Monthly Archives

April 2013

Brunch, recipes

Oatmeal Banana Split: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 42

Hi!

Long time, no see – I accidentally took a vacation from blogging, but it ended up being well needed.  School’s been a lot of work, and after being in the kitchen all day I usually come home and just eat a giant salad.  It’s delicious and all that, but doesn’t necessarily make for exciting blogging.  But you guys are awesome for hanging in there with me – it seriously means a lot.  
And now, for brunch!  
Since Michael and I started our random health trial a couple weeks ago, we needed a brunch that obeyed all of the rules we set out, but it’s very difficult to dream up a brunch that has no fried component.  Luckily, last week I went out to brunch with friends and found something on the menu that I knew I wanted to bring home and recreate – an oatmeal banana split.  

Cold vanilla oatmeal replaces the traditional ice cream scoop, surrounded by a split banana, pineapples and strawberries.  The only decadent part of this meal is the chocolate sauce, but even that is made a little healthier using coconut oil, raw cacao powder and just a teeny bit of sweetener.  This meal, in all its wholesomeness, felt like a brunch dessert party – I loved this just as much as a good meal of pancakes or waffles, and that’s saying something.
Oatmeal Banana Split
Serves 1

For the oats:
3/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate sauce:

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon agave (or other liquid sweetener)
To assemble:

1 ripe banana
4 medium strawberries, quartered
1/3 cup chopped pineapple
Directions:

1. For the oats: Combine all ingredients in a jar or container, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  The oats will soften and the chia will help gel everything together.
2. For the chocolate sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork.  The mixture will firm up a little as it sits, but you can speed up the process by popping it in the fridge for a few minutes.
3. To assemble: With the peel still on the banana, slice it lengthwise and then peel it carefully (slicing it with the peel on makes the banana less likely to crack and lose its shape).  Use an ice cream scooper or ramekin and place it in the center of a bowl or plate, and top with strawberries and pineapple.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce and enjoy!

Mike: I absolutely loved this brunch, but when Allysia first brought it up I was a little “meh”.  I have always been more into savory concoctions and this seemed like the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  I have to say, however, that my opinion started changing the very second I started assembling the split.  The scoops of oatmeal look beautiful and taste amazing, and the fresh fruit surrounding throws in some vibrancy.

This really is a healthy dessert in a decadent disguise.  I can imagine this going over very well in houses with young humans.  “Who wants desert for breakfast?” you’ll ask.  And then they will see it and completely flip out.  It looks every bit as tasty as an ice-cream-based banana split, and it tastes even better.  You can even play around with toppings to add a little more pizzazz.  I spiced my split up with the chocolate sauce from above, some almond milk yogurt “whipped cream”, and some hemp seed “sprinkles”.  Needless to say, this was a happy morning for my mouth and my belly.

You can look forward to a few new blog posts this week from us here at The Real Meal.  We promise!  Happy Sunday.
recipes, Soups and Stews

Fresh Tomato Soup

A blog post coming all the way from Regina, Saskatchewan!  Let me start this by saying that my trip to Austin was amazing.  I mean, I got to hang out with Allysia just about constantly (which was certainly the highlight of the trip, as I keep telling everyone), and then there is the city itself.  Austin is an amazing city, and it is filled with amazing produce.  The farmers’ markets (plural!) have great veggies and homemade things, but even the supermarkets are filled with gorgeous greens and big selections.

At one point during the trip I promised Allysia a fresh tomato-based soup.  She wouldn’t let me forget this fact, and a few days later we ended up picking up the necessary ingredients and I went to work.

Fresh Tomato Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 large heirloom tomatoes
2 medium shallots, diced small
1 celery stick, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dried chipotle pepper, split in half
1/2 tbsp Better Than Boullion
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked salt

Directions:

1. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.  Toss the pieces in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.  If using a cheaper blender, you will need to peel the tomatoes first.

2. Empty the contents of the blender into a pot and add the shallots, celery, garlic, and chipotle.  When you split the chiptole the seeds will fall out.  Add the seeds to the soup for a little spicy kick, or leave the seeds out for a milder soup.  I used almost all of the seeds and the soup has a little kick, but was certainly not spicy.

3. Stir in about half a tablespoon of Better Than Boullion vegetable broth paste.  Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat.  Simmer for at least ten minutes, ideally twenty to forty.

4. Strip the rosemary leaves from the twigs and roughly chop them.  Add them to the pot and simmer for another ten minutes.

5. When the soup is finished cooking, stir in the salt, pepper, and basil.  Remove the chipotle (leave the seeds) from the pot.  Pour the soup back into the blender and blend until smooth.

We don’t normally like tomato soup, but I think that is usually due to execution and history rather than concept.  The tomato soups of our collective childhoods were a simple canned affair.  Bland and over-salted, with few pronounceable ingredients.  This fresh soup is just the opposite.  It has a metric tonne of flavor and is still incredibly easy to produce.  I am sure a raw version could even be created by  only changing a few amounts.  Serve with some kind of dip-able sandwich for pure awesomeness.

Later.

Brunch, recipes

Orange Creamsicle Chia Pudding with Berries: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 40

This morning (more like evening, since it was so damn early) I saw Michael off at the airport back to Saskatchewan.  It’ll be 71 more days apart (11 brunches apart, including this one), which I’m sure will fly by in a whir of awesomeness but right now seems more or less like eternity.  But since that’s a bit dramatic, I figured I would make a brunch today that would pump me up with energy to take the edge off my dramatic tendencies.  It’ll also hopefully give me the energy to do some major planning (some pretty ridiculously good things are going down this summer, can’t wait to share).

So here we’ve got Orange Creamsicle Chia Pudding with Berries – first off, the chia pudding part.  Some people love it, some people hate it – I definitely fall over on the love spectrum.  If you haven’t had it, the best I can compare it to is tapioca pudding, except raw and with chia.  Since chia is so mucilaginous (love that word), any liquid added to them gels, creating a pudding-like consistency.

Since I tend to make boring (but delicious) chia puddings (milk + chia + sweetener), I thought I would make a little more of an effort today, but it really wasn’t that much more effort, maybe five minutes extra work.  All I did was blend an orange with some water and cashews, strained it of pulp (which isn’t necessary), stirred in some vanilla and added it to a jar of dry chia.  It only takes up to 30 minutes to gel up nicely, at which point I stirred in some berries.  My only regret?  Didn’t have any mint.

Orange Creamsicle Chia Pudding with Berries
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 orange, peeled
1/2 cup water (or another orange)
3 tablespoons cashews
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 cups mixed berries ( used strawberries, blueberries, and a bit of dried goldenberries)

Directions:

1. In a blender, blend the orange, water and cashews until relatively smooth.  If you have a nut milk strainer bag, use it to strain out the pulp, if not, shouldn’t be a biggie.  This should total about 1 cup of liquid (more if there’s fiber left in it).  In a wide container, combine the liquid, chia seeds and vanilla extract.  Stir, cover, and let it sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, until it gels into a pudding-like consistency.  Stir again.

2. For a pretty presentation, layer the pudding with berries, or just stir the berries and pudding together in a bowl.  You shouldn’t find that this pudding needs sweetening – there’s plenty of fruit in it – but if you don’t find it’s sweet enough, you can either add more fruit (especially dried) or a little bit of your favorite sweetener.

This pudding is heavy on the berries, so use as much as you prefer – 1/2 cup berries per serving will have a higher pudding ratio, but I love nomming berries so I used 1 cup per serving.

The orange flavor in this is really subtle but really nice – if you wanted it more orangey, some orange zest added to the pudding would do the trick.  I loved it just how it was though, with the orange flavor sitting pleasantly in the background – but even without the berries, this pudding was flavorful enough to be eaten on its own.

Well that’s all from me, guys – my life should be returning to “normal” now so I should have time to be a little more social.  Until then, take care!

Menus

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 39: Easter Edition

Hey guys!

Gonna keep this brief because I’m pretty busy enjoying Michael’s company this week, but instead of having a private Sunday brunch as we usually do, we decided to invite a few people over to celebrate Easter.  To complete the holiday experience, we made my Granny’s cabbage rolls, in addition to other awesome brunch eats.

In addition to that holiday standby, we had a tofu and avocado benedict platter, done all DIY-style (sauce not pictured).

Fresh fruit and fruit salad is always at home on a brunch platter, as are blueberry muffins, made by my friend Katie, and gluten-free to boot.  Whee!

And if you’ve got an awesome hollandaise sauce, there might as well be some asparagus in the picture, too.  Oh, and potatoes!  No brunch feast is truly complete without them, just like the unpictured grapefruit-orange mimosas we all enjoyed.

Hope you guys had a blast this weekend, I know I did!  And I’ll see you on Sunday for another brunch – it’ll be a solo mission, but that just means I’ll just have to cook up something extra awesome. 🙂