Cardamom walnut-hemp milk

I’ve been making this on repeat and pouring it into steaming cups of black tea for an instant rich cup of chai. I drink three or four cups of tea a day so it doesn’t last long! My kids also love drinking it straight up.

chai tea plant-based vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces

  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (leave this out if you don’t wan't it to be chocolatey)

  • 8 pitted dates (this will be on the sweeter side), or to taste

  • 4 cloves cardamom, pods crushed and seeds removed (use only 2 or 3 if you don’t want a strong cardamom flavour)

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • pinch salt

  • 2 cups water

Process:

  1. Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak the nuts, seeds, and dates first.

  • The walnuts will (likely) leave some small fibrous bits behind. You can strain these out if you prefer; I leave them in because I can’t be bothered and because I want all the nutrition. To strain, I place a colander over a bowl and line it with a clean cotton tea towel, pour the milk through, then squeeze and wring as much liquid as possible out of the towel. You can also use a nut milk bag.

  • You can (and I do!) replace the walnuts with cashews.

  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Shake before using.

Basil cream pasta (plant-based and rich in omega 3 fats!)

It's July in Vancouver, which means it's nearly impossible to walk into a produce market without catching an intoxicating whiff of basil and needing to immediately buy a big bunch of it. Like pretty much everyone, I love pesto, but pesto sort of relies on an unholy amount of olive oil, so it's not the kind of meal I want to be eating on the regular. (I do still make and adore a low-oil pesto, but sometimes you want richness, too.)

Enter this pesto-inspired creamy basil pasta. Garlicky, savoury, and with plenty of that fresh basil aroma and flavour—but no oil, just creaminess from nuts for maximum richness that doesn't make you want to curl up on the couch and take a nap after dinner. 

creamy vegan pasta.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 PACKED cup fresh basil (tear off the thick stems)
  • 3 (or more) cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz pasta (whole grain, okay? Love, mom)

Process:

  1. Add first seven ingredients to a blender (cashews through salt). If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you may need to soak the nuts for up to two hours first. (You can speed the softening process by using hot water.) Blend until suuuper smooth. 
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions and combine with sauce. 

Note:

  • We always have pasta with a veggie sauté of some kind mixed in, too. These days, with creamy pasta meals, I'll usually do kale, mushrooms, and either vegan sausage or white beans. I sauté them together, adding a splash of wine if we’re drinking it and/or a splash of soy sauce for extra umami. Just make sure to add any greens and other softer veg towards the end so you don't overcook them. 
  • Thanks to the walnuts, one serving of this pasta contains more than half of your DRI of omega 3 fats 😎

My method for coconut lentil curry

I love making lentil curry because it it's easy, nutritious, delicious, and kid-approved. Unlike beans, lentils don't need to soak or be pre-cooked, so you can make it without planning ahead. You can make lentil curry with red lentils but today I'm sharing my method for making lentils that hold their shape after cooking (brown, green, etc).

This is a customizable method. I think you need something acidic and a source of fat in one-pot meals like this - I generally use tomatoes and coconut milk in lentil curry, but you could use lemon or lime juice and nut or seed butter instead, to suit your preferences and what you have on hand. A dollop of vegan butter would also be good (Indians tend to use ghee). 

Here's my method - this isn't written like a normal recipe but I hold that helps convey to you how utterly versatile it is! I don't usually measure and it always turns out great. There's a zillion great recipes out there on the interwebz that are similar if you need something with more specific measurements. 

Coconut lentil curry

Sauté some chopped onion til soft, then add some minced garlic and curry powder (1 tbsp-ish per cup of lentils). Add diced tomatoes (about 1 medium tomato per cup of lentils or equivalent canned) and bring to a simmer. This will form a thick, fragrant stew, and it's the basis for so many Indian dishes.

Then add rinsed dry lentils that cook up firm (I like brown) plus veggie broth or water in a 1:3 ratio. Simmer, covered, for about half an hour until lentils are soft. Near the end you can stir in some diced greens for a nutrition boost (I like kale). When lentils are soft, stir in coconut milk (about one can per 2 to 3 cups lentils) and salt.

Cauliflower is also a nice addition; just add it about 10 minutes before the lentils are done, so around 20 to 25 minutes in, depending on the lentils you're using. (Check the cooking time of the lentils if you're unsure.) Not everyone may share this opinion, but I think lentils can stand a bit of overcooking, and they're way better overcooked than under. 

Serve over brown rice, millet, quinoa, potatoes, bread, or whatever else you like! We like to garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes (and S&P of course, always).

This will thicken up as it sits and become more flavourful. It makes great leftovers and lunches, and is so nice to have in the fridge for when you need a quick meal. It also scales up well; I typically make 3 cups of lentils at a time for my hungry family, but you can easily make it 6 or more to feed a crowd... as long as your pot's big enough!

Enjoy!

coconut lentil curry
coconut lentil curry

Granola (oil-free, vegan)

I love crunchy granola (especially with a little coconut yogurt!) but this is one thing I prefer to make myself because I'd rather use whole fats instead of oil and maple syrup instead of sugar. I said "one thing" as if I don't actually love making everything myself. Okay, I love making everything myself. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This recipe is super easy and super delicious. Hope you love it! If you make any yummy amendments, let me know so I can borrow your ideas. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process:

  1. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Combine! Spread onto baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, stirring after ten.

Note:

  •  The granola won't be crunchy when it comes out of the oven (this is normal) but will crunch up as it cools.
  • Pumpkin seeds are great for zinc and walnuts are high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, but feel free to switch up the nuts and seeds! Just keep the ratios roughly the same and you should be golden.
  • If you double the recipe but still put it all on one baking tray, you'll need to add a few minutes in the oven (I do 24 minutes, stirring after 12).
  • A tip from Erin Ireland: if you like your granola to have large chunks you can pack it down with the back of your mixing spoon before baking. Apparently it works especially well with this recipe, probably because of the maple syrup? (Any food scientists out there know?)
 With chocolate coconut yogurt and cacao nibs 😋

With chocolate coconut yogurt and cacao nibs 😋

Decadent vanilla cashew milk (vegan; kid-approved)

Like most kids, my kids love flavoured milks. Sometimes we pick up a chocolate or vanilla soymilk for them (um, I'm not above a glass myself either) but usually I cringe from the sugar content. I'd rather they get their sweet fix from something like dates.

So, this morning Alister and I made a tester batch of vanilla soymilk. And then after he drank the whole thing, we made another bigger batch and wrote down the measurements, because it's that good. This is one we'll be making again and again. Hope you love it too!

vanilla cashew milk vegan plant-based

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup raw cashews
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates (loosely packed)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

Process:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and let rest for 30 minutes (more if you don't have a high-powered blender) to soften the cashews and dates.
  2. Blend until silky smooth and store in the fridge!

Notes:

  • Separation is normal. Shake before use.
  • Should keep for at least five days. 
  • If you'd like to fortify your milk so it really competes with the commercial stuff, you can also add in vitamin tablets (sometimes I put vitamins B12 and/or D in my homemade milks).

Lentil-Walnut Bolognese (Vegan!)

This is one of my absolute favourite things to eat: rich, hearty, healthy plant-based bolognese made subtly sweet and complex from a long, slow simmer. 🤤 Comfort food at its best! This sauce makes enough to generously smother over 1 lb of pasta.

 Lentil walnut bolognese topped with easy homemade  vegan parm esan 😋

Lentil walnut bolognese topped with easy homemade vegan parmesan 😋

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil (for sauteing; if oil-free, use a splash of water or broth)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, ground in food processor (see pic below)
  • 2 cups mushrooms (any kind), chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground in food processor (see pic below)
  • 1.5 cups or 14 oz can brown or green lentils
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

Process:

  1. Heat large pot over medium heat. Add oil and onion and saute until soft.
  2. Add garlic, carrot, mushrooms, and zucchini and saute just until mushrooms have started to release their moisture and zucchini has started to soften.
  3. Add walnuts, lentils, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and salt. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup water so that your sauce is thick but simmer-able. (You can't go wrong!)
  4. Simmer, covered, for at least ten minutes and ideally for about an hour to help develop the flavours and bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
 ground walnuts

ground walnuts

 ground carrots

ground carrots

Some of My Favourite Thanksgiving & Christmas Recipes

We aren't super traditional, but twice a year—on Thanksgiving and Christmas—I love cooking a big, classic harvest feast: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cranberry sauce, and a centrepiece dish (over the years this has been homemade or commercial plant-based meats, chickpea tarts, and stuffed squash). Pumpkin pie for dessert is essential.

IMG_5995.JPG

I keep it simple with the veggies—they're just going to get drowned in gravy anyway, let's be honest. The green beans get pan fried or steamed until just soft, maybe tossed with some crispy onions. The Brussels sprouts get sliced in half, tossed with olive oil and salt, and roasted at 425 for 18 to 20 minutes until brown and crisp. The potatoes get cubed, boiled, drained, then mashed with Earth Balance (vegan butter) and unsweetened soymilk until the texture is smooth.

And here, below, are my recipes for gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. These are beloved staples in my family and I can't imagine a harvest table without them.

Our Favourite Creamy Gravy

With chickpea flour used for thickening, this is gravy you can feel good about eating with a spoon. (I won't judge.) I posted this recipe on Instagram during the most recent Canadian Thanksgiving and heard from quite a few people that they'd made it and loved it, so consider this recipe tested and approved.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil, for sauteeing (if you're oil-free, just use splashes of water)

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped (don't worry about getting it too fine—this will be blended)

  • 1 cup chickpea flour

  • 1 tsp powdered dried thyme

  • 1 tsp dried sage

  • 5 cups veggie broth or water

  • 1/2 cup tamari

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 tsp salt (note: if you use broth with salt added, you may need to skip this)

Process:

  1. Heat a large pan or wide pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and garlic and saute until soft.

  2. Stir in the chickpea flour, thyme, and sage and combine well.

  3. Whisk in the veggie broth (or water), tamari, nutritional yeast, and salt. Whisking constantly, bring it to a simmer for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat.

  4. Blend until smooth! Since it's a hot liquid, make sure you're letting the steam out of the blender, or you may have a no-good-very-bad explosion on your hands.

Classic Stuffing

This is based on the stuffing from the Joy of Cooking (remember that classic white cookbook in everyone's kitchens?), which I grew up eating. I veganized and healthified it, and changed up the cooking process to make it (I think) easier. This stuffing is edible nostalgia for me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil, for sauteeing (if you're oil-free, just use splashes of water)

  • 4 cups onions, diced (about 2 large onions)

  • 6 cups bread crumbs (I just put our fave Silver Hills sprouted whole grain bread in the food processor until it becomes crumbs)

  • 4 sticks celery, chopped

  • 2 tbsp melted Earth Balance, olive oil, or just skip it

  • 1 tsp each: dried sage, dried thyme, dried oregano, paprika (if you don't have or like any of these, just skip em)

  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

  • veggie broth or water, to taste (used for moistening)

Process:

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat, then saute the onion in the olive oil until soft.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (if stuffing into squash) or baking pan. Stir in small splashes of broth or water until mixture becomes moist and just holds together (don't overdo it or you'll end up with mush).

  3. Either cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes until hot, or stuff into squash and bake as needed.

Tart Cranberry Sauce

Nothing fancy here. Just a basic cranberry sauce with half the usual amount of sugar so it adds a nice, tart pop to our rich feast smothered in creamy gravy... ugh, drooling just thinking about it 😍

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz bag of cranberries

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup sugar of choice

Process:

  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, combine, and bring to a simmer.

  2. Simmer over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally until cranberries are popped and sauce is thickened and smooth, about 20 minutes.

Healthy, Gooey Spinach & Artichoke Dip (Vegan; Only 8 Ingredients!)

 Vegan spinach & artichoke, broiled and ready to go to a book club :)

Vegan spinach & artichoke, broiled and ready to go to a book club :)

I stopped eating animal-based cheese because I was disturbed by how animals are treated on modern dairy farms, not because I don't love creamy, gooey, decadent food—I'm still human! Growing up, if there was a spinach and artichoke dip on the menu, I wanted to order it (let's be honest. I still do).

These old-school dips tend to rely on ingredients like melted cheese, cream cheese, and mayonnaise—sure, we vegans can easily replicate spinach dip using plant-based versions of these dairy ingredients, and there are some seriously good ones on the market these days. But while I'm all for a splurge once in a while, I feel better eating and feeding my loved ones healthier versions most of the time. And I swear, this healthy spinach & artichoke dip sacrifices nothing in flavour or texture!

A good spinach & artichoke dip is two things: creamy and gooey. For creaminess in recipes, I pretty much always turn to cashew cream—cashews soaked in a little water and blended up into a cream sauce. Tapioca flour (or starch) miraculously creates gooey, plant-based cheesiness, and is used in many commercial non-dairy cheeses and non-dairy cheese recipes.

Combining these two ingredients/techniques makes the perfect cheesy base for spinach and artichoke hearts, with the addition of just a few more spices and seasonings. I'll definitely be making this again and again for parties and holidays! I hope you love it as much as we do.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cashews added to blender with 1.5 cups hot water and left to soak for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour (or starch)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (if you don't have it, no problem—just use black or cayenne pepper to taste)
  • 3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 cups finely chopped spinach (or about 5 oz frozen spinach, thawed)

Process:

  1. Blend cashews, water, nutritional yeast, tapioca flour, onion powder, salt, and pepper until smooth. Pour into medium saucepan.
  2. Heat sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. The sauce will start to thicken and form curdles; keep stirring until it becomes smooth, thick, and glossy. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped artichoke hearts. (Note: At this point, if the dip is too thick for your taste, you can whisk in additional water to thin.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat the spinach in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes until it wilts. Scrape the spinach along with any juices into the other ingredients.
  4. Now you can eat the dip as is, broil it to get a brown crust, or store it for later (just heat at 350 for about 20 minutes or until heated through). Enjoy!
 After blending the sauce will be pourable

After blending the sauce will be pourable

 After heating and stirring for a few minutes, it will start to form curdles

After heating and stirring for a few minutes, it will start to form curdles

 It's done when it's smooth and thick

It's done when it's smooth and thick

 Chopped marinated artichoke hearts

Chopped marinated artichoke hearts

 Wilted chopped spinach

Wilted chopped spinach

 You can eat it right away, I won't judge :)

You can eat it right away, I won't judge :)

 Healthy gooey-ness

Healthy gooey-ness

 ... or broil it in an oven-safe container

... or broil it in an oven-safe container

Welcome to my new recipes section!

Welcome to my new recipes section!

I have mixed feelings about starting this section.

It’s important to me to show people how to cook simple plant-based meals without recipes, because I think becoming confident in preparing healthful, delicious meals with little effort requires liberation from recipes. No need to waste time measuring everything, procure obscure ingredients that will sit in your cupboard or fridge unused because you don’t know how to use them, or spend time poring over recipes and creating elaborate meals that leave you exhausted and calling for take-out the next night. I cringe when I see recipes for a bowl, like two cups of lettuce and half a cup of cabbage—no! Just use the veggies you like or have on hand and in the quantities that you like or have on hand.

At the same time, I recognize that recipes can serve as a source of inspiration, a jumping off point for sharing ideas, processes and ingredients. And replicating a dish does require replicating the quantities and ingredients; measurements are how we record and communicate this information. I have definitely used many recipes over the years, and still reach for cookbooks when making old favourites. But these days, most of the time I’m free styling, and I hope to empower you to do the same!

So I’ll be sharing some recipes, but an invitation: don’t follow them! If you have an extra half cup of beans, toss em in. Missing a spice? Skip it! If you don’t like a particular veggie, use one you prefer instead. If you follow my Instagram stories, you know that I toss in veggies and spices pretty casually with half of my attention on my kids. It’s always fine! 

I hope you enjoy the recipes, and I also hope you adapt, ignore and improve them. Happy cooking!

 The only thing I love more than my cookbooks is not using my cookbooks :)

The only thing I love more than my cookbooks is not using my cookbooks :)