Thursday, March 26, 2015

Brussels Sprouts

For a very long time, I would get the same impression whenever someone would mention Brussels Sprouts: stinky and disgusting.

To this time, I still think of the same story when cooking them; the story of Franklin and the Brussels Sprouts. In this episode, Franklin the turtle must eat six Brussels Sprouts if he wants to have dessert. He first tries to give one of the round green vegetables to the dog, but even the dog doesn't want it. He then hides two in his pockets -understand his shell, two in his napkin and resolves to eat the last one. Not too long ago, I would definitely refuse to eat Brussels Sprouts. Until I decided to try them cooked with some bacon. And it ended up being not as bad as I thought. Still, I was not totally won on that one. It took me a few tries but then, all of a sudden, I became addicted. I simply love them roasted in the oven. I'm almost to the point where I eat Brussels Sprouts every week !

I now learnt a great deal about this cruciferous. For example, did you know they contain excellent levels of vitamin C, vitamin K and even vitamins B ? And like broccoli, they have a level of sulforaphane, which has potential anticancer properties ! And it's only a few of their good attributes... Go Brussels Sprouts !!!

(This recipe is for one person.)

1 carrot
5 Brussels Sprouts
1 Russet potato
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. In a pan, mix all the solid ingredients cut into cubes.
3. Cook for 30 minutes, stir and put back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

You may want to cook your Brussels Sprouts separately because they don't need to cook as long as the other vegetables. But personally, I like mine to be crispy. Plus, I cut everything quite small which reduces the time of cooking. You can also enjoy the Brussels Sprouts plain with homemade sweet potato fries. Either way, it is delicious ! Enjoy what is about to become your favorite vegetable...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Cake

In the past, I heard of people who don't like chocolate. That statement always surprises me -as much as the cheese one- and people can easily read on my face my failure to understand such statement. In my mind, it is impossible not to like chocolate. Though, I do understand the dislike of dark chocolate, as I am not myself a huge fan. Chocolate is to me the comfort food par excellence. I find always handy to have a chocolate within easy reach for those moments of despondency. Therefore, chocolate cakes are on my top list.

After my previous failure at preparing a vegan bread, I was a bit skeptical about the association of the term vegan to the pastry cooking. Nevertheless, I gave it another try with this recipe found thanks to a friend of mine. Unlike the recipe for the vegan bread, this one is not calling for any substitute. It is simply a no dairy, no egg recipe. And I have to admit I am pretty happy with the result. If the cake doesn't have that sweet taste of chocolate I am really fond of, its texture is perfect. My mistake was probably to use unsweetened dark chocolate. Not being a big fan of dark chocolate, it is the only reproach this cake inspires me.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Pigut.

1 2/3 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
100 g dark chocolate
1 cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda)
3. In a pan, melt the chocolate and incorporate it to the dry ingredients.
4. Add water, olive oil, vanilla and stir until mixed.
5. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your baking pan.

Enjoy this very low calorie and healthy treat !

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quinoa Salad

My love for salads is in constant growth.

No matter what season we are in, I always find comfort in a nice salad. Warm during the cold or rainy days, cold during the hot and sunny days, it's just my definition of the perfect meal. And one of the best advantages is the fact that your imagination has barely any limit. You can throw in whatever you have in the fridge, or whatever you feel like eating. No matter what, there is always a way to eat a salad. Even when you left for a ten days trip and came back to an empty fridge.

Proof is my dinner : mix together some quinoa, frozen corn, red kidney beans -found in the pantry, and avocado -my only purchase at my return. Toss the whole thing with a delicious dressing and here you are !

I use the following dressing a lot, with a few changes here and there depending on the menu. Originally, it's a dressing for a potato salad. But, let's be honest, its use is pretty much unlimited.

1 shallot, chopped and slightly cooked (optional)
3 garlic cloves, chopped and slightly cooked (or mashed)
2 teaspoons chopped capers
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I use half Original, half Old style)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or any kind of vinegar)
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salads are such an easy and diversified meal that I have a hard time to think I'll ever get tired of it. Unlike other meals, salads are always different.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vegan Zucchini Bread.

A few weeks ago, I was wondering what to do with the organic zucchini left alone in my fridge. On another day, I would have no issue figuring it out; I absolutely love to bake a good zucchini bread and have a pretty good recipe for that purpose. The only problem is: it calls for eggs. Because being vegan is new to me, I have no idea what I'm doing and had no clue what substitutes to use for eggs. I then decided to take the easy road and searched the internet for a vegan zucchini bread.

I have to admit the whole experience was pretty much a disaster.

The loaf after baking for more than an hour was so gooey I finally decided to slice it in order to finish the baking. Of course, the result was a dry overcooked bread. And in addition, the zucchini was totally unnoticeable. Plain, the bread had no flavor at all. Thankfully, the cinnamon streusel saved it all !

Oil-Free Zucchini Loaf with Cinnamon Streusel

Adapted from Oh She Glows.

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes)
1 & 1/4 cup shredded zucchini, packed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp organic honey (or other liquid sweetener)
1 & 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
Cinnamon Streusel topping: 2 tsp non-dairy margarine/butter (I used Earth Balance), 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the flax egg and set aside. Oil a regular-sized loaf pan and then line it with parchment paper so you can easily pull out the loaf when cooled.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, powders, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and almonds).
3. In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (flax egg, shredded zucchini, lemon juice, honey, milk).
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed. Be careful not to overmix the batter as spelt flour is delicate.
5. Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Prepare the cinnamon streusel and then sprinkle on top. Bake for about 45-60 minutes at 350F or until toothpick comes out clean and the loaf gently springs back when pressed.

What do you use as a substitute for eggs ?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The story behind the blog.

I have never been very fond of veggies -or food for that matter.

When I was a kid, seating down for meals was actually my worst nightmare. If there was anything I was ready to accept as a meal, it was milk. My stubborn brain didn't want to go any farther. For a very long time, my parents had to fight to make me ingest anything. If meals were my nightmares, I might have been theirs. It even came to the point where I would easily seat for two hours in front of my lunch before my parents would give up; and yet, give up would not be the correct word: I was allowed to leave the table, but if at any time I would complain of being hungry, I would be served my so dear lunch. It went on for years. I was such a picky eater I would even eat the inside of french fries but leave the skin. And you thought your kid was a picky eater, uh ?

It took me a very long time to be attracted by food. I must have been 16 years old when I finally gained proper weight and ate normal portions. And even then, veggies were something I was afraid of. "I don't like it" became my favorite sentence, and I would dish it up without a try. You can guess the variety of my diet: almost nonexistent. Now, every time I ought to say to a kid "You can't say so if you didn't try it" -because it is the right thing to say- I smile at my boldness.

The first time I got confronted to veggies in my daily life was during my first trip to Canada. The family I lived with was very healthy oriented, and everyone knows how veggies rhymes with healthy -if it doesn't to your ears, get a check-up. The kids' snacks were mainly raw veggies with hummus. What a culture shock it was! It changed everything. Month after month, I got used to some veggies and was not reluctant anymore at trying new food.

Years after, I am now proud to say I can pretty much eat any veggies. Some my parents are even afraid of! Which takes me to my Vegan Experimentation. A month ago, a friend of mine told me she was experimenting a vegan cleanse: for 21 days, her sister, brother-in-law and herself were excluding meat and dairy from their diet. During that period of time, when I asked her if she could notice a difference, the two things I retained were the fact she felt less tired in the mornings and how her skin looked healthier. This was enough to convince me: I had to experience it for myself.

Sixteen days ago, I myself started a vegan cleanse. This really made me wanna talk about food -it has been on my mind for a while now. So here I am! On this blog, I will mainly post recipes I found online but I always change a little something here or there. It will be a way to share my passion for food with you, to help you discover great websites and delicious recipes, and also to talk about my vegan experimentation.

I hope you will enjoy it all!