Category Archives: Salads and Sides

Vegan Stovetop ‘Baked’ Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more… beneficial fibre you are furnishing your body with. Yeah.

Shout out to my sister who, very sweetly, requested that I post a new salad recipe, as it is apparently quite hot in Toronto right now.

Sorry, but it’s pretty darn chilly here and I couldn’t face a cold supper. I spied a can of Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Beans in my cupboard and they looked appealing to someone who decided to join Bike to Work Week and has been schlepping in the rain 14 kilometres a day (that would be me; I had to brag about it somehow). They’re super tasty and animal product-free, but they contain mustard, which is a no-no for certain people in the house (not I, I adore mustard).

So, all that to say that although it may be Summer in some parts of the world, it sure isn’t in Vancouver, and sometimes a gal just wants some beans on wheat-free toast on an almost-June evening.

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Katie’s Easy GF, Vegan Baked Beans at Nourishing Flourishing. Thanks, Katie! I didn’t want to dirty another dish, so I didn’t bake them. Tangy, bursting with flavour, and not too sweet, these beans were a lovely and simply dinner served with toast and a simple salad.

Looks like chili, but it’s mostly just beans.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

4 smallish cloves garlic, minced

1 19 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (can use different beans; I used what I had on hand)

1 19 oz. can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

4 tbsp ketchup (I used organic)

1 1/2 tbsp molasses

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp prepared horseradish (not the mayo-y kind)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tbsp Bragg’s (or tamari)




Heat oil in a pan over medium-low.

Add onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If they start to stick, add a splash of water and carry on.

Add garlic and stir until fragrant, around 2 minutes.

Add beans and sprinkle a little more salt. Cook for a couple minutes.

Add all other ingredients, including 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.

Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add pepper and taste for salt.

Serve with hot buttered toast, or whatever you like.

Serves approximately 3 as a main.


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Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Vegan spinach artichoke dip and friends (rice crackers and a really yummy beet dip)

In my last post, I claimed that my recipes were going to be healthier, with more of a focus on whole grains, fruits ands vegetables. Still true, I swear! This is a recipe I meant to post a couple weeks ago but never got around to.

I never used to like spinach dip very much because I’ve always had an aversion to mayonnaise. When I was kid, I’d freak out if someone left an open jar on the counter because the smell made me queasy. Yep, it was a pretty intense hatred. As I got older, I slowly started to tolerate mayo in the form of aioli. For some reason, if it was flavoured and not thick and white, I would eat it in small doses.

So, needless to say, I absolutely hated spinach dip with its gobs of the nasty white stuff. Over the Christmas holidays I got a weird craving for spinach dip and decided to make a double batch of it. I took it to a couple holiday gatherings to be sure I’d have something to eat. It ain’t health food, but it certainly is lighter than its mayo-ridden counterpart, thanks to a good dose of white beans!

Without further ado, here’s my vegan take on the ubiquitous potluck hit.

This would be gross if there was mayo in it.


Put into a food processor and process until very smooth:

1 19 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney)

1 tub Tofutti vegan cream cheese

juice of one lemon

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cayenne

a few dashes of Tobasco (I added maybe 6? I like a kick.)

a generous amount of freshly ground pepper

Add in and pulse until combined:

1 227g can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 green onions, sliced

1 box frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out

1 14 oz can whole artichokes, drained

That’s it, that’s all! Serve with accoutrement of choice.


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Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Salads and Sides

A Very Vegan Fiesta Mexicana: Six Layer Dip

This weekend, I hosted a Mexican themed costume party for my 27th birthday. My original plan was to have a “dress as your favourite celebrity that died at 27” party, thinking there were oodles of them which, happily, there are not. So, Mexican was the next obvious choice. I adore Mexican culture and food. And perhaps I have always wanted to dress as Frida, one of my idols.

Keen Frida.

It was so fun! It was an honour to rub shoulders with skeletons, luchadores and cowboys while dancing to latin tunes and eating veganized Mexican-insired snacks made by yours truly. I also made vegan horchata to wash it all down.

The Spread: Zucchini Guacamole, Six Layer Dip, Vegan Queso, Salsa and Guacamole. Not Shown: Tequila Bar (ugh).

I did not write down the recipe for the zucchini guacamole, as I got the idea from Healthy. Happy. Life.  I didn’t follow Kathy’s recipe, but maybe would not have thought to add lightly sauteed zucchini to traditional guacamole! I think it is a fantastic and delicious way of reducing the fat in typical guac. Not that I really care about that. Anyway, I lightly sauteed the zucchini and tossed it with cubed avocado, minced garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Or, rather, my sister Zoe did as I barked orders at her during my “party starts in one hour and I have yet to draw on my unibrow” freakout. I also made regular guacamole for my six layer dip. Sorry folks, I did not write that one down either! It also happened during the aforementioned meltdown. It is so simple though: just mash as many ripe avocados as you deem necessary and add minced garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Easy peasy lime squeezy!


Anyway, on to the dip. This recipe makes a large (lasagna-sized) pan of delicious dip, suitable for a potluck! Feel free to halve the recipe.

Six Layers of Heaven.


1 large 29 oz. can refried beans (make sure there’s no lard!) or 2 smaller cans.

2 12 oz. tubs Tofutti Sour Supreme vegan sour cream

2 tbsp. taco seasoning (store-bought, or make your own, like I did, using this recipe)

A double recipe of salsa (my recipe here)

Guacamole (I believe I used about 8 small avocados, but kept some guac aside for dipping purposes)

3 green onions, sliced in rounds

Canned sliced black olives


Place salsa in a sieve over a bowl or jar and let as much liquid drain out as possible. This is important, otherwise you will end up with a soggy, watery dip. No bueno.

In a bowl, mix the vegan sour cream with the taco seasoning.

Using a spatula, neatly spread refried beans in a 9″ by 13″ pan.

Rinse the spatula and spread the drained salsa on top.

Follow with the guacamole and finish with the spiced Sour Supreme.

Sprinkle olives and green onions on top.

Serve with good quality tortilla chips and observe the crowd that develops around your potluck contribution!

Yo tengo hambre.

Coming soon: the recipes for vegan horchata and vegan queso dip!

Hasta luego!

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Cozy Adzuki Beans with Red Wine, Onions and Thyme

Adzuki Beans stewed with onions, garlic, red wine and thyme taste better than they look.

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the Keen Kitchen Pantry! Want to make something cheap and nutritious that practically cooks itself? Whip up a batch of dried adzuki beans! You don’t need to soak them. Just put them in a pot and let them do their thing while you get on with your life.

I make a big pot of adzukis from time to time and freeze portions in tupperware. Pulling out a container of “homemade” beans feels very… dare I say luxurious? Adzuki beans are pretty mild and go with lots of things. Also, they are apparently easier to digest than other beans and are little nutritional powerhouses. Plus, they are soooooo cute.

I hesitated to post this recipe as this dish is, let’s face it, kind of ugly. But it is really tasty and, once the beans are cooked, comes together in about 20 minutes. If your freezer is a treasure trove of frozen beans, you can have this on the table in the time it takes to watch The Big Bang Theory (oh, how I miss you)!

I serve this as the sort of “meat” part of a meal, alongside a green vegetable and rice. I think it would be good with polenta too.

Add some mushrooms to increase the meatiness and earthy flavour of this cozy feel-good bean dish.

Steamy beanies.

This time around, I decided to cook 3 cups of dried adzuki beans. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot with 3 cups of water for every cup of dried beans. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to minimum and cook until softened. I salted mine and added a sprinkle of dulse flakes for good measure. They took around an hour, but I wasn’t really pay attention. May have been an hour and a half.


3 cups cooked adzuki beans, drained

2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re anti-fat)

1 medium white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (does not contain poultry. It is a mix of seasonings.)

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup broth or water

salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil on med-low. Cook onions until softened, around 10 minutes.

Add thyme and poultry seasoning and stir until fragrant.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add adzuki beans, red wine and broth. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

You say Fall? I say Beans!

Serves 4 as a side dish. 


Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Vegan Cheesy Potato Bake

Vegan cheesy potato bake: Cheesy and... bean-y.

I’m still here. Sort of. I am not taking the change in weather gracefully.  Going from 30° and sunny to 14° and raining in a matter of a day does not a happy Maya make.

It’s not all doom and gloom here in the Keen Kitchen, I just haven’t really felt inspired to create. Or grocery shop. So I have been whipping up things like vegan mac n’ cheese and weird chickpea and brown rice combos. My culinary highlight of the past two weeks has definitely been Melissa from Swapmeat’s Cuban beans and rice. Make those and imagine yourself enjoying them on the beach with a frosty cuba libre in hand if you want a little sunshine in your life!

I probably should have made those again, but instead spent my day watching all six super-grisly episodes of The Walking Dead back to back, occasionally looking up to gaze sulkily at the raindrops hitting the indoor furniture still on our deck that we stubbornly have not brought in.

Even though I really should have had zero appetite after six hours of  intestine-relishing zombies, my grumbling stomach convinced me to poke around and see what was up in the kitchen. Potatoes were pretty much the only fresh thing. I rarely buy potatoes, as they are a no-no in our house, but today called for comfort food after a gruelling day on the couch. Hence the cheesy potato bake.

Unlike its chockfull-of-dairy counterpart, this vegan cheesy potato bake is low(er) in fat and high in fibre thanks to today’s secret ingredient: white beans. I was feeling guilty about making a dish that has nothing green in it, so I thickened my sauce with beans instead of oil and flour. Nutritional yeast, a vegan cheese sauce staple, adds vitamins and overall yumminess too.

Jack couldn’t stop raving about this. He’s a comfort food kind of guy. He proclaimed it “delicious,” “soooooo good” and the “best scalloped potatoes” he has ever had. Woah! Not bad for a vegan bean-filled potato dish!

I recommend putting some Daiya on this. The liquid dried up a lot during the cooking process and a little Daiya melted on top gave the dish some extra moisture. Hot sauce or ketchup works too!

Zombies HATE vegan cheese.


2 19-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

1 tbsp tamari

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp tahini

3 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp paprika

freshly ground pepper to taste

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced in rounds

Daiya vegan cheese


Preheat oven to 450°.

Place all ingredients besides the potatoes in a blender and blend until smooth.

Grease a large baking dish (mine’s 13″ x 9″). Spread two potatoes-worth of rounds evenly in the dish. Ladle sauce until covered. Layer the remaining two potatoes. Pour remaining sauce on top.

Sprinkle with more paprika and freshly ground pepper.

Cover in tinfoil and bake 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 20 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

Sprinkle some Daiya on top and put back in oven until melted.

Serve with something green and try not to think about zombies. Enjoy!

Serves 4. 


Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Nectarine, Avocado and Butter Lettuce Salad with Mint Lime Dressing

Sun-ripened Nectarine, Avocado and Butter Lettuce Salad in the nude.

I just remembered my recent recipe promises that have yet to be fulfilled. And won’t be, unfortunately. Elly and I did make apricot jam, pickles and thai pesto, and as new (but very enthusiastic!) canners, things did not go as planned.

The jam actually turned out really well. Tart and sweet with a dark caramelized colour, it is a jam of which we are proud. We even made different flavours: apricot vanilla, apricot infused with Triple Sec and orange zest, and our favourite, spicy ginger apricot. Yum. The problem is, we very loosely followed a recipe and the jam ended up too runny, so we cooked it for a long time, constantly skimming off delicious, delicious liquid that Elly turned into apricot limeade to which we added gin and soda. Also yum. It was a hectic, fun and highly unbloggable cooking experience.

For the pickles, we sort of followed a recipe for garlic dills and I hesitate to share that one too as we will not be able to taste the pickles for another two weeks.

Imma pickle you!

And the thai pesto? A fail. Back to the drawing boards on that one.

Anyway, back to the star of today’s post: the Okanagan Nectarine. I don’t know what nectarines taste like where you are from, but these are juicy, slightly tart, very sweet and neither too soft nor too hard. Perfection. The good ones have brown “scars” on them, belying their inner awesomeness. I love them so much that in my History of Chinese Medicine and Healing class last year when we had to write a short piece focussing on a description of the senses, I chose to write about the Nectarine. What resulted sounded kind of risqué. The nectarine became a she. I had to read it to the class and only then did I realize how sensual I had made the experience of eating a nectarine. I won’t share it here, because I am slightly embarrassed by what my stressed-out brain came up with in the thick of research papers and exams.

I recently bought a bag and have been enjoying them plain, cut up and topped with coconut ice cream (amazing!), and today, in a salad. I came home from yoga this morning feeling particularly pious, so I made this for lunch. The result was light, tangy, creamy, crisp, sweet and salty, bursting with a lime and mint flavour. I used a lime mint dressing recipe by the Alkaline Sisters that I found on Green Kitchen Stories. 

I added radicchio because it is pretty, but please don’t put it in this salad! The bitterness reacted very weirdly with the nectarines and dressing. Not good. I ended up picking around it, but left it in the accompanying photos because it is aesthetically pleasing.

Nectarine, Avocado and Butter Lettuce Salad, Mint Lime Dressing on the side. Please ignore the radicchio.


1/2 head butter lettuce

1 avocado, cubed

1 juicy ripe nectarine, cut in 8 wedges and then cubed

1 recipe Mint Lime Dressing (I added a little more salt and water)


Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces, wash and spin.

Arrange on plate with nectarine and avocado pieces.

Serve dressing on the side if you want to keep it looking pretty.

Experiment with freshly ground pepper.

Bon appetit!

Serves 2 generous salad portions. 

This salad is juicy, creamy, crisp and tangy. What more do you want?


Filed under Salads and Sides

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

If summer were a quinoa salad...

Weather befitting late spring has been a little lacking here in Vancouver. But I am not daunted. I bring summer to my plate! I bought my first barbecue about a month ago, and the novelty has yet to wear off. How could it? This miraculous contraption transforms humble vegetables into a feast for the senses. Zucchini, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and corn become delectably juicy and soul-satisfying morsels that simply scream “summer is here!”

But you probably already knew that. It is no secret that grilling food takes it to another level. I’m just new at it.

I am reminded of an article,  Chris Dummitt’s “Finding a Place for Father: Selling the Barbecue in Post-war Canada,” from one of my history classes. Dummitt argues that men in post-war Canada were expected to be more than just the family’s breadwinner, despite the usual 1950s gender stereotypes.  He argues that a father was supposed to participate in family life and the barbecue was marketed as the gendered space in which he could achieve that. Dummitt finds that after the Second World War, advertisers cultivated the idea that barbecuing was a manly activity,  underlining the fact that all other cooking activities were women’s work: when a man barbecued, he made a special, celebrated appearance in food preparation.

I remember enjoying Dummitt’s article and being amused by the thought of some sort of high-level conspiracy to convince men that cooking for one’s family is okay, as long as heavy-duty tools, fire and meat are involved. I also couldn’t help but wonder if men and people in general just like cooking with fire. Did they need extensive ad campaigns to convince the Canadian public that barbecuing is awesome?

I find it interesting that barbecuing is still a somewhat gendered activity. It certainly was last night at my house! Jack manned the barbecue while I prepared the side dishes, such as this summery Mediterranean Quinoa salad. It combines a lot of the flavours I enjoy, and is a great way to get a little more protein and fibre-rich quinoa into your diet!

Olives, tomatoes, fresh basil, fennel, bell peppers, quinoa. These are a few of my favourite things!


3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled (I always add salt or bouillon while cooking)

1 yellow bell pepper, cut in bite-size pieces

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup jarred pitted kalamata olives, halved

1 1/2 cups fennel, thinly sliced and roughly chopped

1 clove garlic,  finely minced

1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped and loosely packed

3/4 cup italian parsley, finely chopped and loosely packed

1/2 a lemon, juiced

2 tbsp. cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. salt

fresh ground pepper to taste


Combine everything in a bowl and toss well.

Taste, and add more salt, pepper and lemon as you think best. I added a little more salt.

If possible, make this salad a couple hours before serving so the flavours can combine.


Served 9 people as a salad course, with a little left over. Tastes good the next day too! This would be a great nutritious lunch to take to work.


Filed under Salads and Sides