Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Pumpkin Pie Squares and Lentil Walnut Loaf

Hey, friends! I am super excited to be sharing some recipes on here after a long hiatus due to my competition diet. Yes, still on that. But I was itching to experiment in the kitchen and work my creativity in my favourite way: through food!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, and while everyone feasted on turkey, this vegan gal wanted to put something out there that would make omnivores remember how damn good veg-based food can be. I wanted to show my friends that whole plant ingredients can make up staple meals and that vegans can enjoy a delicious holiday just as much as anyone else, and maybe even feel a bit less bloat. (Although if I wasn't dieting I would be eating everyone under the table probably, lol.)

I wanted to make one staple protein dish and a dessert. A good old lentil loaf is a vegan staple for a lot of holidays. Usually it contains oats as a binder, and your regular holday spices like sage and rosemary... mmmm.

This lentil walnut loaf is made with a whole bunch of WHOLE FOOD ingredients - and it's gluten free as long as your oats are certified as so! It was so delicious, and I think it would have went very well with a cauliflower mash and vegan gravy, which I had no time to make. Here is the recipe:

Lentil Walnut Loaf (vegan + gluten free, with soy free option)

- 1 cup dry red lentils
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 to 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup each finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery
- 1 cup walnuts, pulsed in a food processor into small pieces
- 1 cup rolled oats (used certified GF if necessary)
- 2 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 to 2 tsp rosemary
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp thyme
- 2 tbsp chia seeds + 6 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Organic ketchup, as needed

Preheat oven to 375.

1. Cook the lentils (using a slightly larger pot so you can add stuff in later) in the broth over a low simmer for 2-22 minutes, adding more water or broth as needed. Set aside and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the onion, carrot, and celery and sautee until onion is translucent. Let cool, and then stir into the pot with the cooled lentils.

3. Mix the chia and water and let it sit a couple minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except for the ketchup, including the set chia seeds which should look like a gel, to the pot with the lentils and veggies and stir well.

4. Lightly grease a loaf pan and put the mixture inside, pressing down to even it out. Squirt the ketchup on top in a zig zag pattern.

5. Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes, or until it's quite nicely browned.

Serve with vegan gravy and cauliflower mash... delish!

And the dessert... ohhhh boy! I can't lie, I did lick my spoon a lot and I know it was a very naughty thing of me to do. My friends and family ate these right up. Such simple, whole ingredients. Low GI sweetener used was coconut nectar, and the only other sweetness is in that AMAZING crust, which I used as a crust for so many desserts. It's way better than some processed vegan crust, in my opinion.

Pumpkin Pie Squares (vegan gluten free, and mostly raw)

Crust ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the squares:
- 750 ml can pumpkin puree (preferably organic)
- Coconut cream from one coconut milk can* 
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, measured softened
- 1/3 + 2 tbsp to 1/2 cup coconut nectar, to taste
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp sea salt 
For the toppings:
- Walnut pieces, coconut flakes, crushed nuts, cinnamon, etc

* For the coconut cream, just chill a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours, and then scoop out the cream at the top of the can when you open it! Save the water for smoothies.

1. In a food processor with an S blade, combine the crust ingredients and process until a sticky dough has formed.

2. In a square pan lined with parchment paper, press the crust evenly using your fingers, a spoon, or a pastry roller. 

3. Using a high powdered blender, combine all ingredients for squares and puree well. Taste to see if you want more sweetness and add coconut nectar as needed.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan with the crust. Use a flat spatula or spoon to even out the top. You can sprinkle any toppings on that you like.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the freezer overnight. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes until it's slightly softened, then alice and enjoy!

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