My Favourite Green Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Raw)

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I’m a sporadic smoothie drinker. Something about using the blender creates a mental block for me. Hmmm… Anyhow, as I’ve said before spring means green and the tricky bright colour of this smoothie belies the delicious fruity fun underneath. Plus side, my husband is able to have all the ingredients in this smoothie with no troubles at all.

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My Favourite Green Smoothie
Makes 4 cups

1 cup green grapes
1 cup fresh or frozen mango
Several handfuls greens of your choice (I think baby kale is best)
1 cups water, plus more for thinning to desired texture or to get your crappy blender to work
2 tablespoons ground flax (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)

Throw all ingredients together in a blender and let them go. If you have a weak blender, reserve some water and pour that in, whenever it needs to get moving. I love a squeeze of lemon on top, but this is already a little tart, so take caution.

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Fried Gnocchi (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy Free)

So they say making gnocchi is easy, but they (whoever they are) say that about a lot things. I’m so happy to report that gnocchi making is easy! It can be a time investment, but not even that big of one. I’ve made this for dinner two Tuesdays in a row!

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It’s potatoes, boiled then mashed into dough (with a few other things). The frying is optional, but I recommend it. A lot of people who don’t think they like gnocchi, like it once it’s got a bit of crunch to it. You can very easily sub out gluten-free flour for all-purpose wheat flour in this instance.

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Potato Gnocchi
Serves 4

4 large Russet potatoes, cut in half and boiled until soft
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (mine, I use brown rice, never white), plus more for rolling out
1 tablespoon egg replacer, mixed with 1/4 cup warm water
Extra virgin olive oil, to prevent sticking

Bring the Russets to a boil in salted water and let them simmer until they are tender. Drain and let cool until you are able to handle them. Remove skins. Using a potato masher, potato ricer or  a stand mixer (my favourite) mash the potatoes until no lumps are left. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add the flour, egg replacer and mix with your hands until a dough forms. You’re going to know it’s ready when they stop feeling like mashed potatoes and it starts to feel like dough. Pull out a handful onto a well-floured surface and work it into a ball. Using your hands, roll out the dough into a long, cylindrical shape, about a half inch across. Cut the gnocchi into approximately half-inch pieces with the sides of a fork and then roll each piece towards you with the tines of the fork. Test boil the first batch – drop the gnocchi in and take them out once they rise to the top. If the gnocchi feel too soft, work more flour into the dough. Otherwise, set the boiled gnocchi aside and add olive oil to prevent sticking. Roll out remaining dough, working more flour in on the surface, as is needed. Boil and drizzle with oil, as you go along. Some people eat the gnocchi right now, but I think the frying make them far more delicious.

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Frying

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the gnocchi in batches, making sure they’re not touching. Fry until golden brown, flipping sides once they’re achieved the ideal colour.

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Serving Suggestions

Any kind of sauce you like, really. Pesto is fantastic on gnocchi. Marinara is a natural. Treat it as you would any pasta and eat it as you like.
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Spicy Beet Hummus (Vegan, Gluten-Free and Soy-Free)

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I’ve made beet tahini before (for my wedding); it was an unforgettable colour and very delicious. A beet hummus was always in the works. I had a handful of leftover chickpeas and those new fangled pre-cooked beets you can get in the produce section of big grocery stores these days. The rich, earthy flavour of beets really lends itself to hummus. This might also be a great place to start acquiring the taste for beets, if you’re not best friends with them. I grew up hating beets and learned to love them through fresh juice (still my order: orange, apple, carrot and beet).

Everyone loves hummus, right? Especially ones with a lovely pink hue? I did mine a little spicy, but feel free to leave out the hot peppers.

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Beet Hummus

1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 3 lemons
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 medium sized cooked red beets
1 small hot pepper, chopped (whatever amount you like)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
Water, to thin to desired consistency

In a blender or food processor, add the tahini and whiz for a minute or so. The air helps for a lighter texture hummus. Next, add the lemon juice and garlic cloves and whiz again for 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, beets and hot pepper and pulse to break down the chickpeas and beets. Turn on and slowly add the olive oil. Add seasonings and whiz in any water you’d like. Serve with anything you like: crudite, crackers on your sandwiches…

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Build-Your-Own-Signature-Chili (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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It seems everyone has an idea of how to best make chili. If you don’t, it might feel overwhelming to start. It’s really a great meal, as I’m sure you know already, so I thought I’d do up a masterpost on some of the different options you have! It’s a wonderful place to start cooking, very forgiving of your mistakes and easy to customize according to what you have on-hand.

Let’s go!

Tomato base + flavour base + herbs and spices+ protein + spice level + texture + liquid + toppings = chili

Tomato Base

I generally use canned whole tomatoes because I get to squish them with my fingers, a bit of tomato paste and whatever ripe fresh tomatoes I have hiding at the back of the fridge. For your tomato base, you can use any or all of the following:

  • canned whole tomatoes (with or without spices)
  • canned stewed tomatoes
  • strained tomatoes
  • fresh tomatoes
  • canned tomato sauce
    Plus Tomato Paste

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Flavour Base

Your flavour base is going to include all those wonderful vegetables that give the most basic amount of complexity to any dish. You may have noticed I add them to most things I’m cooking and they are necessary staples in any kitchen putting out homemade food. You can dice them or chop them large for more texture. They are:

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  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Herbs & Spices

The herbs and spices that go into a chili are so wide and varied. I like the warm background notes of cinnamon and cocoa to balance out the spiciness and to complement the acidity of the tomatoes. I should say, the only non-optional one is the chili powder and you should use about 2 tablespoons for every serving of chili you’re making, but really taste and see what you like. Choose from any of the following and add a healthy pinch of any or all of the following:

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  • Chili Powder
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Bay Leaves
  • Savoury
  • Celery Seed
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Cilantro
  • Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Paprika (sweet, smoked, spicy)
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

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Protein

The protein you choose to add to your chili feels rather unimportant compared to the rest of the fun ingredients, but that’s probably just me. Use whatever combo you want/have in the pantry!

  • Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Veggie Sausages, chopped
  • Lentils
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chick Peas
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Baked Beans, specifically the sweet Canadian/British kind
  • Literally any bean…
  • Extra Firm Tofu
  • Smoked Tofuprotein

Spice Level

I’ve put spice level in a separate category because every single person has a different idea of how spicy they would like their chilli. I like spicy food, but I also think just tossing in pepper after hot pepper is a lazy way of covering up a lack of complexity. Learn to balance your food. If you’re into far spicier food than your friends, maybe think about serving some sliced peppers on the side

  • Fresh Hot Peppers, any kind
  • Canned Jalapeño Peppers
  • Hot Sauce, such as Cholula or Tabasco
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

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Texture

Texture is the fun part! It’s where your creativity can really take over (or you can clean out the crisper)! I like to add sweet vegetables to my chili and to get a good bite, I always add butternut squash. It’s all up to your palate and budget, though.

  • Butternut squash
  • Any Winter Squash, like pumpkin or kabocha
  • Zucchini
  • Patty-pan squash
  • Sweet Potato or Yam
  • Eggplant
  • Corn, Canned, frozen or fresh
  • Bell Peppers
  • Mushrooms, canned or fresh
  • Leafy Greens, such as chopped kale or spinach
  • Golden Beets

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Liquid

Some liquid will need to be added to the chili. I added some leftover wine aperitif leftover in the fridge which had hints of chocolate in it, so it was the perfect addition to this. You might also try a little of any of these in addition to water:

  • Cold brewed coffee
  • Beer, something dark
  • Red wine

Toppings

To top your chili is totally optional, but dollop of this or that is really quite pretty. I absolutely love fresh cilantro on top of my bowl of chili.

  • Vegan Cheese Shreds
  • Non-Dairy Sour Cream or Cream Cheese
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Corn Chip
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Green Onions
  • Lime Wedges

Once you have all your ingredients picked out, you can go about this two ways:

1. Throw it all in a slow-cooker  with a cup of water per serving (or pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for as long as you have).
2. Sautee your flavour base in a little olive oil, add the rest of your ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for as long you have.

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My Signature Chili Recipe for Two

1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 large can tomatoes
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup dry brown lentils
1/4 cup chickpeas
1 large bell pepper, chopped small
1 small sweet potato, chopped small
1 cup water
1/2 cup wine aperitif

Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic and carrots and let them start to sweat. Salt them and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to low and let the chili simmer for at least 20 minutes, but keep in mind, the longer this simmers, the better it will become.

Chili Troubleshooting 101

Question: Help! My chili is a little watery and lacking that rich, dark red colour I’m used to seeing!

Answer: It’s one of two things – 1. Your vegetables are not fully cooked yet and they have not released all their water. Keep it cooking and it will reduce down to a more suitable consistency. 2. Your tomato base is the thing that is too watery. In this case, you should add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and you should be up to speed. You might also add a couple tablespoons of cornmeal and let that cook for another fifteen minutes or so.

Question: My chili is too spicy! Can I fix that?

Answer: Easiest way to fix this is to make sure that you add the ingredients from the spice level category in conservative amounts and taste throughout to make sure you achieve only the spiciness you want. If you’ve already done it, add more vegetables from the texture category, some more beans or tofu, cinnamon and cocoa powder.

I did this once. I added a 1/4 cup of cayenne pepper instead of chili powder. Ouch. It was probably the only meal I’ve never been able to fix. Don’t do that.

If you have any concerns, let me know so I can add them into this troubleshooting guide!

 

Kale Pesto (Vegan, Gluten-Free and Soy-Free)

Spring is for green food. I mean, hopefully every day has something green, but the spring is especially the time for green food. My husband is allergic to basil, but in a truly amazing twist of fate, he is not allergic to pine nuts! Most of his allergies strike us as a great and winding mystery, but in this case, it’s so surprising that pine nuts are safe. Here comes the need for a kale pesto! It’s not entirely unfamiliar and has a very clean flavour.

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Makes 2 cups

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or less
Salt, to taste

Clean up your kale by removing the thick stems and washing it. I generally run my hand along the stem and pull it towards me. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium, being careful not to burn them; you just want a little colour. Combine the kale, pine nuts and nutritional yeast in a food processor and pulse a few times to start breaking the kale down. Add the lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and turn the processor on. Slowly add the olive oil and blend until the mixture is smooth and (!!) pesto-like. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like. Serve on anything.

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Fresh Asparagus Salad (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy Free and Raw)

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For us here in Quebec (and many other parts of the northern hemisphere), asparagus season is here. There are few things more exciting to me than the table of long, thin and wild-looking asparagus that pops up at the farmer’s market every spring. It looks a little odd compared to the thick and uniform asparagus we see the rest of the year, but more than anything it means the sweetest and brightest tasting green vegetable you can imagine.

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I wanted to show case the special nature of local asparagus, picked the morning you bought it and that meant one thing – raw! If you don’t have access to local asparagus, you can totally blanch and ice bath these babies up, but the fresher, the better here.

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Serves 2, as a side

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, tips preserved and sliced thin
20 French tarragon leaves, pulled off stems
10 mint leaves, chiffonaded to the same size as the tarragon (is chiffonade a verb?)
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Small handful of raspberries

Snap off the ends of the asparagus. Cut the tips off, leaving them whole. Slice the stems thinly, on a bias, if you like. Toss together with the tarragon and mint. Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil together until it changes colour slightly and becomes a little creamy looking. Lightly dress salad, tasting after every spoonful, so as to ensure you do not overdress. Salt and pepper, if you feel it is needed (I did not). Top with raspberries.

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Tropical Mousse (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Raw)

This recipe is so easy! It’s fresh, creamy and so refreshing! Summer is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere and mousse like this makes for a perfect warm-weather dessert.

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Makes 2 servings (but I won’t judge you if it’s just one)

2 ripe ataulfo mangos
1 cup pineapple cubes
1 cup full fat coconut milk
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
Raspberries and mint, for garnish

In a food processor or high powered blender, combine the mangos, pineapple, coconut milk, lime juice and lime zest and blitz until soft and creamy. Pour into serving glasses, layering with fresh raspberries and topping with mint leaves and more raspberries.

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