Quinoa with Cauliflower and Mushrooms

October 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

photo 1 Colieflorie, coly-flory, coleflower, colly-flowre; these are but some of the spellings of cauliflower since the mid-sixteenth century. It takes its roots from either the Latin cauli-floria or the French chou-flori. Caul in Latin means stem, stalk or cabbage (caul became cole in Middle English, giving us the modern word ‘kale’). I know, you’re probably wondering why I’m providing you with the etymology of the word ‘cauliflower.’ And truth be told, I have no reason except that when I typed ‘cauliflower’ in the title of this post, I was struck but what a funny word it really is. This, of course, led me to consult my trusty friend, the OED. And because I found all of this extremely interesting, I decided to relay it here for your own edification. Isn’t learning fun?!

This recipe was inspired by a recipe that I saw briefly on Pinterest, forgot to Pin and then couldn’t find again. So not entirely my own creation and my apologies to the person who came up with this initially.

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Quinoa with Cauliflower and Mushrooms
Serves 4-6

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup goat feta
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • squeeze of honey
  • dollop of mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place cauliflower florets and chopped mushrooms on baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with thyme, salt and pepper and stir to coat. Roast until slightly caramelized (about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice).

2. Place quinoa in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook until tender (about 15 minutes).

3. Place olive oil, balsamic, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a jar and shake.

4. Once vegetables and quinoa are cooked, place in serving dish and toss to combine. Sprinkle with walnuts and feta and drizzle with dressing to taste.

Cheers!

 

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal and Giving Thanks

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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You know how when a recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of coconut milk and then you’re left with the rest of the opened can? Or you need 2 1/4 cups of pumpkin for Thanksgiving pie and you’re left with an almost full can of pumpkin in the fridge because one can just isn’t quite enough so you open that second one? That 1/4 cup of *insert ingredient here* often means that you’re left with a random amount that isn’t quite enough to do anything with but is too much to feel comfortable tossing away (as a side note, I HATE to see food go to waste! My freezer is choc full of all sorts of random bits and pieces)? We had Thanksgiving dinner last night, as that worked best with everyone’s schedules. Pumpkin pie, apple custard pie, yam casserole, roasted Brussels’ sprouts, mashed potatoes with goat cheese and caramelized onions, vegan gravy and for the turkey eaters in my family, roasted turkey breast with stuffing. So when the cat woke me up this morning at 6:00am by purring really loudly in my ear (another side note here – it’s impossible to get mad a cat who wakes you up because he’s just so happy that everyone’s snuggled up in bed that he purrs and purrs and purrs. It. Can’t. Be. Done.) I took him into the living room so the boyfriend could sleep a little longer and we curled up on the couch with coffee, knitting and watched the sun rise on this beautiful, crisp fall morning. It was a morning that just felt so autumn-ey that I was inspired by those random bits of leftover ingredients that I made a hearty, healthy, delicious and seasonal breakfast bake. It was super easy to toss together and only took 40 minutes from start to finish, plus there’s something so lovely about waking up your other half with the smell of a good breakfast. Yes, I’m sucker for that man. And maple syrup.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
Serves 6

  • 1 almost full can of pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk (I used 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups water, but feel free to use almond, soy, goat, rice, cow – whatever you have on hand really)
  • 3 cups gluten-free oats
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Whisk pumpkin and milk together.
3. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
4. Pour into a 9 x 9 casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or until slightly brown and set.

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving I would like to give gratitude to all of my friends, my sister, the boyfriend, two amazing ballet teachers, two amazing yoga teachers, hand knits, good food, cuddly cats, strong tea, warm feet, crunchy leaves and glorious sunshine. Feeling so blessed and lucky right now!

Cheers!

 

 

Days of Summer

August 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

This weekend the boyfriend and I were invited to a potluck, hosted by someone very near and dear to me on their beautiful farm in the country. There was an abundance of food, wine, donkeys and cello music. I don’t have a recipe for you, but I got a little carried away with taking pictures and thought I’d share some of them here. Please enjoy! I know we did!

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Bircher Muesli with Berries

August 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

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I l-o-v-e oats! For the longest time I didn’t eat them when I had to remove gluten from my diet, as the only oats that seemed to be available for the longest time were contaminated. It was only a year or two ago that I discovered gluten-free oats at my favourite bulk foods store and they have since made a huge comeback in my diet. Full of fibre and protein, oats are healthy, filling and have a lovely chewy texture. You can put them in just about anything (crumble, smoothies, bread, granola bars, cookies) making oats incredibly versatile. Plus oats remind me of my grandfather’s hot cereal and anything that reminds me of my Bapa has a special place in my heart. Making a well in the bowl, adding a splash of cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is a pretty vivid memory from my childhood. I loved the mouth sensation of having both the hot cereal and the cold cream in my mouth at the same time!

So what’s Bircher muesli you might ask? Both Elenore from Earthsprout and Sarah from My New Roots give a lovely history of Bircher muesli. Bircher was a Swiss doctor who believed in what we would refer today as holistic nutrition, that whole foods have the ability to heal and repair the body. Rumour has it that Bircher was inspired by Swiss shepherds whom he observed soaking their oats overnight before eating them the next morning. And that’s basically what Bircher muesli is (it’s also sometimes referred to as overnight oats)! Soaking the oats makes them easy to digest – your body doesn’t have to waste energy breaking down the grain and can soak up all the nutrients that much faster.

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As someone who loves oats, it seemed downright ridiculous that I had never tried this method before. I know right?! A few evenings ago the boyfriend suggested that we take the bikes out to the countryside and go and pick blackberries (I’m not going to lie, it was kinda romantic). There were birds and bees and rabbits and feral cats (no lie!) and the warm evening sun was making everything glow. We managed to pick 3 clamshells full in about an hour and then headed home to wash and freeze them. I left some out just for eating and decided that tonight was the night! I was going to try my hand at making Bircher muesli, if only to serve has a vehicle for plump, fresh blackberries. And I’m so glad that I did!

Bircher Muesli with Berries

Serves 2

  • 1 1/3 cup gluten free oats
  • 4 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 cup (goat) yogurt
  • 1 cup water or milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Handful of berries

1. Mix all ingredients except the berries and split between two bowls.

2. Sprinkle assorted berries on top.

3. Place in fridge overnight.

4. Wake up, cuddle the cat and eat your muesli. You can pretend that you’re a Swiss shepherd (not that I ever do . . . .).

Cheers!

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The Cycling Chef

July 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

A few long weekends ago, the boyfriend and I packed up our bikes with the basics and headed to Galiano Island for some bike camping.

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Yup, we had everything that we needed packed onto those bikes! Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove and pot each, tent, tools, 1 change of clothes, first aid/toiletries and a book each. And lots of gluten free, vegan food. I’d like to take this moment to just let you all know that Galiano has some pretty epic hills. Especially when you’re weighed down with that much gear.

We arrived at the campsite and started setting up.

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The first night was so cold and windy that we had to burn my book to make a fire! I know, right?! I felt like I was slowly torturing some poor creature to death. Rip. Rip. Rip. Rip. Sigh. It was that or freeze. But it still hurt.

So what kind of food do I bring on these sorts of camping trips? Well, the key here is portability, ease of preparation and few liquids. Yes, canned goods make a lot of sense when you’re camping with a vehicle, but liquids take up a lot of room and are really, really heavy. Not so bike friendly. I made a fruit and nut loaf which we ate with peanut butter, some very healthy chocolate energy bites, a cereal mix and a curried lentil quinoa mix. The only liquid that I toted was some individually sized tetra packs of soy milk for cereal and for my morning tea.

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This is the curried quinoa and lentil mix that I made. This is not really a recipe, so much as a guideline.

Curried Lentils with Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • handful of slivered almonds
  • spoonful of curry powder
  • powdered garlic
  • powdered onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chilli flakes

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a container (I used freezer Ziploc bags).

2. When ready to cook, place amount desired in pot. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to mix, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer until cooked through (this would usually be about 15 minutes on a stove top but took closer to 20 outside in the wind).

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And this is the chia cereal that I made up. We were in this awesome little health food store and the boyfriend discovered this very yummy sounding cereal, albeit a little out of our price range. He asked if I could make something similar for our trip and this is what I came up with. Again, more of a guideline.

Cinnamon Chia Flax Cereal with Hemp Hearts

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • pinch of cardamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • salt to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a container (I used freezer Ziploc bags).

2. When ready to eat, place desired amount in bowl and pour over roughly twice as much milk. Let it sit for a good 10-15 minutes (it will at least double in size and the excess milk will be absorbed, making it more like a pudding).

There you go! Nothing too fancy and no real recipes, but I hope it’s helpful to see a little of the thought process that goes into eating well while roughing it. Both of the dishes above are incredibly nutrient rich and calorie dense. I didn’t have to bring a whole lot for four days, as a half cup here and there was all that I needed (and that was while doing some serious riding everyday!).

We also came across a few of those fist pumping, happy dance meals I was telling you about.

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This little place was just a short walk up from the campsite and both of the owners don’t eat gluten. They easily accommodated my needs and I feasted on local fish tacos and washed it down with a gluten free cider.

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This little gem of a place (Wild Thyme) is on another island, Saturna, and is run by a great group of girls. They were also happy to make me a gluten free sandwich. Those greens that you see there? They’re foraged from the wild! And I even ate my flower!

Saddle sores and burned books aside, it was a great trip! Sometimes I forget just how beautiful the southern coast of BC is.

Cheers!

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Summer in a Bowl

June 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Isn’t zucchini a fun word? Especially when you say it with an outrageous Italian accent. “Can I-a intarest chu in ma zucchini?” Man, I should’ve been an actor. When a zucchini is feeling fancy and French, it calls itself a courgette. It’s funny how zucchini sounds like something fun and sassy and slightly exotic, while courgette sounds like something mysterious and supple, like a burlesque dancer from the 1940s. “Come in and see the beautiful dancing Courgette. She’ll be sure to leave you wanting more!” Sorry, I’ll try and squash my vegetable humour. Oh snap(peas)!

I love this time of year. It stays light until 9:00pm, the temperature is finally above 10C and suddenly there is a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies that haven’t been around for several months. I stop craving sweet potatoes and start craving things like cucumber, berries and cherry tomatoes. This little number is a light meal that is heavy on flavour. It works well as both a main and as a side and makes you feel positively vibrant after eating it.

photo 2Raw Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto

Serves 4

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp hemp hearts
  • chili flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 avocadoes
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp almond meal
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 6 cloves of garlic

1. Place avocados, lemon zest and juice, basil, yeast, almonds, water and garlic into a food processor and puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. With a spiralizer or julienne peeler (which is what I have), turn your zucchinis and carrots into long thin pasta-like strands. Don’t use the seedy core of the zucchini, or else your meal will be soggy.

3. Place zucchini and carrots into a bowl, top with a large dollop of the avocado pesto, place a few halved cherry tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the hemphearts. This is where I add the chili flakes, if you like a little heat.

If you don’t have a spiralizer (I don’t) and you can’t find a julienne peeler, you can either use a vegetable peeler or make more of a match-stick style pasta by simply cutting your veggies as fine as you can.

Cheers!

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Handstands and Peanuts

May 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have a good sense of balance. Of physical balance. In ballet class I’m able to stand on one foot, put my arms and my other leg into some wacky position and find stillness. This ability is what allows me to ride my bike with no hands and what makes me sick on the teacups at the fair (I’m convinced that my highly attuned inner ear is what makes me prone to motion sickness). As an upright, bipedal species, almost all balancing places an emphasis on using the lower body, on the feet, legs and hips. I have recently started taking yoga a few times a week with a great teacher and am beginning to explore balancing with the other end of my body, namely my hands, arms and shoulders (although I’m sure one of these days my head will be involved as well!). We were practicing handstands the other day, and a fellow classmate and I were giggling (yes, I giggled in yoga. It was totally zen) about how difficult it is as an adult to fling your body upside down (even with the safety of a wall), whereas when we were children, doing handstands, cartwheels and other acrobatics were considered fun and were just part of the myriad of activities that made up play. Playing requires one to simultaneously “let go” and to trust at the same time. I fear that as we grow up and become more cognizant of the craziness in this world we become more and more jaded and it becomes much more difficult to trust both ourselves and our fellow man. As adults we are taught to be responsible, law-abiding and upstanding citizens who get up, go to work, make the necessary money to pay for food, clothing and shelter and then if we have time, add to that things that we find fun, fulfilling and entertaining. But even then, this free “fun” time has to be regimented and scheduled and is often the first thing to fall to the wayside if work and family commitments start to require more of our attention. I feel as though the ideals of our North American society have been slowly and systematically building a life that I’m meant to want. Get the grades, go to university, do well so that you can go to grad school, land a well-paying job, find a partner, get a house and a car and pop out a few kids so that you can raise them to perpetuate the cycle. I am absolutely in no way criticizing this way of life or the people for which this is satisfying. However, I’m starting to realize that maybe this isn’t the life that I want. It’s equally difficult and terrifying and exciting to question this. So yes, finding the freedom to flip yourself upside down and relinquish the world as you know it is scary.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure really. I guess the point is that while I may have an innate sense of physical balance, I think I need to start addressing the lack of balance elsewhere in my life. I know, it’s totally crazy just how much a handstand can make you start thinking about life.

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You might be asking yourself what the heck this has to do with food. To which I respond, “Plenty!” Flavour and taste are also all about balance, as is nutrition. This little bowl of awesome is inspired by Emma of My Darling Lemon Thyme fame and is a fine balance (there’s that word again!) of spice, sweet and tang.

Peanut Tofu Bowls with Cilantro

Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream (place your can of coconut milk in the fridge and don’t shake it before you open it. The cream will float to the top and will be really easy to scoop out. Save the slightly watery remains for smoothies)
  • 1 red chilli
  • 4 TBSP gluten-free tamari
  • 1 TBSP coconut or olive oil
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 TBSP grated ginger

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1. Place rice and water in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 40 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place peanuts on baking tray and roast for 10 minutes (keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn). Remove from hot tray and let cool. Once cool, process 1 cup in a food processor or grinder until very fine (be careful not to let it go too long though, or you’ll end up with peanut butter).

3. Heat a knob of coconut oil in a skillet until hot. Add tofu and fry until golden brown. Set aside.

4. Place coconut cream, chilli, garlic, ginger, tamari, oil and water into a bowl or glass jar and whisk or shake until emulsified.

5. Place cooked rice in a large bowl. Top with ground peanuts, tofu and cilantro to taste. Pour over sauce, toss, garnish with remaining whole peanuts and serve.

Cheers!