Sunday, 10 May 2015

Vegan + Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Vegan? Raw? Cheesecake?! What?! It's like an oxymoron. How? You ask. Hint: there isn't any cheese. 

The last five months of my veganism exploration have brought many surprises and new discoveries about food that I hadn't considered before. One of these things being the versatility of cashews. They really are able to morph into a cheese, a cheese sauce, a creamy salad dressing, and also cheesecake. 

Bonus? Super healthy in comparison to real cheesecake and most likely cheaper!

3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw walnuts
2 medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp almond milk

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
juice from one lemon (more if you'd like it extra tangy)
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional, but this is what gives it the 'cheesy' flavour)

1 pint of strawberries, sliced thin

1. Line a loaf pan or a small cake pan (6") with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Using a food processor or blender, add all the 'crust' ingredients and pulse until it begins to stick together
3. Line the bottom of the pan with the crust mixture-- press down firmly. Place some of the sliced strawberries along the crust.
4. Using a food processor or blender, add all the 'filling' ingredients and blend until smooth-- this may take up to 5 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture over the crust and strawberries and smooth out the surface. Place in the freezer for minimum 3 hours to set.
6. Remove the cheesecake 20 minutes prior to serving and top with remaining strawberry slices.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies

Recently I've been cooking more and more vegan food at home, and am loving it. I haven't bought cheese since December… and if you're someone who knows me, you know how big of a deal that is.

Two days ago I attempted vegan baking for the first time and was extremely skeptical. It's just that I hadn't tried to make vegan cookies before so I wasn't really sure how well these would actually turn out. But in fact, they turned out great!

They are delicious… very soft, chewy and moist.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to give them a shot.


1/2 cup coconut oil (this replaces butter)
1/3 cup almond or soy milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp chia seeds (ground chia is better-- this replaces egg)
3 tbsp water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegan (dark) chocolate chips
sea salt for topping


1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-slip silicone mats and preheat oven to 350F.
2. If using chia seeds instead of ground chia, crush them using a mortar & pestle or a food processor. They may not look ground-down, but as long as you break a bunch open it should be good enough. Add the water and let sit for 5-10 minutes
      **Note: as the chia sits in the water, it will begin to form a gel that will resemble an egg-white.
3. In the meantime, with an electric mixer, mix together the coconut oil, milk, brown sugar and white sugar. Keep mixing for about 2 minutes.
4. Add in the chia mixture and vanilla, and mix well. 
5. Add in 1 cup of the flour, all of the cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
6. Add in the remaining flour and the chocolate chips and mix until just incorporated.
7. Spoon the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets (the size of cookie is your choice) & sprinkle with sea salt.
8. Stick them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
9. Remove from freezer and bake for 8-9 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet before removing and storing in an air-tight container. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Chickenless Noodle Soup

Something that many meat-eaters ask when unfamiliar with a vegetarian diet is "but what do you eat if you can't have meat??" or another common comment being "I couldn't give up all my favourite things"…Like chicken noodle soup? Well, meaties, let me tell you that you can essentially replace meat in almost any dish. You're right, it's not the same, it's different… but the dish doesn't suffer for it. With the right seasonings and spices, any meatless dish can be just as fabulous as what you're used to, if not better in some cases! If you're already vegetarian or vegan, you know this. But if you are a hardcore meat-eater (and on my blog, which is doubtful), I challenge you to try and leave it out every now and then. You might surprise yourself! And your cooking skills will only improve with added challenges.

(Original recipe from Produce on Parade)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of tofu, pressed and cubed
1 cup of pasta noodles, your choice of what kind-- I used bow-ties 

+ salt and pepper
+chopped carrot greens for garnish (just the top of your carrots!)

1. Over medium heat in a large pot, sauté oil, onion and garlic with thyme, rosemary and bay leaf until onion begins to brown
2. Add chopped carrots and celery and stir-well, let sauté for another minute or two
3. Add vegetable broth and pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes over high heat
4. Add tofu cubes and reduce heat, simmer for another 5 minutes
5. Serve soup hot and sprinkle carrot greens on top! 

Note: The tofu tastes better the longer it sits in the soup and absorbs more broth. It might be even better the next day.

Baked Mushroom + Kale Wontons

I have been meaning to experiment with some wonton wrappers for a while now. You can essentially choose your favourite combination of veggies, dice them all up and sauté them before folding them into these little cute bundles. The possibilities are nearly endless-- I was even suggesting to my roommate that you could do a very non-traditional dumpling with butternut squash, caramelized onions and goat cheese (wouldn't that be fab?) But these were also crazy delicious. Recipe below.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg of white or cremini mushrooms-- I bought mine pre-cut, and diced them up even smaller
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp of ginger, finely chopped or grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white miso (not necessary, but adds a great flavour)
1 pkg of wonton wrappers (egg roll wrappers)

1 scallion for garnish
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Saute all vegetables with oil on medium heat until nice and soft

3. Add soy sauce and miso (if using) and stir around to incorporate well (add salt & pepper if desired as well)

4. Turn off heat and remove pan. Working with one at a time, on a clean work surface lay down a single wonton wrapper (should be a square) and add a heaping spoonful of the mixture to the centre of the wrapper. To seal the wrapper, dip your fingers in water and add it along the edges, then fold any desired way.
*Note: because I wanted these to resemble dumplings, not egg-rolls, I used a large circular cookie-cutter to make my wrappers round, and then proceeded to fold them up… Click here for a tutorial from pinterest for different ways to fold them.

5. Once sealed, place the dumplings on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

6. For the dipping sauce, I simply combined soy sauce with honey. Garnish with chopped scallion.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

White Miso Sriracha Soup

This soup is insane good. All morning I've been craving something salty and savoury, so I went out on a mission to gather some ingredients to formulate something that was just that. Behold, this beautiful soup. It hit the spot and will be another recipe I make again and again. Additionally, it's vegan! If you're not vegan and feel like adding an extra je-ne-sais-quoi to it, a poached egg on top would do the trick.

This is my first time making anything with miso. If you don't know what miso is, it is a fermented soy bean paste that is used as a traditional seasoning in Japan. It's very salty and packed with flavour, so a tiny amount goes a long way. There are various kinds, but I bought a more mild version; white miso. You can also used it in stir-frys, marinades and (surprisingly) salad dressings.

2 tbsp olive oil (or sesame if you have it)
2 tbsp sriracha
1/2 white onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 inch ginger, grated or diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp diced lemongrass
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups water
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white miso
3 pkgs ramen noodles (I literally used 3 packs of mr. noodles- just discard the soup mix)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup cilantro

1. Heat oil and sriracha in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and tomato and sauté for 4 min.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and garlic powder, stir well and cook until fragrant; about 2 min.
3. Add the water and transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Transfer back to the pot.
4. Add the broth and miso, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the noodles and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the noodles are soft. Stir in the green onions.
6. Serve hot and sprinkle cilantro atop each bowl. :) Add more sriracha if you like it on the spicier side.

*Note: if you are adding a poached egg, place it on top of the finished bowl and slice open to incorporate the yolk into the soup.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lemongrass Tofu

ANOTHER amazing recipe out of my recently purchased Salad Samurai cookbook. Something awesome about this vegan recipe book is that it gives a ton of recipes in the beginning for different vegan protein salad toppers, such as bacon tempeh, maple sriracha roasted nuts, and lemongrass tofu!

This was the first time I baked tofu, and I expected it to come out of the oven much tougher and chewy than it did. I was pleasantly surprised by how tender the tofu still was, while also retaining so much flavour. This tofu is great to make to top on salads, add to sandwiches, or even a noodle or rice dish. It's the perfect combination of zesty and sweet.

Below is the (slightly) adapted recipe:

+ 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
+ 1 heaping tbsp of finely chopped lemongrass
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup
+ 3 tsp soya sauce
+ 2 tbsp lime juice
+ 2 tsp olive oil

1. Grease a large baking dish with oil and set aside.
2. Cut the pressed tofu into thin 1/4 inch slices.
3. Add lemongrass, maple syrup, soya sauce, lime juice and olive oil to the baking dish and whisk together.
4. Add the tofu to the dish and let it sit as you preheat the oven to 400*F (about 15 min)
5. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven to flip the tofu, and then return the dish to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

Voila :)

Monday, 9 February 2015

Vegan "Bacon," Kale, and Tomato Salad.

Hey guys.

So recently I've been on this let's-try-to-eat-more-vegan kick, and I have to say it's going pretty well. I tried this once before and was overcome by my withdrawal symptoms to lack of cheese. However, recently, I have made up new, less strict guidelines. I am not buying eggs or cheese or milk at home. But when I'm out, just the standard vegetarian diet applies. Another (large) exception is if I'm making birthday treats for friends (which I obviously help eat)-- those have been pretty dairy-packed.

My wonderful aunt bought be an Indigo gift card for my birthday and I decided to put it to use this weekend. I ended up purchasing a cookbook called "Salad Samurai" and I really, reaaaaally like it. So yesterday I hit up the grocery store and stocked up on some vegan basics: tempeh & cashews… and of course, liquid smoke.

If you're not familiar with liquid smoke, it is essentially a hickory smoke flavouring that is entirely vegetarian and when added to food, gives it a distinct smokey (BACON) flavour. Thus, it is a magical ingredient, as anything it touches turns to ethical & cruelty-free bacon, without all the animal fat that comes with it. I found it at a local grocery store, next to the barbecue sauce. If you can't find it there, it is available on amazon.

It took some time to decide which salad to make first, but the BKT (bacon kale tomato) looked like a good one to start with, and I switched it up a bit and made her cashew ranch dressing and smokey sriracha nuts. I made a few more changes to the recipes, making a couple substitutions for what I had on hand, so this is not the EXACT recipe from the book-- but pretty close.

The most difficult part of making this whole thing is just the trekking out for ingredients you may not have on hand, especially if you are a meat-eater. But I hope that you find it enticing enough to seek them out anyways. You will notice that several recipes go into this salad; dressing, nuts, tempeh, and then the salad assembly itself. Don't feel like it's a lot-- you can do several steps at once and the whole salad shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes.

"Back at the Ranch" Dressing
+ 1/2 cup unroasted cashews
+ 3/4 cup hot water
+ 1 tbsp olive oil
+ 1 clove garlic, peeled
+ 2 tsps soy sauce (originally calls for tamari)
+ 2 tsp dijon mustard
+ 1 tsp garlic powder
+ 1 tsp onion powder
+ 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, tarragon, parsley, cilantro (I used dill & parsley)

1. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes. Then pour them into a blender (including the water) and blend until very smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Chill in a tightly covered container until ready to use, or at least 20 minutes for the flavours to blend.

Sriracha & Smoke Pecans (I used almonds, though!)
+ 1 1/2 cups raw nuts
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
+ 1 heaping tbsp sriracha
+ 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
+ 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. In a pan or casserole dish, combine nuts, syrup, sriracha and liquid smoke. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt

2. Roast nuts for 16-18 min, stirring occasionally until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil and if necessary, use a fork to break them apart.

Tempeh Bacon Bites (I halved this recipe)
+ 8 ounces tempeh
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup
+ 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
+ 1 tbsp ketchup
+ 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I just used olive)
+ 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
+ olive oil, for pan frying

1. Slice tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces.

2. In a baking dish, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the tempeh bits and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, or cover and chill overnight.

3. Fry the tempeh over medium heat, ensuring they are in a single layer. Cook until browned on one side, and them flip them (I let mine get really dark). After it is browned on both sides, pour the leftover marinade over it and simmer until it is absorbed.

BKT Salad!
+ 1 bunch kale (any kind)
+ cherry tomatoes (desired amount)
+ about half a red onion, diced
+ "Back at the ranch" dressing (about half of the recipe)
+ Sriracha & smoke pecans (about half of the recipe)
+ Tempeh Bacon Bites (about half of the recipe)

1. Wash the kale and remove the hard stems with a knife. Chop the kale into ribbons and add to a bowl.

2. Add the tomatoes and onion and dressing. Toss with your hands to coat.

3. Serve with nuts and tempeh bacon bites scattered on top.