Friday, 25 October 2013

Hearty Harvest Soup

I know it's getting chilly when I've made the first soup of the season. I used to really dislike soup. I only had it when my mom made me as a child, when I was sick or something. That was probably because it was the Knorr instant MSG-in-a-box kinda soup.

I love making soup now. It's the perfect way to clean out the vegetable crisper to make an easy one pot dish that can easily be hearty enough for a meal. Just add some grains (or pseudograins), some beans and peas, and you've got yourself a protein and fibre rich medley of deliciousness to go with your nutrient-packed veggie base.

I've had a huge bag of spelt berries sitting in my pantry for way too long... I tried making manna bread with them once, and it went moldy. I was just too sad to use them since then. (Just kidding, I just forgot about them and wasn't sure what to use them in.)

I also had a very attractive sweet potato squash from the farmer's market sitting in my pantry. Going with the colour scheme, I also had yellow split peas, which don't take very long to cook and make a perfect addition to a soup.

Here it is - a delicious "fall themed", nutrient-rich soup!


-1/2 tbsp coconut oil
-1/3 cup each carrots, celery and onion, finely chopped
-1 tsp cumin
-2 tsp garam masala
-1/4 tsp sea salt (optional, add more or less, to taste)
-2 tbsp low sodium vegetable broth powder (I buy mine in bulk. You may also use 2 vegetable broth cubes)
-About 2 1/3 cups chopped and peeled squash, sweet potato or pumpkin
-1 cup whole spelt kernels/berries
-1 cup dry yellow split peas


1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots and onion and sautee for at least 5 minutes.

2. Add 6 cups of water, along with seasonings and broth powder (you may just use 6 cups of already made broth, if that's what you have.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3. Add squash cubes, spelt, and split peas. Simmer on low heat, covered but with room for steam to escape, for 35 minutes.

4. Remove from heat. Take about half of the soup and puree it in a blender or food processor. You will want to wait at least a few minutes before adding it to the blender, just to make super sure your blender won't crack (it hasn't happened to me with a blender, but it has with a mason jar... and it sucks). After you're pureed half the soup completely, add it back into the rest of the soup in the pot. Stir and mix well. This gives your soup a nice texture. How much of the soup you puree is up to you!

You may substitute the spelt if you have another grain on hand or want to make a gluten-free soup, and just slightly adjust the cooking time.

Enjoy! I like mine with some Sriracha on top and some warm pita on the side.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Joy of Fall Food - Fresh Homemade Applesauce

When fall gives you apples, you make applesauce! A trip to a farmer's market this weekend lead me to make my own at home with my slow cooker.

I can't believe I've never made it before. It's ridiculously easy. All I added was cinnamon, and some apple cider to keep it from sticking to my slow cooker, and it's so sweet and delicious. And I used Cortland apples, which are not overly sweet. I am frazzled as to why anyone would add sugar to this beauty. Anywho, I will post that quick and simple recipe below. Is it even a recipe? It's too easy to be called a recipe!

I've been feeling so inspired by this season. Pumpkins, apples, warm foods, aromatic spices... I'm really playing up the whole fall theme. These days I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. I love to experiment with recipes, but making a crappy or less-than-perfect creation is enough to leave me feeling really crummy about my kitchen abilities.

I don't like to follow recipes. I just read up on things I'm not familiar with, or if I want ratios of ingredients, that kinda thing... then I take different ways of making any given food into account and create my own recipe based on my knowledge. For example, I want to make granola. I start looking at blogs I like, using Google, and snooping around anywhere else I can see a granola recipe. I then see what each ingredient "does" in the recipe, what needs to be in it, about how long/what temperature it needs to be baked at, etc. I then make a "healthified" version with ingredients I'm happy with.

I did do this for granola, actually. I was going for the fall theme, too. Apple spice! I was kinda cheap on the oil, though, and it wasn't very clustery. It was also a bit well-done. Still good, but not worthy of a post on this round.

Some things in life don't deserve cheapness. Can't be cheap with a bit of oil and maple syrup in granola. And you certainly shouldn't be cheap with sweetener in your pumpkin cornbread!

Oh yeah, I made some of that too. I used fresh pumpkin puree I'd made the same day, and farmer's market fife flour! I also added a magic ingredient of some soy yogurt. However, although the texture was on point, sweetness was missed.

Enter my applesauce. Smothered it on the bread, added PB2, never looked back.

Here is the recipe for the applesauce. I left the skins on my apples, because a) ain't nobody got time for peeling over 5 lbs of apples, and b) why toy with nature? Organic apple skins never did anybody wrong.

Homemade Applesauce

-5 lb bag of apples
-1/2 tbsp (or more, to taste) fresh cinnamon
-1/2 cup apple cider

Slice apples, removing the seeds and core. Put the apples in a slow cooker with the cinnamon and apple cider. Turn the slow cooker onto high and let cook for about 3 hours, stirring every hour. Throw your apples into a blender, and blend until silky smooth.

That's it!

Note: I wanted to add a hint of lemon juice, but I was actually out of lemons, so I may add some when I get around to it. This will help maintain freshness a bit longer. Also, you may add whatever spices you like. I think ginger, cloves, nutmeg or a hint of maple syrup would be fun. You be the judge!

As for what kind of apples you like, it's up to you. Sweet ones will make a sweet sauce, tart will make tart. A mix will be the best of both worlds.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Thive Kitchen Launch - Friends, Food and Fun

Recently my favourite company in the whole wide world, Vega, has launched a new chapter in their popular web series Thrive Forward called Thrive Kitchen. It has a ton of info about creating your meals with different staple ingredients, making healthy swaps for not-so-healthy ingredients, and some creative examples on how to turn your plate into a fun international affair or a rawsome dish.

As soon as I watched the video on international cuisine, I was super giddy and thrilled. One of my absolute favourite things is understanding different cultures through food. I love understanding which spices, tastes and staple foods make up a country or region's cuisine. If I had to narrow it down, I'd say Indian is numero uno for me personally. It's also the trickiest to "master" - lots of variance among the regions, and oh so many spices and flavours used to create a unique end result together.

For the new Thrive Kitchen chapter, there was a launch party thrown yesterday to celebrate. I was lucky enough to be able to attend. It was my perfect evening - tons of amazing food (provided by the lovely Marni Wasserman), even more amazing people, and some awesome speeches on what Thrive Kitchen and plant-based eating is all about.

I met new people, saw some old friends and acquaintances, and got to pick some people's brains on how they got into the field they're in. I'm personally very likely going the holistic nutrition route, so it was super exciting for me.

Oh, and I totally chatted with Brendan Brazier. No biggie. He's super cool, and I think I was less blabbery this time.

Here are some pics from last night's event.

 Such an honour to meet Peggy! She's a doll!

 The man himself who started it all - Brendan Brazier!

 Yeah, riding that bike in that skirt... not exactly ideal. Standing in front of it works just fine.
 Oh boy, my friend Luke (left) was juice fasting. He claims he was OK with being around all that delicious food. I think he's super-human!

 Lovely ladies! So down to earth and awesome. Michelle and Christina, runners and bloggers extraordinaire!
 Loved Jessica Morris' speech at the party. All about plant based eating and making healthy swaps.

Good old "Veggie Mike"! The brains behind the operation. Thank you for that awesome evening.

You can check out the new Thrive Kitchen chapter, as well as the entire web series, at 

It's really amazing being in your own element. The feeling is out of this world.

Looking forward to posting some new recipes soon on the blog here, by the way. Stay tuned for cake balls!