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.

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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.

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.