REALLY green iced tea – no matter the colour

tea1.jpgIt’s been a hot summer and I’ve been craving quenching, cold drinks that don’t break the bank or the environment. Homemade iced tea to the rescue!

I make my own iced tea using different combinations of rosehips, loose green tea, and hibiscus flowers. The results are wonderfully healthful, flavourful and by using my own, reusable cup and metal straw, very very green indeed.

Green tea is said to be one of the healthiest sips in the world. It’s been proven to provide

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Rosehips on the left and loose green tea on the right

Rosehips are the fruit of a rosebush. These little pods can be collected after the first frost in the fall and have a mildly fruity taste. Rosehips are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants.

Hibiscus are the flowers of the hibiscus plant. Hibiscus tea tastes more fruity than flowery and mildly astringent, which makes it thirst quenching. Hisbiscus tea has cholesterol- and blood-pressure-lowering properties.

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Dried hibiscus flowers

Put all together or in any combination, green tea, hibiscus and rosehips pack a potent punch of health benefits. More importantly though, they make a delicious, affordable and healthy iced tea.

Here’s how to make a pitcher of my iced tea.

Ingredients for a rosehip-green-tea

1/3 cup dried rosehips

2 Tbsp green tea leaves

5 cups boiling water

Sugar or agave syrup (optional and to taste)

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Rosehip-green-hibiscus tea. 

 

Ingredients for a rosehip-green-hibiscus tea

1/3 cup dried rosehips

1 Tbsp green tea leaves

1 Tbsp hibiscus

5 cups boiling water

Sugar or agave syrup (optional and to taste)

Directions

Combine the rosehips, green tea and hibiscus and water in a heat-proof jar or pitcher (you don’t want to use something that will crack from the hot water, or the temperature changes).

Let the tea steep for at least 4 hours in the fridge. Serve on its own or with ice. Add sugar or agave syrup if you want a sweeter tea.

Serve up and enjoy!

*From: draxe.com/benefits-of-green-tea/

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Easy, tasty roasted eggplant curry

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Every once in a while, I’ll get cravings for fruits and veggies that don’t otherwise hit my radar. This week, the craving was for eggplant. So, I made a super easy, flavourful but not spicy-at-all curry. The recipe is pretty much effortless and the end result is so satisfying!

Let’s get started.

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Ingredients

600 g (about 1 ½ pounds) baby or Japanese eggplants, cut into coins. I used three Japanese eggplants.

up to 1 tsp salt (divided)

½ tsp pepper

3 Tbsp neutral-tasting oil (I used peanut oil)

2 onions peeled, cut in half and then thinly sliced

2-3 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp turmeric

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp sugar (any kind but make sure it’s vegan)

397ml can roasted, diced tomatoes

397ml can coconut milk

Juice from ¼ of a lemon

Optional – ½ to 1 cup cooked lentils

Eggplant curry

Directions

Heat your oven to 400F (200C) and place the sliced eggplants on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of the oil. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Bake for 20 minutes until the eggplants are golden.

You can bake the eggplant ahead of time – even the day before – and store in the fridge in a sealed container.

In a medium-sized pot that has a lid, sauté the onion in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. You want the onions to be soft and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic, salt, all the spices, sugar and lemon juice, and heat through.

Turn the heat up to high and add all the remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a bowl then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on, then 5 minutes uncovered to let the sauce thicken.

Serve with basmati rice and enjoy!

This dish makes 4 servings and freezes well.

Hail pre-made seitan for quick, easy meals

 

seitan combo

Both these dishes were made from the same basic ingredient – seitan.

This has not been my best summer. My little cat, Molly, has been extremely ill and I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing daily to the vet after work to visit with her and feed her dinner. On top of that I was tossed on the city bus by a race-car-wannabe driver who left me lamed up and in pain with a smashed ankle. The good news – I’m healing nicely and so is Molly who has received the best of veterinary care.

Last week, my friends, Stephanie and Britton, announced their new business – The Seitanists. They make the most delicious seitan, vacuum sealed and frozen, ready to use as a super easy and fast meal ingredient. Stephanie asked me to try out their seitan and see what I thought.

What I thought is buying already-made seitan is a genius idea for busy people. It was a great solution for me with my full schedule and inability to stand for any amount of time.

I used The Seitanists’ cutlets to make two very different dishes – a spicy stir fry and pan-fried schnitzel medallions.  Check it out.

Seitanic stir fry with a hot, five-spice marinade

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For this stir fry, I cut one of the pre-made seitan cutlets into strips and marinated them for a couple hours. I then stir fried the strips and all the marinade with sliced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and snow peas and served over rice.

Here’s the recipe for my marinade, which is more than enough to marinate a cup of seitan strips and nicely coat four cups of vegetables and rice.

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1 Tbsp paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1 tsp five-spice powder

4 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce 

2 Tbsp cooking sherry 

2 Tbsp agave

 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Seitanic schnitzel medallions

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Making these little schnitzel medallions could not have been easier. I cut the seitan cutlet into medallions, dredged them in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped them in almond milk and then covered them in mix of 1/2 cup panko crumbs, two tablespoons flour and two tablespoons nutritional yeast.

I pan fried the medallions in vegan margarine on medium heat until both sides were golden and crispy, then served the medallions with lemon wedges, a pink potato salad (add some beets to your regular potato salad) and sauerkraut. My German mother would have loved this.

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Hail seitan! This amazing, versatile ingredient is inexpensive, easy to work with, delicious, versatile and good for you. Thanks to ready-to-use seitan from The Seitanists, there’s no excuse ever for me not to be able to have a great meal in less than 30 minutes.

Make it your way salad with an east Asian vibe

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The gardens are just starting to offer up fresh lettuces, radishes and even some peas here. While I’m not generally a huge salad fan, it’s impossible to resist all this garden goodness.

Here’s what I had for lunch today – a big green salad with Gardein chick’n strips and a sesame and soy sauce-based dressing.

Here’s the recipe for this quick and flavourful dressing.

1 ½ Tbsp soya sauce

1 ½ Tbsp sherry

1 ½ Tbsp agave nectar

1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

I  ½ Tbsp neutral flavoured oil (I used peanut oil)

2 -3 green onions finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a jar or small bowl or mug. This recipe makes lots of dressing – enough to dress a whole head of lettuce plus extra veggies. I like mixing my dressings in a jar with a lid so I can store any leftovers easily in the fridge.

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Tailor up the salad portion anyway you want. Mine has:

Bibb lettuce

Sliced navel orange

Radishes

Mushrooms

Freshly shelled peas

Other salad additions that would work well with this dressing are: broccoli, green beans, snap peas water chestnuts, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, red pepper, bean sprouts, celery, mango

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Add some toppings

I topped my salad with Gardein chick’n strips and toasted almonds. The toppings add oomph and flavour but use them as a garnish, not the bulk of your salad.

Other toppings that would work well with this dressing are: plain baked, crispy tofu,  plain, firm tofu,  seitan, edamame, toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seed, uncooked ramen noodles, cooked rice or mung bean noodles, avocado

This salad is totally customizable. Mix and match ingredients, add as much or as little of whatever as you like. That’s the beauty of cooking from scratch.

 

 

Blueberry banana muffins with a surprise inside

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I had some waaaaay overripe bananas to use up but was too impatient to make banana bread – that takes 45 minutes to bake in the oven. So, instead I opted to make mini muffins. These little cuties are moist and delicious and nutritious thanks to chickpea flour, bananas, blueberries and walnuts. I put a little jam centre in some of them for an extra gooey, delicious surprise. Best of all, these muffins are super easy to make. Like right now. Make them now.

 

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Jammy!

 

Dry ingredients

2/3 cup flour (whole wheat or white)

1/3 cup chickpea flour (if you don’t have this, you can just use a full cup of flour)

½ cup cornmeal

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup blueberries tossed with 1-2 tsp flour to coat them. The flour coating stops the blueberries from leaking blue in the batter.

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Wet ingredients

2 very ripe bananas mashed

¼ cup coconut oil melted

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup agave nectar

1 cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

 Optional – raspberry, cherry, strawberry or other flavour jam

 

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I made some of the muffins without jam and they were still moist and delicious.

 

 Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Grease a mini-muffin tin, a regular muffin tin or a loaf pan. This recipe will make 18 mini-muffins, 6-12 regular muffins (depending on the tin size) or one loaf.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Sift in the baking soda so you don’t have any weird crystal lumps in your final mix.

In a separate bowl, mix all your wet ingredients EXCEPT the jam, if using.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate everything and make a batter. You don’t need to stir a lot or vigorously – just combine everything.

If you’re going with a jam-less muffin, at this point you can simply fill your baking pan. Don’t overfill the tins since the muffins will puff up.

If you’re going to add jam, fill your muffin tins just half way full. Then add a dollop of jam – a true measured teaspoon full. Cover with batter so the jam is hidden inside.

If you are making a loaf, then fill the loaf pan with half the batter. Spoon on jam in a strip down the middle of the batter and cover with the remaining batter.

Depending on the size and shape of your pans, here are your baking times.

Mini-muffins – 25 minutes

Regular muffins – 25-30 minutes

Bread loaf – 45-50 minutes.

The muffins are done when they are golden on top and a fork or toothpick inserted in them comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool in their pan for 10 minutes or so and then serve them up! These beauties also freeze well and make great snacks or breakfast on the go.

Curried rice and lentil salad with grapes and celery

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If the Waldorf-Astoria merged with the Best Marigold Hotel, this would be the new hotel’s signature dish. This salad, which eats as a meal, combines flavourful Indian spices, the crunch of celery, the sweetness of grapes and the staying power of lentils and rice. It’s also an easy dish to make that will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and travels well, which makes it great for toting for lunches, picnics or pot lucks.

Ingredients

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The salad

2 ½ cups cooked brown rice (that’s about 1 cup uncooked)

1 cup of cooked du Puy or beluga (a/k/a black) lentils (about ½ cup uncooked)

2 green onions sliced

2 stalks of celery sliced

1 ½ cups red grapes cut in half

¼ cup slivered almonds toasted*

The dressing

The juice of 1 lemon

4 Tbsp canola or peanut oil**

1 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

¾ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp salt

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Directions

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a cup or small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss everything thoroughly to combine. I like this salad after it’s had time to sit and the flavours can marry. I usually make it in the morning for lunch.

Serve up and enjoy!  This makes 3-4 servings.

*To toast the almonds, place them on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the almonds in the oven (To save power, I use my toaster oven.) at 400F for 3-4 minutes. Seriously keep your eye on them! They can burn in a flash. Remove the almonds from the oven as soon as they are toasted or they’ll keep cooking.

**Use an oil that is flavourless and will not go solid (like virgin coconut oil does). I tried this salad with melted coconut oil once and the minute the oil got cold, I was left with unappetizing mini-chunks of “oil” throughout the salad.

Isa’s Goddess Pasta a/k/a Tahini Linguini

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I think I have a girl crush on Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Or I should say a goddess crush because she is a kitchen goddess extraordinaire. Every recipe of hers that I’ve tried, I’ve loved. Here’s the latest – Goddess Pasta or as I am calling it, tahini linguini because if that not the name of a new Muppet, I don’t know what is.

Anyway… about this recipe. Isa promises it’s so ridiculously easy that she almost left it out of her cookbook, “Isa Does it”.  I’m glad she didn’t. This recipe IS(a) fast and easy. And despite what I thought was a lot of garlic and green onion (or chives), the dish is mild yet flavourful and creamy, crunchy and satisfying. I ate this dish hot, but I think it would even be great cold. So, without further ado, here’s how I made Isa’s Goddess Pasta. If you want to make it the way Isa does it, buy the book!

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Ingredients

12 oz linguini

The juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 ounce can)

1 bunch broccoli cut into bite sized pieces. I also peeled the stem and sliced it up.

3-4 spring onions chopped finely

4 cloves garlic minced

2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt (I don’t salt my pasta water)

A few grinds of pepper

½ to 2/3 cup tahini (I didn’t measure exactly!)

½ cup hot water (I used the water from the boiling pasta)

1 Tbsp olive oil

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Directions

Boil the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is boiling, prep the sauce and other ingredients.

In a large bowl, blend together the green onion, lemon juice, salt, tahini, nutritional yeast, hot water and ground pepper. You will have a thickly creamy dressing. If the dressing is too thick, add more water.

In a large wok or frying pan, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic until it’s golden. Add the garlic to the sauce mixture.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and heat. Add the broccoli and stir fry until the broccoli is bright green but still very crunchy.  Add the broccoli to the sauce mixture and add the chickpeas.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss everything to combine and serve up. Enjoy!

This recipe makes 4 servings.

p.s. I think next time I may even add some shredded carrot and julienned red pepper for extra colour.