Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream

As much as it hasn't felt too much like summer lately,  ice cream is essentially part of my year round life, so cold or not, if the urge happens to be felt, I whip up a bowl or two.

This flavor combination is one of my absolute favorites.  The vanilla and cardamom complement each other very well, although most would think this a rather odd pair. I found it in a raw vegan restaurant I used to work at, although theirs was a combination of coconut and cashew, I prefer a much lighter version made with frozen bananas. If you like it a bit richer, just add some coconut milk!

You cna also easily sub the vanilla pods for vanilla extract, just try finding one that is just vanilla and alcohol as the base. There are many out there that have artificial everything and additives galore.

Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream


- 6-10 frozen bananas
- 1/2 tsp scraped vanilla seeds or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom

In a food processor or high powered blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. It might take awhile and you might need to let the bananas defrost a bit depending on the appliance that you're using.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Vegan Travelling: O'Hare and Dulles Airport Reviews.

I see so many posts in vegan groups about how to travel as a vegan. People get very anxious about being able to find options in transit and at destination. Which is totally understandable because who wants to be stuck in an airport ravenous and desperate for a bite to eat?

While travelling back from Costa Rica to Ottawa, I "documented" my food adventures on the way. With 23 hours of travel time, I knew that I had to be decently prepared. I scoped out a few options, and seeing as I got in late to Washington, and had an overnighter, I had to make sure I could find food fast enough before everything closed. We shall start in Chicago though...

In Chicago, there are options galore for vegan food. I chose to make a stop at CIBO express that was rumored to have awesome vegan options. I was definitely not dissapointed, and to be honest, I went a little over board! Not everything I had was gluten free, but they had a few options available. You can see the Med platter above, which had 2 salads, hummus and some corn chips. It was a welcome fresh snack after a long flight.

The bean and rice chips we're pretty darn tasty, we don't have these in Canada and they were a nice treat to try out. They definitely have a nacho taste going for them, with almost too much flavor on the chips. The peanut butter cup are so so good, too hard to resist!

This buffalo tofu is the best I have ever had. Hands down. I even ate it cold and could have had 2 more. If you pass through this airport, definitely get this. I'm still attempting to recreate it (without the weat and oil).

My faithful companion on the trip, this little ball of fur is my emotional support animal so she gets to travel in cabin with me. She was a champ the entire time! She hates cars, but apparently planes are easy peasy.

That was food adventure in Chicago O'Hare Airport!

Washington Dules was actually my first stop. Like I said I got in late and didn't have much time to get food. I dashed to Zpizza to grab a vegan organic pizza and grabbed some liquids and I also had some snacks with me to keep me sustained through the night.

The next morning I just grabbed an odawala smoothie and a Chai Latte while waiting for my 6AM departure. All in all, travelling vegan is not even near a problem in these 2 airports!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Pulled Jackfruit

Summer and BBQ sauce are things that go hand in hand for me. I always liked things drowning in sauce, and with BBQ sauce and pulled Jackfruit, it's supposed to be that way. 

This recipe is ridiculously easy to make, even if you make your own BBQ sauce (which I did).

Its also quite the hit at any potluck, The jackfruit, if roasted or slow cooked, has a great texture for sandwiches, wraps, tacos or as a salad topper.

Going the extra mile and making you own sauce is definitely worth it here.  You get to choose exactly what flavors go into your masterpiece, without all the typical additives of store bought sauces.

Pulled Jackfruit

- 1 can green jackfruit (in brine)
- 1 1/2 cups bbq sauce

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Rinse the green jackfruit very well under room temp water. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and shred the jackfruit with you hans. You could also use a food processor of you're not the hands on type. Spread it out evenly.

Roast the jackfruit for about 35-40 minutes, stiring halfway. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn!

When that's done and slightly cooled, you can toss it with the bbq sauce in a large bowl. At this point, you can either marinate it in the sauce for up to 24 hours, or just roast it in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, until nice and caramelized.

Serve on buns with coleslaw, in tacos or any other way you fancy.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Nacho Cheeze Sauce

This is one of those posts that doesn't even need many words. This recipe is ridiculous. By that I mean, while I was eating it, I couldn't even believe how much it tasted like cow based cheese sauces. If I hadn't made it with my own bare hands, I would not have eaten it cause I wouldn't believe it was vegan.

Now my pursuit of veganism and developing awesome vegan foods doesn't usually entail making things that taste exactly like their standard diet counterparts. This one pretty much just happened.

The key ingredient here is pretty exotic, but replacing it with nutritional yeast still makes a great sauce. Thevnoni juice I used was fresh, but the fermented kind will give it an even sharper cheese taste. If you can get your hands on it, you have to try this.

No more words are needed.

Nacho Cheese Sauce

- 3 cups fresh coconut meat
- Water, as needed.
- 2 roasted red peppers
- 1 roasted jalapeno, de seeded.
- ½ cup noni juice or ~1 cup nooch (to taste)
- Salt, to taste

Blend the coconut with the water until very smooth, you may also use a food processor. This is going to take awhile, so do in it stages not to overburden your blender.

Add in the rest of the ingredient and blend till smooth again.

Serve over everything and anything.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Time management skills are not my current strongest suit right now. I haven't had a proper full cooking day in awhile, which makes me happy that I like doing recipes a few at a time so that I always have something to post. 

I was supposed to have one this weekend, but the lighting situation was just not working at all, with too many clouds, there was little natural light to work with. Which means I should probably really invest in some indoor natural lighting equipment. I am definitely planning to do so, but I'm reallllly trying to push it off until after we move across the country.

And now, to discuss this dish! I had never made stuffed mushrooms before, but after browsing through a few recipes and analyzing the fridge that day, I felt that it was a good time to give it a try.

This is one of the rare dishes I've made that include a vegan cheese. I used daiya because it's what I had on hand, but this would be even better with a homemade/artisan mozza style vegan cheese. It's even great without! It's the only added fat to the recipe, so make it low fat is as easy as omitting the cheese.

This is a great late summer recipe, with all the vegetables within being fresh and in season. Feel free to change it up with whatever you can find at the farmer's market.

Stuffed Mushrooms

- 5 portobella mushroom caps
- 1 zucchini, diced
- ½ large leek, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can artichoke hearts
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- pepper
- ¼ cup nooch
- 1/3 cup GF breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp braggs

Pre-heat over to 375F

Cut out the mushroom stems and set aside to use in a broth or other recipe. You can also spoon out some of the gills to make more space for the filling, but I found that unnecessary.

In a large deep pan, water saute the zucchinni, leeks and garlic until lightly softened, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the sauteed veggies, well drained artichoke hearts and all the other ingredients (save the mushroom caps). Stir to combine, if you are finding it a bit wet, add some breadcrumbs.

On a parchment paper lines baking sheet, line up the mushroom caps and pile them high with stuffing. If you want to use vegan cheese, add a little sprinkle now. 

Pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops start browning a little and the cheese is melted (if using). Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Cafe My House

I had the chance to check out the new location of Cafe My House here in Ottawa. Their new location is very quaint, on Wellington St. West. The restaurant has a great backyard patio, where we sat to enjoy our meal. It was a great day for it too! Not too hot, a nice little breeze and great company!

We started by sharing the cheese plate, which had a Dill Herb cashew cheese, a coconut based Brie, a Kale crusted goat cheese and a peppercorn provolone. All vegan of course! It was accompanied by fresh berries, gluten-free crackers and pickled carrots and grapes. The cheeses were all quite distinctively delicious, with the coconut base being my favorite and the provolone a close second. It was a perfect portion to share between three of us too.

For the main course, we decided to share all 3 plates. First up is the Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Lima Bean falafels. To be honest, it wasnt my favorite of the meal. That being said, the falafels were very well cooked and pillowy soft on the inside. The panna cotta was my first time experience of the evening and I found the texture nice and creamy. The pickles on the plate and raw salad complemented the textures and tastes of the plate very well.

The next plate was a raw zucchini spaghetti bowl with a tomato sauce, kale goat cheese, spiralized beets and micro greens. I absolutely loved the combination of the sauce and cheese on the noodles. The noodles softened beautifully in the sauce and really gave the impression of pasta. I absolutely love and miss zucchini noodles and this was really a great dish overall.

Last, we had the Arugula and mushroom salad. This was so so so good. The combination of the greens, potatoes and mushrooms with a great lemon-dill cashew dressing was just the best part of this course. I could have eaten a very large bowl if this one. The greens were also particularly fresh and spicy, adding so much flavor.

Our last course was the dessert sharing plate, as you can see it is a very generous plate with 5 different desserts. All 3 of us were more than satisfied when this was done! There are 3 cheesecakes: mango, key lime and strawberry basil. All 3 had perfect texture and balance between acidity and sweetness. My favorite was definitely the strawberry basil, a great combination that I think I am going to introduce to my smoothies. The coconut tiramisu had great creamy texture with hints of coffee and chocolate flavors that hit the spot, and reminded me of an old favorite. The chocolate cake was dense and almost brownie-like in texture (it's made with coconut flour!) with a earl grey chocolate ganache on top.

Overall our dining experience was enjoyed through fully. The work and thought behind the dishes at Cafe My House shine through the entire meal and will definitely be seeing me again. Next up: I definitely want to try that brunch menu!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Butter(nut) Squash Curry

Today marks the official one year birthday of Plates for Plants! To mark this very special occasion, I am sharing a recipe thatI have been holding onto for a few months now. It's just so amazing and delicious that I had to wait for a special occasion such as today to share it with you.

Before we get to that though, I want to thank everyone who has followed Plates for Plants over the last year and helped us grow (over 41000 page views so far!). I am so grateful to be able to share with you my passion for plant-based food and health. Here's to growth and change over the next year!

This dish came to me so randomly, but that first bite was a revelation. My partner commented on how similar this tasted to what he remembers butter chicken tasting like. Now, It's been so long for me personally that I can quite remember it clearly, but I can say that it is damn good.

The butternut squash and coconut bring a nice rich creamy flavor to the dish that is really the highlight of the meal. If you can make fresh coconut cream from fresh coconuts, this is when the dish is at it's best. It can work with canned coconut milk as well, but the extra work is definitely worth it.

I've remade this about 5 times already over the past few months, which is really saying something as I rarely remake the same recipe more than a few times since I constantly try out new things to share with you.

Butternut Squash Curry

- 1 can coconut cream
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 ½ tbsp minced ginger
- 1 ½ tbsp. minced fresh turmeric
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp salt/pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cup shredded Kale
- 3 cups cubed roasted butternut squash

Note: I would absolutely suggest doubling the recipe, you'll want leftovers!

In the blender, combine the coconut cream, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and turmeric and blend until smooth.

In a large deep pan or pot, water saute the onions for about 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add a tbsp or so of water and add the spices to toast for a minute or so, until fragrant. Dump in the sauce and let cook for about 10-15 minutes, until thcikenend. Add in kale and butternut cubes. Cook until the kale is softened.

Serve over rice, with naan, or on it's own.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Strawberry Blonde Bakery

It's always a favorite activity of mine to check out the vegan and gluten free joints of the city I'm living in. Ottawa is home (again) for the next few months so I really wanted to check out what was new, what has changed and my old favorites of course!

Strawberry Blonde bakery is a cute bakery situated in west of Hintenburg, right off of *Wellington* Street West. Here is their website. They have a wide variety of treats, both sweet and savory on offer. You can make special orders from them with 48 hours notice or just pick up a few things from their lovely display.

AS I walked into the bakery, I was excited to see what they had today. I was seriously hopping they still had some cinnamon buns and their now famous fritters. *Sidenote: while this blog is all about being oil-free and low fat, I do find that exploring vegan businesses is very important. I also love cupcakes. It's all about balance!*

The brownies we're of the cakey variety. Since I'm more of a fudgey brownie person, I let other people get most of it. They enjoyed it as far as I could tell. The icing was definitely my favorite part.

My littlest brother and cousin enjoyed one of the sprinkle bedazzled cookie sammiches and scarfed them down in a glory of crumbs. I think they did the job quite well in satisfying their sweet tooth.

Ahhhhhh fritters. These were pretty darn tasty. I got a bite of the blueberry maple and ate a whole apple cinnamon one. They were crazy fluffy and I was seriously impressed with them overall. Maybe a bit more apple would ahve made them even more epic. I really suggest trying them out though. As a gluten free gal, it's not often you get to devour a donut that is better than any gluten counterpart I've ever had.

We didn't buy any of the bread, but a customer at the counter very enthusiastically gave me a glowing review.

The cakes were nice and sweet. A little denser than most, the cherry was generously spotted with real fruit and a fluffy cherry vanilla icing. The queen Elizabeth was a hit, I only got a small piece to sample and the flavor was pretty spot on from what I can remember.

Now I must speak of the cinnamon buns. They were out-of-this-world delicious and fluffy and moist. Just what yu want from a cinnamon bun. They were very very sweet though and I could only scarf down half of one before getting sugared out. I'd say they are a great treat to share.

Overall, this bakery is a great addition to the Ottawa Veg scene,I wish them the best! Although, I really dont think they need any luck with the quality of products they are creating.