Vegan chai pear scones

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My friend, Marina, and I both know that any recipe can be made vegan. These pear chai scones are proof of that. After tasting her scones which tasted somewhere between happiness, a hug and warm spices  (and my beau went gaga for them), Marina shared the original milk-and-egg-and-butter version of this recipe with me saying “of course make it vegan.” Of course. It’s easy peasy to do by substituting applesauce or a flax egg for a chicken’s egg, any plant-based milk for the heavy cream and vegan margarine for the butter required in the original recipe.

Here’s my version with some added touches – a batch with raisins and a batch with diced candied ginger.

Ingredients

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup vegan margarine

2 pears, cored, peeled and cut into small pieces (and what a great way to use up pears that look battered and bruised)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce (or a third pear)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup plant milk. I used almond milk.

Optional – ½ cup raisins or 1/3 cup diced candied ginger

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Directions

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir together until the mix resembles a goopy brown snot (it does, sorry). Add the milk and vanilla and combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, sugar and salt together. Sift in the baking powder and spices. Yes, sift. We talk about this sifting thing every time. You do not want nasty, crystalline, salty bits of baking powder showing up in your finished baking!

Cut in the margarine using a pastry blender OR use two dinner knives or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the pear chunks (but not the applesauce).

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Your flour-sugar-spice mix should look like this once you’ve cut in the margarine.

Add the flax egg mixture and the applesauce to your flour mixture. Mix lightly to combine. IF you are adding raisins or candied ginger, add that now and fold in. The dough will be very sticky.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Form it into a circle then flatten it using your hands until it’s just a bit less than 1” thick.  You can sprinkle the top of the dough very lightly with flour too so you can work with it. Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges using a sharp knife.

Use a spatula to transfer the scones to an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the scones with a bit of sugar (I used “vanilla sugar” I had made by storing a whole vanilla bean in sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Eat up and enjoy!

 

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Vegan cornbread muffins – savoury and not too sweet

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It’s only November but we are having a bona fide wintery day – a perfect afternoon for making my version of the Thug Kitchen Apple “Baked” Beans to have with cornbread.

I found this highly rated recipe from Loving It Vegan.com and gave it just a couple tweaks to make it less sweet and faster to make (Lazy, impatient… yes, I’m that vegan).

The resulting cornbread muffins are delicious – super moist, tasty and a great texture.

Here’s the original recipe with my edits indicated as either strike throughs or italics.

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Ingredients

1 heaped cup cornmeal

1 cup + 3 Tbsp all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (115g) vegan margarine or coconut oil. I used a mix of both.

½ cup 3 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 flax egg (that is 1 Tbsp ground flax and 3 Tbsp water stirred together until it makes a brown snot)

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 Tbsp (15ml) apple cider vinegar

1 15oz (425g) can whole sweet corn drained and rinsed.

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius).

Sift all the dry ingredients except the corn and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl. And I’m serious about the sifting part – don’t skip this step or you’ll get weird, fizzy, salty bits of baking soda and baking powder in your muffins.

Add the apple cider vinegar to the soy milk and set aside.

In a very small pot melt the vegan margarine and/or coconut oil with the brown sugar and maple syrup. Do not do this step in the microwave – it’s too easy to have a painful and messy accident with superheated fats and sugars. The stovetop method is slow and safe.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add the oil-sugar mixture, the flax egg and the milk and vinegar mixture. Stir to combine everything, but don’t over stir. Add the canned corn and stir to incorporate.

Grease a mini-muffin tin and add the batter – about 2 heaping tablespoons per muffin cup.

 Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Vegan meatballs with a German flair

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My mom used to make a traditional German recipe called Bulletten or Frikadellen– basically hamburger patties or meatballs on steroids. They’re moist, flavourful and frugal. These patties are usually eaten with a creamy gravy with noodles or potatoes.

I’ve taken my mother’s recipe and veganized it using my new favourite ingredient – TVP (textured vegetable protein). My thrifty mom would have approved!

Let’s get started on this super easy and quick recipe.

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Ingredients

½ cup TVP

1 slice bread torn into pieces about the size of a pencil eraser

2 mushrooms finely minced

2 Tbsp onion finely minced or 1 Tbsp dried minced onion

1 Tbsp ground flax

1 Tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped

Hot vegetable bouillon to make 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons broth

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ cup plant milk

1 Tbsp flour (I used chickpea flour)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp ketchup

A few grinds of pepper

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Directions

Heat your oven to 400F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or pan.

Place the TVP, flax, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper (and minced onion if using) in a heat-proof bowl and pour the vegetable broth over it. Give it a stir and allow it to stand for about 5 minutes.

While the TVP is rehydrating, you can prepare all your other ingredients and add them to the bowl.

Once the TVP is rehydrated, stir all the ingredients in and thoroughly combine them. You will have wet, dough-like ball. Form the meatballs using about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture for each meatball, and place the meatballs on the greased cookie sheet. You should have 9 -12 meatballs.

Bake for 15 minutes then gently flip the meatballs. Be careful because at the 15-minute mark the meatballs will still be soft and I accidentally mushed one out of shape as you can see in the photo.

Bake for another 10 minutes then remove from the oven. Let the meatballs sit for about 5minutes. Serve up, or freeze for later use.

I served mine with my mushroom stroganoff.

Enjoy!

 

Savoury, flavour-y, classic chili – with a cocoa twist

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As I said in my previous post, I’ve recently discovered TVP (textured vegetable protein) and now soy curls (more on those to come!) and I’m intrigued by these inexpensive, easy-to-use, versatile products.

I recently revamped an old recipe of mine to include a batch of my soyrizo, and the transformation was fabulous.

Do not be daunted by the seemingly long list of ingredients in this recipe; most of them are spices that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Cocoa is the magic ingredient here. It gives depth and richness to the chili and I swear by it!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion diced

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 red or green pepper diced

1 rib celery diced

1 cup mushrooms sliced

1 15 oz can (400ml or 1 ½ cups) mixed beans or kidney beans drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp red lentils (optional)

1 batch of soyrizo

14 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes diced)

½ cup bottled salsa (any heat level you like)

1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn (optional- but so yummy and pretty in the chili)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 Tbsp chili powder

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Directions

Measure out all the herbs, spices and seasonings into a small bowl or mug. I like to have these prepared so I can toss them into the pot all at once.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, peppers and celery until onion is starting to wilt. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add all the spices, herbs and seasonings and stir into the vegetables. Let the seasonings heat through, then add all the other ingredients except the corn.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the contents for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and simmer for another 5 minutes.

You can serve immediately, but I find that this chili is even better the next day. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge and freezes well.

This chili is loaded with vitamins C and K, many B vitamins, potassium, fibre, protein and iron. What’s missing? Fat, calories and cholesterol.

Soyrizo – spicy vegan sausage-y crumbles

Soyrizo

I’ve recently discovered TVP or textured vegetable protein and I’m both intrigued and delighted.

I’ve resisted using TVP because I thought it would taste dry and bland. And you know what? It is dry and bland. So is flour until you do something with it.

TVP is also genius. It’s made from defatted soy flour, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. TVP is high in protein and fibre, it costs next to nothing (I bought a three-cup bag of dried crumbles for 75 cents!) and it’s versatile.

I have only begun to experiment with this amazing ingredient. The first big hit is soyrizo – my vegan version of spicy chorizo sausage crumbles.

I’ve been adding soyrizo to chili (recipe coming soon)

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And to nachos and pizza and spaghetti sauce.

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I’d love to hear how you plan to use soyrizo.

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Ingredients

1 cup TVP

7/8 cup boiling water or vegetable bouillon (that’s 1 cup of water with two tablespoons of water removed)

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder, if you’re not already using vegetable bouillon

1 tsp salt

½ tsp smokey paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp chili powder

Directions

Mix all the dry ingredients in a heat-proof bowl, mug or jar. Pour the boiling water over top and stir the moistened crumbles. Let sit for five minutes before using, or store in the fridge for up to four days.

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/

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 boil 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.