Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘vegan holiday cooking’

NEW YEAR REFLECTIONS ON VEGAN CHRISTMAS IN A NUTTY WORLD!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 2, 2013

Well, 2013 has officially begun and I’ve been considering resolutions to help make this world a healthier, happier, and more peaceful place for humans and animals and a more sustainable one for our planet. Reflecting on the past year, I realized those ideals have been my steadfast focus. They’ve enriched my life with purpose and joy and have helped others who have stopped by to visit this cozy little vegan niche. So, I’ve settled in and look forward to another fulfilling year.

Now I’m feeling a bit sentimental and want to share a smidgeon of holiday nostalgia.

Vegan Christmas – two words that may not go together in every household, but in my home, it was an exceptional holiday with tender memories to cherish. Imagine all the warm and wonderful traditional winter holiday blessings, and, then, put them all together into one special day on December 25th. Bit by bit, I baked a few batches of sweet goodies, sent invitations to friends to join us for a holiday potluck, and readied the house for a comfy crowd. I knew it would be a happy occasion, but I never imagined it would be as cozy, delicious, and nostalgic as it turned out.

I think there was a little vegan magic whirling in the air that day. My sweet hubby built a fire in the fireplace and lovingly tended it all afternoon. Coming in from the cold, our guests immediately gravitated toward the warm and cozy living room as they shed their coats and scarves.

A boldly-spiced apple cider was mulling on the kitchen stovetop ready to offer warming comfort, while the entire house became infused with a rich medley of lively aromas. The gently simmering cider was happily sharing its generous gifts of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg. Floating to the top of the cider were slices of lemon and orange contributing a subtle note of citrus. And, as if that were not enough, whole almonds and golden raisins, borrowed from my Happy New Year Glogg recipe, were also quite visible as one peered down into the large pot.

I loved seeing jolly faces stretch into big smiles as I passed the tray of apple cider. Into each of the small, glass punch cups I ladled the hot cider and included a few almonds and raisins in each glass. Within a couple of hours, that cider-filled, 12-quart stockpot was nearly empty.

When everyone’s potluck contribution was well warmed or perfectly chilled, we gathered around the table to fill our plates with a feast to boast about. There dishes too numerous to list. I will simply remember the tantalizing medley of savory, lemony, spicy, pungent, and sweet flavors that strolled across my taste buds.

Aside from making hot mulled apple cider, cookies, and confections, my contribution was an eye-appealing Tomato Pine Nut Pie with Sweet Potato and Nut Crust, a recipe from my new cookbook VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS. This is what the pie looks like:

Tomato Pine Nut Pie

The pie crust of crushed almonds, tofu, and yams makes this a unique dish and one that was enthusiastically received.

Because we were expecting about 20 people, I thought it would be best to triple the recipe and prepare it in a large rimmed baking sheet. It was the perfect amount and allowed for extra helpings.

Tomato Pine Nut Pie 1

This is what the dish looked like after it was ravished:

Tomato Nut Pie Leftovers

While assembling the pie, I realized this is not a dish that’s just for Christmas. It’s a charming recipe that can be enjoyed year round because the ingredients are readily available no matter what season. During summer, when green tomatoes are available at the farmstand, they can be substituted for ripe ones or intermixed, creating an appealing red and green theme.

This is one honey of a make-ahead dish, even up to two days ahead. To serve, remove the dish from the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, and warm in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and enjoy.

TOMATO-PINE NUT PIE WITH SWEET POTATO AND NUT CRUST

Melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out for the festivities, this attractive Italian-inspired dish makes an ideal savory dinner pie with a unique crust.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 6 servings

Crust
12 ounces sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2/3 cup mashed tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Light oil a 9-inch pie pan.

2. To make the crust, put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.

3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.

4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 -inch higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

Filling
2 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan (recipe below) or prepared vegan Parmesan
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
4 to 5 large red or green tomatoes, seeded and sliced.

1. To make the filling, put the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan in individual bowls. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate.

2. Cover the bottom of the crust with one layer of eggplant slices. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy). Reserve remaining eggplant for another use. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.

3. Dredge one-third of the tomato slices in the cornstarch. Arrange the dredged tomato slices over the eggplant, filling all the spaces with small bits of tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one third each of the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan over the tomatoes. Repeat the process to make three layers.

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Note: If using green tomatoes, the pie might have to hake another 15 minutes.

HOMEMADE PARMESAN
Often I’ve come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of holiday or everyday dishes.

1 cup almonds
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid overprocessing or it will turn into almond butter.)

2. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.

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Posted in almonds, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, pine nuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

DISCOVER THE MAGIC OF CHESTNUTS

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on November 13, 2012

Once you’ve tasted fresh chestnuts, you’ll agree they have no equal. Chestnuts stand apart from any other nut, yet they are part of the same family of tree nuts as almonds and walnuts. From their natural sweetness to their soft, potato-like texture, these treasures of the autumn season enhance all dishes with unmatched flavor richness.

What makes them so extra special is their limited availability. Chestnuts grown in the U.S. are available only from October through January, though some growers sell out earlier.

Asian markets that import fresh chestnuts from China and other Asian regions have them available throughout the spring.

For instructions on cooking and peeling chestnuts, see these earlier post at:

Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts

Peeling and Cooking Chestnuts Step-by-Step

Here are some handy, time-saving chestnut measurements:

A 15-ounce jar of cooked, peeled chestnuts contains about 2 1/2 cups.

One pound of fresh chestnuts in the shell will make about 2 1/2 cups peeled cooked chestnuts.

SEE ONLINE CHESTNUT RESOURCES BELOW.

Following are some delectable chestnut recipes for the festive holidays ahead. The recipes are from my new cookbook Vegan for the Holidays. The last recipe. Fresh Chestnut Soup, is from my first cookbook, The Nut Gourmet.

GARLICKY CHESTNUT BUTTER

With the addition of a bit of kitchen sorcery and a whirl in the food processor, naturally sweet and starchy chestnuts become transformed into an irresistible creamy spread that stands out on any variety of bread, bagel, or cracker. Consider this buttery spread as a tasty accompaniment to any savory dish, and use as you would a relish or a spread on your favorite bread or rolls.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup water, divided
1 1/4 cups cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 sprig parsley, for garnish

1. Cook and stir the onion, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup of the water in a medium skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the chestnuts, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of water. Process for 1 or 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the parsley if desired.

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CHESTNUT-SMOTHERED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Brussels sprouts and chestnuts may seem like the ultimate cliché of trendy holiday foods, but not so this tasty version that turns Brussels sprouts haters into devoted converts. The plan-ahead host may want to blanch the Brussels sprouts the day before for convenience.

Yield: 12 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
24 cooked and peeled chestnuts, diced, or 1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
6 pimiento-stuffed green olives, minced
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish

1. Combine the Brussels sprouts, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes over high heat, or until the onions are very soft and the tomatoes begin to break down. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
2. Add the chestnuts, garlic powder, onion powder, and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Spoon into a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the green onion if desired.

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UPBEET CHESTNUTTY POTATO SALAD

What makes this salad a delightful departure from standard potato salad is the medley of sweet yams, sweet chestnuts, and sweet beets laced with a tart touch of lemon juice and vinegar. For convenience, purchase the jarred or vacuum-packed cooked, peeled chestnuts. If you’re not a fan of chestnuts, you can eliminate them or substitute with one cup of lightly steamed sliced carrots and still enjoy this delicious salad.

Yield: 6 servings

4 medium white or red Rose potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large beets, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1 cup cooked and peeled chestnuts, quartered, or lightly steamed sliced carrots
4 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Fresh sprigs herbs for garnish

1. Put the potatoes, yams, and beets in separate saucepans and add enough water to cover them. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes and beets are just tender when pierced with a fork. The potatoes will cook in about 5 to 7 minutes. The beets will take about 25 to 35 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Line a plate with three layers of paper towels and transfer the beets to the plate. Use extra paper towels to pat the beets dry.
3. Add the beets, chestnuts, green onions, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the salad to an attractive serving dish and garnish with a few sprigs of herbs, if desired.

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WILD RICE AND CHESTNUT PILAF

Chestnuts are the definitive sweet infusion that makes this earthy pilaf so special, while exotic spices help transform it into a vibrant side dish.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3 1/4 cups water
1 cup wild rice
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts, or coarsely chopped raw or roasted
walnuts
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Combine 3 cups of the water, wild rice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the water is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, combine the onion, tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 cup water, curry powder to taste, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, and garam masala in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion and tomatoes are softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
3. Drain any excess liquid from the rice and add the rice and chestnuts to the tomato mixture. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Spoon the pilaf into a serving bowl and garnish with the green onion and parsley if desired.

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SAVORY CHESTNUT AND FRUIT STUFFING

This sumptuous stuffing, replete with chestnuts, is so fruity and ravishing, it makes a delicious meal by itself. Enjoy it as a side dish or use it to stuff acorn, butternut, or delicata squash.

Yield: 12 to 15 hearty servings

2 cups water
2/3 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

8 cups whole wheat bread cubes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 large sweet onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped

2 large apples, cored and chopped
1 1/4 cups chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts, or pecans, or walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (preferably Turkish)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons white miso

Garnishes
1/4 bunch parsley
3 tangerine wedges or Fuyu persimmon slices
3 fresh cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the water, barley, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the barley is tender and all the water is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, place the bread cubes on a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until dry. Transfer the bread cubes to an extra-large bowl.

4. Add the vegetable broth to the bread cubes and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the bread cubes are broken down into a coarse meal. Set aside.

5. Combine the onion and celery in a large, deep skillet and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Cook and stir for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and translucent. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes.

6. Add the apples, chestnuts, raisins, cranberries, apricots, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and mix well.

7. Thin the miso with about 3 tablespoons of water, add it to the stuffing mixture and combine well to distribute it evenly. Adjust the seasonings.

8. Spoon the stuffing into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a light crust forms on the top.

9. To serve, garnish one corner of the pan with parsley and artfully nestle the tangerine wedges and cranberries into the parsley if desired.

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FRESH CHESTNUT SOUP

While this unique, tantalizing soup is cooking, it sends waves of beckoning aromas so irresistible it just may become a holiday tradition at your house. For the best flavor, prepare the soup a day ahead, giving it plenty of time for the seasonings to fully develop. To reheat the soup, warm it gently over medium heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

3 1/4 cups water
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile, minced

2 quarts unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/4 pounds fresh chestnuts in the shall, cooked and peeled or 1 (15-ounce) jar cooked
chestnuts

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the water with the carrots, onion, celery, and chile in a large deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.

2. Combine the soymilk, nutritional yeast, salt, nutmeg, and tarragon in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

3. Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and stir to make a thin paste. Add to the simmering soymilk and stir for 1 minute until it is well dissolved and the soup is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

4. Combine three-quarters of the cooked vegetable mixture, three-quarters of the prepared chestnuts, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups water in the food processor and process until smooth. Add to the soup along with the remaining cooked vegetables.

5. Chop the remaining chestnuts and add them to the soup. Heat gently to warm through and blend the flavors. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of the chives and serve.

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Chestnut Resources

Allen Creek Farm Chestnuts

Correia Chestnut Farm

Empire Chestnut Company

Girolami Farms Chestnuts

Posted in Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Side Dishes, Soups | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

POMEGRANATE – AN AUTUMN TREAT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 28, 2012

When I was a child, I used to think pomegranates were magical. Their neatly ordered, tightly clustered seeds and amazing sweet-tart flavor always intrigued me, and I loved the flavor with my first taste. I have never fallen out of love with those divinely bright red, mystical fruits and always wait with anticipation for autumn to come and ripen the pomegranates hanging from my neighbor’s tree.

It’s ironic that I have a neighbor who doesn’t like the fruit but has a beautiful and very prolific pomegranate tree in his yard. Luckily, he knows I adore them and is happy to see the pomegranates leave his care for a better home.

I put them right to work and they’ve magically turned up in four of the recipes in my new cookbook, Vegan for theHolidays that features so many foods that are special to the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

In the recipe below, the “magical fruit” meets up with other bold flavors and delivers a lively autumn salad that works perfectly as a side dish on the holiday table.

POMEGRANATE-APPLE SALAD WITH GINGER AND MINT

Yield: 6 servings

1 large pomegranate
2 sweet, crisp apples, unpeeled, chopped
8 ounces edamame, cooked and shelled
1 navel orange, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 heaping teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

1. Cut the pomegranate into quarters. Carefully remove the seeds with your fingers. Put the seeds in a large bowl.

2. Add the apples, edamame, orange, maple syrup, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, ginger, and salt and toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.

3. Add half the mint leaves and mix well. Garnish the top of the salad with the remaining mint leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve the salad within 2 hours.

Posted in Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

POTATO SOUP FOR THE QUEEN’S TASTE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 26, 2012

A simple homemade potato soup is a long-time family favorite in my home. But sometimes I just want to step outside the box and explore creative ways to serve the same delicious favorite with a bit of a tweak to give it a fresh lift. With the addition of a few root vegetables and spoonful or two of some lively seasonings, the sleepy little potato wakes up fully refreshed and ready to impress everyone who pokes a curious finger into the soup pot.

And if the Queen wants to step into the kitchen for a taste, I will welcome her with a curtsy and hand her my one and only silver spoon.

Of course, I know that’s not likely to happen, but it was a fun thought to imagine what I might do if a royal figure dropped in while I was cooking up something so tasty it would evoke an enthusiastic response. More likely is that it’s just a great idea to have a flavorful pot of soup on hand during the busy holiday season that’s just ahead. We’re often so busy we don’t have time to spend preparing fussy meals. That’s when a nourishing, flavor-infused, homemade soup is so welcome and so satisfying.

ROOT FOR POTATO SOUP

Yield: 6 servings

2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large turnip, peeled and diced
1 head garlic, minced or crushed
5 to 7 cups water, divided

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne

Garnish
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts
Ground sumac or paprika

1. Combine the carrots, onions, parsnip, turnip, garlic, and 2 cups of the water in an 8 to 10-quart stockpot. Cook and stir over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add increments of 1/4 to 1/2 cups water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning.

2. Add the potatoes and the remaining 5 cups of water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 to 2 cups of the potatoes and vegetables to a small bowl. Using an immersion blender in the stockpot or a regular blender, process the soup until it becomes a smooth, creamy puree. Then, return the chunky vegetables to the soup pot.
4. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and ground sumac.

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MOUTH-WATERING MAIN DISHES FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 6, 2012

Guest host Kathy Hester brings scrumptious slow cooker main dishes to the Thanksgiving table that can be prepared without last minute stress. Kathy blogs at The Healthy Slow Cooker where you can find tasty, from-scratch recipes and helpful advice on choosing just the right slow cooker for you. Kathy is the author of The Vegan Slow Cooker Book and when she’s not cooking, she develops recipes and does free-lance writing for several blogs like One Green Planet as well as magazines. Look for her new, not yet published cookbook The Great Vegan Bean Book.
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Every family seems to have a special recipe for sweet potato casserole. This one is less sweet than the sticky sweet casserole of my youth. It skips the caramel and marshmallow sometimes included. You could add vegan versions of both in if you really want to. After all, any day is a holiday when you get to eat sweet potato casserole!

HOLIDAY SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

8 large sweet potatoes, cut in chunks
1 1/2 (355 ml) cups water
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 top 120 ml)non-dairy milk (plain or vanilla)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
pinch ground cloves

topping:

2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan margarine
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (170 g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (30 g) whole wheat flour (*use gluten-free flour instead)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) non-dairy milk or water
1/2 cup (55 g) pecans, chopped

The night before: Cut sweet potatoes. Make the topping by combining the ingredients and mixing thoroughly. Store topping and sweet potatoes in fridge overnight. Chop pecans and store in a covered bowl, unrefrigerated, overnight.

In the morning: Add sweet potatoes and water to an oiled crock. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.

30 to 45 minutes before serving: Turn slow cooker to high. Mash sweet potatoes in crock. Add spices and part of the non-dairy milk. Add the rest of the milk if the potatoes are still too stiff, but leave out if they are runny. Drop spoonfuls of pre-mixed topping. As the topping begins to melt, spread with the back of a spoon across the top to make it more even.

Serve once the topping is melted and the dish is heated throughout.

Yields: 8 servings
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 6 to 8 hours
Soy-free, gluten-free

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I seem to be on a streak of ugly but packed-full of flavor recipes this month.

I guess the veggies that are available in January aren’t quite as flashy as some of the summer ones. That, and well, stews aren’t always pretty – but you can’t beat a one dish meal for an easy dinner.

In my next incarnation, I think I’ll add a handful or two of chopped greens to shake things up a bit.

You can really add any veggies you have on hand, too. I’m all about options and using what you have on hand. Yellow lentils instead of red, potato in place of turnip, and even carrot would all work just as good as the listed ingredients.

SLOW COOKER INDIAN SPICED CHICKPEA QUINOA STEW
gluten-free, soy-free

serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup peeled turnip, chopped
1 cup sweet potato, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped (about 1 stalk)
1 tablespoon not-chicken bouillon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt, to taste

The night before: Chop veggies and store in the fridge.

In the morning: Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 to 9 hours. Taste, re-season if needed (you may not even need the salt if your bouillon is salty.)

This is a good one to make if you are going to be away from the house a little longer than usual. If your slow cooker runs hot add a little extra water if it will be cooking longer than 9 hours.

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Guest Host Carrie Forrest is a graduate student in public health nutrition and the author of the blog Carrie on Vegan. Through her writings, step-by-step photo guides and recipes, Carrie inspires readers to prepare plant-based recipes that are 100% delicious. Carrie firmly believes that superior health is achievable through nutritional excellence and specializes in whole-food, simple recipes that are low in added fats, sugars and salt.
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BUTTERNUT HARVEST STEW

I think fall might be my favorite season. I love the coolness in the air and the transition to warmer clothes. As a homebody, I like the shorter days that force me indoors to cook, read books or just cozy up to the fireplace. What I love most of all about fall is the introduction of fall fruits and vegetables, and butternut squash heads the list. Tips: If you cannot find pumpkin pie spice, use ground cinnamon instead. A medium butternut squash will weigh 2 to 3 pounds.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash

1 large onion

1 cup button mushrooms

4 cloves garlic

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon no-salt seasoning

1 tablespoon dried oregano

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1½ cups cooked or canned cannellini beans

Vegan Cream Sauce

Directions:
1. Peel, seed, and cube squash.

2. Chop onion. Slice mushrooms. Mince garlic.

3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Add garlic, pumpkin pie spice, no-salt seasoning, and oregano. Stir in butternut squash and vegetable broth. Add water if necessary to cover vegetables.

4. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

5. Rinse and drain beans. Stir into soup and cook just long enough to heat through. Remove from heat. Using a hand immersion blender, process stew to desired consistency. Stir in Vegan Cream Sauce and serve hot.

Non-Dairy Cream Sauce

This sauce is the equivalent of heavy cream and can be stirred into savory soups and stews to add richness and flavor. I love using it in my Harvest Butternut Stew. Tip: I use soy milk in this recipe for an extra creamy texture, but you can substitute your favorite non-dairy milk.

6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup raw unsalted cashews

2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk

Directions:
Combine cashews and non-dairy milk in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, pecans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mac -n-Cheese–all Melty and Vegan for Canadian Thanksgiving

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 5, 2012

Nicole Abramowski, blog host of Vegan Nom Noms, says few can resist a melt-in-the mouth taste of vegan mac-n-cheese, especially on special holidays when food favorites are a must. Smith Graduate Nicole loves to sample life in far away places and has lived in England, the Czech Republic, Massachusetts, and now resides in Berlin, Germany, a place she has discovered is a vegan paradise. At Vegan Nom Noms shares recipes, food photography, and all things cool.
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This is probably my most-requested recipes by non-vegans whenever I make it for the holidays. Though there are more vegan mac-n-cheese recipes than you can through a stone at out there on the interwebz, this one has pretty basic ingredients, no need for a blender and is super addicting. I even served it to my very non-vegan family at Thanksgiving, including extended relatives, and several of them commented on how good it was and gobbled it all up. Surprise, it’s vegan! Every year I have a phase where I eat this every week for a few months. I’m pretty sure I will become a mac-n-cheese one day. There’s nothing better, now that the cold is creeping in, to curl up with a bowl of noodley saucy goodness! Nutritional yeast, please marry me.

Without further ado, the recipe! I actually make it two different ways, depending what I want that day. One is baking it like below, but I also sometimes throw the veggies in during the last few minutes the noodles are boiling, strain it, set aside, whisk together the sauce, then throw everything together and warm it up again on the stove. Top with some crunchy onions if you’re feeling fancy. Both the baked version and the saucy version have a special place in my heart. One picture is saucy, but you can find photos of the baked version here on my Vegan Nom Noms blog

VEGAN MAC-N-CHEESE

– 1/2-3/4 lb pasta (I usually just fill the baking tray I’m using halfway with pasta and use that amount)
– 1/2 (110ml) cup soymilk
– 1/4 (60 ml) cup water
– 1/4 (60 ml) cup soy sauce
– 1 cup (240 ml) nutritional yeast
– 3/4 teaspoon paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
– 3 tablespoons margarine
– 1 teaspoon mustard
– 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
– 2 carrots, shredded (optional)
– 1 medium onion, diced small (optional)
– 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
– 3/4 cup frozen chopped green beans (optional)
– enough french fried onions to cover top of mac-n-cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Boil water in a medium-sized sauce pan and cook pasta (I like to use shells for this dish). While pasta is cooking, combine everything but the french fried onions in a large bowl and mix together. Try and break up the margarine chunks as much as you can, but they’ll just melt in the oven when it’s cooking so it doesn’t need to be perfect. You can put the veggies in frozen, they’ll cook in the oven too.

Once the pasta’s done, drain and add to the “cheese” sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered and then pour into a baking dish and top with the french fried onions. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until onions are browned and top of the pasta looks crispy. Eat and enjoy!

Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FEASTING ON CRANBERRIES, ALMONDS, AND QUINOA FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 5, 2012

Guest host for this delicious Canadian Thanksgiving recipe contribution is Judith Kingsbury, the Savvy Vegetarian who embraces all manner of vegetarian lifestyles. She encourages those new to the vegetarian path to take a relaxed, balanced approach to learning the ins and outs of cooking vegetarian–sage advice to nurture the calm side of life to balance those times when we may feel super-stressed. The Savvy Vegetarian website is packed with recipes and cooking advice, articles, shopping savvy, favorite cookbooks, cookbook reviews, and much more.
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QUINOA WITH TOASTED ALMONDS AND DRIED CRANBERRIES

Quick & Easy, Healthy, Low Fat, Gluten Free Quinoa Casserole Recipe

This quinoa stove-top casserole cooks quickly because the almonds and quinoa are roasted, and then boiling water is added. The quinoa should be drained well before roasting.

Low Fat, Gluten Free: Even though quinoa has more fat than most grains, and almonds have fat,  because there’s just a dab of oil, this is still a low-fat, healthy recipe.

But not boring! Quinoa has lots of flavor, and the veggie cube, cinnamon & bay leaf, almonds and cranberries add even more flavor. And, of course quinoa is always gluten free.

Total Prep And Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings

Nutrition Data, 62g Serving: 253 cal, 34g carb, 10g fat, 300mg sodium, 5g fiber, 9g protein, low Cholesterol. Estimated glycemic load 18

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 vegan vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 tsp salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Soak the quinoa 15 minutes in cold water.

Stir the quinoa with your hand, pour off most of the water and drain through a fine mesh strainer.

Shake dry in the strainer, then set the strainer over a bowl or pitcher.

Heat a wide bottomed pan on medium heat and add the oil.

Stir and toast the sliced almonds until golden, then remove from pan.

Add the quinoa. Stir and toast until dry and turning color.

Add boiling water, veggie cube, salt, bay leaf and cinnamon stick, and dried cranberries.

Bring back to boil, cover, turn the heat to simmer, cook for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Remove from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on.

Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

Posted in almonds, Canadian Thanksgiving, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AWESOME RAWSOME TREATS FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 4, 2012

Avid blogger Lisa Pitman, is a social worker by day, but remains fully engaged in the vegan community during her leisure hours. She holds a Raw Chef Certificate from Matthey Kenney OKC and contributes recipes to One Green Planet and tests recipes for several cookbook authors. She was a vegetarian from childhood and became vegan in her teens. Today she is passionate about her vegan lifestyle, knowing her food choices leave a lighter footprint on the planet. Lisa follows a gluten-free diet also free of refined sugars, oils, and flours. For a taste of more of Lisa’s culinary delights, visit her vibrant blog at Vegan Culinary Crusade .

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I am so happy that vegan food blogs have connected me to amazing people around the world AND has helped me to discover the incredible versatility of the great pumpkin. Seriously, a few years ago I never would have imagined making waffles, pancakes, scones, oatmeal, cheesecake and smoothies with pumpkin. But now it seems like the only way to celebrate the season.

After prepping and baking a couple of pie pumpkins and adding it to everything I could think of, I still had a few cups left of perfect puree.

I planned to freeze the leftovers, but as soon as I thought about using my precious freezer space, I decided to make it worth it by turning the pumpkin into a delicious batch of Chai Pumpkin Ice Cream (recipe below). That’s what you would do, right?

So, I have enjoyed a scoop here and there over the last few weeks but all the pumpkin MoFo posts (I’m looking at you Shellyfish) have inspired me to break out that pumpkin pint and fancy it up.

A spicy, cinnamon, ginger cookie recipe from Sweet Gratitude caught my eye. I knew it would turn my chai pumpkin ice creem into something spectacular.

I weighed out some medjool dates. Then, I combined raw almonds, grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla and a pinch of salt, in my food processor.

Until the texture was like a crumbly pie crust. Next I rolled the batter out on a Silpat sheet or wax paper.

Then I cut out circles (make sure you have even numbers). And transferred the cookies to a plate covered with wax paper. Put the plate in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

Rolled the “in-between” extra dough into fantastic ginger-almond-date balls.

Assessed the flavour.

Before I started assembling the cookies I let the ice creem soften at room-temperature for 30 minutes (right, so take it out when you put the cookies in). Then I topped half of the cookies with small scoops of chai pumpkin ice creem.

Added the top. Pressed the cookies together and smoothed the sides of the ice creem.

I just kept scooping and squishing until all the cookies were partnered up and hugging some pumpkin.

Then I had to assess the flavour again. Working in quality control in this kitchen is one fantastic job. So, there you have it, raw, vegan pumpkin pie ice creem sandwiches.

CHAI PUMPKIN ICE CREAM

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 1/2 cup water
1 TBSP chai spice (I used Arvinda’s Masala Chai but you could use pumpkin pie spice instead)
2/3 cups agave syrup
2 TBSP maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP lecithin
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Combine all of the ingredient, except the coconut oil and lecithin in your blender. Blend until very smooth. Add the lecithin and coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. Chill in your fridge for two hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes. Churn in your ice cream maker for 25 minutes (or in accordance with manufacture’s instructions).
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AUTUMN APPLE CRISP

Over the years I’ve been able to share my passion for apples with my niece and nephews. They can easily recognize JonaGolds and Mutsu’/Crispin and know the “eye to the sky” technique for gently picking each piece of fruit without harming the tree.

Although I am jealous of people who live in places where mangoes grow in their yards and papaya is fresh and fragrant, I am also grateful I live in a city where apple thrive. We have heritage varieties like maiden’s blush, ribston pippin and northern spy.

My favourite treat – apple crisp. I never ask for cake. I just prefer the sweet, apple cinnamon combination. The recipe below is perfect for my celebration as it is both vegan and raw. When you have great ingredients you really don’t want to mess with them.

P.S. I don call adding Vanilla Coconut Bliss messing with anything.

I first tasted this raw version of my favourite treat when Nicole made a cake for our Harvest Brunch. Although I have loved the cooked version for years, this recipe reigned supreme.

RAW APPLE CRISP
adapted from Heathy’s recipe on Sweetly Raw

Serves 4

Crust:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
3 TBSP medjool dates, pitted

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Press half of the mixture into single serving ramekins, mini pie plates or springform pans. Reserve the remaining crumble.

Filling:
3 medium apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup medjool dates
2 TBSP raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

In a food processor, puree one apple and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the two remaining apples in the food processor and pulse until they break down into small pieces. Do not over blend – you want some apple bits.

Pour the filling onto the prepared crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top. You can enjoy the crisp right away, chill it in the fridge, or warm it in your oven or dehydrator. It is super simple, full of flavour and nutrition – and a great addition to any fall tradition.

Posted in almonds, Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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