Move Over Butter Chicken…

…I have a new love now! And it’s name is Dal Tadka.

Butter ChickenI fell in love with Indian food not long after I fell in love with my husband 25 years ago. One of our favourites over the years has been butter chicken with basmati rice and naan bread. Well, now that I am no longer eating meat, the butter chicken is out. However, that has just given me a new avenue of Indian food to not only explore but also to fall in love with.

And it all has to do with the wonderfully humble and oh-so-delicious lentil.

Dal TadkaI wrote a blog post about month ago waxing poetic about My New BFF (also known as my slow cooker). I have had amazing success with yummy vegan creations and my latest favourite is Dal Tadka which just-so-happens to be bubbling away in my Crock Pot as I write.

As with all my recipes, I have tried this one a few times before sharing, and have made some tweaks to the recipe. I have pulled this recipe from about six or so that I liked and have combined the aspects I find appealing. The thing I love about this recipe, which I had never done before, is the tempering process; heating coconut oil to a very high heat and sautéing garlic, chile, and spices to make a delicious and fragrant finish toward the end of the cooking time.

The first time I tried this recipe I felt it was lacking in the creaminess I was looking for so I stirred in a can of full-fat coconut milk and the result was a creamy, yummy and delicious lentil stew.

Here’s the recipe. I double it so I can eat it for days. This version is the single recipe.

Enjoy! 🙂

Dal Tadka (Tempered Lentils)

Ingredients:

1½ cups yellow split lentils or toor lentils

4C spring Water

½ a medium onion, finely chopped

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
(I used 1 28oz tin organic diced tomatoes)

4 cloves or 2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

Juice of half lemon

Tempering ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 clove or ½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 whole Serrano pepper

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon coriander powder

¼ teaspoon chili powder

Finishing Touches:

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 can organic coconut milk (full fat)

Wash the lentils and add the 4 cups of water to them in a slow cooker insert. Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric powder and salt to the lentils. Cover and let it cook on low for 5 hours. Check if the lentils are almost done; you will feel a slight bite to them.

Have all the tempering ingredients ready. Heat coconut oil in a pan on a stovetop till it shimmers (should be hot). Turn off the heat. To this hot oil, add the cumin seeds, garlic, Serrano pepper and dry spices. Everything should sizzle in the pan. (Watch out for splattering spices during this process.)

Stir this tempering into the hot dal in the slow cooker. Add cilantro leaves and the can of coconut milk. Turn the slow cooker to high and let the dal cook for another hour, which allows the flavors to blend.

Serve over hot basmati rice.

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Dinner of Champions

Red PepperWhile my family has been doing the Saturday thing; hockey, running, working, playing with friends and hanging out, I have been stretched out on the couch watching back-to-back movies and doing my best to recuperate from my bout of pneumonia.

At this moment, Simon is out with the boys for chicken wings and the first period of the Leafs game at our local pub.

And, what, I am thinking to myself, can I scrounge up for my dinner?

Raw CashewsThere is just nothing that I love more than a crisp, cold red pepper and, fortunately for me, I made a batch of Cashew Cheese last week before I got sick. Cashew Cheese is one of the yummiest raw snacks I have discovered in the past few years. It is savoury, creamy and just downright delicious with any cracker or crunchy veggie. And so, between the red pepper and the Cashew Cheese, I have found the perfect dinner.

As I settle in to enjoy yet another movie, I am compelled to share my recipe. Don’t forget to soak your raw cashews for at least three hours before whipping together this yummy snack.

Enjoy! 🙂

Cashew Cheese 

– 190 grams (1 1/2 cups) raw cashew nuts (not roasted or salted)
– 60 ml (1/4 cup) water
– 2 tablespoons dry white wine (optional; substitute water if preferred)
– 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
– 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
– 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– freshly ground pepper

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Place the nuts in a salad bowl, cover with fresh water, and let stand for 3 hours.

Drain the nuts and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and the rest of the ingredients, and mix until thoroughly puréed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add a little more water if necessary and blend again to adjust the consistency; the cheese will get a little more solid as it sets.

Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

My New BFF

I have fallen head-over-heels for my Crock Pot!

I know, I know, not very sexy, right?!?

Crock PotWrong!

There is just something so wonderful about throwing all kinds of fresh and yummy ingredients into my Crock Pot in the morning and having dinner perfectly cooked for me eight hours later.

My Crock Pot relationship has always been tepid at best. However, we have really ‘turned up the heat’ since I started experimenting with vegan cooking. At the moment, I have a quinoa and red lentil stew slowly bubbling away on my counter and filling the house with a mouth-watering aroma.

Just gotta share my recipe.

As with all my recipes, I have combined a few to come up with this version. I am still tweaking so this might not be the final version but I couldn’t wait to share. I like to serve it on a bed of chopped raw kale.

Enjoy! 🙂

Crock Pot Quinoa Red Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw quinoa
  • 1C cup raw small red lentils (masoor dhal)
  • 2 med onions
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1” piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 6 cups water or unsalted soup stock
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • ½ head fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. gr cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste and fresh ground black pepper

Crockpot Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and red lentils in a bowl or pan, then drain into a colander and, when drained, add to Crock Pot
  2. Peel the carrots, slice lengthwise, then slice in chunky pieces
  3. Chop the onions
  4. Cut the cauliflower into large chunks – these will break up into smaller pieces as they cook
  5. Combine quinoa, lentils, herbs & spices and fresh ginger in the crockpot
  6. Add all the vegetables and cover with the 6 cups water or stock
  7. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or more if needed
  8. 20 minutes before serving, turn the heat up to high and stir in optional greens (like kale, spinach or swiss chard)

Just before serving, add salt & pepper to taste and remove the bay leaf

It’s Official

Oh She Glows CookbookI am now the proud owner of, not one, but two vegan cookbooks and I just have to share.

The first one is a beautiful book called The Oh She Glows Cookbook and is full of delicious and elegant recipes like Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons or Grilled Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto. The second one is called Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week and is chock-full of yummy, funky and seriously tasty-sounding recipes like Chimichuri-Pumpkin Bowl or Nirvana Enchilada Casserole.

Isa Does ItAs much as I am loving my mostly raw/live diet, every so often I just need something hot. So, even though the humidex is currently sitting at 32 degrees Celcious,  at the moment I have a quinoa, lentil and kale stew (from the Isa book) simmering yummily on the stove and smelling delicious. I am going to serve it with roasted sweet potatoes (from the Glow cookbook).

So now I figure it’s official and I am a card-carrying vegan.

Funny how I needed the cookbooks to really be able to say that! 🙂

Time With My Guy

When I started making raw desserts three years ago, I came across a cookbook entitled; Raw Food Real World. I have a weakness for recipe books and I absolutely adore the ones that are entertaining, beautiful, and well-written. Raw Food Real World is all three and has become my bible for everything raw.

9780060793555_custom-s6-c30The first recipe I attempted from Raw Food Real World was the Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Vanilla Cream. I actually took it to a friend’s birthday party with fresh raspberries and it was a smash hit. The next recipe I attempted was the Raw Chocolate Pudding. I needed to go on YouTube to learn how to get into a young coconut and then needed to acquire a lethal-looking butcher’s knife but once I did, I was off to the races. Zachary absolutely loves this pudding and it is such a delight to see his face light up when I come home with young coconuts.

how-to-open-a-young-coconutIt is Sunday evening and Zachary and I are just about to crack into some coconuts and whip up a batch of this creamy chocolate deliciousness. And although the result of the effort is this yummy raw chocolate creation, it is really the time with my little guy that is so special.

In case you have some young coconuts lying around, I have shared the recipe below (I have adapted it with low glycemic sweeteners rather than maple syrup and agave nectar).

Happy Sunday!

Raw Chocolate Pudding

(based on recipe from Raw Food Real World by Kenney & Melngailis)

2 C Coconut Meat
¾ C Coconut Water, at room temperature
½ C Coconut Nectar
½ C Xylitol
½ C Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
¼ Tsp Sea Salt

In a Vita Mix or high-speed blender, puree all ingredients until completely smooth, stopping to scrape sides as necessary. Transfer to bowls and chill for a firmer pudding, or eat it straightaway. Try this with raspberries and fresh mint, or chopped nuts.

The Great Pumpkin

I would be hard-pressed to choose a favourite season. I live in the perfect climate for my tastes because I love the variety; the winter for its crisp, cold days and snow, spring for feeling of re-birth, warmth and my favourite flowers, and summer for the long days, the freedom and the fun. I am always a little sorry to see the summer come to an end and the days start to get shorter. However, the colourful leaves, the fresh air, and all the delights of fall are a rich reward.

pumpkin-patch-1Each year, when fall rolls around, I watch with delight as the beautiful orange orbs of the season grow in abundance in the farmers’ fields. And, I rub my hands in gleeful anticipation of the pumpkin feast to come; roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, raw pumpkin cheesecake and even roasted pumpkin soup.

After Halloween, when the novelty of these orange wonders wears off, I troll all the local pumpkin farmers to buy up their remaining stock at reduced prices. They look at me curiously and some shake their heads as I load pumpkin after pumpkin into the back of my van. I make no apologies for my quirky pumpkin obsession. I just smile warmly and thank them while images of roasted pumpkin seeds dance in my head all the way home.

Once the season is done and the last few sad pumpkins are rotting in the fields, I have to accept the fact that I will have to wait another year for my all-time favourite snack. But even though I can’t have the freshly roasted seeds, I can’t possibly give up pumpkin altogether, so the organic canned variety is a good substitute.

images (7)With the severely cold weather we have been having lately, I have been inspired to fill the house with the aroma of home baking. I have not done a whole lot of baking since I went GFCF almost four years ago because I do not like baking with rice flour. However, in the past few weeks, I have happily discovered that quinoa flour is a dream to bake with and I have become a bit of a quinoa queen!

My favourite quinoa cookbook ‘Quinoa 365’ has a delicious Pumpkin Bread recipe and I have adapted it so that it is not only GFCF but also free of refined sugar. It smells absolutely heavenly while it is baking and is moist and delicious. My kids love it and it has become a cold weather comfort food at tea time and in school lunches.

Now, if I could just figure out how to have fresh roasted pumpkin seeds all year long. Maybe I could ask the farmers…they already think I’m a bit nuts anyway! 🙂

Quinoa Pumpkin Bread

(Adapted from ‘Quinoa 365’ by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming)

1 ½ C Quinoa Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
¼ tsp. Salt
1/3 C Coconut Milk
½ tbsp. White Vinegar
1 ½ C Pumpkin
1/3 C Coconut Nectar
1/3 C Xylitol
¼ C Applesauce
¼ C Coconut Oil (melted)
2 Large Eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease one 2 L loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl.
In a food processor add the pumpkin, coconut nectar, Xylitol, applesauce, coconut oil and blend well.
Add half the flour mixture and half the milk and blend briefly. Scrape down the sides.
Add the other half of the flour mixture and milk and finish blending (not too long).
Bake for 55-60 minutes on the centre oven rack.

Loving the Lemon

LemonOver the past two months of blogging, I have Adored the Avocado, waxed poetic about Key Lime Love and revealed the Magic of Mince. Now, for my last blog post of 2013, I am turning my attention to my all-time favourite fruit; the zesty, wonderful and spectacularly versatile lemon.

When I first started making raw desserts three years ago, the first dessert I tackled was the Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie. I must have made that recipe dozens of times. I took it to every party, made it at the cottage and even had hungry teenagers coming to my house after school for a decadent slice (before heading off to McDonald’s…oh dear!)

It wasn’t long before I started looking at other raw dessert options and, as a die-hard-lemon-lover, the next stop on my raw dessert journey was a Raw Lemon Cheesecake. I did not have to look far to find loads of delicious and intriguing recipes. As with all my raw desserts, I experiment with and combine my favourite recipes until the recipe comes out just the way I want it to.

And this one gets rave reviews!

Microplane GraterWhen I awakened this morning to a beautiful wintry wonderland, I decided to celebrate the last day of a wonderful and prosperous 2013 with a Raw Lemon Cheesecake. Before sharing the recipe I have to share the most important, and most recently acquired, kitchen tool in my collection. It is my Microplane Gourmet grater. Zesting the lemons for this recipe has always been somewhat of a chore with my IKEA grater. Now, zesting is my favourite part because it is so easy. Sometimes I wish I needed more than three tablespoons of zest because I get carried away. If you don’t already have a Microplane in your kitchen arsenal- get one!

As I write, my Raw Lemon Cheesecake is setting patiently in my chilly refrigerator. After writing this lemon-loving post I am seriously wondering whether I might just dip into it before the Filet Mignon, Portobello mushrooms and the rich red wine. Perhaps I will lean into the age-old adage of life being short and eating dessert first.

Wishing you all a wonderful, fun and safe New Year’s Eve!New Years Eve

Raw Lemon Cheesecake

 Crust:

  • 1 cup Fine Almond Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar or Maple Syrup Powder
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Butter
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (optional)

Melt the coconut oil gently. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then slowly add the melted coconut oil. Press into a pie plate and chill for at least an hour.

Filling:

  • 3 cups raw cashews soaked for three hours
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp zest
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 3/4 cup raw coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped, pod discarded
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt

To make the cheese, blend the cashews, lemon, honey, coconut oil, vanilla/vanilla bean, and sea salt. Blend until smooth and adjust to taste. (For the best results you need to use a high speed blender!)

Pour mixture on top of the “crust” and carefully tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Best if chilled overnight.