What do you do with Kale?

I passed my one year anniversary since I started my vegan eating lifestyle this January and I feel like I’m finally starting to feel more comfortable with preparing my food and eating right – like a real vegan!

I’ve been doing LOTS of great cooking. Got some new vegan cookbooks for Christmas and also got to have a visit with my friend Brittanie (the mother of soon to be 3, who cooks vegan/raw for her whole family..amazing!). I’ve been wrestling with trying to eat less soy, and convenience vegan products. I tried to cut them all out for a few weeks but I ended up just eating poorly because when I was too tired or busy to cook a proper meal I wasn’t eating anything but carbs/bread. So I have frozen happy planet soups, tofu, daiya cheese, veganaise, tofutti sour cream etc back in the fridge! Still trying to eat mostly home cooked veggies but I just feel more secure knowing I could make some vegan pizza with melted daiya cheese in a pinch!

One of the new books I got is Bake and Destroy which I am loving. Such fun recipes. Lots of comfort foods. I’ve been making a few of them and posting them to my instagram account @denisebutlett. Used a new ingredient, Jackfruit, which is pretty neat and the book uses it as a substitute for pulled pork! All the fun cooking is making me feel better about the intense rain we’ve been having in Vancouver – apparently we’ve already filled our entire quota for January and we’re only half way through. I hope my life dries out soon. In the mean time I’ll keep cooking and eating.

Okay so back to the point of this post. My sister texted me (from summery tomorrowland Australia) and told me she was channeling me and bought a big bunch of kale, got it home, and didn’t know what to do with it. I got so excited while telling her my favourite uses for kale, I wanted to share it with everyone!

1. Kale Smoothies: Kale smoothies are basically my go to breaky in a pinch. I like them with banana, pineapple, berries, chia seeds, citrus fruits, coconut water and the occasional half pack of soft tofu. I’ve used other fruits in a pinch too…and carrot juice or just water as liquid! I’ve been meaning to get some spirulina and get that algae in there for extra health boots but have not yet done so.

2. Kale Pesto: This is a most amazing sauce that is delicious on a variety of salads, tossed on roasted root veg, spread on pizza as sauce, tossed into pasta, rice or other grain! Nom! It is sauteed garlic and kale – basically just saute until the kale becomes that rich green colour and the garlic is just a little golden (I just smash whole cloves and put them in the pan with the kale without any chopping). Okay then you take your sauteed kale and garlic, put them in a blender with walnuts, salt, a bit of lemon juice and enough water to change the consistency to match whatever it is you want to do with the pesto. Blend. Fini!

3. Kale Chips: Mmmm I like this with a “cheese” cashew sauce (there are a variety of recipes out there for this kind of sauce mine has soaked cashews, onions, red pepper, nutritional yeast, mustard, a little bragg (or soy) sauce, and some liquid (water, almond milk …ugh whatever is in my fridge) but I have seen just a salt and pepper or salt and vinegar style which is probably easier (but must be less tastey). For mine, you make the “cheese” sauce first and make sure to keep it quite thick – it needs to coat the kale. Then you make sure your kale is very DRY, then rip it into chip sizes…or you can just cut out the rib and keep it whole to break later. Coat the kale in sauce, put it in the oven at a very low heat until it is very dry and crispy (the best way to do this is actually to put it in a dehydrator for a good chunk of your life but I can’t afford a new dehydrator so that’s that). When they’re done they will be the best nacho cheese kale chips and they won’t really last long enough (while you scarf them) but they’ll be so good…so worth it!

4. Kale Slaw: I like a raw kale salad any time, but this salad is expecially tastey…and easy! I do a very fine chiffonade of the kale (long skinny slices), slice red cabbage and carrots on my mandolin slicer (love my mandolin slicer) to make them very thin. I presume this would be easily done in a food processor too but won’t look as long and beautiful! Toss them all in a vinaigrette sauce (with lots of grainy mustard) and top with sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds or some other tastey seed. I also just like to add fresh herbs to any of my salads because someone once told me that they are high in vitamin K (good for heart health!) and they taste amazing of course. I’m a little obsessed with cilantro. I even bought cilantro lip balm. Obsessed.

Eat your greens! Happy kale consumtion!

Porridge for breakfast

My naturopath told me a number of years ago that eating whole grains (heavy on the bran) is important at breakfast time. She was right. Eating hot cereals and putting bran in my smoothies really helps to get my digestive system in gear for the day ahead and keeps me regular.

Before going vegan, I enjoyed hot porridge with cream cooked in, a few raisins and cinnamon in my bowl topped with cold milk and brown sugar. I wondered what I would do without the dairy…the answer is that I would experiment and make lots of delicious porridge combinations that I never would have tried otherwise! Oh and I still love the cinnamon raisin or cinnamon apple combos just to be clear…these are just some other ideas to keep things interesting!

I sometimes use regular just plain oats in my porridge but also use mixes with flax, bran, and other grains sometimes as well. Just depends what I bought at the store! For these combinations I’ll start the oats and throw the other ingredients in as I grab them out if the cupboard…as long as everything is hot you should be good to go!

Favorite combo 1:
Sweet potato pie
The day or two before: roast a yam or sweet potato (or two) whole in the oven until very tender inside at 350 ish. They need to be very soft. You can alternatively peel, chop and steam them in a pinch but I like the roasted flavour.

Start your oats. (I use water or a water-nut milk mixture for liquid).

Add in:
Your soft roasted sweet potato flesh
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground all spice
A pinch of ground ginger
A pinch of ground nutmeg
A little salt
A dab of honey or agave syrup or maple syrup or brown rice syrup (or you can drizzle this on top afterward which is what I like to do)
Voila! A very hearty and delicious breaky!

image

Favorite combo 2:
Coconut date

Start your oats!

Add in:
Chopped dates (1/2 cup-ish)
Shaved or shredded coconut
Crushed walnuts
A pinch of salt (don’t need to add salt if your walnuts are salted)

Done! So easy! So tastey!

Favorite combo 3:
Chocolate pudding

Start your oats!

Add a handful of pure dark chocolate chips
A Dash of vanilla
Shredded or shaved coconut
1 banana sliced up
A pinch of salt

Done!
This one tastes like chocolate pudding. You will feel so guilty eating it because you won’t believe that breakfast should be that nummy. Mmmm I’m drooling just writing about it.

This list could go on forever but those are my favs. I’ve been meaning to try a banana nut version with walnuts, and I thought about doing a peanut butter combo too. Will test and get back to you.

So hungry for breaky now!

Back to writing!

I’ve been feeling guilty about not keeping up with my vegan writing so I’ve made a new resolution to write on Saturdays while out walking the mutts! I’ll find a place like this

image

And try to ignore the desperate attempts to get me to throw a stick. This spot is nicely hidden from the main hiking trail and right by a small, beautiful and bubbly waterfall. Out in nature – the perfect place to write about food!

I’ve been stressed out because I’ve had to close my daycare facility (landlords doubled my rent) so I’ve taken a big financial hit and have had to start back at square one with just the hiking service I’ve had since the beginning. A humbling and somewhat relieving change. A decrease in responsibility but also what feels like a step backward in business. I’m hoping once I’m back on my feet financially I’ll have more time for training and competing in agility with Calisi and also some free time to pursue other interests like take the “Into to raw food cooking” class my partner Scott got me for my birthday! Can’t wait to check that out. I may even consider working toward a raw food chef certification that is offered at the same place as the class.

When I’m stressed I usually don’t eat that well and fall into some fatty food comfort indulgences but I’ve found that I’m so interested in learning new vegan recipes that the poor eating has been minimal and I’ve actually made some very delicious dishes over the last couple of months! I think I’ll write about the recipes in individual posts so that they don’t get lost in one big vomit of a recipe post. They are all keepers. I only post up the most delicious!

They are mostly savory dishes….mostly because I try not to eat many sweets and replace them with just fruit salad or a bit of dark chocolate when I have a craving. I also found that there are a plethora of recipes for vegan sweets and baking out there and not enough of regular every day meals. On top of that, regular every day vegan meals that don’t rely heavily on hydrogenated oil products, soy or other meat replacement products, and/or processed wheat products. I’m trying to keep my cooking for the majority made up of veggies, fruit, grains, legumes and things in their natural states (olive oil in liquid form for instance). Keeping it real!

Oooooh and another thing is I’ve found instagram very useful in looking at other people’s vegan food and in finding motivation in getting back into shape. Lots of vegan athletes out there. So I’ve started working out again…besides my usual daily hikes…and as long as I stick with it will see some firming up where there is currently jiggle. On that note I thought I should add that stress usually makes me break out in zits on my face and back, but not so much this time. I attribute it to all the veggies! Thanks veganism for keeping my tough times less on display for the world!

Recipe posts to come, commence drooling.

Satisfying a craving for tomato salad!

I was standing in the kitchen tonight thinking about going out to get something for dinner when I had a sudden craving for tomato salad…which, luckily, I have the ingredients for! I’m eating it right now…mmmm eating something you are craving is the best feeling.

image

This salad really just involves a lot of chopping and a wee bit of sauteeing..very easy!

In a bowl mix:
1/2 of a cucumber chopped
3 vine tomatoes seeded and chopped (if you don’t take out the seeds it makes the salad too wet)
1 ripe avocado chopped
A few basil leaves chiffonaded (leaves rolled up and finely chopped)
Some crushed walnuts
A sprinkling of hemp seeds
A sprinkling of salt
A drizzle of olive oil
A drizzle if pomegranate vinegar (balsamic or your fav fruit vinegar works too)

image

Then roughly chop some red onion and saute it on med-low until translucent. Note that you can add the onion in raw but it hurts my stomach so I saute it a bit to take the edge off…if my bbq was set up I would have grilled it instead! Smokiness mmmmmmm.

image

When the onions are done I put the pot in the fridge to chill a bit. Teeth mix into the rest of the veggies and go nuts! So tastey and full of raw veggie goodness!

Easy and delish red coconut curry and tropical rice!

I made this recipe (adapted from my quick fix vegan cookbook) a while ago and have been craving it again so that means it’s a keeper in my books! I love making it even more because it’s pretty easy and there are always leftovers. Leftovers lead to better eating decisions (aka not bread and crackers) when I’m seeing hunger red and need to shove food in my mouth asap!

image

image

For the curry:

Start with a big pot on medium with a Tbsp or so of oil in the bottom and saute
1 onion roughly chopped
4 carrots roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 a head of cauliflower roughly chopped
1 Tbsp (amount really depends on how spicy you want it) of red curry paste
Saute these ingredients until the onions are translucent and the curry paste had melted and covers everything. Then add:
1 big can of diced tomatoes (or two little ones)
That empty tomato can full of water
1 cup or so of cooked/canned chickpeas
1 can of coconut milk (I like the fatty kinds with the solid on top! Numnum)
1 cup or so of fresh peas (or frozen ones…but ew if you can get em fresh, do it…don’t worry about taking the extra time to de-pod them…so much better, so worth it)
A bit of salt and pepper
Now let this come to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is fork soft! While that is going on…

Tropical rice:

I like to use a rice blend for this recipe for extra flava and nutrients!

image

So cook the rice as usual (1 part rice to 2 parts water, heat on high till boiling, reduce to low and simmer till water is absorbed), then add some chopped fresh pineapple (or canned but I like the acidity of fresh pineapple) and pumpkin seeds! Mmmmm so good. I imagine that some other tropical fruits would be delightful in this as well but I have yet to try!

The pineapple and curry flavours are a killer combo when you have these two together! Mmmm can’t wait to eat this again tomorrow!

Light vegan breakfast for summer! Or for a snack…

As always, I’ve been so swamped lately that I haven’t been cooking as much as I’d like and have been relying heavily on Bandidas on commercial drive for their tastey vegan burritos to keep me going at dinner time. I’ve also been making burritos in our new place (mostly because the kitchen is still in disorder..moving sucks) but my burritos are really just random chopped veggies, cilantro and some kind of beans rolled up in a wrap….so lazy!
I got a little off topic there explaining my vast silence between posts…breakfast is where I’m headed. My friend Kelly introduced me to puffed grains recently and I’m pretty excited about it so I wanted to try out some puffed quinoa I got at Donald’s market. I also got some almond yogurt to try out and this morning I put two and two together and voila, healthy and filling vegan breaky!
To jazz up this almond yogurt and puffed grain combo I added some chopped fresh pineapple and mango as well as a sprinkle of poppy seeds. I think this bowl would be great with other fresh or dried fruits and nuts too. I have some papaya in the fridge that I may try out with strawberries tomorrow….yum! Just love summer!

image

Raw vegan brownies!

When I have a chocolate craving these days all I can think about is the raw vegan brownie that mom and I had at Heirloom restaurant while she was visiting. So I finally made up my mind to stop eating banana chips and chocolate chips (alternately…like banana chip, chocolate chips, banana chip, chocolate chips…the laziest dessert ever) and really get down to the mystery of what was in those delicious brownies!

I found a few sources that had fairly similar recipes, so I kind of took those and used what I had at home and made a glorious experimental batch using my new food processor. (I love getting any new kitchen tools…but the food processor is SO great.)

This recipe is approximate because I didn’t really measure anything:

1 cup of dates (you can soak them beforehand to make them softer if they are super hard)
2/3 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of raw cocoa powder
1 really ripe avocado
Drizzle of maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla

Put all in the beloved food processor.

image

Num num. Now taste to make sure you don’t need to add more maple syrup. Then put it in a baking dish or ramekins or just wrap it in plastic wrap and chill so that you can cut it into brownie shapes before serving. (or you can just grab a spoon and start eating it which is what I did).

Note: Because this has avocado in it, it’s probably best to eat the day you make it. I ate mine the second day and it was still good but because it’s so brown it’s hard to tell when the avocado is too oxidized.

Voila, the best gluten free, vegan, raw dessert EVER.