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appetizers

appetizers, recipes

(5-minute) Raw Mango Chutney

This easy raw mango chutney demonstrates an aspect of raw food that I absolutely adore – simplicity. No cooking time, just pure and simple blending. I love being able to enjoy this delicious Indian-esque condiment in 5 minutes (or less)!

An important note about this recipe: you will need to adjust the sweetener/lemon juice ratio based on the state of your mango. An unripe mango will mean a less sweet flavor, meaning you might want to add a little more agave. Alternately, a very ripe mango won’t need much (or any) sweetener, but it will need more lemon juice to provide tartness.

Raw Mango Chutney
(5-Minute) Raw Mango Chutney

Ingredients:
Makes approx. 1 cup

1 large mango
1 small slice of ginger, peeled
2 tbsp agave (see the above note)
1 tsp hot chili flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional, see the above note)
Directions:

1. Process all ingredients in a food processor to desired consistency. You will need to scrape down the sides frequently.
Serve with any Indian-flavored meal such as dahl and rice, or with any vegan ‘meaty’ dish like tofu or tempeh, or spread on toast, sandwiches or flatbread. Mango chutney is a condiment, and you can enjoy it in all the ways you enjoy other condiments!
Raw Mango Chutney
Mmm! The delicious meals I enjoyed this chutney with will follow in the next couple of posts. 🙂
appetizers, recipes

Naan, naan, glorious naan!

Before I begin this post, I wanted to express a pet peeve of mine. You know how you read things that are all, “a vegan diet can be healthy, but severely restricting your food intake can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies”? It annoys the crap out of me. Such works almost always include the obligatory “vegans must be careful to ensure sufficient protein”. Jeez Louise, what do these people think we eat? Iceburg lettuce with a side of an apple?

And then I wonder, if people are so concerned about us vegans being deprived, why don’t they consider the nutrients one might be deprived of on the Standard American Diet? Why aren’t there warnings like, “the SAD can lead to deficiencies in iron, folate, magnesium and B-vitamins”? All of this crap will just perpetuate the notion that vegan diets are really tough (as in, you need to be a person of incredible willpower to do it), heavily restricted and possibly dangerous (?!).
And what’s this “protein-deficient, severely restrictive” stuff I hear so often? Why no mention of the dangers of excess protein? I don’t know about you guys, but my protein intake is always higher than the RDA, and the RDA is generous. Protein is incredibly easy to come by. And I think the ‘severely restrictive’ bit is just someone having a hard time imagining a plate of food minus a hunk of animal. As the 700-some blogs participating in Vegan MoFo this year could attest, I don’t think we’re too restricted. 🙂
On to naan!
I avoided making naan bread for far too long. I don’t know what I was afraid of – they’re hella easy to make! Whip up some dough, let it rise, roll it out, and cook it real hot right under your stove’s heat source! Look at how poofy and beautiful these guys got!

Oh naan, so lovely. So delicious.

The trick, it seems, is to cook the naan on a hot pizza stone, right under the element. They cook really fast (2-3 minutes) and you can do two at a time. Seriously, there’s no reason not to go and make these. The recipe and method I followed is here and the only subs I made were vegan yogurt for the dairy kind, and non-dairy margarine instead of ghee.


Mmm, Indian feast – Dal, basmati rice, aloo matar, and naan

Logan and I absolutely adored the naan, especially warm from the oven. Big win today!

In other news, my left hand is about to fall off from all the MoFoing and NaNoWriMoing, so you won’t see me again until Monday. Unless something really exciting happens. I’m off to enjoy the 18 degree celsius weather – where on earth did this come from? No winter jacket? HELLZ YEAH!

Peace!
appetizers, recipes

Smoky Beetroot Hummus

Hey there!

It’s been nearly a month since my last post, but you know how summer goes. Now my life as a piano teacher resumes, and Logan starts driving the ol’ school bus tomorrow, which leaves me wondering, where on earth did summer go? It’s cold and rainy today, which makes it feel like fall is final, and the last of the hot days have passed.
Yesterday I made a recipe for hummus that’s a little out-of-the-ordinary, at least for me, since I’ve long since found the ultimate hummus recipe that I always return to. But it was a Sunday, and I saw a picture of a beet hummus that was decidedly not vegan (who puts yogurt in hummus? I mean really.) so I decided to keep the concept and change all the other stuff. First of all, I needed roasted beets, the king and champion of all other beets. And since I was roasting the beets, I figured that roasting garlic would have so much more depth of flavor than a plain ol’ clove or two. And to send the smoky flavour over the edge, I added a couple splashes of hickory smoke. The result is amazing! Creamy and smooth the way a good hummus should be, but with a nice sweetness from the roasted beet. For those of you who don’t like chickpeas (*cough* mom *cough*) this is a really nice hummus because the beet is really the dominant flavour here. Plus, the color is really pretty!
I took a picture of my hummus plate before starting this blog post, and I’ve since had two more plates. I think I’m gonna go for a fourth. 🙂
This is a good recipe to make on a Sunday, or a day where you’re kickin’ back at home with some free time. Not that the recipe takes long – it’s really fast to throw together – but unless you have roasted beets on hand, you’ve got anywhere from 30min-1hr of idle oven time. My beets were quite large and took over an hour to get soft enough so it all depends.
Smoky Beetroot Hummus
1 lb beets (about 3 large)
1 head garlic
Olive oil
2c chickpeas, cooked (If you use canned, 2 cups is 16oz so anything around that would work fine)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 1 lemon)
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp hot paprika (regular would be fine)
1/4 tsp salt
a few splashes of liquid or hickory smoke, to taste (I used roughly 1/8 tsp)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water (or to desired consistency)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wash the beets and put them on aluminum foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cover with aluminum foil so the beets are sealed. Next, cut the top off your head of garlic, so that the tips of all the cloves are a little exposed. Drizzle a little oil on top and wrap tightly in foil. Bake for approximately 1 hour, depending on the size of your beets. I like to leave the garlic in the oven about an hour too, because then it squeezes out of the cloves so easily. Just check the beets with a fork to see if they’re done – if the fork pierces them easily, they’re done.
2. Now it’s time to peel the beets, which gets messy so make sure you wash your hands right after! Make a cut on the beet skin, and then push it off with your thumbs. For me it wasn’t as easy as everyone else made it seem to be, and involved a little effort to pry off all the skin. Maybe that’s just me though.
3. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, from the roasted beets all the way through the water. Process until smooth. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times.
4. Eat with crackers or pita or on sandwiches or as a dip for veggies, or anything you normally use hummus for!

appetizers, recipes

Nacho Feast

Have you ever gone out on the town and attempted to order nachos that are vegan? Vegan establishments notwithstanding, it’s usually a disappointment. Generally the main feature on a nacho platter is cheese, so once you subtract that from the equation, you’re left with small portions of salsa and guacamole, and a few olives and hot peppers strewn atop a giant mound of chips. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and there will be a tomato chopped up in there. Either way, it’s so not worth the crazy money they charge you.

Logan and I have never tried to make a nacho platter until tonight, but we had a vision. A vision of (vegan) cheese and seasoned beans, and fresh vegetables. An entire avocado’s worth of guacamole instead of a piddly scoop. A vision of having every bite loaded with goodness, instead of trying to distribute measly bits of toppings among the pile of chips. I’m happy to say that we succeeded in achieving said vision.

This was ridiculously easy to make, and extremely filling. The two of us had no hope of finishing it all, though we came close. It only took us about half an hour from start to finish – it would take even less time if you already had the cheese sauce made. Here’s what we did:
1. Bake Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips – bake the entire bag (about 12 tortillas)
2. Cook and season some beans (recipe follows)
3. Make a batch of The Best Cheese Sauce
4. Make a fresh veggie medley (method follows)
5. Assemble toppings (black olives, assorted hot peppers from a jar)
6. Prepare salsa and guacamole (method follows)
in a 9×12 pyrex pan, or something of similar size, layer all of the nacho ingredients in the order listed, from 1-5. Put salsa and guacamole in bowls on the side, with spoons to help you scoop it on your chips (these chips are quite loaded, and therefore a little hard to scoop!). Then, feast! This tasted absolutely amazing. Take that, restaurant nachos!

2. Seasoned Black Beans
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/8 – 1/4c water (as needed)
1 tsp cumin seeds (powder works too)
1 tsp chili powder*
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
*my chili powder is straight-up – most chili powders have added cumin and stuff, so if you have a chili powder like this you might have to adjust the seasonings a little.
Partially mash the black beans so they stick together, but so there are still some whole beans left. Put them into a small pot with a little bit of water and bring to bubbling over medium heat. Add all of the other ingredients and stir every couple of minutes, so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. After 5-10 minutes, the beans will lose a lot of water and be thicker – this is when they’re done. Taste to adjust seasonings – honestly, when I’m seasoning beans I don’t usually measure ingredients. I did this time, to give you a rough estimate, but it’s pretty free-form.
4. Fresh Veggie Medley
1 tomato
1/2 a bell pepper
3-4 green onions
Dice all ingredients (green and light green parts of the green onions only) and mix up in a bowl.
6. Guacamole
This is what I call the lazy person’s guacamole because we barely add anything to the avocado, but it tastes really good. If you have a favourite recipe, by all means, use that instead.
1 large avocado, mashed (or blended, if you want it really smooth – check out my post here on how to choose a ripe avocado)
1 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
a pinch of salt (optional)
Once you’ve mashed your avocado, add the other ingredient(s). Stir and enjoy!

appetizers, recipes

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips


If you like to snack on chips, but have guilt on your conscience for doing so, feel guilt no more! Here’s a super easy recipe that tastes good and has no added oil. This recipe is so easy that Logan makes them. (Ha ha! I’m just joking. Kind of :D)

This recipe is perfect if you like chips with salsa and/or guacamole. They’re pretty plain on their own, flavoured with only a little salt, because that’s how I like ’em. You can feel free to experiment with seasonings, but I prefer my chips straight-up, no-nonsense. Then they just taste awesome when you dunk ’em.

Keep in mind that since they’re low in fat, they don’t have that “soft crunch” that packaged chips have. They have a much firmer crunch, which I initially didn’t prefer, but I love them so much more than the store-bought kind now! So give them a few chances, and I just know you’ll really grow to love them. 🙂

Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips
1 package corn tortillas
Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

How many tortillas you use is up to you and how much chip action you want. If there’s two of us eating and we’re both fiending for munchies, we do the whole bag. For a single person or a small two-person serving, use half the bag (around 6 tortillas).

Cut the tortilla rounds in half both lenthwise and widthwise, so that each circle is divided into 4 pieces. Place them on 2 unoiled baking sheets, and try to keep them from overlapping. When we make a huge batch, we cook them in intervals just so there are no touching chips. For a half-bag batch, 2 baking sheets should be sufficient. Sprinkle salt on the chips – however much you want.

Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes, pull them out, and enjoy with lots of salsa and guacamole, and a good movie. Or ‘Planet Earth’, which is what we’ve been watching lately.

Note: It’s very important to use corn tortillas, so please don’t use wheat!! Logan and I tried this once and it was. Just. Bad. Plus, a bag of corn tortillas is really cheap, so no excuses! 🙂