Sunday, June 28

Rainbow Chard Coleslaw with Mixed Herbs


  • Summer cooking has never been my favourite. Unless I'm outside in the garden grilling, or on a beach with a camp stove, I've always found it far too hot and bothersome to put much love into cooking anything past breakfast. Now that I'm away from the west coast and experiencing the heat and humidity of a New York summer, this fact has proved true yet again. While all around me people are living and thriving in the heat (how, I don't know!), my temperate self is searching for any excuses to escape it. While I still haven't quite mastered how the A.C. works (I've just decided its like a microwave, and come to the conclusion I'll  just never know how to use it), I've been using fresh fruits and veggies to beat the heat and help make sure I'm hydrated. Between the city heat and my long days of interning, I've been trying to have dinner cooked and ready in under ten minutes. It's a rather optimistic goal, which doesn't always work out, but sometimes, it's amazing. 

    Fresh and crisp summer veggies along with vibrant herbs come together to make this light and healthy coleslaw - ain't no mayo here- that will leave you feeling recharged instead of weighed down, like a traditional coleslaw would. Cabbage has been switched out for chard, which is a true super food. With more iron, calcium, and fibre than kale, chard makes an excellent replacement to any leafy green or brassica. If you want a truly raw meal, this salad is great on its own or with zucchini noodles (aka, zoodles), or served along with soba (will cook in only six minutes, yay!)  ...And for some ironic twist of faith, the heat just broke and the sky has opened up.

    Rainbow Chard Coleslaw with Mixed Herbs  (Serves 2-4) 

  • 1 Bunch of Chard (any variety), slivered (about 3 cups)1 Cup Julienned Carrots (or grated)1 Cup Julienned  Zucchini (or grated) 1/2 Cup Slivered Basil1/2 Cup Slivered Mint1/2 Cup Slivered Cilantro1/2 Cup Slivered Chives1/3 Cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1 Cup Watercress for Garnish
  •  
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Tamari
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey or Agave
  • 3 Tbsp Olive or Avocado Oil
  • 1 tsp Grated Ginger, from a 1 inch/ 2.5 cm piece
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Powder
  •  
  •  Soba Noodles, Optional 

    1. Chop all the veggies (except watercress) and place them in a large bowl2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and toss with the herb mixture. Add in the almonds3. Serve as is with the watercress and more almonds, or alongside soba noodles.

    xox Sophie

Sunday, June 14

The Ultimate Guide to Egg Replacers



I have never been one to follow the rules - no way, no how. I jay walk, never read the instructions to IKEA products (but seriously, does anyone?), and often think I'm right. When it comes down to it, I'm as stubborn as my Chinese zodiac. This attitude, as problematic as it can be, has always made its way into my cooking. Sometimes, this results in incredible substitutions and newfound discoveries, and sometimes, less impressive never to repeat ones. When I first really began to care about eating healthy, substitutions were necessary. The blogs of today were yet to be imagined, and so I often had to improvise and adjusted things for myself. It was a learning experience of taking existing recipes and making them healthy. Flours got replace, sugars and oils were both drastically cut and replaced, and eggs, well they often went too. 

Eggs are something I do eat here and there, and something I crave and enjoy. But for me, eggs are far too special to be hidden away in a muffin or pancake. I've always had access to fresh eggs from my parents chickens, and to me they are like little golden gems. They're rare, and special, and should be celebrated for what they are. And ninety-nine percent of the time for me, this doesn't include being tossed into baking. Replacing eggs in baking is a super easy way to make your cooking vegan and more accessible to those avoiding eggs. Subbing them out can often increase the fiber content of your food, or even help reduce the sweetener or fat you need to add. And, if you're buying those beautiful eggs from the farmers market, it can help save a few pennies too.

There are several different commercial varieties of egg replacers on the market, but to be honest, I really dislike them. Firstly, some contain very questionable ingredients. Last time I was at a big grocery store chain I noticed a very popular brand's egg replacer contained "soy, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids", and some algae thickener. Do we really want to add that to our breakfast? Probably not! My second reason for disliking them is the fact that you're not adding anything nutritious to the recipe (like fiber or good fats). And finally, my biggest aversion to them is simply having to buy a whole new ingredient. Let's just stick to the things we already have already in our pantry, kapeesh.

 

What Eggs do


Most baked goods call for eggs, but as previous (mainly wartime) generations have found through rationing, they aren't always needed. You can easily whip up numerous cookies, cakes, and quick breads by replacing an egg with something that mimics its characteristics. But what what exactly do eggs add to your recipes?

1) Leaven - Sometimes eggs are beaten to incorporate air. This helps a product rise, creating a lofty structure much like baking powder or soda would.

2) Bind - As eggs bake, the proteins congeal helping them hold all the little bits and pieces together, making for a less crumbly product. 

3) Moisture - Adding eggs often adds moisture and richness to a dish. This is often the case when their is already enough leavening agent and binder in the mix. 

4) Thicken - Items such as curds and custards often rely on eggs to help thicken and set.

5) Colour - ...I know, this one is just kind of goofy. Using eggs helps add a golden colour to a products interior or a shiny glaze for crusts.

Finally, there are some odd-ones such as using eggs to help a create crumb coat adhere, making a meringue, or adding flavour. 

Guide to Egg Replacers 

 

Below is a list of my favourite egg replacers that you can use to alter most any recipe you come across. While some replacers work better in some types of recipes than others, play around with them, and don't forget that you don't always have to follow the rules! Each measurement below is equivalent to 1 standard egg.  



What: Chick Pea Water or Cooking Water from another White Bean (aka Aquafaba)

How Much: 3 Tbsp

Properties: The water from a can of beans (non salted) or the condensed starchy water left over from cooking them at home, can be beaten to make meringues, royal icing, pavlova, basically anything besides angle food cake. It can also be used as is to replace whole, un-whipped eggs.

Best Fit: Pretty much anything you can think of! Mayo, meringues, cookies, loafs, brownies, pancakes. See the amazing things other people have come up with here 


What: Banana

How Much: About 1/2 a ripe banana, mashed (1/4 cup) 

Properties: Bananas add both moisture, richness,  and act as a binder. There natural sweetness works perfectly for baking. However, adding banana will also affect the flavour of the finished product, so many keep it out of the savoury dishes.

Best Fit: Muffins, loafs, and pancakes

Recipe Using Banana 



What: Unsweetened Apple Sauce / Pumpkin Puree 

How Much: 1/4 Cup 

Properties: Unsweetened Apple Sauce has the same properties as Banana (moister and binder), but adds less of an overall flavour. Puree such as pumpkin and sweet potato can be used as well, adding both sweetness and flavour. 

Best Fit: Muffins, loaves, and pancakes

Recipe Using Apple Sauce



What: Flax Meal

How Much: 1 Tbsp. Ground Flax mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit for 10 minutes) 

Properties: Flax eggs make a great egg replacer as they add good fats (omega 3) to your baking and help bind. Larger batches can be make up and stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Like all perishable seeds and nuts, flax should be bought whole and ground fresh (in a coffee grinder or high speed blender) as well as stored in the fridge or freezer to prevent spoilage.  

Best Fit: Because they often add a nutty 'healthy' flavour, I like to use flax in denser, breakfast foods (no brownies, please). Try adding them muffins, cookies, loafs, pancakes, and waffles.

Recipe Using Flax



What: Chia Seeds

How Much: 1 Tbsp (Ground or whole) mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit for 10 minutes)  

Properties: Chia seeds work the same way as flax, and help bind everything. Unlike flax, however, chia doesn't add much flavour or require refrigeration. Either the black or white variety works well. 

Best Fit: I add chia to much of the same foods as I would flax, with the addition of chocolaty things such as cookies and brownies. 

Recipe Using Chia


What: Unsweetened Yogurt (vegan or dairy)

How Much: 1/4 Cup plus 1/2 tsp Baking Powder 

Properties: Because the yogurt adds only moisture, and no leavening, it's a good idea to add a touch more baking powder to help the dish rise. 

Best Fit: Breads, muffins, loaves, and Cakes. This is also a good fit to replace eggs in crumb coating. 

What: Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda

How Much: 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 tsp. Baking Soda 

Properties: The chemical reaction causes lift and helps leaven. Depending on the recipe,  3 Tbsp. more moisture (such as almond milk or water) may need to be added per egg. 

Best Fit: Cakes and loaves 





What: Arrowroot Powder

How Much: 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder to 3 Tbsp Water 

Properties: Thickening

Best Fit: For items such as custards and puddings


What: Chickpea Flour (also known as chana or besan)

How Much: 1/4 Cup of flour added to your dry ingredients and 1/4 water or almond milk in your wet ingredients. 

Properties: Because the high protein content in chickpeas, this flour acts a lot like eggs. It helps bind without making dishes too heavy. Although I enjoy the flavour, the distinct beanyness isn't for everyone. Try not to use more than 1 egg equivalent to avoid  an overwhelming flavour. 

Best Fit: Cakes, muffins, cookies, quick breads, waffles, and pancakes. 


And a few helpful tricks:


Turmeric - Adding a pinch to help achieve a golden colour to your breads and custards
Bread crumbs, Flour or Ground Oats - The Perfect binder to add to veggie burgers
Tahini or Nut Butters - Also good binders for veggie burgers, falafel, quinoa patties, etc. 
Melted Coconut Oil with a Splash of Plant Milk - To brush on breads for a golden crust
Tofu: I left this one out as I am not a big fan of soy, but yes, you can use silken tofu to replace eggs in baking as well as firm tofu in scrambles and sandwiches. 


xox Sophie

Tuesday, June 2

Millet Porridge with Gingered Rhubarb


I remember always playing in the vegetable garden as a child. It was this small, fenced in, paradise of overgrown grape vines, wild blackberries, and a little rabbit who would make an appearance on rare occasions. I would traipse through the bed of yellow primroses, duck under the raspberry thickets, and make my way through a canopy of peas to my beloved spot in the garden that was the rhubarb patch. As rhubarb is often the first spring veggie to make an appearance after the long dark winter, it was always one of the most anticipated. My sister and I would gather what we could from the little plant, and along with the eggs from the hen house, would turn the bounty into the most brilliant rosy rhubarb custard pie (always in time for mothers day). A spring tradition was born.   

Having rather a delicate (and tart) flavour, rhubarb is often paired alongside other fruit. While many recipes call for rhubarb and strawberries to be married, I often try to use alternative flavours that pack a bit more punch and lend themselves well to the zippy freshness of the fruit. Adding a super-flavour like ginger, helps adds spark and taste without loads of extra sugar usually required in a rhubarb dish. 

Millet 

 

I first discovered this tasty grain when I was a broke student in my early twenties. Originally, I was drawn to the price, as it is possibly the cheapest grain to buy in the bulk section, but I stuck with it for the flavour. While many of us know millet as 'that thing in bird seed' (which is funny because my childhood parrot refused to ever touch it), it is a staple grain to a third of the world's population. Used prior to rice in China, it has a slightly nutty and starchy flavour that lends itself wonderfully as a replacement to rice, pasta, or quinoa. Although there are some claims online warning people of the danger of millet, I believe these should easily be dismissed.  Like many other foods (including brassicas, strawberries, and soy), millet contains goitrogens, or substances which can suppress thyroid function and interfere with iron absorption. Yet, unless you are eating copious amounts of millet flour based products (or have an existing thyroid issue), it is actually a very healthy grain to consume. It is naturally gluten free, alkalizing, and rich in B Vitamins (Foliate and B6), and amino acids. 



Millet Porridge with Gingered Rhubarb 

 

Recipe: (Serves 2)

1/2 Cup Millet
1 1/2 Cups water 
A Splash of Vanilla
A Pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk
Gingered Rhubarb (see below)
Toasted Coconut to garnish
Almond milk to serve

1) Begin by grinding the millet in a high speed blender until it is crushed, but not yet flour (there should be a couple of whole grains kicking around).

2) Whisk together the millet with the water, vanilla, salt, and coconut milk and bring it to the boil, stirring often as the mixture likes to clump.

3) Once boiling, turn down the mixture and simmer until the millet is soft and no longer tastes starchy, about 15-18 minutes. You may need to add a splash more water if it thickens up too much.

4) Garnish with the Rhubarb slices and its juices, almond milk (or more coconut milk) ans toasted coconut.



Gingered Rhubarb

 

Recipe: (serves 2)

4 Stems Rhubarb, sliced into 6 cm (3 inch slices)
3/4 Cup Water
1 tsp. Grated Ginger
3 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup

1) While your millet is simmering, heat a frying pan to medium and add all of the ingredients.

2) Let the rhubarb cook for about 2-4 minutes a side before flipping each piece. Cook the slices just until tender, so that they retain their shape. Taste and adjust for sweetness.


xox Sophie