RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE BALLS

vegan-chocolate-balls

 

I’m not really a big dessert lover but I do enjoy chocolate. In the famous words of Charles M. Schulz: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” For me, a rich  and chocolatey dessert like these chocolate balls is just perfect. It’s sweet but not too sweet and I especially love how very easy it is to prepare. Another part of being a non-dessert person means that I’m a terrible baker so raw desserts are just the way to go! Not only are raw dessert healthier, they don’t require any pastry baking skills. Yesss!

Video Recipe:

Learn how to make these balls with my short video recipe:

Natural Delight Medjool Dates

natural-delights-medjool-dates

If you follow health oriented food blogs, you may have noticed a dessert trend where dates are used instead of sugar. When I first heard about desserts made entirely from dates, I was skeptical. Boy oh boy was I ever wrong! Dates are a perfect sweetener because they are quite easily masked by many flavours, especially chocolate. They are high in vitamins, fibre and potassium. With fresh Medjool dates, a little goes a long way. Medjool dates are moist and chewy so they sweeten while binding ingredients. Natural Delight Medjool dates are a very popular brand available at most grocers. Natural Delights produces high quality dates that are perfect for these types of recipes. I highly recommend!

Some of the key advantages of this dessert:

  • Raw food, gives you more energy
  • No added sugar
  • Gluten-Free
  • Totally vegan
  • Very high in fibre
  • Easy to prepare
  • Gluten-Free

ingredients-vegan-balls

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup cacao
  • 5.5 oz or (one small can) of coconut milk
  • 4 dried figs
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon ( optional)

Note: As you probably know, quality ingredients  render quality results so try to use only fair trade high quality dates, cacao and coconut milk. One small can of coconut milk is pretty much the perfect amount for this recipe.

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 Directions:

  1. Add walnuts to food processor and chop them down to small pieces.
  2. Add dates and dried figs and pulse until ground.
  3. Once dates, figs and walnuts are ground, add cacao and pulse to mix it in.
  4. Finally add coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla and process on the low setting.
    • Remove the cover and mix the ingredients with a spatula from time to time so that you do not over-stress your food processor.
  5. Once all ingredients and well ground and incorporated, spoon the mixture into a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes to harden.
  6. Remove mixture from the freezer, roll into balls (about .75″ in diameter.) then roll balls into shredded coconut.

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Serve them chilled.

Store in an air sealed container in the fridge or freezer. They will last up to two weeks.

Ps. Cats don’t really like dates so don’t worry about them eating them up but they may leave their hair behind so beware!

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So there you have it! Tell me what you think in the comments below. I’d be happy to have your feedback.

Bon appétit!

-M

 

Basil Marinara, my kitchen staple.

Basil Marinara MTL VEG

Not only is pasta my ultimate comfort food but making pasta sauce is a therapeutic ritual for me. Taking few hours to myself with a glass of red wine and the smell of olive oil and onions in the air is just heavenly. I remember making sauce with my dad as a little girl, we’d spend painstaking hours rolling out meatballs and crushing tomatoes with our bare hands. I don’t eat meatballs anymore but a really great marinara is a tomatoey bliss that doesn’t really require a lot of extras. My marinara recipe is great on it’s own with pasta or wild rice, on a pizza, on eggplant parmesan or incorporated into a cream based sauce. I make a vegan rose sauce with this tomato sauce and cashew cream which very yummy and soon to be up online.  However you use your marinara, it’s a delicious kitchen staple for just about anyone and everyone.

Basil Marinara MTLVEG Montreal Vegetarian

The recipe will make about 2.5 litres of sauce (2 large 36 oz and 1 small 16oz mason jars full).

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 – 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 5 cans of whole tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

*The quality of tomatoes will make a big difference. Buy tomatoes that are soaked in tomato juice rather than water. The cheaper brands are cheap for a reason and their tomatoes often taste watery and plain. I typically go for pastene tomatoes which can come out to about $3.00 per can – ouch! If you want to save money, buy half of the cheaper prices and half of the choice grade tomatoes. Just don’t cheap out too much or your sauce will suffer!

Directions:

  1. Pre-crush tomatoes in their juice one of two ways:
    • Pour 5 can tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with hands, keep juice from can.
    • Using a hand blender, blend each can of tomatoes (the lazy method or in my case the I have tendonitis in my hands so blender is my friend metion).
  2. Heat olive oil is a large pot over low-medium heat, add onion and cook until tender ( 5 – 10 mins).
  3. Once onions are tender, add garlic, dried basil, oregano and cook for 10 mins, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil, stir throughly and raise heat slightly.
  5. Allow sauce to come to a boil then lower heat quickly to avoid burning the bottom of yours sauce.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste and simmer sauce on medium-low heat for about 1 – 2 hours, stir often. Sauce will slowly thickens.  *The time required to cook the sauce will depend on the type of tomatoes that you use. Lower grade tomatoes are more watery which means more time on the stove. Allowing sauce to cook for longer will give better results.
  7. Once sauce reaches a thick consistency and there is no more water floating to the top, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Mason jars are the best storage method. They will last a long time in the fridge, I usually keep mine for up to a month before I run out.

And that’s all! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Enjoy!

-M

Sucré Santé: Healthy Holiday Treats

sante-sucre-holidays-treats

The holiday season is wonderful in many ways but incredibly bad for your waist line and your wallet. I don’t even like sweets all that much but if I had a dollar for every cookie, cake or candy that I’ve eaten this month, I’d probably have a hundred bucks. I’m not really into gift giving but I always loved the idea of preparing care packages for my loved ones. This year instead of baking the usual cookies, I’ve opted for a number of healthier options that will still entice the sweeties.

Sucré Santé: my list of healthy dessert recipes for the Holidays

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Natural Sweeteners and no sugar added (with exception of chocolate chips).

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Raw brownies, nutty granola bars and energy balls made with dates, nuts and seeds are just a few of the goodies that I’ve prepared for my sucre sante packages. As I mentioned, I am not a big “sweets” person so these recipes are not my own creations but rather a compilation recipes that are tried, tested and true. They are all from well established (mostly vegan) food blogs. The links to the recipes are included in the list below, ENJOY!

 

Raw Chocolate Brownies

Blog: Oh She Glows

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Raw Chocolate Chipotle Brownies

Blog: Rawmazing

For raw brownies with a spicy twist.

Easy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars

Blog: Minimalist Baker

Simple, filling and really really easy!

Chocolate Peanutbutter Energy Balls

Blog: Gimme Some Oven

Also incredibly easy and a little more on the sweet side.

Or try the Pistachio Cranberry balls for fruitier festive spin on things.

Chickpea blondies

Blog: Ambitious Kitchen

The only actual baked dessert, these blondies are delicious gooey goodness without the flour.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

-Melodie

Melo’s Tacos – A Mexi-Vegan Fiesta

I’ve got one heck of a post for ya! It’s Taco Time. 

If you’ve been following my blog, you already know how much I love Mexican food. I basically live on tacos. If you come to my apartment, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be offered my strange vegan taco creations. I’ve always found that Mexican cuisine lends itself extraordinarily well to vegetarianism even if Mexicans themselves tend to love their meat. When I was in Mexico, it was so easy for me to get a veggie torta with freshly grilled veggies, or grilled nopales (cactus). Even the fast food stands had little treats like mushroom gorditas (corn flour dumplings). And let’s not forget about limitless salsa, guacamole and fresh tortillas.

Spanish 101 for vegetarians:

Hola, mi nobre es Melodia, yo soy Canadiense. Yo no como carne, ni pollo, ni pescado. ¿Hay carne en mi plato? Necesito una comida vegetariana, por favour. Gracias!

And if you are vegan:

No como queso, ni creama. At which point they will ask you to leave Mexico, haha.

Any spanish speakers, please feel free to correct it my Spanish in the comment box below. I am going on memory here. If you are like me, you’ll speak it better con dos cervezas!

So onwards and upwards to doing Tacos the Melo way – a la vegan with all the fixin’s & fillin’s

 

First, let’s define taco:

According to wikipedia, a taco (/ˈtɑːk/) is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, pork, chicken, seafood,vegetables and cheese, allowing for great versatility and variety. A taco is generally eaten without utensils and is often accompanied by garnishes such as salsa, avocado or guacamole, cilantro,tomatoes, minced meat, onions and lettuce.

Taco shell?

Many people still think tacos are the hard shell chips popularized by the old el paso brand and taco bell. To them I say: no no no! A taco shell is just a small tortilla which you can deep fry to make into a hard shell. You can buy corn or flour; both are tasty but I tend to go for corn. Corn also lends itself better to being deep fried. If you like crunchy tacos, try baking them by folding them over your oven rack, it’s significantly healthier. If you want soft shell tacos (my preferred choice) warm them so they soften, just be careful not to dry them out. When I’m in a rush I sandwich about 6-10 tortillas between two plates and microwave them for a 30 seconds, flip them, and back for another 30 seconds. This method must be adjusted based on your microwave strength.

 

Stock those cupboards with some key ingredients:

Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce:

chiptole-peppers

Go out and buy these now, like right now! It doesn’t have to be La Costena brand but it does have to be chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can find them in almost any ethnic or asian market type store. They are hot and very tasty, they add spunk to any dish.

Tomatillos

salsaverde

Fresh or canned, you’ll need these babies for your homemade salsa verde. Pick them up at Olive Branch or search for them at your neighbourhood ethnic market.

Nopales:

mexican-vegan

Find these at ethnic grocers, or olive branch.

Cactus is so yummy. It’s a little slimy which means you may not love it right away but it’s worth trying. I’m not sure where to buy fresh cactus in Montreal so I always buy the canned version. They are slightly pickled because of the brine so it makes a nice sour addition to your tacos or you can add it to a side salad.

Raw cashew nuts:

cashews

You’ll be using these to make a cashew cream which will replace the sour cream components and add a fatty, milky toping to your tacos.

Vegan chorizo

fieldroast-vegan-sausage

Available at many heath food stores in Montreal.

Okay, I like to make everything from scratch but this brand of vegan sausage is damn good! If you are against pre-packaged foods then you can make your own vegan sausage/chorizo from home. A home-made vegan sausage post awaits, I’m still perfecting the recipe. Either way vegan chorizo will add something a little more texturized to your vegan taco night.

Shelled hemp

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Available at almost any heath food store in Montreal.

I used hemp in my kale-mushroom taco filling for a nutty aroma and an added kick of protein.

 

Taco Fixin’s

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1. Easy Salsa Verde. 

2.Chunky Chipotle Salsa

mtlveg-vegantacos

3. Simple Guacamole.

4. Cashew cream.

Cashewspread-5

 

5. Vegan cheese ( and/or real cheese, if you please).

I actually bough Daiya vegan cheese and I hated it -I found it barf worthy. There are plenty of vegans who swear by it but I honestly could not deal with the taste. If you want to explore vegan cheese try Bryd fauxmages, a local vegan cheese maker. It was by far the best vegan cheese I’ve had. I’m not a full vegan so I will add real cheese on occasion or I’ll just go without it altogether – it depends. The cashew cream and avocados give you lots of fat which replace the fat from your cheese so it’s not totally necessary to have a cheese replacement. I wouldn’t count out Daiya altogether since there are plenty of people who eat it. Try things out and see how they feel. I like to experiment.

6. Fresh toppings

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced lettuce

7. Store-bought salsas and hot sauces, why not?

La Costena chipotle pepper sauce, I can’t live with out it! Valentina is a close second.

 

Taco Fillin’s

1. Classic smokey bell peppers:

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2. Garlic, kale and mushrooms magic:

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco

 

3. BBQ Tofu

BBQtacos1

See recipe here. 

4. Cactus sautéed with red onions:

cactus-taco-vegan

  • 1 cup canned nopales
  • 1/4 cup red onions, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil on medium.
  2. Add red onion, sauté for a few minutes until soft and slightly translucent.
  3. Add nopales, saute for 3 – 5 minutes.

Tip: If you are not fond of the slimy residue of the nopales, rinse them under cold water before preparing this recipe.

 

5. Refried Beans

vegan-taco

Not totally sure if refried beans count as a fixin’ or a fillin’ but they are hardy enough that you can use it them as both.  You can of course buy your refried beans in a can or make them from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Half an onion, chopped.
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, seeds removed.
  • 1 can pinto beans or equivalent (about 400g) cooked pinto beans.

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add chipotle peppers, sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Mix in the pinto beans, make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. With a potato masher, mash up your beans over the stove.

Tip: If your bean mixture becomes a little too dry, add a touch of water and oil. This is usually only an issue with cook beans as canned beans tend to be fairly moist.

 

5. Sweet Potato puree.

If you live in Montreal, you may have tasted the very yummy burritoville tacos with sweet potatoes. Who thought sweet potatoes would make such a yummy taco filling?

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

  1.  Peel and cut sweet potato into 2-inch chunks.

  2. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to a boil; cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. Drain; puree in food processor, or mash with potato masher, if desired; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

 

TACO COMBO VARIATIONS:

COMBO 1 :

GARLIC MUSHROOM KALE +

CASHEW CREAM +

CHIPOTLE SAUCE and/or RED SALSA

COMBO 2:

REFRIED BEANS +

SWEET POTATO +

RED SALSA

COMBO 3:

SMOKEY BELL PEPPERS +

NOPALES +

CASHEW CREAM

COMBO 4:

BBQ TOFU +

GREEN SALSA

COMBO 5:

Go nuts!

mtlveg-vegan-tacos   

Most importantly, tacos are a great thing to share with friends and family. So make all your fillin’s and fixin’s and have everyone make their own.

 

Hemp, Kale & Mushroom Taco filling.

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco5

This is one of the simplest taco fillings but it is rich in vitamins and proteins. It tastes absolutely scrumptious with some cashew cheese and chipotle salsa.

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You’ll need to pick up some shelled hemp which you can find at any health food store or Olive Branch

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp – Sunflower oil
  • 5 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups kale, shredded
  • 1.5 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp

 

Directions:

1- Heat oil on medium.

2- Add minced garlic, sauté for a few minutes until lightly browned.

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco2

3- Add shelled hemp, toast slightly for  for 2-3 minutes.

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco3

 

3- Add mushrooms, sauté for 3 – 5 minutes.

 

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco4

4- Add shredded kale and continue to sauté until leaves become tender. Allow any moisture to evaporate before turning down heat.

 

 

 

hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco5   5- Serve with corn or flour warmed taco shells and your favourite accompaniments. hemp-mushroom-kale-vegan-taco

 

6 – Better yet, have a taco PARTY!mtlveg-vegan-tacos

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Hummus

hummus-recipe-montreal-vegetarian

Hi, I’m Miriam. I’m the newest addition to MTL VEG. I am a Montrealer, vegan, and I love spending my free time cooking. I am vegan for both ethical and environmental reasons, meaning that I am against the objectification and commodification of animals, and against the pollution that is a result of intensive animal farming. For me it is simply the only way of eating that feels right for me. I joined MTLVEG because I wanted a venue to talk to you about vegan cooking.  I’m starting with hummus, which is something that I believe can really improve the world. Who needs mayo when there is delicious hummus around? Ditch that stuff! Vegan cooking CAN be great and my mission is to prove it ☺  

Who doesn’t love hummus? Hummus is a great way to spice up sandwiches, veggie burgers, baked potatoes (trust me), and is a must when eating falafels. This recipe is inexpensive, and making your own hummus is much cheaper and much more fun than buying it from the grocery store. By making your own hummus, you get to choose exactly how it will taste based on your preferences. This is a recipe I’ve developed after making hummus several times that I enjoy. If you want to get creative and go off course, remember that there are some essential ingredients to making hummus that really must be included. They are: tahini (Adonis has a lot of different options), chickpeas, water/oil, lemon juice, and cumin (although if you really don’t have any, ground coriander works as well).

Time: 1 hour approx.

Ingredients:

  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • 1 tbsp tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • 1 can of chickpeas, the one I used was 540 ml
  • 1 lemon’s worth of juice, freshly squeezed preferably (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp chili powder
  • 2/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2-6 tbsp of water, depending on desired consistency of the hummus, or more if you are omitting the oil for hummus that is lower in fat

Directions 

  1. Wrap garlic, onion and tbsp of olive oil in foil and roast in the oven at 374c for about 30 minutes. *Check on them occasionally to make sure that they do no burn or stick to the tinfoil too much.
  2. Place your roasted garlic and onion into the food processor with remaining ingredients:

*Make sure all ingredients are distributed fairly throughout the hummus, for example, add the chickpeas gradually at different times over layers of other ingredients. To help distribute all ingredients, a fork or spatula can be used to push them farther down into the food processor. 

hummus-recipe-garlic-montreal

Optional additions to spice things up:

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Spices such as garam masala, turmeric, or whatever else looks interesting to you
  • 1-2 tbsp
  • flax seeds for a kick of omega-3

Or use any type of vegetable during the roasting process that sounds interesting to you, maybe some hot pepper!

To make this hummus lower in fat, water can be used to roast the onion and garlic instead, and water can used instead of oil to create the wonderfully smooth hummus texture. If you don’t care though, use the oil, it will taste better.

Hummus fun facts:

Did you know that hummus can be frozen to preserve freshness? If you are going camping anytime soon, put your hummus in the freezer the day before and enjoy your hummus while up north without it going bad. Adding baking soda, or more lemon juice, can also help to keep hummus fresher for longer periods of time.