• What's all the fuss about Nooch?

    If you've been around the vegan world for a while you have undoubtedly come across the ingredient nutritional yeast, otherwise known as NOOCH. Many people love it, some people hate it. But it's an undeniably handy and nutritious ingredient that you'll want to know a bit more about, if you're not already familiar. 

    I often get questions about nutritional yeast:

    • What is it?
    • Is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?
    • Do you have to refrigerate it?
    • Is it good for you? (and if so why)?
    • What are some ways to include it in your diet?
    • Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?

    I answered some of those questions as part of this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen

    But I thought I'd also provide some of the answers in a blog post here today. AND I'm going to share one of my favourite recipes featuring nutritional yeast, my NOOCH Dressing.

    So, what is Nutritional Yeast? And is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?

    In a word nutritional yeast is the deactivated form of yeast that you’d use to make bread (baker’s yeast) or beer (brewer’s yeast). Nutritional yeast is grown specifically as a food product and it tastes very different from baker's or brewer’s yeast, which tend to be bitter -- so don't buy one of those and put it on your popcorn! They are NOT the same.

    Nutritional yeast Is grown on cane sugar and molasses, then harvested, washed and dried into flakes. After harvesting it is washed and pasteurized to make sure it won’t keep growing.

    Is it good for you? (and if so why)?

    Yes! It's very...well nutritional! Or nutritious, let's say :-) It's an excellent source of protein and a rich source of B vitamins, which are important for energy production, helpful in the metabolism of protein, fats and carbs (meaning they help us to better use the fuel from our food), and they're important for helping us to manage stress too. Nooch is known for its B12 content (notable since B12 is difficult to get without supplementation on a vegan or vegetarian diet); however, since B12 deficiency is not something you want to wrangle with don't rely solely on nooch for your intake -- just take a supplement. :-)

    Finally, nooch contains a variety of antioxidants, which we can all use a little more of.

    It IS important to note though, that some nooch is fortified with additional nutrients, and some are not, so read your labels to make sure you know what you're getting.

    Nooch is thought to be helpful for immune health, heart health, liver health and more. In short, yes! It's very good for you! Eat it!

    What are some ways to include it in your diet?

    Nooch has a delightful cheesy, nutty flavour that is great

    • on popcorn (sprinkle with apple cider vinegar first to make it stick)
    • in dressings and sauces (see recipe below)
    • sprinkled on salads or savoury oatmeal
    • mixed into anything you want to add a little cheesi-ness too
    • used to make lots of vegan cheeses
    • great as part of a coating on air-fried or roasted tofu!

    Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?

    Though the yeast cells of nutritional yeast are killed during manufacturing, to be on the safe side people who are allergic or sensitive to yeast are advised to avoid nooch. 

    Do you have to refrigerate it?

    You don’t need to keep it in the fridge, but do store in a cool dark place and it will last for about 2 years.

    Now that you know all about Nutritional Yeast, time for a recipe!

    Nooch Sauce/Dressing

    Makes about 600 ml

    Ingredients

    • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
    • ¾ cup water
    • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
    • ½ cup cooked chickpeas
    • 1/3 cup braggs soy alternative or coconut aminos (lower sodium)
    • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic

    Directions

    Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Make sure you give this enough blender time to get SUPER creamy – you will know it is ready when a little bit between your fingers feel smooth and not at all gritty. Use as a salad dressing, over steamed broccoli or cauliflower, roasted vegetables, rice bowls, or even as a vegetable dip. Keeps in the fridge for a week; also freezes well.

     

     


  • Veganuary - week 2 - what's for lunch?

    It's week 2 of Veganuary! How's it going so far? Have you mastered vegan breakfast? Did you try the savoury oats? I'd love to hear how it's going for you!

    This week let's talk about lunch...

    Lunch can be a challenge for people when they are transitioning, especially if you're used to whipping up a sandwich for lunch. So, it's time to think a bit outside the box!

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen (Episode 25!) I dish (get it? haha) about...

    • 🥦the place of "transition foods" i.e. vegan lunch meats/cheeses/animal food replacements in a healthy diet (pros and cons)
    • 🥦lunch ideas and inspiration
    • 🥦tips for making healthy lunches easy
    • 🥦I walk you through making a template meal "grain salad" (I make a Mediterranean version, but share tips and ideas on how you can switch things up to use what you've got in your fridge and/or what you like). This is a great, versatile meal idea to keep in your pocket for dinner, and then use the leftovers for lunch!

    Even though we talk about lunch ideas in more details in the video I wanted to share a few of my faves with you here:

    • 🥦Leftovers - chilis, curries, soups/stews, loaves -- anything that can be portioned up into lunch containers and reheats well!
    • 🥦Wraps -- stuff with greens, hummus, and veggies -- or leftovers!
    • 🥦Keep it simple – hummus and veggies – if you cut the veggies up ahead of time and keep them in water (this works well with harder veggies like carrots and celery, not as well with peppers) this can be a great grab and go lunch!
    • 🥦No “tuna” salad – this is my favourite oil-free version - great to use in sandwiches and wraps

    And the grain bowl we made in the video is another favourite! Here is today's version:

    And here is the recipe/template:

    (as I cover in the video, this is completely versatile - you can use different grains/beans, and vegetables (cooked and/or raw), even dressings - the idea is just to use the grain as the base and make sure you get a good diversity of foods in there -- see the video for more details.)

    EXAMPLE - MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA BOWL/SALAD

    Combine (amounts are simply guidelines -- I'd keep the grain and beans about the same, but use more/less of other things, depending on what you have/like):

    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa or another grain of your choice (makes about 3 cups cooked) *
    • 1 1/2 cups or 1 can chickpeas, roasted with italian seasoning mix (roasting is optional)
    •  ½ head cauliflower, roasted with Italian seasoning mix
    • 1 small-med zucchini, roasted with Italain seasoning mix
    • 1 orange pepper, diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (white part) and julienned (green part)
    • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, chopped (or sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
    • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes. halved

    * I like to cook my quinoa with a ratio of 1 cup dry quinoa: 1 ¾ cups water (with the juice of 1 lemon/lime incorporated into the water)

    Dress with a combination of:

    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp aquafaba or olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper)

    Once everything is mixed up garnish with additional tomatoes, chopped cashews and/or some vegan feta

    A few key tips for lunch success:

    1) Plan ahead - I can't stress this enough! Taking a few minutes on the weekend or in the evenings to think about the types of lunches you might want to have makes a BIG difference. Even thinking about it the night before and packaging up some leftovers in a wrap or container that you can grab on your way out the door in the morning really helps.

    2) Batch cook so you have leftovers - get in the habit of making a few more servings than you need, and portion them out for lunch. This makes lunch SO EASY. WRAPS are one of my favourite ways to make leftovers/batched cooked food feel like something different and new for lunch. :-)

    3) Get yourself a good thermos that will keep things warm for you, if you're not in a place you can heat your lunch up.

    Do you have a great lunch tip/recipe to share? Leave it in the comments below!


  • The Power of Greens

    Leafy green vegetables are, arguably, one of the most powerful foods you can eat, and there are SO many benefits to adding them to your daily menu. Just to list a few:

    • They are one of the most nutrient dense foods out there (i.e. more nutrition per calorie)
    • They are associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases, including a reduced risk for heart attacks and stroke
    • A study done at Rush University and published in the journal Neurology showed that eating green leafy vegetables every day was associated with slower cognitive decline – the study results suggested that older adults who ate at least one serving of leafy green vegetables showed an equivalent of being 11 years younger cognitively
    • and more

    In this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen I talk about why greens are so powerful (and what exactly we mean by "greens"), we delve into the benefits of greens for health, talk tips for getting the most out of your greens nutritionally and ideas for how to get more of them into your meals. ANDI do a demo of Side Sauteed Greens

    So if you're interested in this info, be sure to check the episode out.

    Now, on to the recipes.

    Side Sauteed Greens

    Serves 2-3

    • 1 tbsp garlic, minced (you can add minced ginger, chives or other aromatics here if you wish)
    • About 4 cups roughly chopped greens (kale/beet greens/chard/bok choy/Chinese cabbage, etc)
    • 1 tbsp Braggs Soy Alternative + 1 tbsp water
    • sprinkle of lemon/lime juice

    Directions:

    1) Prepare all your ingredients i.e. chop the garlic, and wash and cut the greens. Measure out the Braggs and water and halve a lemon/lime. Have everything at hand because you will need to work quickly in this next stage.

    2) When everything is just about ready to go, heat your pan over med-high heat, and when water sizzles, add about 1 tbsp water then the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds - 1 minute or so, until the garlic becomes fragrant and starts to look a bit translucent. Don’t allow it to brown – this will make them bitter.

    3) Add your greens, and toss with the garlic. Add the braggs/water mixture and toss again, stirring constantly until the greens have just wilted.

    4) Now sprinkle the lemon/lime juice and toss once more. DON’T overcook – this whole process should only take a couple of minutes!

    5) Remove from pan and eat immediately! (This should be the last thing you do for your meal as these greens are best served HOT).

    Serve as a side with a veggie burger, as part of a bowl, with mashed potatoes and tempeh, or however else you can dream up!

    *Want to see a demo of this recipe? Check it out here.

    Creamy Kale Salad

    Serves 2

    This is another easy recipe that is super tasty and full of powerful nutrition. I love it because unlike most salads it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

    Ingredients: 

    • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped
    • 1 cup grated carrots
    • 1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • A sprinkling of sea salt (1/8-1/4 tsp, to taste)
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

    Directions:

    1. Chop kale and place in a bowl. Massage it until it starts to soften.
    2. Toss the rest of the ingredients except the sesame seeds into the bowl and use your hands or the back of a large spoon to thoroughly mash avocado into kale and mix everything together.
    3. Serve into bowls, garnish with sesame seeds and eat immediately, or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

    Note: for variation you can make this salad with other greens (don't massage unless it's a hardy one though...), lime juice or apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, switch up the carrots for beets and the sesame seeds for another seed/chopped nut of your choice.

     Have a nutrition question or topic you'd like to see covered on In My Plant-Based Kitchen? Send it to Emma here.


  • 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.



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