredients to the cream, it was runnier than the stuff I’d made on a previous occasion with no additives. How does that work?

Second, it was neither liquid not solid. I actually put it in the fridge before putting it on the cake, hoping it would firm up a bit. When it hadn’t changed much after half an hour, I decided to go ahead. I dumped it all on top of the cake, then began spreading it carefully over the edges. I fully expected it to pour over, making unappealing puddles around the base of the cake.

But it didn’t. The semi-liquid cream sort of clung to the sides of the cake. I was amazed! Then I decided to tempt fate by trying to smooth out the clinging cream. No way was I getting away with this, I thought. It’ll peel away from the sides of the cake, or start running down, or something.

Nope. It was amazingly malleable. I spread, I swirled, I smoothed, and the modified Mimicreme just sort of went with it. It was kind of like the bowling ball mattress – touching any given bit of icing only moved that bit – the stuff around it stayed put.

Very weird.

Anyway, here are a couple of pics of the finished cake, with and without espresso chocolate shavings. I’ve got a couple of taste testers coming by later to see if hey can tell the difference between layers one and two.

Oh, and here is the final cake recipe:

3 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp vinegar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350
Line the bottoms of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper

Mix wet ingredients
Mix dry ingredients
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and “mix lightly until just incorporated”

Divide batter between cake pans and spread it around (it’s a thick batter)

Bake for 32-35 minutes.

The additions to the Mimicreme were 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp instant coffee and 4 tbsp cocoa.

Vegan Mac & Cheez

By Pamela

Daiya vegan cheese appeared in the Ottawa market in June 2010, opening up many new culinary opportunities for vegans, many of whom had come to accept that may never enjoy the stringy goodness of cheese again.

Daiya’s cheddar variety melts and tastes nearly identical to its cow’s milk counterpart. It’s quite a marvel, really, that a company can take coconut, tapioca, and a few other ingredients, and somehow make it mimic the “real” thing… minus, of course, the saturated fat, cholesterol, and goodness knows what else you might find in cheese made from cow’s milk.

My favorite thing to make using Daiya is vegan mac & cheese. I have made it for many vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores, and many of the omnivores did not even realize that it was vegan. My partner’s children love it, and my non-veg dad does too. In what follows, I will describe roughly how it’s made (I don’t usually measure things).

Rice pasta
Start by boiling water, and getting some pasta going. I personally prefer rice pasta. For this recipe, make about a pound.

Earth Balance
While that’s underway, melt about 1/3 of a cup of vegan margarine in a small saucepan. I like to use either Earth Balance, or Becel Vegan. Both are non-hydrogenated, and vegan. Earth Balance gets the leg up for being a bit more healthy.

Once the margarine is melted, it’s time to add the Belsoy creamer.

Belsoy creamer
Soy milk or any other kind of milk is not a sufficient substitute for this. If you are against soy, you could possibly substitute Mimicreme creamer, that has an almond and cashew base. However, while this works, the end result is not as delicious as it is when the soy creamer is used. Whisk it all together over low heat.

Next, whisk in about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce (this dish can be gluten-free if a wheat free soy sauce is used), and half a cup of nutritional yeast. Spices that are needed included about 1/4 tsp. of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. onion powder. Adjust these to suit your taste.

Nutritional yeast
Cashew butter.

Keep whisking frequently. Add water as needed so that the sauce doesn’t get too thick. Then, for added smoothness, add about 1 tablespoon of cashew butter.

By now, your pasta should be pretty much done. Strain and rinse it, and put it into a 13 * 9 baking dish, preferably glass. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix it together. Sprinkle with Daiya cheddar cheez.

Pop it in the oven, which should be pre-heated on broil. Cook for five to ten minutes, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn. Serve.

The finished product

I’m not going to lie to you; this is not health food. But it’s way more healthy than traditional mac & cheese, and it’s just as delicious. It’s also kinder to animals! At our house we usually serve it with a nice big salad, or a green smoothie.

Try it on your non-vegan friends and family. I promise you, they will love it.