Empty bowls for full bellies

For the last few years, I’ve gone to an “Empty Bowls” event in support of the local food bank. If you’ve never experienced this kind of evening, you should definitely look for one in your area.

The events are always in support of local organizations dedicated to helping the hungry, whether it’s a shelter, food bank or drop-in centre. Local potters donate their hand-crafted bowls, and restaurants donate soup and bread. Your ticket buys you the bowl of your choice, and access to taste as many of the soups as you like. There’s also a team on hand to rinse and dry your bowl between servings.

It’s always a warm environment, in every way; people always share which of the soups they liked the best, making recommendations for what to try next. This year, I also had the privilege of sharing my table with a local farmer. He was rather old school when it came to farming, meaning he “doesn’t do that organic stuff”, but I could have chatted with him all night.

 I did, however, feel a little guilty. My friend had an “in” with one of the organizers, who let us pick out our bowls the night before because we weren’t going to be able to make it until the last half of the evening. Little did I know this would result in some major bowl envy! As I went from station to station, I could see and hear people oohing and ahhing about my bowl. When I left it unattended for a couple of minutes to chat with someone I met at last year’s event, my farmer friend warned me that if I’d waited any longer to come back, it may not have been there.

Butternut squash cocount soup

The soup, in The Bowl. Also featuring a must-read for all.

By far, my favourite soup of the evening was Butternut Squash Coconut. Two favourite things in one warm (and lovely) bowl? And totally vegan? Yeah-huh! Despite the sloshing in my belly on my way home, I was inspired and immediately had to figure this one out. I know, a lot of my posts so far have been soup-centred, but it’s getting cold out there!

Butternut Squash Coconut Soup

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp fresh ginger (or more to taste)
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Roast the squash: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass container and cover with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. When cool, chop and set aside.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sautee the onion over medium heat until translucent.

 3. Add the apple, squash, spices and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer until apples are tender.

4. Place the contents into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth.

5. Return the contents to the pot and add the coconut milk and bring back up to heat. Add salt and pepper as needed.

It’s pumpkin season!

I love fall. LOVE it. Love the colours, the spices in the air and even the sweater weather. It’s all good.

Halloween seems to have inspired me, because I made two amazing recipes with pumpkin today. Although one was totally by accident.

First up: Happy Herbivore’s Maple-Kissed Pumpkin Muffins. Based on the overwhelming success of the last muffin recipe I tried from her, I went straight for the double batch. You should, too. I also shared these with my mom, which is my sneaky way of getting her to like vegan food before I tell her what I’m up to. I think it’s working! She loved them.

Bonus recipe: Lindsay shared her recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice on her Facebook status: “DIY pumpkin pie spice = 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, dash or two allspice or cloves = 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.” Multiply by 4 to get enough for a double batch of muffins, and make more to keep some on hand for almond milk pumpkin spice lattes!

While these sweet little babies were in the oven, I contemplated what to do with the rest of the can of pumpkin puree, as I only had a big one on hand. I don’t have a lot of experience cooking with pumpkin; last time I bought it was to help my poor kitty fill her litter box when she was a little… well, “stuck”.

avah hiding

This is what Avah does when my fire alarm goes off, which is every time I make toast. Or when I discover my oven runs too hot.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Burritos

Serves 4 to 6

Pumpkin Black Bean Burritos

Topped with my favourite salsa, avocado, and my own home-grown sunflower sprouts

I was planning to make Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos from Oh She Glows, but the batch of butternut squash I made in preparation the the other night didn’t quite work out. In other news, my oven runs a little hot. These two things are related. Anyone know what to do with charred squash?

Anyway,  with all the other ingredients plus some others on hand, I started to experiment and made these instead. But I WILL try the original recipe again some time, from Angela Liddon’s recipe pages.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup cauliflower, in small florets
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 can pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups cooked brown rice
One 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup Daiya cheese
Large whole wheat tortilla wraps
Avocado, tomato, mango lime salsa and sunflower sprouts, or your other favourite toppings

Directions:

1. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sautee until onions are translucent.

2. Add salt, cumin and cayenne and sautee for one minute.

3. Add lemon juice, red pepper, cauliflower, black beans, pumpkin puree and cooked rice. Sautee for about 10 minutes or until heated through

4. Lower heat, add Daiya cheese and stir to combine.

5. Warm tortilla wraps and add filling to the centre of each. Add your favourite fresh toppings, wrap and serve.


Options:

  • For a crispy burrito, place them under the broiler for a few minutes to brown.
  • Fill tortillas with the cooked filling, wrap tightly in foil and freeze. When it’s time to eat, place them frozen on a tray and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Unwrap and add fresh toppings, or pair with your favourite salad.

Delicious and warm thoughts of Morocco

When I started collecting links on Delicious six years ago, I quickly found that the tag I used the most was “recipes”. I currently have 636 recipes, about a third of those under “vegan”. Have I actually made over a year’s worth of food? Well… no, but the intention was always there.

Often, I’d buy some of the more obscure ingredients and almost immediately forget which recipe they were for. Anyone else have to throw out unidentified spices, oozing bags of “what was that again?” or jars of  “ew, who knew THAT would happen!”?

I also subscribe to a lot of food-focused email newsletters, although most of them aren’t vegan. But, every once in a while a meatless gem appears. This time, I had to try the 20-minute Supperclub’s Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup.

20-Minute Supper Club's Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup

A couple of key things instantly piqued my interest: cinnamon, garlic, chickpeas and tomatoes. But mostly the cinnamon. In soup? Really? There are MORE places for my favourite spice ever? OH yes. And it really did take about 20 minutes to put together.

The only thing missing from the picture is the spinach. It’s way better if you throw in in when you warm it up, rather than leave it in if you’re going to put it in the fridge. Keep your fresh greens fresh!

For joy, the 20-Minute Supperclub also has a good selection of other vegan recipes to try. I’m definitely adding lots of these to my Delicious file!

Fake fish. Who knew?

Switching to a plant-based diet got about a million times easier when I discovered Happy Herbivore. I’ve learned so much from Lindsay Nixon’s website about how easy vegan cooking can be, and I’ve already made a bunch of her recipes several times. Especially the Apple Crisp Muffins:

Apple Crisp Muffins by Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon

They should really make 13-hole baker's dozen pans.

I’m already on my fourth batch in two weeks. And I even doubled the last two batches, so I could have one big, sweet, yummy bundle for breakfast each morning. They’re moist without being mushy, and sweet without being too sugary. Pure love!

But the biggest surprise so far has been her Mock Tuna Salad. This is seriously amazing stuff! I swear, my omnivore friends were jealous when I shared some with them, and now they think I should bottle it for sale. Or just so they can always have some.

Mock Tuna Salad by Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon

The only change I made to this one was to add some diced carrot. Remember that discarded veggie tray? Yeah, there was lots left for this recipe as well. That, and I’d already mixed the diced celery and carrots, and didn’t really feel like picking them apart. I would have shown it to you as I had it on a pita with pickles and sunflower sprouts, or in a wrap, but I just ate them too fast for the camera!

Oh yeah, and I’ve decided to shoot my “experiments” in different parts of my house with random props, like those old Weight Watchers recipe cards. Did people seriously eat that stuff in the ’70s? Was there really nothing else? So sad. And hilarious.

Thank you, Lindsay, for making the herbie life easier and super delicious. I can’t wait until her new cookbook arrives, but in the meantime, pop on over to her recipe page, check out her 1200-calorie meal plans, and find out what she’s brewing on her blog!