Sunday, November 27, 2011

Creamy Vegan Squash Soup

So I promised a coup recipe.... and I deliver! Recently, we bought one of these beauties at the market:
That's a Pink Banana and/or a Georgia Candy Roaster. Now do keep in mind that those are about the size of my torso, if not longer. I haven't figured out yet if those two breeds are the same squash under a different names, sub-families, or just two unrelated squash. Anyway, we bought one and it barely fit into the oven.

That's a lot of squash. It turned it a pretty wicked vegan birthday cheesecake, it was also became yummy roasted squash with honey, sea salt, herbs, and olive oil, and with all that was leftover it also became bowls and bowls of this delicious soup.

Now, I know that soup is a pretty easy thing to make, but I'm a lazy soup maker. I don't know why. This one takes about 5 minutes or less to make, which is definitely a feature. I'm sure that you can also use any of your favourite squash instead of the one I used to come up with an equally simple and tasty recipe.
Creamy Vegan Squash Soup
Makes enough for 1 big bowl

1 C cooked squash
1/2 C "milk" (I used coconut milk)
1/2 C water
1 teaspoon of liquid sweetener
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
half a clove of garlic
dash of cumin

1. Blend ingredients in Vitamix.
2. Heat over medium heat on the stove, if you like.

See? Simple and delicious. I've also made variants where I fried onions and the garlic in the pot before I tossed in the soup. I've also added rosemary and thyme. I've used almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk, and they all turned out lovely. 

Stay warm!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving & 5 Seasonal Foods I'm Grateful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, family, and readers! May your day be filled with gratitude and yummy delicious food. 
We had our first snow here in Ottawa yesterday, and while everyone started to complain, I'm still choosing to get excited by how magical the first snow fall looks! So to go along with the whole theme of the day, here are 5 foods that I get really excited about during this time of the year and that I'm grateful Mother Nature decided to give to us:

1) Persimmons
So, I know a lot of people who didn't grow up eating persimmons find them gooey and weird, but there's something about their strange texture that I just can't get enough of. I can't say I know much about other types of persimmon, but hachiyas steal my heart away every winter. Their awesome colouring shows that they are high in anti-oxidants like vitamin A, B, and C, beta-carotene, and lycopene, amongst others. They also contain a carotenoid, called zeaxanthin, which is really good for your eyes (something to do with protecting your retina and light-filtering functions). So, eat your gooey fruit!

2) Clementines
Ah, nature's candy. They're perfect to fight colds and flus because of their high levels of Vitamin C and they're like little bursts of energy in the cold dark winter months.

Speaking of being grateful, can you imagine what kind of expectations we put on presents and stuff around Christmas time nowadays? Before, people would be really excited just to get an orange or a clementine for Christmas because they were so rare and came from so far away. There's perspective for you!

3) Pomegranates
Gotta love the sweet tartness of these awesome alien fruit. Hey, go figure, another winter fruit very high in Vitamin C! Pomegranates have gotten quite the PR boost over the last few years because everyone realized just how high in anti-oxidants they are. Because of that, they're heart healthy, help combat Alzheimer's and bone loss, are good for lady problems, and are great for your teeth! I also find it very meditative to peel them...

4) Hot Chesnuts
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." There's a reason we put them into song. They're part of the quintessential deliciousness of winter. I don't get to eat these all the time, but on those cold winter days in France, there's nothing to me like going up to a hot chestnut vendor and wrapping your hands around the toasty warm paper packaging for a winter treat. 

On top of that, chestnuts are one of the few nuts that are relatively lower in calories. They're also one of the best "repair food." They're great for building muscle because they help build and mend damaged body tissue, for your teeth, and to help patch up holes or leaks in blood vessels and capillaries.

5) Soup

One of my favourite non-raw allowances in the winter is just a bowl of plain ol' hearty vegetable soup. They're nothing quite as satisfying as warming yourself with soup when you come in from those minus 30 degree temperatures. I'm sure I'll be posting more recipes for these in the next couple months since one of my goals is just being more creative about my soups in general... Actually, I have a pretty good squash soup recipe in the making!!!

See, even our kitty likes his seasonal foods:
Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, November 14, 2011

5 Amazing Potluck Dishes

This was meant to come up last night, but to start off your week, here are some yummy food pictures from Andrew's birthday party this weekend. Hopefully, it will inspire you on what to bring to your next vegan potluck!

1) Harvest Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
Made by our lovely friend, Kadri, these babies were stuffed with cranberries, nuts, wild rice, apricots, and all sorts of other indescribable harvest-y yummies. They were as tasty as they were gorgeous!

2) Polenta and Ratatouille
So I've been wanting to try polenta for ages now, but have never really had the opportunity. 'Lo and behold, but the wonderful Angela comes over with polenta covered in all my all time favourite... ratatouille! Now there's a winner! As for my first taste of polenta? Everyone always told me polenta is bland, and I suppose that the taste is kind of understated, but there's something about the texture that is way too fun!

3) Vegan Chili, Roasted Squash, & Soup Fixin's
With some of my roasted pink banana squash featured in the background (roasted with rosemary, thyme, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt), is Rob's perfectly spicy chili. Though I suppose not for the faint of heart, it was the perfect level of mouth tingly goodness to me... that, and I was apparently having a thing for corn that evening.

4) Spicy Flu-Curing Kale Soup
Oh Ashley, like I mentioned already, this soup literally rocked my world. I always eat kale raw, and this was such a good reason to make me change my mind. It was full of flavour, garlic, onion, basil, cayenne... I was really excited that I was able to have its leftovers for dinner last night. Also, she taught us the neat trick from Mexico of putting avocados in your soup. Weird? Think again! A warm avocado is delicious!

5) The Desert Assortment
What's better than one birthday cake? Two birthday cakes! Kadri provided a lovely vegan carrot cake and I made a raw chocolate chipotle decadence torte/cake/brownie thing with spicy chocolate, avocado frosting. Though not featured here, these were both paired with triple berry gelato made by our circle's gelato expert (it's always good to have one). Reports said that it was perfectly creamy and what Italian ice cream dreams are made of (and I may have licked the spoon to check, and yes... they were right!)

6) Laury's Stuffed Artichokes
And just because I can never stick to the number I put in my post title, I also made my version of Laurie's to-die-for Quinoa & Tempeh Stuffed Artichokes early this week and had to rave about. Though Andrew's not a huge fan of stuffed foods, I definitely am. I'll stuff a pepper, a zucchini, a tomato, a squash, a cucumber, an eggplant, and now an artichoke! I'm all for self-contained meals. 

Actually, of all things, these reminded me of one of my favourite childhood Chinese treats: zong zi. Essentially, there glutinous rice and other goodies (my favourite was always peanuts, mushrooms, salted meat, and tiny shrimp) wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves. The flavours are always so delicious, and somehow this recipe had that same aromatic taste.  

Is life always this delicious? Have a good week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

5 Awesome Foods of the Week

Here are a few of the raw and/or delicious things I have consumed and made this week to keep you inspired in your own health journeys:

1) Can't... Stop... Eating... Collard Wraps
They're so good I always end up eating them before I remember to take a picture. I've usually been filling mine with carrot, beets, tomato, cucumber, sprouts, and my sun-dried tomato/sunflower seed/almond "meat" (a variation of this old recipe). In fact, I may go make some more when I'm done writing this.

I mentioned a little while back that one of my goals this winter was stay way more raw than I did last year. I know that a big part of that is finding the foods that make me feel raw and nourished when it starts to go below zero. Last year, I got too lazy to try, got cold, and just had whatever would take that feeling away (among other excuses, I tell myself that it was also my first winter in Ottawa, so I was adapting...). I know that a lot of people say that cold climates weren't designed for raw foodies, but I'm sure there's a way of eating seasonally and raw that will defy that! 

2) My First Attempt at a Raw Tiramisu
This was one of my two creations for my weekly raw catering. I based it largely on Cafe Gratitude's Tiramisu recipe in their I am Grateful recipe book. Of course I added my own flair here and there based on ingredient availability and desire to make it a little less complex, but I thought it ended up pretty convincing!

3) Raw Carrot Cake Take 2
My raw birthday carrot cake was so amazing I had to make this my second catering order this week. Thanks again Amanda for giving me ideas for awesomeness... I used the same ingredients I listed last time, except for the maple syrup. To keep it 100% raw and vegan for my job, I stuck with raw agave nectar (which I don't wholly endorse).

4) Cauliflower Jerusalem Artichoke "Stew"
My one cooked recipe of the week was based off of a fantastic dish I recently had at the Table. I can't remember what it was called, but all I know is that it was delicious, had cauliflower, jerusalem artichokes, and coconut milk in it, and that I had to try to make it at home. My version also had tomatoes, a mix of soy milk and coconut milk, a little bit of curry powder, onions, raw honey, sea salt. It was soooo good. I love the subtle flavour of jerusalem artichokes and it goes so well with cauliflower! To add some green to the meal, I paired it with a lovely massaged kale salad.

5) And... My Marathon Training Plan
Oops, so I ran out of food things to write about... I could have featured my other creation of the week which another first attempt: a very successful veggie pate, but being me, I neither took pictures nor wrote a recipe. Instead, I'll let you know that my 1/2 marathon training plan is still moving a long slowly but surely. I've obviously done my share of 10K+ type long runs, but because I kind of fell off the training wagon over the spring/summer, I'm just going through the whole 18 weeks to allow my body to get back into the whole running thing.

As I mentioned before, I'm following a plan I saw on Tone it Up's blog back in September (and I think they got it from Self Magazine). I really started to take it more seriously this week (I'm on week 3) as I've been a little off when it comes to gym time recently. On the upside, I've been dancing a lot recently which has been fantastic, and have made the commitment as of this week to really just start doing both!

That's it for this week! Hope you're having a lovely and still marginally warm weekend! (Don't forget to turn your clocks tomorrow :)