Category Archives: Lunch and Supper

Recipe: Easy creamy spaghetti (no soaking cashews!)

I’ve always been more of a tomato sauce girl, but sometimes, especially when the temperature falls, you just need a good plate of creamy carbs to get you through the evening. When I started making creamy pasta sauces in university, it made me feel like a “real” cook.

Not to mention it’s comforting as hell in the fall!

When I went vegan, I was bored to tears to know that I would either have to a) shell out lots of money for novelty vegan Alfredo sauce (and not be able to control what it tasted like) or b) soak cashews for several hours with the resulting sauce being something that was never as smooth as I wanted it to  be.

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Recipe: The Big Stuffed Squash

I’ll admit I was a big worried when we went up to my cousin’s wedding in Wawa, ON. Of course, my cousin assured me that Jarrod and I would get a vegan meal, but when our plane landed in Sault Ste. Marie and we prepared for a two-hour drive up a beautiful but very remote highway without even half a dozen truck stops, I realized that the weekend was not going to be easy.

When we got to Wawa, the first thing we did was go to the grocery store (yep, the one). Jarrod and I found some cereal and soy milk for the mornings and some healthy snacks (and some not-so-healthy because duh, it’s a party weekend). I gnawed on potato chips and Bark Thins while my cousins ate pulled pork at the Friday night party and ate Tim Horton’s oatmeal for lunch. Then, finally, when we sat for the reception, we were greeted with the most beautiful creation.

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Pad Thai burgers

One thing I would love to talk about more on this blog about — if given the chance — is the evolution of how I went from an extremely picky eater to a decidedly unadventurous eater and then finally a total food daredevil.

Here’s a short version: Growing up, I had a lot of weird taste and texture sensitivities to food that would seemingly develop overnight, and I’d go from totally loving a food one day to having a terrible aversion to it. The fear, anxiety and embarrassment only made things worse, and I’d be too afraid to even take a bite of something. It certainly made things difficult for my parents for a long time. In high school, I started to outgrow the full-blown aversions, but I definitely didn’t branch out and try a lot of new things. The main reason for this was that I simply hadn’t been exposed to a lot of foods beyond a typical meat and potatoes diet. My town was very French-Canadian and, well, super white. The most diverse food we had was grocery store sushi.

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Cooking with Leftovers: Mighty Greens Soup

Long time, no see, blog friends! Work has been really crazy lately and unfortunately I’ve been a bit too focused on getting stuff done to post recipes. The good news? I’ve been writing down every good thing I make. I’m at a point now where I have a surplus of recipes, I just can’t decide what to post! I’ve decided to go with a soup post — in particular, this mighty green soup, because Jarrod and I have made a great point of eating tons more veggies than usual lately. What can I say? Dietary fibre is important!

Soup season may feel like it’s over, but I can assure you that’s just propaganda peddled by the anti-soup special interest groups.

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Easy tempeh nuggets with Szechuan dipping sauce

I never really post tempeh recipes on here because to be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of tempeh. Yes, I, the girl who would live off of Bloomer’s tempeh reuben sandwich if she could, think that tempeh can be kind of blah. And that, I will fully chalk up to me not being that great at cooking tempeh. Also? Tofu is cheaper.

But sometimes you’re in Noah’s and you see a nice brick of tempeh on sale for just over half of what you’d normally pay for it and that fermented bean cake is lookin’ pretty good to you, isn’t it?

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Quick “fish-ish” tacos with two-minute slaw

Let’s talk about let-downs.

Jarrod and I have been following our New Years Resolution to cook more at home and we are loving it. Every day I tease him about being a “salad guy” at work because he’s always so proud of bringing in a big, colourful salad full of tomatoes and zucchini and carrots and greens. Then at night we come home and usually have a nice big grain and veggie bowl, or some soup for our souls.

But the past couple weekends have been a bit stressful — Jarrod’s train club had its winter open-house two weekends in a row which meant that I didn’t really get to see him all weekend, including on the long weekend.

Missing Jarrod on weekends is hard. We are both so busy during the week that our weeknights together end up being pretty quiet, but we love taking walks, making food and going on dates during the weekend. So on the third day of Family Day weekend, we decided that Jarrod would leave his train show early and we’d go to Bloomer’s for a limited-time special they were hosting — eggplant “fish” and chips.

Jar’s British, so as you can imagine, he was pretty excited for the idea.

So excited, in fact, that we forgot to check the time that Bloomer’s was open until. After about a half-hour subway ride, we emerged from the underground to find Bloomer’s in darkness, having closed before we even left our place. With no one to blame but ourselves, all we could do was laugh all the way back home.

Fortunately, when you have a well-stocked fridge and a good imagination, there’s no telling what you can and can’t do. Could we make a facsimile for breaded fish and chips? Well, not quite yet. But we did manage to pull together an easy, slightly “fishy” flavoured tofu filet and a classic purple ‘slaw to make what I’m calling “fish-ish” tacos without the heavy breading. I’ll leave that to Bloomer’s!

Fish-ish tacos with two-minute slaw

Prep time: 20 minutes passive (tofu pressing), 10 minutes active
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Four tacos
Allergen info: Nut-free, gluten-free (depending on choice of taco wraps)
Alternate options: For a grain-free option, use lettuce wraps instead of wheat or corn tortillas
Kitchen tools required: Knives and cutting board, mixing bowl, frying pan and spatula

 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 of a block firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 7.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) onion powder
  • 0.62 ml (1/4 tbsp) kelp granules
  • Dash of Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • One lemon, cut into wedges
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) shredded carrot
  • 250 ml (1 cup) finely sliced purple cabbage
  • One shallot, finely chopped
  • Scant 63 ml (1/4 cup) vegan mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Press the tofu (about 20 minutes) and slice into eight “nuggets” down the short side of the block.
  2. Rub the tofu lightly with a lemon wedge.
  3. Sprinkle on the onion powder, salt and pepper, kelp granules and Old Bay Seasoning if using.
  4. Cook in a frying pan over medium-high heat using only a bit of oil for five minutes per side or until golden and crispy.
  5. Make the slaw: thinly slice the cabbage and grate the carrots, toss with the chopped shallot and mix thoroughly with vegan mayonnaise and salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble the tacos — two tofu nuggets per taco, a generous heaping of slaw and whatever else you feel like. We added avocados and cilantro, but get creative!

You want my advice? Enjoy this on a patio if you’re one of the lucky Torontonians experiencing above-10-degree weather! Okay, bring a sweater, but still — don’t let these sunny days pass you by!


Slow-cooker tofu bulgogi

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d find those irritating one-minute cooking videos (you know, the kind people share on Facebook that usually feature an entire brick of cream cheese?) useful to me. But lo and behold, one of my foodie cousins shared a video that must have started autoplaying before I was playing attention (when the first frame says “2 lbs of flank steak” I’m likely to feel ill before I even consider moving forward in the video) because I actually found myself thinking, “Hmm, I could veganize this.”

We don’t use our slow-cooker very much (Jarrod has pointed out that it’s older than me), but after getting a ton of shit done on Saturday, I decided I’d earned a less “involved” dinner. To the slow-cooker!

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Cooking with leftovers: Zucchini pakoras

Zucchini Pakoras

So, how are everyone’s New Years resolutions going? Believe it or not, I actually kind of made some this year after a lifetime of dismissing resolutions as stupid. I didn’t set out specific goals (which I realize is what everyone tells you you should do), but I did tell myself that I would take steps to be more organized — planning ahead more, taking an inventory of the things I have, tracking my habits, not allowing myself to get away with laziness.

We’re only 18 days into the new year and I can already see some payoff — of course, this might  mean that we’re totally capable of falling off the wagon. But let’s just take some time to celebrate some positive changes Jarrod and I have made, which include:

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Budget-friendly golden curry

golden curry

Would you believe I’d never tried curry until after I was almost ready to head off to university? Chalk that up to growing up in a small town where the most diverse food you could find was a Chinese buffet and maybe sushi at the grocery store. I’ll admit that growing up in such an environment often made me scared to try new foods, and the first time I tried curry (I was 16 and touring a Sikh temple with my classmates) I was so scared. Would it be too spicy? Would it be too weird of a combination of foods? Would I offend people if I made a weird face?

But the curry — and the whole meal, to be honest — turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Turns out, curry is one of the easiest ways to get in a ton of nutrients for cheap when you’re a student, so I loved making curries when I was in university, particularly potato and tofu-based ones (and I wasn’t even a vegan back then).

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Baked BBQ Yuba sandwich

yuba-bake

Several months ago, a Toronto institution closed. I’m talking about Porter House, a small pub in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood that specialized in amazing pub food that just happened to be cruelty-free — like their amazing charcuterie board featuring miso-cured tofu and chestnut-mushroom confit, their cauliflower curry fries and the warm and inviting lentil-ale pie.

Porter House was special because it didn’t fit the mold of the typical juice cleanse/grain and veggie bowl/clean eating vegan places (Kupfert and Kim, Rawlicious), nor did it fit in with the super-indulgent, faux-meat type places like Hogtown Vegan and Doomie’s.

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