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!


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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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


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)


And to nachos and pizza and spaghetti sauce.


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

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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


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.

Spicy, crispy tofu – the lazy vegan version

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Ahhhhh… spicy, crispy and vegan. I circled this recipe, which is originally from BOSH! because, while enticed by the flavours and textures, I was put off by the amount of work, time and frying involved.

But I could not let this recipe go so here is my altered version of the original video recipe found here.

My version is faster and I bake rather than fry the tofu. The results are delicious!


The tofu strips

12 oz block of extra firm tofu.

½ cup cornstarch

1 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil

The chili sauce

The juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)

The juice of one large orange (about ½ cup or a little more)

½ cup sweet chili sauce

4 Tbsp soya sauce

2 tsp chili paste (I used sambal oelek). If you really like spicy – use up to 1 Tbsp chili paste.

1 squirt (about ½ Tbsp) Sriracha sauce



Preheat the oven to 425F. Oil a baking sheet with the peanut or coconut oil.

Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally so that you have two flat slabs. Lay the slabs on a clean, lint-free towel or paper towel and cover with another towel. Press gently with the flat of you hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Cut the tofu into evenly sized strips or cubes.

Put the cornstarch in a large bowl or a large ziplock plastic bag. Add the tofu and toss the tofu to coat each piece with cornstarch.

Place the tofu pieces on the oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

When the tofu is done, it will only be browned in some spots. It may even still look white and cornstarch-powdery, but it will be firm and crispy.

While the tofu bakes, make the chili sauce.

Juice the orange and the lemon. Add the juices and all the other sauce ingredients to a large frying pan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer and bubble for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce volume will reduce by a little less than half. Turn off the heat and add the baked tofu pieces and stir to coat the tofu.

Serve and enjoy.

Indian chili – no fail, tasty and a bit different


This is one of the easiest and fastest recipes ever and pretty much no-fail. The taste is familiar but with an eastern twist that’s flavourful and fun. As with most chilis and tomato-based dishes, this dish is even better the next day and freezes well. Serve it over rice or naan bread.


3 cups of beans (that’s two 15-ounce cans). DO NOT DRAIN. If you’re using freshly cooked beans, then you’ll want to add about ½ cup water to the chili pot.

I used red kidney beans and great northern beans, because that’s what was in the pantry. You could go all white kidney bean, navy bean, black bean, all red kidney bean or even a mixed bean. Whatever suits you.

398 ml (10 ounces) can tomato sauce

1 tomato diced. I used one red and one yellow “cocktail” tomato – they are sized somewhere between a regular tomato and a cherry tomato. You want about ½ cup of diced tomato.

1 onion diced

1 jalapeno pepper minced

2-3 cloves garlic

1 thumb size piece of ginger root, peeled and grated. You’ll have a heaping tablespoon of grated ginger

1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 cup of chopped spinach or kale – optional but nice for greenery

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp cayenne


Put the oil, onion, garlic, jalapeno and ginger in a pot and sauté the ingredients over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomato, tomato sauce, salt and spices and cook for about another 3 minutes or so. Add the beans (and water if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir in the kale or spinach, if using.

Serve with rice or naan. Enjoy!

Black bean and butternut squash chili – a bowl of happy


Meet my new favourite chili recipe. It’s pretty, spicy, satisfying, full of happy little black beans that are simultaneously chewy yet creamy and just a big old bowl o’ yumminess. This recipe is perfect for this time of year too when squashes prevail. If you don’t have a butternut squash, you could use any winter squash, except spaghetti squash, which is the wrong texture.

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1 medium onion chopped

2 red bell peppers chopped

About 3-4 cups cubed butternut squash – (a small squash of about 1 ½ pounds)

4 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 -2 Tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo chopped. I chopped in 2 of the peppers because I like the heat.

1 bay leaf

½ tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 19oz can diced tomatoes

2 cans black beans drained and rinsed (that’s 3 cups if you cook your beans from scratch)

2 cups vegetable broth


Wash the squash and pierce it a few times. Microwave it for 6 minutes to make it soft enough to easily cut and peel. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds which are in the bulbous end of the squash. Peel the squash and cut in cubes. If this is daunting to you, go ahead and buy a bag of already peeled, seeded and cubed frozen butternut squash. No one will judge and it’s good to eat your veggies!

In a very large pot, sauté the garlic, onion and peppers in the olive oil. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir together. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes (for 1 hour total), stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce and you’ll have a perfect chili. Yes, it’s that easy.

This dish makes 4-6 servings and freezes well. It’s great with sliced avocado.

My Buddha Bowl a/k/a Deconstructed Vietnamese spring rolls

buddhabowlSometimes I have lunch at a little Viet-Thai restaurant with my work team. The restaurant makes killer fresh vegetable spring  rolls served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.

I’m not particularly adept at rolling things – burritos, sleeping bags, you name it. So I recreated those glorious spring rolls by deconstructing them and turning them into a Buddha bowl of sorts. This may not be the usual Buddha bowl, but you will reach nirvana when you eat it.

My Buddha bowl is made up of: leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumber, radishes, roasted tofu and mung bean (also known as glass) noodles. I eat it like a salad with spicy peanut sauce.

Do not be deterred by the long list of ingredients and steps. This dish is easy and worthy! And there are really three recipes in one here since the baked tofu and spicy peanut sauce have multiple uses.

You do need to plan ahead a bit. You need at least 2 hours to make the baked tofu – one hour for marinating, 30 minutes to bake  and then your prep and cooling time. Everything else comes together in 15 minutes. I promise.

This recipe makes 2 ENORMOUS Buddha bowls.

Baked tofu – you can even make this a day ahead  

12 oz block firm tofu

2 Tbsp cooking sherry or cheap red wine

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil.

Slice the tofu into 8 slices. Put the slices flat between clean paper towels or kitchen towels and press down with the heel of your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible without squishing or flattening the slices. You want dry tofu!

Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl or glass, mix the sherry or wine, soya sauce or tamari and sesame oil. Pour over the tofu and let the tofu marinade for at least one hour and up to 4 hours (not longer – the tofu can get bitter) in the fridge. You can turn the tofu once if you want, but it’s not necessary – it’ll sop up all the flavour it needs.

Bake the tofu at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool. I slice the tofu into strips for the Buddha bowl, but also use this baked tofu in sandwiches or on its own as a delicious snack.

the Buddha bowl veggies

1 – 2 carrots sliced into long strips (or cut in coins or diced)

½ English cucumber cut into long strips

5 – 6 radishes sliced

1 head leaf lettuce washed and cut into bite size pieces

2 bundles of mung bean noodles or rice vermicelli or similar (all packages of these noodles that I’ve ever seen come in little nests or bundles of about 1-2 oz each)

Prepare the noodles according to package directions which typically involves putting the noodles in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and pouring boiling water over them. They will “cook” in about 10 minutes… enough time to prep your salad and the chili sauce. Once they are cooked, drain well in a mesh strainer.

Audrey’s spicy peanut sauce

2 green onions sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

Juice of 1 lime

3 Tbsp peanut butter (just peanuts peanut butter – no icing sugar and weird oil and stuff)

3 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat so the peanut butter melts and everything blends together. Let cool and pour over your Buddha bowl. This sauce is also excellent tossed with noodles and veggies for a quick pasta dish and makes an excellent dipping sauce.

Arrange the vegetables two very large bowls along with the sliced roasted tofu and the cooked, cooled noodles. You can add toasted sesame seeds and spicy pickled vegetables (shown) for garnish. Serve with the spicy peanut sauce over top. Eat and enjoy!


Linguini with spicy peanut sauce, kale and tempeh


If you had told me even a year ago that I’d eat kale and tempeh and like it, I would have laughed at you. But this saucy number changed everything.

The original recipe is from The Thug Kitchen. This is my lazy-ass thug version.

I timed myself today making this dish: it took just 23 minutes from the moment I stepped in the kitchen to the time I sat down with a big bowl of tempting, spicy noodles!

Noodles with peanut sauce, kale and tempeh

10 oz linguine (or other pasta)

8 oz tempeh

1 bunch kale (about 6-8 cups once you’ve torn and washed it)

For the sauce

1/3 cup peanut butter (NOT the stuff with extra chemicals and sugar – just peanuts peanut butter)

1/3 cup vegetable broth

2 tsp chili paste (I used sambal oelek)

2 tsp chili powder

1 green onion sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tsp grated ginger (or if you’re feeling super lazy, use ½ tsp ground ginger)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 ½ Tbsp dark sesame oil

Juice of ½ lime

1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

Cook the linguini according to package instructions. Use a big pot because you’ll be adding the kale and tempeh.

Wash and tear the kale into bite-size pieces. Do not worry about drying the kale. It’s going in the pot.

Cut the tempeh into dice-sized cubes.

When the noodles are done, turn off the heat. Add the kale and tempeh. Doing this blanches the kale quickly and perfectly preps the tempeh, which can have a sour aftertaste if it’s not cooked/steamed.

As soon as you have everything in the pot, drain the water. Put it in a big bowl, awaiting sauce.

For the sauce – in a sauce pan, mix all the sauce ingredients over medium heat until they are blended. Pour over the noodles/kale/tempeh and toss together.

Enjoy!! Makes 4 delicious servings.