Have Fun With Your Food, Seriously!

I love fun food. It tastes better. You can basically do anything you want to do with food to please even the pickiest eaters.  I joined Vegan Breakfast Club, and this week it’s a share your potato dish. Ok, there are only so many times you make home fries and tofu scramble look new. So, what was I going to do? At first I really wanted to shape my potatoes as hearts… yeah ok, where did that cookie cutter go? I don’t know, moving on, I thought about shaping the potatoes as bats. No, potatoes were too small. Uh ha! I have tiny snow flake cookie cutters. Great, my potatoes will be snowflakes. I still wanted bats so I used that cookie cutter for the tofu.

I took 4 potatoes they were on the smallish side. Peeled and cut them in half. Then cut them lengthwise- which I got three potato pieces (6 slices for each potato). I took my snowflake cookie cutter and basically got two snowflakes from each  slice, tossed with some oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Feel free to skip the oil and use the herbs and spices you like. I cooked on 180 for 25 mins in the air fryer tossing once.

For the tofu, make sure you press it. I sliced the tofu into 4 slabs. So, got 4 bats out of it. I’m saving the extra tofu for another scramble tomorrow. Anyway, I used about 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1/2 tablespoon of thyme, a teaspoon of turmeric and a bit of water to make a paste (inspired by Isa’s tofu from vegan brunch). I slapped on the paste on the tofu bats and cooked on 180 for 12 mins, flipping once.

I then cooked the tofu with the snowflake fries for a few more mins, as the fries were cold. The dish was awesome once it was finished.

I plan on doing this again for Easter, just because. Of course, using Easter cookie cutters.

snowflakes and bats

How do you like your breakfast?

 

The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet

7 day rescue

When I first came across this challenge, The Seven Day Rescue Diet  by Rip Esselstyn I thought “how hard can it be?” I mean I’m already plant based/vegan. But I did face some challenges, in fact I cheated. That’s right I cheated, on my second day of all things.

Now to be fair, I didn’t realize I wasn’t following the “plan”. I made curry. A nice vegetable, chickpea curry. Seems harmless right? So, where did I do wrong? I used coconut milk. I guess coconut milk is high in fat. Do I feel like I should stop and start over? Nope. Did I quit? Not at all, instead I packed up the leftovers and in the freezer they went, well after I had another spoonful. 🙂

The thing I learned on this journey is how much oil and fat I actually consume. Yes for me it’s easier to cook without oil, but I don’t really check on the fat content, as long as it’s plant based, it’s all good. I’ve been spoiled over the last 5 years, there are so many vegan options out there, but the convenient foods are no better fat wise than what they try to mimic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I have some beefless burgers and pizza in the freezer for those days I don’t feel like cooking.

When I received The Seven Day Rescue, I was really happy. It laid everything out for me. And pizza- yes pizza is ok during the rescue. They have a recipe for pizza, but more about the recipes later.

The Seven Day Rescue Diet is straightforward. Part 1 talks about Why We Love Plants, Why We Love Whole Foods, Why We Don’t Drink Our Food (ok, I understand this, but I do like juicing), Why We Care About Calorie Density Why We Limit Protein (I wish non plant-based Dr’s would read this), Why We Limit Salt, Sugar and fat, Why We Exercise. 

 They talk about batch cooking. Trust me this is a time saver.  Take a Sunday or whatever day works best for you and cook a bunch of rice, beans or potatoes. Do you have an Instant Pot? If you don’t, buy one,  that’s a life saver as well. (It cuts down your cooking time.)

They take the guess work out of what to have, what to buy with their handy grocery list. There’s a 7 day meal plan. That’s one of the things I love about this book.

The recipes are mainly bowls. Who doesn’t love a good bowl? I know I do!! There’s oatmeal bowls, waffles and pancakes for breakfast. For lunch there’s salads- not just boring lettuce like you would feed your hamster, but filling satisfying salad’s, flat’s, pizza flats, and soups. For dinner there’s hearty super bowls, burrito’s, sloppy Joes, burgers, chili and so much more. They have some sauces and dips for your salad’s, bowls etc. Seriously, like I said, they laid out everything for you. No guess work, and unlike some diets- this doesn’t feel like one. You can eat!!

The only thing I would do over is I wish I had this book before I started The Seven Day Rescue. It’s clear, it’s simple, and it’s easy. The hardest part is planning a shopping trip. If you are interested in improving your health or if your loved one is in need of a rescue- Please read this book. Try it; it’s only for 7 days. That’s a week. You have nothing to lose (ok you do like tossing and turning at night because you can’t get a good night’s sleep, bad sex, unhealthy hair, acne- I could go on, I won’t though) but you have everything to gain- your health.

To find out more about this book go to Hachette Book Group.. You can even order from there site.

Let me know if you have taken the challenge!

The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot Review, recipe and a giveaway

vegan-instant-pot (1)

I knew Kathy Hester’s newest book The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot would be an asset. (I was one of the lucky ones to be able to recipe test for her.) This book is strictly written for your IP, and not the stove top pressure cookers like so many of them are written for, those are easily adaptable- but with Kathy book there’s no wondering what setting you should cook it on. For those who have bought an IP, and it’s still sitting in the box in the corner (yes I’m looking at you) to those who use their IP daily, there’s something for everyone. Kathy explains everything you need to know about the Instant Pot, what it is, what it has to offer and the different functions of each setting. There’s the dos and do nots, ninja ticks, special diet considerations. Kathy has thought of everything, sifted through all the information and gives you a comprehensive insight that is easy to read. Kathy’s book is like a study guide that is fun to read and motivates you to get in the kitchen and cook… er, throw things in a pot and get on to the rest of your day. It’s that simple.

Kathy has 9 chapters, no nonsense titles; you are going to find what you are looking for.

Chapter 1: 5 Recipes to start, which includes The Best Not Refried Black Beans.

Chapter 2: Quick and Easy Homemade Staples to Save You Money. I have never heard about jalapeno powder before, so I was stoked when she has a recipe to make your own. You will never believe how easy it is and how much flavor it gives the dish.

Chapter 3: Bean and Lentil Recipes That Cook in Half the Time. I really enjoyed All the Beans Soup.

Chapter 4: Fun and Delicious Ways to Add In More Whole Grains. I really want to try the Vegan Sushi Bowl. Kathy includes a cooking chart so if you want to cook another grain, you can do so easily without having to Google

Chapter 5: Eat Your Vegetables: Easy and Elegant Plant-Based Fare. Smokey Pecan Brussels Sprouts are so good, even the people who hate Brussels sprouts will love this easy recipe.

Chapter 6: Fast and Easy Comforting One Pot Meals. The Mini Tofu Frittatas are so good. These will become your weekend must have’s.

Chapter 7: Fast and Comforting One Pot Meals: This has to be my favorite chapter in the whole book. I love how Kathy put together a few dishes and it all cooks at the same time. I really enjoyed the CSA Layered Indian Dinner, Black as Night Layered Halloween Dinner, One Pot Burrito Bowl.

Chapter 8: Decadent and Healthy Desserts.  Try the Vanilla Spice Tea Concentrate.

There’s so many recipes that I would like to mention, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. The ones I listed are the ones I recommend you try first.

I’m excited to be sharing Kathy’s recipe for Smokey Pecan Brussels Sprouts!!!

ip-brussels-sprouts-012

Smoky Pecan Brussels Sprouts

MAKES 4 SIDE DISH SERVINGS

PRESSURE COOKER INGREDIENTS

2 cups (176 g) small baby Brussels sprouts, as close to the same size as possible

¼ cup (60 ml) water

½ tsp liquid smoke

SAUTÉ INGREDIENTS

¼ cup (28 g) chopped pecans

2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup

Salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

For the pressure cooker, add the Brussels sprouts, water and liquid smoke to your Instant Pot and mix well. Put the lid on and close the pressure valve. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. (Note: If you have very large Brussels sprouts, you may need to double the cooking time.)

Once the cooking time is up, carefully move the pressure release valve to release the pressure manually.

For the sauté, switch to the sauté function and add in the pecans and maple syrup and reduce the liquid as you finish cooking the sprouts. Remove from the heat once tender and add salt to taste.

The above photo’s and recipe was published with permission by Kathy Hester.

I was sent out a copy to review and I’m excited to be able to send one lucky winner with a Canadian mailing address out a copy as well. Would you like to win this book? Click here to enter. Or you can purchase a copy here.

Easy. Whole. Vegan- review plus Chickpea Cauliflower Coconut Curry recipe

100 flavor-packed, no-stress recipes for busy families, by Melissa King.

easy-whole-vegan

Nice paperback book with colorful, drool worthy photographs by Heather Poire for almost every recipe.

When I first received this book I read “our story”. Even though our families went through different things- we share similar stories. Both our kids were admitted to hospital. Both were underweight. We both have 2 kids, we’re busy and we don’t always have a lot of time to be messing around trying to get dinner on the table. Similar to your lifestyle right? Not a lot of time to be messing around with everything else that you need to get done.

Melissa uses a few different methods of cooking. Stove top, oven, slow cooker, and dehydrator. I don’t have a dehydrator so I would use the oven on the lowest heat possible and go from there. Those recipes I would cook when I’m home, cleaning and don’t have to worry about going anywhere. Like on Sunday’s when I like to batch cook.

Melissa has the vegan pantry- just what you should have stocked in your pantry, bean cooking chart, how to make the perfect quinoa, egg substitutes. Kitchen equipment to make life easier. Tips to save time and money- don’t we all want to do that? How to handle picky eaters. Remember she has two kids, so she kinda is in the know about this area.

The recipes are grouped so you know if it’s a make ahead meal, slow cooker or 30 minutes or less.

Quick: 30 minutes or less

Spinach & mushroom tofu scramble, Maple vanilla baked oatmeal squares, sweet corn salad with arugula, cheesy garlic popcorn.

Easy: Effortless slow cooker dishes

Apple cinnamon quinoa, veggie enchilada soup, chili mac & cheese, chickpea cauliflower curry

Make Ahead: Refrigerator-friendly meals

Black bean & sweet potato hash, simple cucumber & dill salad, lentil Shepard’s pie, oatmeal snack bars, cinnamon banana chips.

Entertain: Favorites for a crowd

Cinnamon roll muffins, black bean and corn breakfast burrito, healthy coleslaw, lemon garlic zucchini, salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas

Make It Yummy: Sauces, dressing and other accompaniments

Hidden veggies tomato sauce, lemon poppy seed dressing, strawberry salsa, salted caramel sauce

Pick-Me-Up’s: Juices and smoothies

Fruity lemonade, almond joy smoothie, sunshine smoothie, energizing green juice.

If your are still not convinced that the recipes will be tasteful, healthful and easy; please make this recipe and let me know 🙂 Seriously the best book out there for busy families.

Chickpea Cauliflower Coconut Curry

chickpea-cauliflower-coconut-curry-easy-whole-vegan

Curry powder is a great spice mix to work with. Although the exact ingredients may vary slightly, the mix typically features several superfoods. A yellow curry powder’s main ingredients usually include turmeric, coriander, cumin, mustard seed, and either cardamom or cinnamon, if not both. I love curry for its health benefits and its deep, rich flavor. This dish is quite easy to make in a slow cooker, plus it tastes wonderful and is a great introduction for someone who doesn’t quite yet have a palate for curry or Indian food in general.

Makes 5 to 6 servings

Prep and cook time: 5 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

4 cups (650 g) cooked chickpeas (or two 15-ounce [425 g] cans chickpeas, drained)

3 cups (300 g) chopped cauliflower (about 1 head cauliflower)

1½ cups (240 g) diced yellow onions

1 cup (100 g) snow peas

1¾ cups (420 ml) coconut milk (preferably full-fat)

1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon garam masala

Salt to taste

4 or 5 kale leaves, chopped and massaged

Steps

1 Put all the ingredients except the kale in a slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 5 hours.

2 Turn the heat off and add the kale. Stir, then cover for 20 minutes to cook the kale.

3 Uncover and serve. This will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Notes

For a bit of heat, you can add some red pepper flakes.

This dish will be a little soupy, which is intended. It can be served by itself or on a bed

of rice or quinoa. Use a slotted spoon if you don’t want to get too much liquid on the

plate while serving.

To reheat this in the microwave, I suggest adding some extra water (about 1 tablespoon)

so it doesn’t dry out.

Credit line: Recipe from Easy. Whole. Vegan.: 100 Flavor-Packed, No-Stress Recipes for Busy Families © Melissa King, 2016. Image credit goes to Heather Poire. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

 

I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Julie’s Chili

I’m the only one in my household that likes beans. Ok I get it, when I was a kid you would never get me to eat them either. I’m a huge lover of leftovers but sometimes I want something new. Which got me to thinking that other people are likely the same as me. Some may know how to make leftovers taste fresh, some can’t be bothered. I’m going to take one dish and show you how to turn it into something fresh and fun. It takes little effort for big taste!

First we’re going to start with a great recipe which is Julie’s quick and hearty chili- when you do, it will only end up being the most epic week ever for meals! Of course you can double this recipe if you have other bean eating people in your household.

Before I give you her recipe, I want to tell you what all you can make with it. Of course a big bowl of chili and bread are the go to combo. Take those leftovers and make a burrito, Shepard’s pie, quesadilla, stuffed chili baked potato. As I was making more last night, I was thinking about making chili cheese fries, pizza pot pie- or a chili pizza pocket, nacho’s, chili in a bread bowl (think soup in a bread bowl but only with chili), loaded chili zucchini boats, instead of sloppy joe mixture- use the chili instead, chili cheese dogs, chili on a bed of rice, cooked potato cubes and chili in a burrito or just mix in the potatoes with the chili,  the options are endless.

This chili is inexpensive to make- an onion, some garlic, 2 cans of beans, some bell pepper and spices. But by adding potatoes and rice into the mix, which are inexpensive as well, you can really stretch out this recipe.  I really love this recipe because it’s versatile, great for when the budget is tight, but it doesn’t taste like a frugal recipe. The flavor is rich, smoky, you can make it spicier if you want to. If you are looking for the perfect recipe that is both easy on the wallet and a crowd pleaser- I highly recommend this recipe. Don’t take my word for it…. the recipe is right below, make it for yourself- takes only 15 mins to cook…. What are you waiting for?

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*Quick And Hearty Chili

Makes 4 Servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 bell pepper, any color, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups water
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, pureed or tomato puree
1 tablespoon gluten free tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon regular chili powder
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup TSP or TVP (textured soy or vegetable protein)
For the directions, please head over to Julie’s blog.

Julie has many great recipes on her blog! Be warned you will lose track of time, which isn’t a bad thing 😀

Recipe adapted from Vegan Diner, by Julie Hasson, 2011, Running Press
*The above is reprinted from Julie’s Kitchenette with permission.

vdThe cover of Vegan Diner is from Amazon.

How do you like your left over chili? Let me know.