• Let's do a Turmeric Shot!

    You may know that turmeric is a powerful spice to get into your daily diet to reduce inflammation, decrease oxidative stress and so much more but ARE YOU GETTING IT IN?

    In episode 38 of In My Plant-Based Kitchen I share one of my daily health hacks - a trick to help you get turmeric (and powdered ginger) into your day!

    We discuss:

    • why turmeric is so helpful for health (hint - it's a powerful anti-inflammatory AND it decreases oxidative stress/DNA damage)
    • things you can add to it to boost absorption of curcumin (the active ingredient)
    • why powdered ginger is so helpful (it goes beyond dampening nausea)
    • a few cautions for people who should double check their use of these powerful spices (e.g. contraindicated medications)
    • and we make a "turmeric shot" that can help you get it all in in seconds (and for pennies) a day

    Want to know how to make this magic shot? (Oh, I like that name even better!)

    In a short glass combine:

    • 1/4 cup (approximately) plant-based milk (I love using soy)
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
    • pinch black pepper

    Whisk it all together until completely combined, and bottoms up!

    How are you incorporating turmeric and ginger into your daily diet? Leave a comment below :-)


  • Squash Season (2 Kabocha Recipes For You!)

    I LOVE fall and all the delicious, comforting local produce it brings, so I am quite happy that the weather is cooling down a bit - we even saw a bit of rain this week in my next of the woods - and I was even happier to find the first squash of the season at my local farmgate! Woo hoo! Squash season is here!

    So it only made sense to do this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen on squash! In it I walk you through the process of cooking a WHOLE squash in the instant pot (goodbye awkward cutting), and demo my Kabocha Hummus with Sundried Tomatoes and Lime. It's my favourite way to cook squash these days, (and you can do it with any kind of squash). Note that the heavier the squash the more time you need to give it in the ipot -- I talk about how to figure out the time in the video.

    This recipe shouts fall to me - it's packed with flavour and healthy goodness too (antioxidants and fibre and minerals, oh my!)

    Check it out below:

    Kabocha Hummus with Sundried Tomatoes & Lime

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large clove garlic
    • 1 ½ cups chickpeas (1 can)
    • 1 tbsp tahini
    • ½ cup kabocha squash, roasted
    • 1/3 cup water
    • Juice of ½ a lime (about 1 tbsp)
    • 1-2 tsp thai chili sauce or hot sauce, to taste
    • Salt or salt alternative to taste
    • ¼ cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes

    Directions:

    1. Place garlic clove in food processor and mince.
    2. Place the rest of the ingredients except chili sauce, salt and sundried tomatoes in the food processor and process until everything is smooth and creamy (add more water if necessary to get the consistency you like).
    3. Add chili sauce and salt to taste. Adjust for lime juice at this point too.
    4. Add sundried tomatoes and pulse until tomatoes are broken but still a bit chunky
    5. Garnish with red chili flakes and lime wedges if desired.
    6. Serve with cut vegetables and/or a whole grain baguette. Or use in wraps, on toast or any other way you love hummus!

    And what about the soup?

    But that's not all! I promised to share a second recipe using Kabocha Squash so you can use the rest of that baby up! This is also an absolutely scrumptious recipe, full of smoky goodness.

    Smoky Kabocha Curry Soup

    5-6 servings 10-12 servings – can easily be doubled

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium-large onion, diced
    • 3-4 bulbs garlic, minced
    • ½ medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp mild curry powder
    • ½ medium-large kabocha squash, peeled and diced (approximately 4 cups)*
    • ½ cup red lentils, rinsed
    • 5 cups of vegetable stock
    • Salt and ground pepper to taste
    • Suggested garnishes: cashew cream and balsamic reduction

    Directions:

    1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat and when it’s hot add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cauliflower and mix well. Cook for a few minutes until the cauliflower starts to soften, adding a little water if the garlic starts to brown.
    2. Add the squash and the spices, mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
    3. Add lentils and vegetable stock and bring everything to a boil.
    4. Lower heat and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the lentils are cooked and falling apart. Now blend the whole thing up until smooth, either in your blender, or with a hand blender.
    5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and drizzle with cashew cream and balsamic reduction to serve.

    *Another winter squash variety, such as acorn or butternut, could also be used in this recipe.

    NOTES:

    • If you have pre-cooked squash (e.g. if you have already cooked it whole in the ipot add it at the same time as your lentils and stock).
    • To cook this soup in the instant pot simply saute the onion and garlic until they are translucent, then add everything else to the pot and bring to pressure. Cook for 15 minutes, then allow the pressure to come down naturally. Blend and serve.

    To make the cashew cream:

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup (heaping) cashews, soaked
    • ¼ cup water (+1-2 tbsp if needed)
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1-2 tsp lemon juice

    Directions: Place all the ingredients in a blender, starting with just ¼ cup water and 1 tsp lemon juice. Blend until smooth, adding more water and/or lemon juice and a second pinch of salt, to achieve the taste and consistency you like.


  • Let's Make N'Ice Cream (and talk sugar)

    It's HOT and the perfect week to make N'ICE Cream! Want a delicious, cool treat that you can also count as a healthy snack? Then you won't want to miss Episode 4 of In My Plant-Based Kitchen.



    This week I'm answering a question that came in from a viewer -- sugar and sugar-free dessert ideas. We cover:

    • some good-to-know facts about sugar and health

    • where sugar can be hiding in our modern diets, and why that's a concern

    • sugar and fruit/whole foods -- what's the difference?

    • tips for enjoying a naturally sweetened diet (be sure to check out the show notes for links to further resources and recipes)

    And I do a demo and provide some practical tips for making Blackberry Lime N'Ice Cream -- Here's the recipe (it's SO easy):

    Blackberry Lime N’Ice Cream

    (pictured above)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup chopped frozen bananas

    • 1 ½ cup frozen blackberries, and fresh for serving (optional)

    • Zest of 1 lime

    • 1 tsp lime juice (or more to taste/as necessary)

    In a food processor blend bananas and blackberries until everything starts to come together. Add zest and lime juice and pulse just until everything is incorporated and smooth, being careful not to overprocess. Top with fresh berries if desired.

    Serve immediately!

    MIX IT UP -- some more recipe ideas for you!

    Another really nice version of the blackberry recipe above swaps the blackberries for strawberries and the lime for balsamic vinegar, omitting the lime zest. Delicious!

    One of the things I love about N'Ice Cream is how EASY it is to get creative and make different kinds. A basic template to start with looks like this:

    • 1 cup chopped frozen bananas (this is pretty standard since it makes the n'ice cream CREAMY - but don't worry, you won't taste the banana since frozen banana has a very mild taste)

    • 1 ½ cup frozen berries/cherries/other fruit

    • (optional) 1-2 tbsp special additions, like nuts/seeds (or nut butters), chocolate chips or cacao, dried fruit, coconut, fresh herbs such as mint, etc (get creative)

    • (optional) 1 tsp

    In a food processor blend bananas and other fruit until everything starts to come together, pushing down as necessary. Once creamy add additional ingredients and pulse just until everything is incorporated and smooth, being careful not to overprocess/overheat. Top with garnishes for an extra special touch.

    Here are a couple more recipe ideas to get you started:

    Mint Honeydew Sherbet with Lime

    • 1 cup sliced, frozen bananas
    • 2 cups chopped, frozen honeydew melon
    • 1-2 tbsp mint leaves
    • juice of 1 lime (or more, to taste)
    • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste (optional)
    Option:
    • add a few drops of peppermint essential oil (food grade only) for an extra minty flavour

    Mango Orange Sherbet

    • 1 cup sliced, frozen banana
    • 1 ½ cup frozen mango
    • 1 ½ cup frozen orange
    • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup (optional)
    Option:
    • add a few drops of food grade orange essential oil
    • pulse in some shredded coconut at the end
    What combinations are YOUR favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

  • How to make crispy tofu (and a recipe for Crunchy Cashew Noodle Salad)

    In my humble opinion, one of the great breakthroughs in plant-based cooking is learning how to make a basic crispy tofu that you can then cook in different marinades/sauces to add a boost of texture and flavour (and nutrition) to your dishes.

    Today I want to share one of the recipes I have taught a number of times over the years – for a couple of reasons:

    1. If you haven’t already mastered the no-oil sauteed tofu method, you're missing out!

    2. This is a delicious recipe that you can customize to your own tastes/the tastes of your loved ones — it’s gonna be one you’ll make again and again.

    Here’s your recipe:

    Crunchy Cashew Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu

    Serves 4

    Ingredients:

    • 1 package extra firm tofu, sautéed with simple marinade, as described below

    • simple marinade for tofu: 2 tbsp maple syrup + 2 tbsp braggs soy alternative OR coconut aminos

    • 1 package of noodles of your choice (200-250 g), cooked; see below for noodle recommendations

    • About 5 cups of mixed vegetables (adapt this to what you have/like), for example:

      • 1 cup carrots, julienned

      • 1 cup red pepper, julienned

      • 1 cup snap peas

      • 1 cup celery, julienned

      • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded

    • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro or parsley

    • 1 cup of pea sprouts, or other sprouts of choice

    • ½ – 1 cup lightly roasted cashews

    • 1 recipe Spicy Cashew Dressing: (blend together until smooth)

      • ½ cup cashews, soaked

      • 1 large clove garlic

      • 1 tsp fresh ginger

      • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

      • 2 tbsp braggs soy alternative OR coconut aminos

      • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste

      • 1/3 cup water

      • Hot sauce to taste (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Prepare the extra firm tofu by cutting it into cubes and dry sautéing it until crispy. To do this, heat a large saucepan so that water sizzles on its surface (I prefer a good quality ceramic or stainless steel for this) — this is important because it helps to prevent the tofu from sticking. When the pan is hot, place the tofu cubes in the pan. Resist the urge to stir them around at this point – they will stick at first but once they have seared, they should come away without sticking. Brown the tofu on all sides, as shown below. (STEP 1)

    2. Once browned on all sides, add the simple marinade and let the tofu cook in it (over medium-low heat) until all the marinade has been absorbed (STEP 2). Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat once it’s looking nice and crispy and set aside.

    3. Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.

    These noodles are both fantastic options for noodles to use with this salad!

     

    4. Cut all your vegetables up and put them together into a large bowl.

    5. Prepare your dressing.

    6. Toss noodles and dressing together, then toss in the veggies and mix again. You may want to keep a few aside to use on the top for presentation colour. 😊

    7. Divide into individual bowls and add tofu, then garnish with herbs, sprouts and roasted cashews.

    Enjoy! Make it? Let me know how you liked it below!


  • Back to Basics

    The Healthiest Foods Are Simple Ones

    Years ago some friends of ours came to visit with their young daughter who had a lot of food allergies. There were so many things she couldn’t eat that her parents made sure they had plenty of foods she COULD eat on hand at all times so they never got stuck — necessity made it a habit. To make things simple and ensure they were feeding her uncontaminated foods they kept things REALLY simple.

    I was struck by the simplicity, and how healthy that simplicity made things! Most of the foods she ate were whole, fresh plant foods – a lot of them were raw and unadulterated by additives like preservatives or extra salt, sugar or fat.

    I have been thinking about this lately, and the fact that the longer I work with plant-based nutrition, the simpler my every day foods are becoming.

    This has several different benefits.

    First, it’s easy and quick! I often “jokingly” tell people who take my classes or who consult with me that nature’s perfect fast food is a piece of fruit or a fresh vegetable, but truly it’s no joke! It requires minimal – or no – cooking or preparation when you snack on fruits and veggies. And if you’ve already washed it, it’s all about the grabbing and eating. Instant snack!

    Even if we’re not eating simply and cleanly out of the necessity to avoid an allergic reaction, the longer a person focuses on eating this way, the more habitual it becomes.

    Easy, quick, healthy-habit forming — and good for you!

    As veganism has become more mainstream and popular there are all kinds of delicious fat-, salt- and sugar-laden “vegan” products popping up, making it just as easy to be an unhealthy vegan as any other type of eater. Even the term “whole foods plant-based” is sometimes used to describe recipes and dishes that contain a lot of processed foods and additives.

    I’m a huge advocate of making healthy foods taste great and making sure that people don’t feel deprived as they try this new way of eating out, but unfortunately if you just swap regular junk food for vegan junk food you’re not going to be much further ahead. And worse, you may find yourself throwing your hands up in the air, saying, “Well, I tried this vegan/plant-based thing, but it just didn’t work for me.”

    It’s critical that people understand that in order to reap the health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet it’s best to be eating (at least MOST of the time!) plants that are as close to their WHOLE form as possible.

    This is not to say that all you can eat from here on in is carrot sticks! The photo above is an example of “healthier choices” — an edamame spread (recipe below) served with fresh cut veggies (the crackers aren’t so applicable to this topic 😉 ). The point is, it’s about getting into a mindset of simpler eating. Adding less, enjoying the natural flavours of whole plant foods more, and training yourself away from the hyper-palatable food landscape that is today’s norm.

    There are many great reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle beyond our own health, but if being healthy is among your reasons do yourself a favour and keep it simple, easy, and whole.

    In case you’re inspired to put out a plate of fresh veggies with edamame spread tonight, here’s a recipe you might want to try:

    Incredibly Edible Edamame Spread (GREEN)

    inspired by The Blender Girl by Tess Masters
    Makes 2 ½ cups

    Ingredients:

    • 2-3 cloves garlic

    • 2 cups lightly steamed shelled edamame beans

    • 2 cups loosely packed greens such as fresh spinach

    • juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tbsp)

    • 2 tbsp tahini

    • 1 ½ tbsp finely chopped white/yellow onion

    • ¼ tsp ground cumin

    • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)

    • sea salt or salt alternative to taste

    • Garnish: 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

    Directions:

    1.  Put garlic into your food processor and blend until garlic is minced. Add all the rest of the ingredients, except sesame seeds and blend until smooth. If you’d like a “dip” rather than a “spread”, add a couple tbsps more water.

    2. Season to taste. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired and serve.



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