Carbivore to Herbivore

Growing up my Mom would endearingly call me a ‘Carbivore’. I had chosen very early on to not eat meat, but I was also extremely picky. No matter where we went to eat, I would order pasta with butter and “sprinkly cheese.” Obviously not able to order many other of the go to items off of the kiddy menu, this was always an off the book request that made me feel special. I was young, naive and didn’t even have to worry about all those noodles going straight to my hips.

This was further reflected in early morning breakfasts of multiple heaping bowls of cereal and packed lunches of just bread, crackers or rice cakes and other pastry pale goodness. There would be no deli meat sandwiches or lunchables for me, thank you very much, and certainly no salads either. That’s not what kids eat.

As I got older and started to prepare my own meals, I graduated from sprinkly cheese and butter to Alfredo sauce. What a chef I was. My meals stayed white, boring and bland. They gave sustenance but not much satisfaction.

Then something miraculous happened, I learned that I loved cooking. I learned that I love to try new things. I started to crave fresh salads, vegetable stir-frys, stuffed peppers, quinoa with chicks peas and beans. I started shopping mostly the outer perimeter and my grocery bill didn’t necessarily get higher it just got more fulfilling. I had so much more energy, felt greater after putting effort into a meal I truly enjoyed.

Anything green please put it on my plate. While you’re at it, add a scoop of all of those beautiful vibrant colours straight from Mother Nature’s garden. Still keep those mushrooms away (all those spores and gills, cringe), but alas we can’t be perfect.

 

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Tofu, Bean and Quinoa Salad

This is a recipe to show to all those that ask the age-old and painfully overplayed question, “But how do you get your protein?”

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups organic vegetable broth
1 package firm tofu
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups edamame
1 red pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 (15-ounce) can black or mixed beans
Dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced

Bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. Broth should be completely absorbed. Allow to cool as you prep the remaining ingredients.

Cut tofu in slices, and dry between paper towels for 5 minutes. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Cut tofu in 1/4 inch cubs and add to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté tofu until lightly browned, usually 10-15 minutes in my experience. Allow to cool as you prep toppings and dressing.

Combine dressing ingredients with a whisk. Stir in quinoa.

Drain and rinse beans, thaw edamame if frozen. Add the beans, edamame, tofu, peppers, green onions, carrot, to quinoa mixture; stir gently to combine.

Cover and cool in refrigerator until ready to eat. Makes about ten servings. Great for Sunday food prepping to have lunches throughout the week.

Recipe altered from My Recipes.

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Crispy Chickpea Burgers

“Let’s have burgers” – this is a sentence which until recently never escaped my mouth. I had never had a fast food hamburger, and when I gave up meat many moons ago the idea of a patty sandwiched between two pieces of bread just didn’t appeal to me. But when I went vegan last Spring, I started cooking from scratch and following recipes more often. I realized that a veggie burger didn’t have to mean something highly processed, found in a box in the frozen section of the supermarket and meant to resemble the carnivorous BBQ favourite.

With my eyes wide open to this brave new world, I started experimenting with various vegetables, pulses, legumes and nuts to make a plant based burger that I could make to enjoy with the family all Summer long. This Crispy Chickpea and Spinach Burger might just be my go to for 2016 cottage weekends.

It isn’t too far off from a falafel, but the spinach make it something different from this classic Middle Eastern dish, as does the way it’s cooked.

The following recipe made 12 medium sized patties. They were enjoyed by vegan, vegetarian and meat eater alike at my table, but if you want to save them all for yourself (I wouldn’t blame you) they freeze well and can be thawed individually and tossed on the BBQ.

Happy Eating!

ChickpeaBurgers01Ingredients –
2 tbsp Chia Seed
6 tbsp Water
4 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 sml Cooking Onion
5 cloves Garlic, pressed
3 cups Spinach, chopped small
2 Cans Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cumin
2 sml Avocados

Directions –
1. To prepare chia seed mixture, add chia seeds to water and set aside. After 5 minutes whisk until mixture becomes gelatinous
2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil and cook onions and 3 garlic cloves until translucent – about 5 minutes
3. Add spinach, turmeric, cumin, and continue cooking – about 3-5 minutes – turn off heat and set pan aside
4. In a food processor or high speed blender, pulse the chickpeas until mostly smooth, leaving about 1/3 in a chunky texture
5. Add chickpeas to saute pan with vegetables and mix to deglaze and combine before transferring to a large bowl
6. Add in chia seed mixture and fold
7. Shape mixture into burger form and place on parchment lined baking sheets
8. Create your garlic topping by combining the 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 cloves pressed garlic – then use this to spoon a dollop on top of each burger and spread to coat
9. Place in preheated oven (350°F) and bake for 10 minutes
10. Remove from oven and flip burgers before returning to oven for an additional 15 minutes
11. Turn oven to broil and finish cooking to create a golden brown topping.
12. Place burger directly on a plate, or add to the bun of your choice, and top with mashed avocado.

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