Tag Archives: Vegan

Eating Raw with Doug McNish + a Giveaway!

22 Apr

Parsnip carrot pesto fettucine

Several factors have prompted me to reconsider how I eat over the past couple of years. The first thing is simple enough: I’m getting older, and if I’m going to continue to eat bacon and foie gras from time to time, I know I need to focus on lighter and healthier meals when I’m not consuming rich foods. Also, I’ve slowly but surely gotten onboard with Jenny’s fascination with vegetarian cooking. And with my sister-in-law embarking on a career as a holistic nutritionist, I’m getting healthy eating info from yet another source.

So when I was sent a copy of Toronto chef Doug McNish’s first cookbook, Eat Raw, Eat Well, my curiosity was piqued. While I can probably count on one hand the number of raw food dishes that I’ve eaten, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the flavours in most of them (If you haven’t had the jicama fries from Belmonte Raw, for example, you’re missing out.)

Raw food, in a nutshell, is vegan in most cases, and focuses on maintaining as many of the nutrients as possible in the ingredients used. That means that most of the dishes are prepared without heat, and those that do use heat are not heated beyond roughly 105 degrees. Given those parameters, someone who has never eaten raw might be excused for thinking that raw food must be boring and limited in flavour. But as I pointed out above, that doesn’t have to be the case, and the 400 recipes in Doug McNish’s book prove that. There is a wide variety of recipes for smoothies, breakfast foods, soups, mains and desserts that incorporate vegetables, herbs, fruit, grains, legumes and nuts to create flavourful and multi-textured meals.

But there are clearly some limitations for those not fully invested in the raw food lifestyle. First, the heated dishes sound interesting, but require a food dehydrator (something my cramped kitchen isn’t equipped with). I can get my oven down as low as 170 F, but only a dehydrator can cook at a controlled 105 degrees, the temperature called for in most of these recipes.

The book also doesn’t include cooking times. The recipe we tried, below, was prep-heavy. And while the 25 minutes or so that I spent preparing “noodles” with a veggie peeler was fairly low-stress work, I’m not sure I would have felt the same way on a Tuesday evening as I did on a Sunday afternoon. With cooking times listed, it would be easier to gauge which recipes one should attempt with the time they have available.

Finally, there’s no nutritional value listed for the recipes in Eat Raw, Eat Well. We were concerned with the amount of protein in the dish we prepared, so we ate it alongside salmon.

That said, this book is definitely staying in my kitchen. I can see myself working more raw meals into my diet, and I do think that a lot of the recipes here would also make for amazing side dishes next to fish or egg dishes.

Want to win a copy of Eat Raw, Eat Well? We have one copy to give away to a reader of Communal Table. Just leave a comment below, letting us know why you want to win this book. We’ll pick a winner from all comments left by next Saturday, April 28, and post the winner’s name here as well as letting them know via email. Good luck!

UPDATE 4/30: Congrats to “Onadistantshore,” who won our draw for a copy of Eat Raw, Eat Well. Enjoy the book!

Carrot parsnip fettucine McNish raw

Doug McNish’s Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine (Makes 2 servings)

When Jenny and I made this, we decided to use just two garlic cloves instead of the three called for below, and in hindsight I think I’d use a bit less hemp seed oil than called for (maybe 2/3 of a cup). But we loved the fresh, vibrant flavour of the dish, and we’ll definitely make it again.

3 large carrots, peeled
3 large parsnips, peeled
1 tbsp (15ml) tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 1⁄2 tbsp (22 ml) fine sea salt, divided
3⁄4 cup (175 ml) cold-pressed hemp oil
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) raw shelled hemp seeds
3 cloves garlic
3 cups (750 ml) chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and parsnips into long, thin strips, dropping into a bowl as completed. Add olive oil, 1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice and 1⁄4 tsp (1 ml) salt and toss until vegetables are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, until softened.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process hemp oil and seeds, garlic and remaining lemon juice and salt, until somewhat smooth but the hemp seeds retain some texture. Add cilantro and process until chopped and blended, stopping the motor once to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add pesto to fettuccine, toss well and serve.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Vegan Muffins: One Batter, Four Ways

13 Dec

I just may be the only non-vegan writing about vegan-friendly and healthy baked goods during the holiday season. But it’s exactly the right time of year, for me anyway, to be looking for healthy alternatives in the face of so much holiday excess.

I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I do love alternative recipes, interesting textures and different, healthful ways of looking at food. I tend to go for vegetarian options more often than not, simply because I love the fresh ingredients and flavors that they’re typically made with. Anything gluten-free, vegan or raw will always catch my attention – though not at the expense of giving up a good burger or charcuterie plate.

See? You really can have it all! At least when it comes to food.

I have a little thing for all of the vegan and gluten-free goodies from Sweets from the Earth. Their lavender-chocolate cupcakes and organic medjool date squares are decadent pieces of heaven. One bite of any of their treats will make you forget you’re eating a healthier alternative to traditional baked goods, and I very much appreciate that.

Well, I’m no professional baker but I did find a simple recipe for vegan banana muffins that I could make easily at home, and they’ve become a staple. After reading through a bunch of recipes online, this one really stood out to me because of the minimal ingredients and the fact that there’s absolutely no refined sugar in the batter. These muffins are sweetened with dates and applesauce, and have soymilk in them for a bit of added protein and richness.

I’ve taken the recipe further by adding in a few little treats. With the last batch I made, I decided to make half of the muffins with the regular batter, and half with cocoa powder added for some chocolatey goodness.  I then sprinkled some semi-sweet chocolate chips into some, and walnuts into others.

This one simple batter made four different kinds of muffins in one batch:

–       Banana Walnut

–       Banana Chocolate Chip

–       Chocolate Banana Walnut

–       Double Chocolate Banana

They were all delicious, though my favorite is the simple banana walnut. I’m not going to lie and tell you that these are the most delicious muffins I’ve ever had. That would be a big fat lie, actually.

But these are the easiest and healthiest muffins I’ve ever made at home, and I feel really good about eating them for breakfast or as a snack. They’re really nicely balanced nutrition-wise and they definitely satisfy a craving for baked goods when you’re trying to eat healthy at home (and you’re all out of Sweets From The Earth’s more sophisticated goodies).

Vegan Banana Muffins (adapted from chooseveg.com – a great recipe resource!)

Basic Recipe (makes 12 small muffins):

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 large, very ripe bananas

1 1/4 cups applesauce (I use unsweetened applesauce to keep the sugar content down)

1/2 cup dates

1/2 cup soymilk (I use plain unsweetened soymilk but you can use vanilla for added flavor)

Additions:

Cocoa powder

Chopped walnuts

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

If you’re going to make the chocolate version in the same batch as the plain ones, divide your flour mixture evenly into two separate bowls. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to one of the bowls and mix well.

Using a blender, puree the bananas and dates. Add the applesauce and soymilk and mix well.

Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a very dense final product.

If you’ve divided your dry ingredients into chocolate and ‘plain’, try to pour the wet mixture into the two bowls as evenly divided as you can.

Fill non-stick muffin cups with the batter.

To quickly and easily make different versions of the muffins, I spoon one spoonful of batter into a muffin cup, then add either walnuts or chocolate chips, mix with my finger and top with more batter. Then, I use a whole walnut or a small handful of chocolate chips as a garnish (and a visual reminder of what each muffin has inside!).

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Enjoy without guilt.

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