• A Holiday Centerpiece: Cranberry-Spinach Tart

    One of the questions I most frequently get around the holiday season is "what is your MAIN dish going to be for Christmas dinner?" Over the years I have done a variety of things, and some of our favourites include Veggie Pot Pie, A Savoury Strudel and Chickpea Pecan Bake. But I'd have to say that the one I MOST often turn to is probably my Cranberry Spinach Holiday Tart, and there are a few reasons for this:

    1. It's beautiful and festive-looking, and makes a very special main dish.

    2. It's absolutely delicious, and though it's easy to make it requires a bit of time and attention, so it feels worthy of a holiday centerpiece dish.

    3. You can easily make it ahead of time, and even serve it room temperature (though we do prefer it warmed) so it's easy to take with you if you're going somewhere else for dinner.

    4. It's always a hit with vegan AND non-vegan family members.

    In Episode 20 of In My Plant-Based Kitchen I walk you through the making of my Cranberry Spinach Holiday Tart.

    This episode is full of tips, like:

    • 🎁 how to make a healthy, delicious centerpiece that you can feature at your vegan holiday table, or take as a potluck item wherever you're going
    • 🎁 how to make a successful oil-free crust and avoid burning the edges
    • 🎁 how to make sure you have good consistency on the filling and an evenly cooked tart
    • 🎁 how to finish it off to make it look extra delicious and festive for your vegan holiday table!

    And now, the recipe:

    Cranberry Spinach Holiday Tart
    makes 1 9-inch tart – serves 8

    Ingredients:
    for the crust:

    • 1 tbsp ground chia + 3 tablespoons water, mixed together
    • 1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds, ground
    • 1/2 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, ground
    • 3/4 cup oat flour (GF for a GF version of this recipe)
    • 3 tsp mixed Italian herbs
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 3 tbsp water

    for the filling:

    • 1 block extra firm tofu
    • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (and save the zest!)
    • 1 tbsp water for sautéing (optional)
    • 1 yellow onion, diced
    • 3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 cups white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
    • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
    • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
    • 1/4 cup fresh/frozen unsweetened cranberries
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup baby spinach OR kale, roughly chopped
    • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • 1 tsp Italian herb-mix
    • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
    • black/pink pepper, to taste
    • 1-2 tsp maple syrup OR aquafaba
    • 1-2 tsp Braggs Soy Alternatives/Soy Sauce/Coconut Aminos
    • Garnish: ground pepper and lemon/lime zest

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a round 9-inch tart pan (if it’s not a non-stick pan)

    2. Make the crust first:

    • whisk together ground chia and water mixture in a small bowl and set aside to gel
    • in your food processor, grind the almonds, sunflower seeds and oats into a flour, then put them into a large bowl with the herb/spice mix and salt
    • add the chia mixture and water. Stir until combined well – the mixture should stick together when you press it between your fingers
    • crumble the dough evenly over the base of the tart pan and press the mixture evenly into the pan, working your way outward and up the sides of the pan. Poke a few fork holes in the dough so air can escape
    • bake the crust at 350F for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
    • Increase oven temperature to 375F.

    3. Now make the filling:

    • break the tofu apart and place it into the food processor. Process until it starts to break up, then add the lemon/lime juice. It will get smooth and creamy. Set aside
    • heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and when it’s hot add water (if using) and onion. Saute the onion for a few minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and garlic and cook until most of the water cooks off the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Stir in the herbs, cranberries, spinach, nutritional yeast, herb-spice mix and salt and mix until combined. Cook until the spinach is just wilted.
    • remove from heat and fold in the tofu-citrus mixture until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasoning to taste if desired. Spoon mixture into baked crust and smooth out with a spoon until even.

    4. Grind some black or pink pepper over the top of the pie (I like the pink because of its festive colour)

    5. Bake the tart, uncovered, at 375F for about 35 minutes, until it is firm to the touch. 10 minutes before the tart has finished baking, brush it with the combined maple syrup/aquafaba and soy sauce, and brush the mixture over the top of the tart. This stops it from getting too dry, and adds a lovely finishing colour. When the tart is finished, cool for 15 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing. (This can also be made ahead and served at room temperature.)

    🎁You can also download this recipe, along with a host of other holiday recipes in my holiday recipe ebook: https://site-hkpj9ruw.dotezcdn.com/uploads/527b89165c8e49a1b0cc4df6807d9ccc.pdf

    Happy, Healthy Holidays!


  • Best Breakfast Scramble - A Template Recipe

    Tofu - or Breakfast - Scramble is one of our go-to brunches. We make it a couple of times a month (sometimes once a week!) and have the leftovers for weekday lunches. You can make it MANY different ways, depending on what you have in your fridge on any given day, and of course your personal preferences.

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen (episode 19), I walk you through the making of this scramble, and talk about the many ways you can customize it or switch it up, and some of the nutritional benefits of the ingredients we are using too.

    I show and talk tips for:

    • How to do a no-oil saute

    • Ideas for LOADING your scramble with nutrition

    • What order to add ingredients to make sure everything is cooked perfectly

    • How to plate it the dish to make it LOOK (as well as taste) super delicious

    You can watch the episode here:

    RECIPE: Breakfast Scramble 

    (serves 4-6)

    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced

    • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (white button, crimini, or wild mushrooms)

    • ½ head of cauliflower, grated/chopped fine

    • ½ cake extra firm tofu, crumbled

    • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

    • 2 tsp onion powder

    • ½ tsp curry powder

    • ½ tsp salt or alternative (adjust to taste)

    • ½ tsp turmeric powder

    • ½ tsp ground cumin

    • 1 red pepper, diced

    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

    • 1 bunch kale/spinach/chard/beet greens, roughly chopped

    • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated (optional)

    • ¼ cup chopped kalamata olives

    • Red chili flakes/sri racha/black pepper to taste

    Options:

    • Add some raw, grated beets/carrots

    • Serve on a bed of raw greens

    • Add a bit of raw shredded cabbage

    Substitutions

    • Use 1 cake tofu with ¼ or no cauliflower, or use all cauliflower and no tofu

    • Use 2 cups shredded cabbage or broccoli/broccolini instead of kale

    Directions

    1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add about 1 tbsp water. Add onions and sauté until they start to soften up.

    2. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released some of their water, and the mushrooms start to brown, 5-6 minutes.

    3. Add cauliflower and cook 3-4 more minutes.

    4. Add crumbled tofu and herbs/spices and mix well. When the mixture starts to dry out turn heat down to med-low and add the lemon juice to deglaze the pan.

    5. Add red pepper, rehydrated and drained tomatoes, olives and finally the kale/spinach. If the mixture is very dry at this point feel free to add 1-2 tbsp water. Mix well.

    6. Put a lid on the whole thing and steam until the kale/spinach is soft (1-2 minutes). Serve right away with roasted potatoes, salsa, sauerkraut, homemade ketchup or hot sauce.

    *Note, this keeps well for several days too!

     


  • Scratch Sauerkraut - how (and why) to make it!

    Sauerkraut is an amazing, delicious fermented food to add to your diet that will benefit your gut and immune health. It's SO easy to make at home, and the reward is an end product that is SOOO much better than store-bought sauerkraut!

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen:

    • I talk about the health benefits of including sauerkraut in your diet (fibre, fermentation and more!)
    • we do a little nutrition geek out - and talk about why red cabbage is used in this recipe (hint it's not just because it's pretty!), as well as the benefits of all the ingredients in this recipe
    • I share the process of making a small batch of sauerkraut with equipment you likely already have in your kitchen and TIPS for making sure it's safe and successful

    You can watch Episode 18 here now:

    Ready to make it? Here's the recipe:

    Homemade Sauerkraut

    • 1 small- medium red cabbage, cut fine (approx 1 pound of cabbage)*
    • 2 thumbs ginger, grated
    • 1 tbsp sea salt/ Himalayan salt*
    • 1/2 tbsp dulse flakes

    Directions:

    1. Carefully peel off 1-2 of the outer leaves of the cabbage (try not to rip them) and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients, toss and let sit until the cabbage starts to release liquid (it will start to look wet) – 5-10 minutes.
    3. Pack tightly into a clean 1-litre jar, packing tightly so that juice rises to the top of the jar.
    4. When you have almost filled the jar, place a cabbage leaf over top and then a heavy, clean jar full of stones on top of that so that the sauerkraut is covered and submerged in the liquid it has released. It is important that there is NO air in the jar or between the top leaf and the cabbage - if there is you may get mold or other unfriendly microbes growing.
    5. Cover the whole thing with a dish towel to keep dust, fruit flies, etc out. Place on a plate or a bowl to catch any overflowing liquid. Press down periodically over the first 24 hours to make sure the sauerkraut is fully submerged in the liquid (you don't have to do this if you're already seeing liquid on top of the cabbage and you are sure there is no air in the jar).
    6. Leave for 5 days on the counter in a dark corner, then taste. You can either leave it longer if you want it to be more tangy and less salty, or eat it as is. Once it tastes the way you want it to, put it in a jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge.
    7. WATCH the video for additional nutrition/recipe tips.

    Notes:
    *The salt-cabbage ratio is important for proper fermentation to take place (see the video for more info). For safety and a good taste/texture result you should weigh your cabbage and use a ration of 1 tbsp salt: 1 pound of cabbage.
    - I have made also made this recipe using a green cabbage and 4 small-med grated carrots, which was also good (however, red cabbage contains significantly more antioxidants, so it's a great choice!)

    For more health & safety information on making sauerkraut see this link from the BC Centre for Disease Control.

     

     


  • Let's Talk Turmeric!

    One of my favourite things about heading into the winter season is getting cozy with healthy comfort foods -- soups, stews, curries, and warm drinks.

    I have found myself reaching for a couple of my go-to warm drinks in the afternoons/evenings recently, so I thought it would be a good time to share them with you, alongside some information about the benefits of including turmeric on a daily basis too!



    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen I cover:

    🫚 what turmeric is
    🫚 why it's beneficial to include in culinary doses on a daily basis
    🫚 who should be careful about consuming turmeric and why
    🫚 ideas for including it

    and we make my version of Golden Milk (and I also talk about how to make Lemon Ginger Turmeric Tea.

    This is a quick but info-packed episode.
    Join me here.

    AND NOW FOR THE RECIPES!

    Golden Turmeric Milk 
    Ingredients

    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (or you can boil a few slices of fresh turmeric root instead)
    • ¼ - ½ tsp cinnamon (to taste)
    • A few slices of fresh ginger
    • A mugful of plant milk (soy, oat, almond, rice - whatever you prefer)
    • Small pinch black pepper (this helps the absorption of curcumin, which is the active antiinflammatory ingredient in turmeric)
    • liquid sweetener to taste, optional (agave or maple syrup)

    Combine turmeric, ginger, milk and pepper in a small pan, whisking until combined. Bring to a low boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove solids, add sweetener to taste and enjoy. 

     
    Lemon-Ginger Turmeric Tea 

    • 3 slices fresh ginger
    • A cupful of boiling water
    • Juice of ½ a lemon
    • ½ tsp turmeric powder
    • Small pinch black pepper
    • Sweetener to taste, optional

    Boil some water and place ginger slices in the water to steep - simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove solids, add lemon juice, turmeric and sweetener to taste. 
     
    (This also makes a really nice cold drink, but the turmeric does tend to separate so you need to make sure it is stirred well before drinking).

     


  • Best Ever Homemade Granola Bars

    I have been making and sharing this granola bar recipe for MANY years and it never gets old! You can make them so many different ways, just by switching up the nuts, seeds and dried fruit. These really are the best homemade granola bars you will ever make!

    This week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen is in 2 parts. In the first part I answer a great question that came in about the nutrition of cooked and cooled starches. We talk about how cooling starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and rice can be beneficial, why resistant starch is helpful for health, and more.

    In the second part of the episode we make The Best Ever Granola Bars (originally inspired by a recipe in Christie Morgan's cookbook, Blissful Bites).

    In the episode I explain the parts of the recipe you can adjust and switch, but here is the version I made in the video:

    The Best Ever Granola Bars

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c unsweetened brown rice crispy cereal
    • 2 c rolled oats
    • 1/2 c dried cranberries
    • 1/2 c unsweetened coconut shreds
    • 1/3 c slivered almonds
    • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped
    • 1/2 c pumpkin seeds
    • 1 1/2 c brown rice syrup
    • 1 c almond butter
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

    Directions:

    1. Mix up the dry ingredients up to the pumpkin seeds in one bowl.
    2. Add the wet ingredients (brown rice syrup, almond butter and vanilla) to a saucepan and warm slowly until thoroughly mixed.
    3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
    4. Put everything in a baking casserole lined with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the casserole until evenly spread and smooth on top (It’s helpful to put a layer of parchment on top and press down with your hands, or the bottom of a glass to get an even top).
    5. After the bars have cooled and set for several hours cut and go!

    Tips:

    • Super easy, and this makes a HUGE batch - you could easily half them, but these bars also freeze really well
    • Feel free to switch up the nuts/seeds/dried fruit too – it’s great with pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds...you get the picture!
    • CAUTION: The rice syrup provides texture and allows these bars to set. Maple syrup does not work as well – the bars are much gooier, so be careful about swapping the sweetener.

    If you make these, let me know how YOU customize them to your own tastes (and of course, how you like them) :-)



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