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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Vegan Gluten-Free Eggnog Cupcakes

Better late than never?

 

I do apologize for the tardiness of this post, fellow Keeners, as the holiday season is drawing to a close and I’m not sure people still have the need for an eggnog cupcake post. But, gosh, these were tasty little morsels of holiday cheer, so I’m posting the recipe anyway!

Christmas was the usual whirlwind and I’ll spare the gory details but, suffice it to say, I spent Boxing Day curled up on the couch in my pyjamas with my kitty cat, officially christmassed out.

I’d like to think of this post as a last hurrah, as it is New Year’s Day and the usual No more sugar! No more flour! thoughts are swirling in my head. I’m feeling inspired by this post on FatFree Vegan Kitchen. The meal plan Susan proposes kind of resembles how I used to eat and I remember how good it felt to eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. So, just putting it out there that there may be a few changes afoot. Nothing crazy, just maybe less baked goods.

With that said, let’s talk about cupcakes! I used Karina’s vanilla cupcake as a base for these because, as I can’t stop saying, she is the vegan and  gluten-free baking goddess. I eggnog-ized them by adding nutmeg, cinnamon and soy nog. I decided a cream cheese icing would be best (when isn’t it the best, really?) and made it eggnoggy with the aforementioned spices.

These cupcakes were enjoyed on Christmas Eve with coffee and brandy and good company.

Happy New Year, everyone!

A spiced eggnog cake adorned with cream cheese icing: a delicious last hurrah

* Recipe taken from Gluten-Free Goddess and tweaked slightly. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Dry Ingredients:

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 cup tapioca starch

1 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup soy nog

2 eggs worth of vegan egg replacer (or 2 eggs) (Follow package directions for egg replacer to water ratio)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cute paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients, except for the egg replacer. Whisk the egg replacer in a separate bowl or measuring cup, then mix it in with the rest of the wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, being careful not to over mix.

Evenly divide batter into the muffin tin and bake for 15 to 22 minutes, testing after 15 with a toothpick.

Let cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack.

Cool completely before icing.

Icing Ingredients:

4 oz (half a tub)  Tofutti cream cheese (vegan)

1/4 cup vegan margarine

1 tsp vanilla

splash soy nog

2 cups icing sugar (not sure if this is officially vegan, guys)

2 dashes cinnamon

2 dashes nutmeg

Directions:

Cream together margarine and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, soy nog, cinnamon and nutmeg, mixing until combined.

Beat in icing sugar, 1 cup at a time.

Taste for spice and add more cinnamon and nutmeg as desired.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.

Yum.

 

 

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Tomato Garlic Chickpea Soup

Garlic soup for the vegan soul.

You know that thing where you haven’t done the weekly grocery shop and you find yourself with a sparse crisper and you’re sick of seeking sustenance from a bag of Daiya and a couple corn tortillas?

Yes?

Can we be friends?

Because I seem to find myself in this predicament on a biweekly basis. Well, thank goodness for blogs, I tell you! And for stewy soupy concoctions.

The inspiration for this particular combination was equal parts bare fridge and a FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for White Bean and Garlic Stew. Since I modified it a fair amount, I’ll share my version. Also, we thought it was quite delicious, thanks to something I hadn’t tried before– adding an entire bulb of garlic to a normal-sized pot o’ soup.

Do it, people, just do it. As promised by Susan, the whole cloves of peeled garlic become very mellow and yummy, just like when garlic is roasted. The garlic really gave the soup a richness and depth that made it addictive and seconds-worthy.

Vampire proof.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 bulb garlic (about 15-20 cloves) peeled

2 large carrots, sliced

1 small zucchini, chopped

2 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vegetable bouillon

freshly ground pepper

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, juice left in

1 19-oz can chickpeas. drained and rinsed

Directions:

In a soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.

Sauté onions for 5 minutes.

Add carrots, zucchini and garlic cloves and sauté another few minutes.

Add water, salt, bouillon, bay leaves, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Cover, lower heat and simmer for an hour, stirring and adding more water and adjusting salt if you want it soupier.

Serve with freshly ground pepper.

Savour the delicious garlic cloves and share some with your nearest and dearest.

Serves 5-6.

And now, just ’cause, a pretty little ditty by some nice young British boys:

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Apple Cinnamon-Kissed Vegan Gluten-Free Waffles

Make yourself feel better about having a desserty breakfast: put something fresh and crunchy on the plate!

I’ve been a bad, bad bloggeuse. Very neglectful and very uninspired. Je suis désolée. I now have a profound respect for those hardworking bloggers that come home from their nine-to-fives and tirelessly churn out innovative and delicious recipes, and then even have time to write about it!

Not I. I am having a hard time even finding the energy to make a meal that is passable. Which is why I have been raiding the not-so-distant archives of The Keen Kitchen to remember my tried and true favourites, like my Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry. Weeknight yums.

Well, inspiration finally struck this morning when I decided to use my new-to-me waffle maker. My inner waffle monster has wanted one for a really long time. Waffles on a whim? Stupendous!

This is my first foray into the vegan gluten-free waffle world. I have to admit, I was filled with trepidation and have been putting off making waffles for a good month. So, to all you waffle-phobes out there, give it a try! These are no more complicated than your average vegan gluten-free pancakes (which are admittedly kind of complicated by nature), and they have super fun maple syrup-holding crannies.  Plus, they cook themselves in the waffle iron. No flipping required. Take that, pancakes!

Waffles smugly demonstrating their superior maple syrup-holding pockets.

These waffles contain apple and cinnamon, although not overwhelmingly so. They also are a nice balance of hearty and fluffy. These days, when I make pancakes or waffles, I like to feel like I’m getting some fibre, so I always include buckwheat flour. Special thanks to Iris at The Daily Dietribe. I followed her basic waffle guide, and so can you! This is the kind of recipe that you can play around with to suit your tastes.

Ingredients:

Dry

2/3 cup sorghum flour

1/3 cup buckwheat flour

1/3 cup millet flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Wet

1/2 cup fresh apple juice

1 cup soy milk (or any non-dairy milk)

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Preheat (plug in) waffle iron.

Preheat oven to 200°.

In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients.

Whisk wet into dry until just mixed.

Grease waffle iron before cooking each waffle. I used my silicone brush to spread a small amount of coconut oil onto the griddle.

Pour on enough batter to cover the griddle. My waffle iron could handle around 2/3 cup batter each time.

Cook waffle until done.

Gently open waffle iron and loosen the edges of the waffle. I used a knife.

Keep waffles warm in the oven while you make the rest. If you put them directly onto the oven rack, they will stay nice and crisp. If you put them on a plate, they will get sad and soggy.

Serve with vegan margarine and real maple syrup!

This recipe made 8 small waffles. Two of us finished them all, but this recipe could potentially serve 3 or 4, I suppose. 

 

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‘Orange You Glad It’s Vegan’ Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Spicy. Creamy. Vegan.

Cheesy title. Groan. I am a little too giddy for my own good, for it has been a long while since I have posted a recipe! Vacation, shift work, and lack of enthusiasm are all to blame. The good news is I just got the fantastic day job I’ve been yearning for (hi, new coworkers!), and am pretty excited to come home and cook every evening after work. Oh, I also have inherited a new kitty. He is currently perched right beside me and is purring his little heart out. Love it.

Anyhow, enough about me! Let’s get to the good stuff. Like soup. My Oma had a pretty delicious sounding soup recipe kicking around and I snagged a photocopy of it. It is called “Asian Pumpkin Soup.” I have no idea where she got it, so I can’t really give anyone credit for it. I changed the ingredients quite a lot, though, as I had to omit the curry powder, cashews and whipping cream. Jack is allergic to curry powder that has turmeric in it, so I get my curry fix with thai curry paste.

I am pretty pleased with how this soup turned out. It is velvety and has a slightly sweet and tangy flavour thanks to unlikely (to me) suspects orange juice and banana. It’s also pretty spicy, so please reduce the curry paste and jalapeño if you don’t want that extra kick! Also, be careful. As I was seeding the jalapeño, some of its juice squirted into my eye. It hurt  a lot and I started panicking, thinking it would just keep hurting more. I started picturing myself with a horribly red, burnt eyeball. I started wondering how I would ever work in a place where I have to deal with the public now that I was horribly disfigured. Um, the burning stopped like five minutes later and my eye is totally fine. But please, be careful.

I really wanted to serve this with latkes for some reason. It seemed like a harvest-y combo. Has anyone ever made sweet potato latkes?

Creamy Curried Pumpkin Soup: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil (or other mild-tasting oil)

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 walnut-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 banana, sliced in rounds

1 tbsp red thai curry paste (use less if your paste is really spicy. Mine isn’t crazy hot. Or substitute 2 tbsp regular curry powder.)

4 cups water

2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tsp salt

1 large (796 mL)  can pure pumpkin

1 (400 mL) can coconut milk

200 mL orange juice

fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Heat coconut oil on medium heat.

Add onion, jalapeño and ginger. Sauté for around 6 minutes.

Add banana and curry paste and stir until the curry coats everything evenly.

Add water, bouillon and canned pumpkin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Take pot off heat and blend soup with a hand blender.

Stir in orange juice, coconut milk and salt. Taste for salt and add more if you like.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Makes a good-sized pot of soup.

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Vegan Toronto, Part Two

I am leaving Toronto today, bringing my nine day vegan food binge to a close. While I am sad to leave, I do miss my bed, boyfriend and kitchen. But first, brace yourselves for a whirlwind tour of Vegan Toronto, part two.

I am going to dive right in and commence gushing about Fresh. Vancouver needs a Fresh. Heck, every city needs a Fresh! There are three locations here in Toronto, but I visited the one on Bloor. Three times. Three of us went for dinner and it was super busy for a Wednesday night, so we waited maybe half an hour before getting in. Once we got past the black curtain, we were greeted by a bustling and brightly coloured room, super tightly packed. There were even chandeliers. It was like nothing I have seen in Vancouver where the Naam is consistently hailed as the best vegetarian restaurant in the city. I like the Naam from time to time, but it’s more hippyish and kind of leaves me feeling sick every time. This blew the Naam out of the water, in my opinion. We started with quinoa-crusted onion rings with a vegan garlic mayo dip. They weren’t gluten-free, but the quinoa was a nice touch and had a good onion to batter ratio, and the dip was unbelievable.

Quinoa-crusted onion rings. Nighttime photo.

At that point I was almost full, so I ordered the baby (rather than regular sized) dragon bowl on soba noodles. It was covered in a super tasty miso gravy that had  nutritional yeast in it, and you know how I feel about that! It was really creamy and kind of reminded me of peanut sauce in its consistency.

Baby Dragon Bowl at Fresh. Sadly, the silly green things are covering up the luscious miso gravy.

I was wishing I had a full-size bowl, but was keeping my eye on the prize: a slice of vegan carrot cake. After dinner, we were all stuffed so we ended up sharing one slice. It was fantastic! Super moist and rich with “cream cheese” icing. This cake was so good, I actually made a special trip to Fresh to get a slice to go. Then yesterday, Kiera and I discovered that you can buy it at the natural foods store by her house in either square or entire cake form. So, of course, we bought one of each. It’s made by Toronto vegan bakery Sweets from the Earth and I couldn’t recommend it more. The carrot cake isn’t gluten-free, but they do carry a number of gluten-free  and nut-free products.

Sweets from the Earth vegan carrot cake. Holy vegan cream cheese icing! Best carrot cake I have ever had. Period.

Kiera and I also treated ourselves to brunch at Fresh. We each had the pancake platter: mine with banana pancakes and veggie sausage, Kiera’s with blueberry pancakes and tempeh bacon. Both also came with an oniony dilly tofu scramble. I would love to know what gluten-free flour combo they use for those fluffy, fluffy pancakes. I liked how they gave us a jug of real maple syrup, of which we consumed about half. Only complaint: I saved some banana pancake for last and it tasted like onion due to the encroaching tofu scramble. Oh well, I guess there are consequences when you want to have you (pan)cake and eat it too!

Banana Pancake Platter with veggie sausage at Fresh.

 

Blueberry Pancake Platter with tempeh bacon. I don't think anyone would miss eggs and bacon after this!

Kiera, her partner Gaelan and I had a super fun night out at Snakes and Lattes. Vancouver needs one of those too. It’s like a coffee shop that has oodles of boardgames, vegan and omni snacks and serves alcohol. What more could one ask for? They have a tofurkey sandwich with vegenaise on the menu, but Kiera and I were more concerned about the vegan desserts. The chocolate peanut butter ball was the best, but the nanaimo bar was pretty tasty too. They don’t charge extra for soy milk. Awesome.

Hibiscus is another great vegan Kensington Market destination. Mostly vegan, I should say, because they do have some crepes with cheese in them. I wish I had tried a sweet crepe, but I had started the day with a sweet breakfast, so couldn’t really justify that. The service was kind of slow, but it was a nice, cozy, mellow tucked away little place and my friend Jasmine and I were busy catching up anyhow. The crepes are hearty rather than fluffy, as they are made of buckwheat, which I happen to love. Mine had spinach, fresh basil, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes with pesto and daiya cheddar. It was yummy and colourful. I wanted to try some ice cream, but the server didn’t come back again. Oh well. I have had carrot cake five times this week, so I’m pretty covered in the dessert department.

This vegan crepe from Hibiscus contained several of my loves: tomatoes, spinach, basil, pesto, mushrooms and daiya.

In the interest of keeping this short, I’ll end with that and also give my final impressions of Toronto (a city that I came to with totally unreasonable preconceptions):

It is vegan and vegetarian-friendly for sure. It is big. It sometimes smells. It has a lot of culture. It has pretty older buildings. There were some jerks on the subway. There were some nice people on the subway. It is windy. The mayor is ridiculous. The subway is efficient and easy to navigate. I miss my sister. There are lots of cool little stores. Loved the zombie walk.

Will I go back? Maybe, but only if I have to. I love Vancouver.

 

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Vegan Toronto, Part One

Kensington Market. Because there is fruit, and because this post is sorely lacking in pictures.

Well, what do you know! The Keen Kitchen is portable and on the move. I have been in Toronto visiting my sister since last Saturday. I put off this trip for awhile and was admittedly quite bratty about it. It’s just hard to cough up the money for a $500 plane ticket and still be in cold, wet Canada! I must say though, it has been great being with my sister and I am quite impressed with the food thus far.

Being from the West Coast, I guess I had a notion that Vancouver, birthplace of Lululemon and Daiya, was more health-conscious than Toronto. I think I stand corrected. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bigger city, but I haven’t really had to look hard for vegan dining options on the go. I have been able to find something in every area I have visited. Healthy options are super trendy and available here. Pretty awesome.

I have to come clean and admit that I have not been eating gluten-free while being here. I am not allergic to wheat, or anything for that matter, and when I am on vacation I don’t limit my diet as much as I do when I cook at home.

My first eye-opener was at the ginormous Eaton Centre mall and its swanky new food court. It is metallic and shiny and even the usual food court suspects, like KFC, look fancy. In the centre is a beautiful oasis in the form of Urban Herbivore. Seriously? Healthy vegan food in a food court? There were gluten-free options, but I opted for a BBQ tofu sandwich on spelt bread. I couldn’t resist adding avocado and am glad I did. Avocado makes everything better. Not that this sandwich needed it! It was super moist thanks to a yummy tahini sauce. It was also warm after being toasted in a panini press. I hate cold sandwiches, so I was pretty pleased about that. An amazing sandwich, all in all. It also came with a side salad. Kiera had a moroccan stew with quinoa. Something fun about the food court: everything is served in reusable dishes. If you ask for water, it comes in a real glass! Take that, Vancouver.

Another day, my sister and I braved the rain and trekked to Kensington Market. Loved it there. It is what Vancouver’s Commercial Drive aspires to be. It also, despite the cold rain, felt a little like Mexico with its narrow streets, brightly coloured houses and plethora of latin grocery stores. So, it is fitting that we decided to go to Hot Beans for lunch.

Hot Beans in Kensington Market. Go there.

Hot Beans serves up delicious vegan Mexican food. Obviously, I had to go there. The burrito-meister told me the TVP Burrito was the best. I am so glad I listened to him! I was pretty much in heaven during every bite. Until I neared the end, that is, and couldn’t finish it. This rarely happens to me, but this thing was massive. You could work your biceps using only the bag that held our two TVP burritos. I am not joking. Share one, okay? Then  you will have room for one of their vegan doughnuts. Anyway, this was the closest I have ever come to having a steak burrito, I think. It was super meaty and saucy, as I added guacamole and their nacho “cheese”. I am not sure what the cheese is made of, but it was freaking amazing. Also, they have Valentina’s hot sauce on hand, which is always a plus. This could have been gluten-free of I made it a bowl, and they have brown rice available. Sometimes, you just want a big fat burrito though, right? This baby came to $10 even. Worth it. So much protein.

Super duper TVP Burrito with guac and nacho "cheese" at Hot Beans. Vegan heaven.

After Hot Beans, we wandered over to Moonbean Coffee. I was too full for anything but an espresso shot, but it was pretty tasty and had good crema. I noticed that they had a really good selection of vegan baked goods. Their loaves looked particularly tasty. Also, they had soy milk near the sugar etc. which I really appreciate.

Speaking of delicious hot beverages, the Mayan Hot Chocolate at Soma in the Distillery District is a must-drink. It is vegan if you get it as a shot, or made with hot water as I did. It is spicy and rich with just the right amount of kick. Soul-warming on a chilly fall day, and it went really well with the vegan gluten-free ginger molasses cookie that I found at The Sweet Escape Pâtisserie.

Another quickie vegan option I found was a burrito bowl at Chipotle. I had never been there before, but am always willing to try a new Mexican fast food joint. Chipotle has nicely laid out nutritional information on their website, which I checked out before going. I was pleased to see that the only dairy they serve is in the cheese and sour cream. I added guacamole to my bowl, which at $2 extra is a little steep, but it was a pretty huge scoop of it. The cilantro lime rice was really tasty. Chipotle was not the best ever or anything, but was tasty, fast and healthy (besides the fat from the obscene amount of guac I guess).

Oh, I also have been cooking, but I have been using an unfamiliar kitchen and the results have been good, but not 100% blog-worthy.

So, that concludes part one of Vegan Toronto! Part two will have more photos, I promise. I got over my embarrassment about whipping out my camera every time food was brought to me, like a good little blogger.

Until then, readers, stay warm, dry and well-fed!

 

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