Saturday, December 24, 2011

kombucha cheer in niagara magazine

Happy Holiday Season everyone! To ring in the season with some festive cheer, check out my recipe for a delicious Cranberry Kombucha Cocktail in the holiday issue of Niagara Magazine. You can view the issue online here, or see the recipe below.

Wishing you all the best during this festive time of the year - I hope you are spending the holidays with some special loved ones.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

holiday superstore cooking classes

What a whirlwind of a December it has been. I've been fortunate to teach a few cooking classes during this very busy month; two classes, in fact, as part of the "What's for Dinner" program with Loblaws-Real Canadian Superstore.

Holiday-themed recipes were part of the agenda for these two classes. With the colder weather, I like to re-introduce some more heartier, warm dishes to my diet, some of which I shared with each group. Check out these nourishing recipes:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes, Thyme, and Walnuts
Yields 8 servings

4-6 cups Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large
4 cups grapes (preferably red variety)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, de-stemmed
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Using two rimmed baking sheets, toss the Brussels sprouts and grapes with the oil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized and tender, about 20 minutes (if roasting on a lower heat, 350-375, extend cooking time to 40-45 minutes). Remove from the oven and drizzle each tray with 1 tsp of the balsamic vinegar. Toss in the walnuts and serve.

Whipped Chocolate Mousse
Yields 6-8 large servings

3 ripe avocados
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa or raw cacao powder
1 cup mashed fresh or frozen thawed berries
¼ cup maple syrup + 1 tbsp to taste
16 soaked dates

Peel avocados, removing skins and pits. Place the avocado flesh in a food processor. Add in the cocoa/cacao powder, maple syrup, and dates. Using an ‘s’ blade, process until mixture reaches a very smooth consistency. Top with berries (fresh or frozen) and serve alone or as an accompaniment to another dessert.

Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Yields nine 3” cookies or 12 1” cookies
Inspired by My New Roots

1 ½ cups black beans, very soft (or one 15 oz. can of organic black beans)
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/3 cup organic fair-trade cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped dark organic chocolate
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil the baking sheet with 1-2 tsp coconut oil.

Mix the ground flax seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla in a bowl and set aside for a few minutes (the flax will ‘swell’ in the liquid mixture).

Place the drained and well-rinsed beans, coconut oil, cocoa, salt and cayenne in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add maple syrup and ground flax seeds and pulse to incorporate. Remove the blade from the food processor and add fold in the chopped dark chocolate and dried cherries.

Spoon cookie batter onto a lined baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, flatten top of cookies slightly, as they will not spread when baking. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are browning. Cool and eat. Will keep in the fridge for several days.

With these classes, you never know how many people will show up: we had a smaller class in Mississauga (6) and a much larger class in St. Catharines (30). Every day is different, isn't it folks? Either way, both classes were full of enthusiasm and great energy, which made teaching the classes all the more fun and worthwhile. Always a pleasure!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

fun times at the second toronto raw vegan festival

What an energetic few days we had last weekend at the second Toronto Raw Vegan Festival. I was on hand helping out at Truly Organic Foods table, selling superfoods, and seeing old and making new friends throughout the two days. Just look at those smiling faces:

Spread out over two days, the festival was still well attended, and there was enough food for all (at the last festival, most vendors sold out within hours).

A smiling picture of Kent from Truly Organic Foods, and Mandi from Health Nut, having a laugh for the camera. Mandi was selling her nut butters and aged raw vegan nut cheese.

As mentioned in my previous post, I was selling some of my handcrafted raw vegan cake pops. And of course, the infamous Mr. Owl was there:

 We also met Mark and Bridgitte from Giddy Yoyo, a superfood, sprouts, and chocolate company based out of Orangeville, Ontario. Their chocolate is unbelievable - such a velvet, cacao experience. I highly recommend checking out their chocolate; there are six different flavours to choose from (my favourites are Mocha and Mint).

The vibrant colours of the Giddy Yoyo collective:

We also had the chance to meet Jennifer Italiano, the lovely beauty behind Live restaurant in Toronto. She was so friendly and chatted with us about raw food and the history of the restaurant. Here are some pictures from their vendor table at the festival:

Raw vegan nanaimo bars, turtles, cookies, kale chips, wraps, and more!

Another vendor was selling organic apples and fresh cider. I just had to sample these adorable fruit tarts, made with different berries and sweetened with stevia:

Our friend Alexi was also on hand with a table that featured information on her cooking classes, as well as samples of her amazing raw food desserts and creations:

A raw festival would not be complete without raw cacao, now would it?

Nzyme was also serving up some amazing raw food. I fell in love with the Spicy Lentil Chili. Not the best picture, but the chili was out of this world delicious; nut-free and made with a vegetable base and topped with sprouted lentils, this was my favourite dish at the festival.

The delightful Marni Wasserman shared space with us (her booth was located directly behind ours), so we had some lovely chats throughout the weekend. Marni gave some great raw uncooking demos, including one on "The Pleasures of Blending" and smoothies:

Happy festival people!

What is now becoming a tradition, we headed to Live for some post-festival food after the first day. I just had to have the Big Salad (as well as a fabulous Green Juice):

Behold, the amazing Sweet Potato Tempeh Cakes:

Another great festival - many thank you's to the organizers and everyone in attendance. See you at the next one in June!

Friday, December 2, 2011

frolicking friday inspiration: cake pops and the toronto raw vegan festival

Today's frolicking friday inspiration is brought to you by my 
cake pop kitchen!

I have been busy, busy preparing three different varieties of cake pops that will be available for purchase at this weekend's Toronto Raw Vegan Festival in Toronto (December 3rd from 10-8pm and December 4th from 10-4pm) at 918 Bathurst St.

The cake pops can be purchased at Truly Organic Foods' table, located on the main floor directly across the front of the stage. You can find more information about the weekend's schedule of events, vendors, and products that will be available on the festival website.

Stop by Truly Organic Foods' table for some amazing superfoods, nut butters, and three different varieties of cake pops. The cake pops are made with 100% plant-based ingredients, raw cacao, and decorated delightfully with whimsical touches of superfood bliss. Check out these different flavours:

Cacao Fudge

Candy Cane

Mulberry Maven

You can read all about our experience at the last Toronto Raw Vegan Festival in June by clicking here. For more information on my cake pops, check out this feature from Niagara Magazine.

Happy raw/vegan season to everyone, and we hope to see you there!