Creamy Sweet Potato & Kale Bake from Vegan Yum Yum

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Bake

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Bake

Most vegans are vegetarian before they stop eating dairy and eggs.  Many people find this last step very difficult, especially when you consider that casein, a milk-protein found in dairy products like cheese, forms an opiate when digested.  Morphine and codeine are opiates. That’s right! And that’s probably why so many people… ahem… ‘can’t go without’ cheese.

All fellow science nerds might enjoy a little pop over to Wikipedia to read more about this. Click here and don’t forgot to check out the links.

There are so many genius recipes out there, and so many natural, tasty, good-for-you alternatives (I’m looking at you Daiya!) – it is has never been a better time to go for the full Monty and become a full-fledged herbivore-by-choice.

If you are a vegetarian looking for inspiration to take the plunge, or just need a pick me up to stay the dairy and egg-free course, I highly recommend this boss article by the Veganomly: “A letter to vegetarians: 5 reasons I wish I’d gone vegan sooner.

This recipe is perfect for the tentative vegan-to-be who is nervous that (s)he will never again enjoy a super creamy white-sauce pasta.  The sauce is so creamy and perfectly spiced, you’ll be tempted to just grab a spoon and pretend it is soup.

The recipe is taken directly from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm. Book mark the site, buy the book, and download the app.  It is an essential addition to any vegan cookbook library.

Creamy Sweet Potato & Kale Bake 
3-4 servings

3 cups fusili pasta
1 head kale, deveined and chopped
1& 1/2 pounds chopped sweet potatoes

Ingredients for Alfredo Sauce:

1 & 1/4 cups soy milk
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari
2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 pinch nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked (I prefer smoked)
Black pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Two or three minutes before the pasta is completely cooked, add the chopped kale to the boiling water. When pasta is cooked and the kale is bright green but tender, drain and set aside.

Boil sweet potato in salted water until tender. Drain.

To make the Alfredo sauce, blend the soy milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, tamari, margarine, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, paprika, and black pepper in a blender. Blend well for several minutes until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and season, if necessary.

Combine the pasta, kale, and the sweet potatoes with the sauce in a casserole dish and stir well. Top with bread crumbs, if desired. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

After that earlier reference, I’m sure you saw this coming:

Organico in Montezuma, Costa Rica

Vegan Ice Cream

Vegan Ice Cream

I grew up on an island stuck out in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean.  Anytime I got within 4 feet of the waves my parents (wisely) would holler at me to get back. Even in the dead of summer, the most any reasonable adult person should do is stick a toe in, maybe get in up to your ankles until your feet go numb.

So for me, Costa Rica is a magical place where I can dive in and let myself float with the waves.  Essentially between the plane ride here and the plane ride home my fingers are constantly pruned. I heart CR.  So much.

I toweled off for a few minutes to tell you about this insanely amazing cafe in Montezuma.  Organico is this cute little place with amazing style run by an adorably good-looking young couple. First of all, the sugar dishes have little hats. Secondly, they serve vegan ice cream.

My sugar has a hat and my sauce has a hot.

My sugar has a hat and my sauce has a hot.

The decor is a lovely mix of India and Miami, precariously held together with true confidence of the weather being permanently agreeable.

So lovely and relaxing.

So lovely and relaxing.

The food is simple, but delicious, and vegan meals are clearly marked with a green V.  And trust, we veggies are spoiled for choice. I had one of the breakfast platters. It had fresh cut avocado, sliced fresh and spiced tomatoes, perfectly cooked rice,  tofu that I would bet was homemade, a slice of toast, and homemade peanut butter.

Breakfast

Breakfast

(I just had to take a break from writing to help a butterfly the size of my face find its way off my covered deck because it was threatening to knock itself out on the window. The size of my FACE. I heart CR!)

But the piece de resistance of Organico really is the vegan ice cream.  I had the chocochoco flavor. It was creamy and had a very natural flavor that made me feel like I was doing my body a favor. I inquired about what base they use, and I was very politely told that it is a secret recipe. That said, I would bet my hat that it wasn’t soy or almond or coconut based. In any case it was homemade vegan ice cream in the middle of paradise. Seriously.

Organico

Organico

A Costa Rican band has become my new obsession: Malpais.  I had to leave you with their self-titled track off their first album.

Vegan Shoes on Pinterest

Gorgeous Vegan Shoes

Just in case you hadn’t picked up on it by now, HHH’s philosophy – the point I’m trying to get across – is that being a vegan doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. You can still be an indulgent hedonist… you just try not to kill anyone in the process. And if the name of the blog hadn’t tipped you off, I lurve shoes. So much.

Whenever I go to vegan events I spend most of the night telling fellow veggies where I got my shoes.  And everyone says to me “just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I don’t have style”. Amen.

So I added a button that links to my Pinterest account for those of you who feel lost in a world of flat shoes with boxy toes.  There you will find pictures of amazing shoes who claim to be vegan and/or entirely man made. Enjizzle!

Homemade Vegan Bailey’s

Drunk Reindeer

Homemade Vegan Bailey's

I know, I know… settle down. It is exciting though non?

I was recently in the liquor store and for the first time, in a long time, I looked longingly at a non-vegan edible. I wanted to take home a bottle of Bailey’s, brew some coffee and introduce them to each other.

Thankfully all my obsessive interneting does occasionally pay off. Kimberly Carroll posted a recipe for vegan Bailey’s on the “Be Veg” facebook page.

So of course I had to share. And right in time for Christmas… you’d think I plan this stuff out!

(I don’t.)

Homemade Vegan Bailey’s

1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup*
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whiskey

*To make chocolate syrup combine equal parts water, cocoa, & sugar.  Bring to a boil and stir until it thickens.

Whisk all together ingredients together (I used my kitchen aid to make sure everything was well combined). Serve immediately over ice, or in coffee, or store in a tinted bottle (great second use for the flask the whiskey came in) and keep in the fridge.

My dog has an alter ego. During the holidays I put a Christmas collar on her and call her Jingle Dog. Here she is ruining one of my photos of the vegan Bailey’s.

Jingle Dog

Jingle Dog

Does that put you in the Christmas spirit enough? Non? Then listen to Feliz Navidad by Boney M.  No one is immune. 


Ginger Lemongrass Butternut Squash Soup for Wheat-free Veggies

Ginger Lemongrass Butternut Squash Soup

Ginger Lemongrass Butternut Squash Soup

There’s a scene in Midnight in Paris that is quintessentially Woody Allen.  Like no other filmmaker, Woody has the ability to write something that feels like it was taken from inside your own head.  In this scene, Marion Cotillard’s character explains to Owen Wilson’s character that modern life is complicated and rushed. The catch being that her character is living in 1920, while Owen Wilson has managed to escape his complicated life in 2011 through accidental time traveling. He thinks he has found a way to live a more peaceful life in the past, while she pines for the simpler 1890s Paris.

I love this so much because we humans are always talking about our “modern times”, just like we did in 1920, and in 1890, and most likely even in 2000 BC.

So let me continue the tradition, and say that in these modern times everyone should have one dish that can be served to virtually any guest (barring that guest having an unusual allergy). This soup will work for: vegans, vegetarians, buddhists, muslims, jews, hindus, rastafarians, jains,and those with wheat, onion, yeast and garlic sensitivities (as long as you chose, or make, your stock/bouillon cubes carefully). One dish and everyone is fed.  Modern life should always be so simple.

Ginger Lemongrass Butternut Squash Soup
6-8 servings

2 tablespoons oil (grapeseed or coconut for example)
1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and chopped the smaller the better
5-10 Red Potatoes
8 cups vegetable stock or 8 cups water and four vegan, gluten-free bouillon cubes
3 tablespoons finely chopped or minced ginger plus a few bigger peeled pieces
3 stalks lemon grass cut into thin strips
5-10 tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a stock pot over low-medium heat.  Add squash and cover, stirring occasionally, until squash starts to soften and break apart.  Add potatoes and stir, cover and heat for another few minutes.

Add stock or water. Increase heat to high and cover. If using water, add bouillon cubes after water boils. Once boiling, add ginger and lemongrass.

Boil until potatoes begin to soften.  Add tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes fall apart. Add salt and pepper.  Remove bigger ginger pieces before serving with crusty bread.

Woody Allen is Dog

Midnight in Paris

Healthy Molasses Cookies (that I would actually serve to friends).

Gluten-Free Molasses Cookies

Gluten-Free Molasses Cookies

Folks who eat gluten-free are food cousins to the vegans.  We both suffer the same plight of constantly checking labels and researching the pseudonyms of the ingredients we seek to avoid.

And we both suffer from the “who’s on first” antics that unfold doing something simple, like ordering food.  For example, HHH at a recent work event:

HHH (to waitstaff): “Could you please tell me which of these deserts are vegan?”

Waitstaff (pointing to an obviously cream topped desert): “This one.”

HHH: “Are you sure? I thought that was the gluten-free option.”

Waitstaff: “Yes, gluten-free”

HHH: “Oh, I’m looking for the vegan option, not the gluten free option.”

Waitstaff (confused look): “Same thing?”

[HHH (in her mind): "Um, no, wheat never had a mom"]

HHH (out loud): “No, they are different things.  That’s ok, I’ll have coffee instead.”

Waitstaff (beaming): “Please let me know if I can help with anything else!”

I won’t write out the recipe for these cookies, as you can find it on the Happy Herbivore website (I LOVE her).  Please click here.

These little guys are most definitely healthy and are lovely with a cup of tea.  In fact, they are so healthy that I couldn’t stop myself from adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1&1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. It was like I went into a baker’s trace and woke up with salt and vanilla all over, so I estimated the amount that actually got into the batter. Something like that anyway.

For very exciting reasons I am making gluten-free cookies today.  I wrote the script for a short film that is being shot tomorrow, and one of the actors needs gluten-free food. Just to be clear, the movie is exciting part, not the part about the actor eating gluten-free.

I’m just trying to help out one of my food cousins. It’s all in a day’s work. (Now please picture me riding off into the sunset, down the main street of the town I just saved…       Thanks).

Creamy Mac and B12

Mmmm, improved nervous system in a bowl!

Mac & B12

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone losing their noodles over their B12 levels?

B12 is very important for normal brain and other nervous system functions, so getting enough of it in your diet is no joke, but there’s no need to panic as long as you are eating a balanced diet.

The truth is, most meat alternatives on the market are fortified with B12. Additionally, nutritional yeast is a B12 bomb of deliciousness that is easily added to any recipe, especially pasta dishes. Read more about B12 here.

Utterly unrelated, I have become acutely aware of a strange little quirk of mine. I am short, but my kitchen is tall, so I’m always hopping up on the counters in creative ways. I pretend I’m doing Parkour, but for some ridiculous reason I always call it Jumanji in my head. “I’m doing Jumanji!” I say to myself.

No HHH, no you are not doing Jumanji.

Because this is Parkour:

And this is Jumanji:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113497/

I’m not awesome enough for the former, and I’m not lucky enough for the latter.

In any case, I came up with this Mac and Cheese imitator because I was craving comfort food and I was feeling lazy. As an added bonus, the veggie “chicken” and nutritional yeast is a B12 bomb that is sure to bolster your nervous system and brain function. More importantly, this meal will help you to “do Jumanji” for years to come.

B12 Bomb Macaroni
Serves 4-8

375g macaroni, cooked
1 leek, chopped
Olive oil for sautéing
1 package (340g) veggie “chicken” ground round
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup coconut milk

Heat oil over medium and add leeks, stirring until they begin to soften.  Add veggie ground round.  Stir well and saute until heated though.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast and spices without stirring.  Add coconut milk slowly, stirring well.  Mixture should be creamy and well heated.

Mix pasta and leek mixture together.  Serve with red wine.

Summer Green Soup

Summer Green Soup

It is working out to be a steaming hot summer. I always eat and drink hot things in hot weather. My high school art teacher, an Australian, insisted that hot drinks in hot weather was the way to go, “Raise your body temperature and you won’t feel so hot.”

Also, according to my Chinese Medical Doctor, I have a deep cold in my body that comes from being raised on an island stuck out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Canadian winters + Newfoundland spring and fall = an internal dampness that not even my fondness for rum and hot water can alleviate. Basically I’m supposed to try and defrost every summer.

I made up this soup because I was craving kale and celery. Add a little extra salt if you are one of the unlucky peeps suffering from a summer cold.

Summer Green Soup
Serves 2-4 people

2 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 bunchs green onions, chopped
2 liters vegetable stock or  3 vegan bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 liters boiling water or a combination of both
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 large bunch kale, sliced
salt & pepper to taste

In a stockpot, sauté the celery and green onion in the olive oil. Add sweet potato, stir, and cover for a few minutes.

When all vegetables begin to soften add vegetable stock (or bouillon mixture) and bring to a boil. Add kale and simmer until all vegetables are easily crushed against the side of the pot.

Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly. Blend using a hand mixer. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Serve with crusty bread and a savory spread like hummus. Or just drink straight from a mug while sitting on a blazing hot balcony – take THAT deep cold. (That may or may not be a reference to a 90s band that I may or may not have liked).

Lots of sadness in the news this week. It is a tragedy when other beings leave us before they should, whether brought on by the hands of a madman or brought on by the ravages of an unhappy or unhealthy life. I always think of Mama Cass when lists are made of great artists who left us too soon. Here she is at her best, looking so happy and confident.

Brunch @ Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar

Your Sadie's Greeters

One of the best things about moving to a new neighborhood is trying out all of the local restaurants. I’ve been hearing about Sadie’s for years. When you tell someone that are of the veggie persuasion, a common reaction is to list every veggie restaurant they know, and Sadie’s is on everyone’s list.

Sadie’s is now close enough to my new apartment to walk to, I have been taking advantage. It is a vegetarian place, not vegan, but most dishes on the menu state that they can be easily made vegan. The quesadillas are so YUM, and they even come with vegan sour cream. No picture yet – I’m working on it.

I DO have a picture of the yummy tofu scramble and veggie sausage. Throw on some hot sauce and you’ve got a prefect way to start a Sunday shopping excursion… after a nap, that is.

Tofu Scramble and Veggie Sausage

The aesthetic is as worth your time as the food. There is a massive pez dispenser collection is the back, and a fifties diner meets apocalypse sort of feel otherwise. Bring the kids, because there is tons for them to look at.

Sadie's Symbol

You can find out more about Sadie’s, including location and times here: click.

Green Goddess Pasta

Green Goddess Pasta

If we had to judge the season by weather alone, you would say that summer was already here in Toronto. Soon everyone is going to be planting gardens and eating fresh produce that was handed over fences by neighbors.

I’m still adjusting to my new kitchen, so I’ve only been cooking my usual suspects recipes since the move. This one is my Keyser Söze.

You can use this recipe for any of the greens, especially leafy ones, that come your way. It is based on the Green Goddess Pasta recipe from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.

Green Goddess Pasta
Serves 4 generously

5 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons of your oil of choice (olive or coconut both work great)
3 heaping tablespoons vegan butter
500g penne, macaroni or rotini pasta (I prefer Kamut pasta – especially Artesian Acres Organic)
Water for boiling pasta
1 small bunch green chard, chopped
1/2 bunch rapini, chopped
(You can also use  a combination of above with kale, or broccoli or zucchini)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

In a small frying or saucepan heat the oil over low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and just starting to brown. Remove from heat, stir in vegan butter until melted. Set aside.

In a stockpot boil the pasta according to instructions. When pasta is a few minutes shy of being cooked stir in the greens. Cook until pasta and greens are tender, roughly 1-3 minutes.

Drain pasta mixture and return to stockpot. Stir in garlic butter, salt & pepper and pine nuts if using.