Category Archives: Veganize It

Vegan Good Things: By Popular Demand: Coconut Bacon!

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I don’t know about you, but none of the commercial “faux bacon” does a damn thing for me , but his stuff on the other hand is amazing and satisfying as a bacon substitute.  I also enjoy making my own faux bacon bits using TVP and liquid smoke etc. I find actual bacon to be pretty revolting these days, but sometimes a dish or a craving really does benefit from the salty, smokey flavour profile which these faux bacons provide. Nothing beats cruelty-free and healthier options for old favourites, like my Grandma’s Ukrainian Chinese Food recipe (weird family favourite which formerly involved fried white rice made with egg, bacon and diced dill pickles, which I’ve now veganised using brown rice, organic smoked tofu, coconut bacon and dill pickles. I’ll post the basic recipe soon for those of you who are brave enough or curious enough to try it)

Vegan Good Things: By Popular Demand: Coconut Bacon!. (original article)

A couple notes about this recipe first – the original recipe says to bake it at 400, until it gets crisp. It doesn’t say how long it will take to get crisp. A few other people who made it advised baking it at 400 for up to 30 minutes. I will tell you that the first batch I made, I put it in the oven at 400 and in 10 minutes it was burnt to a crisp. I don’t think that baking pan will ever recover. So I’m printing the recipe below with the time and temperature that I used for my second batch, which came out successfully. If anything, the next time I make it, I might bake it at an even lower temperature, for a longer period of time. My suggestion for you is to just check it every 5-10 minutes or so to make sure it’s not burning, and take it out of the oven when it is just crisp. It will continue to crisp as it cools.

Many of my twitter followers have been requesting this recipe, and I am very excited to share it with you, so without further ado:

Coconut Bacon
makes about 3 cups (enough for 4 – 6 sandwiches, depending on how big you make ’em)

3 large handfuls of large flake, unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. tamari
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional, but recommended)

Preheat oven to 300. Place coconut in a shallow baking pan. Combine other ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over coconut. Use your hands to mix and make sure the coconut is evenly coated. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, or until crisp. It will continue to crisp as it cools, and is best eaten at room temperature.

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My Creamy Dill and Chickpea Half-Pasta Salad (low fat vegan).

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My creamy chickpea half pasta salad.

My creamy chickpea half pasta salad.

I “invented” this great dish which I call “Half-Pasta Salad” a couple of years back, when I started being more aware of what I eat. I call this “Half-Pasta Salad” because it’s quite literally half pasta, and half salad. I used to serve this with a mayo-based dressing, but now that I’m more cautious about the amount of oil/fat I consume I invented this terrific chickpea based creamy dressing. The dressing is really easy to adapt to your own needs and tweaking the herbs etc is a great way to make this a more flexible, appealing dish. I also love this dressing as a sandwich spread, veggie dip etc.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup cooked chick peas
  • rice wine vinegar or lemon juice (enough to ensure the chickpeas blend nicely – adjust amounts for taste and texture)
  • a splash of oil if you wish
  • tamari to taste
  • 1 tbsp grainy or dill Dijon
  • 1 clove or more fresh garlic
  • fresh or dried dill
  • freshly ground pepper to taste (I like the blend of pink, white and black peppercorns)
  1. Chop garlic into smallish pieces
  2. Toss all ingredients into your blender and blend until it creates a sauce with a creamy sort of mayonnaise-like consistancy
  3. Set aside.

Salad:

  1. Chop 4 cups of your favourite veggies into small pieces. Place in a bowl with 1-2 cups chickpeas .
  2. Mix dressing into the bowl with the veggies and set aside
  3. Cook 4 cups of your favourite pasta , drain and cool completely under cold water.
  4. Mix the cooked and drained cool pasta into the bowl with your veggies, chickpeas and dressing
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Note: If you are not serving this salad immediately after making it, give it a good stir prior to serving to “re-activate” the creamy texture.

Crispy Baked Tofu

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crispytofu

I love tofu and I try to eat it between one and three times per week. There is a fair amount of anti-soy hype, which much like the anti-gluten hype, I mainly just ignore. I believe in listening to how our individual bodies respond to what we feed them and following that “internal advice” first and foremost in all things. Of course, I do read assorted health and nutritional studies, and I am very careful to buy non-gmo and organic as much as possible.

I’ve been eating tofu since I was 16 and have found a ton of really satisfying ways to prepare it. This crispy baked version is one of my favourites. I used to use an egg bath prior to applying the coating, but eggs aren’t something I consume anymore, and I now use a chickpea batter in their place.

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Marinaded tofu, chickpea bath, breading mixture.

Marinade:

  • Vegan BBQ Sauce, teryaki or other sauce you enjoy
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Agave Nectar
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Liquid smoke (optional, but delicious)
  • Water
  • Any other flavours which appeal to you (be creative, it’s your mouth that’s going to be eating this)

How to Marinade:

  1. Cut some pressed tofu (pressed under a heavy object for 20 minutes to remove extra water) into slices, cubes, triangles or whatever shape most appeals to you, then place in a container with a lid.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together until they reach a flavour profile and texture which appeals to you.
  3. Pour the marinade over your pressed tofu and leave marinade for a minimum of twenty  minutes (I usually marinade overnight)

Coating:

  • Chickpea flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Cornmeal (optional)
  • Brown rice flour (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasonings/herbs
  • Water

How to Make the Chickpea Bath:

  1. Add chickpea flour to one cup of water  and whisk until it is the consistency of runny pancake batter or whisked egg. This usually takes about 1/8 of a cup of the chickpea flour, but it’s really an intuitive process and you should be able to tell by feel how you’re doing.
  2. Add any seasonings you with to the bath (I used a touch of sea salt and a touch of Chinese Five Spice in mine).
  3. Set aside.

How to Make the Breading Mixture:

  1. Add equal parts of wholewheat flour, and bread crumbs to a bowl, mix in  your cornmeal and brown rice flour if you’re using them.
  2. Add any seasonings you wish. I just added some fresh ground pepper and a touch of sea salt.
  3. Pour well mixed ingredients onto a plate and set aside.

How to Put it all Together:

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

  1. Drain tofu of marinade.
  2. Dip each tofu piece into the chickpea bath, shake off excess bath.
  3. Dip and roll each piece in your breading mixture.
  4. Place pieces one by one onto cookie sheet.
  5. Spray each piece with a fine mist of cooking spray or oil (I have a refillable oil misting bottle).
  6. Cook in oven 15 minutes, turn over, spray again then repeat cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

As you can see, my cooking process is usually quite intuitive, which makes recipes hard to share, but once you figure out the basic techniques, there is so much fun to be had with creating new meals.

I served this with brown rice steamed with both dried and fresh diced mushrooms, a vinegar marinaded cucumber salad (marinade is 1/8 c rice vinegar, a splash of agave, a touch of sea-salt, 1 cup water and a bunch of dill), and a pile of stir-fried carrots and zucchini. A very simple but very satisfying meal on a summer day. Tofu prepared this way is reminiscent of baked chicken, without the cruelty and cholesterol.

Tofu is rapidly becoming one of the things I cook which my mom looks forward to trying. A year ago she would run the other way if I told her I was serving tofu.

Cookies and Beads (these are a few of my favourite things)

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milletpbcookie

Crispy Cookies.

So, the Black rice pudding was a terrible disaster. The flavour was nice, but the texture and I do not like one another. I did however make some really kick ass cookies that day, and I’ve decided to share the recipe here as it’s a really good one.

I decided to try these because I had a bag of quinoa flour kicking around and I really want to use it up while it’s still fresh. Truthfully, I HATE quinoa (I’m trying to learn to like it due to it’s nutritional profile, but it generally just tastes weird to me). These cookies, taste nothing like quinoa, and I veganized them for you (and me, and the animals).

I found the recipe here: quinoa.com


Double Crunch Peanut Butter-Quinoa Cookies

Sift together:
1 1/4 cups Norquin Brand Quinoa Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream Together:
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening(substitute vegan shortening or margarine)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp toasted Norquin Brand Quinoa grain

Blend In:
1 egg(substitute 1 flax or chia egg for this)

Stir in dry ingredients. Shape into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Press ½ inch thick with floured fork. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Originally Submitted by: Ms. Dianne Hilton

Other than cookie baking:

I’ve been doing some beadwork and studying to get my learner’s license. I do have plans with a friend to go hiking in the coulees down by the river bottom later this week, and of course we’re putting in our garden over the weekend. We picked up our seedlings and bedding out plants a few days ago. My strawberries made it through the winter and are showing off the first of their leaves. I’m excited to see if they fruit this year, as I got them too late in the season for a harvest last year.

The Black Rice Experiment.

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I don’t know about any of you, but I have a tendency to grab unusual grains, noodles and so forth from the Asian Market when I go shopping. On one of my more recent excursions I picked up a massive bag of “glutinous black rice” thinking that it might be a really good whole grain rice to make sushi with.

The sushi experiment was an utter disaster due to the fact that the rice is quite sweet and much more glutinous than I was expecting. So, I now have a lot of this rice, and really have no idea what to use it for other than as a breakfast grain. So, I’m going to do some research (in this case I’ll be posting my research and, later the resulting dish/es) and figure out how to use this baffling, but very nourishing grain.

According to http://www.blackrice.com :

What is Black Rice exactly?

‘Black Rice’ is actually more purplish in color than black; although when uncooked it is very dark in appearance. This type of rice is usually sold ‘un-milled’, with the husk intact. Up until modern times, Black Rice was not easy to come by; it had been highly treasured and protected in Asia for many centuries. It is also commonly used as a condiment, dressing, or as a decoration for different types of desserts in many countries around the world.High in nutritional value, black rice is rich in iron and high in fiber.

According to http://www.cnn.com :

Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. But only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, purple and reddish pigments — also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai — that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.

So, as you can see black rice has some pretty distinct nutritional benifts and it’s well worth learning how to prepare it and integrate it into one’s diet. I’m sure I’ll be playing with this ingredient for a while as I think it has the potential to be used in whole grain baked goods, and a number of other unconventional applications.

My first recipe attempt will be this “Steamed Black Rice Pudding” recipe from www.netplaces.com because, frankly I have the ingredients on hand and it’s a nice, simple and tasty-sounding recipe. With my budget, it’s always best to experiment with inexpensive ingredients, before I get too fancy and wind up wasting money.

The Recipe:

Read the rest of this entry

The Problem With Low Fat Vegan Baking (and my solution).

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Recently I’ve tested a number of low-fat plant based recipes for baked goods which have just totally flopped when it came time to taste test. The really annoying part is that the description and accompanying photos in the cookbooks have been very misleading and it’s been a HUGE disappointment as they have been recipes by well-respected vegan cookbook authors and or bloggers.

Making a recipe plant-based, whole food and low fat is not enough, it also has to stand up to quality/taste tests. I’m not going to be able to encourage my friends and family to make a change toward compassionate and healthy eating habits with recipes which are only suited to being thrown away. Seriously, if a muffin isn’t good enough to sell, you shouldn’t be publishing the recipe and selling it to your fans.

My solution is simple, I’m going to take my previous experience of baking omni muffins and other baked goods six days a week for three years in a busy cappuccino bar and add some science and some research and create my own recipes. This will be a long process, but at the end of it, I should have a good collection of low fat, whole foods, plant based recipes which I will eventually publish as a cookbook.

Over the warm months this blog will mainly revolve around cold dishes as I don’t use my oven during the summer, but I will make up for that with tons of research and lots of amazing salad and smoothie ideas which I’ll share and post. I’ll also keep you all informed about my research into understanding the science behind baking and probably a lot of random stories about my weiner dog.

Life is good.