Category: avocado

The Un-Burger (Roasted Portobello Burger with Sprouted Seeds & Avocado)

Summertime – a season that is synonymous with renewal and resetting. School is out, and, if you’re lucky, work has slowed down. The sun shines more often, casting an upbeat vibe that engulfs the entire city. The winter doldrums have passed, and it is time to come out of hibernation and dive into new ventures and discoveries. Days are longer, skirts are shorter, smiles are wider. Tucked away is the crock-pot, and rolled out is the Barbecue. Food is lighter, and refreshment is at the top of the priority list. What better way to refresh and renew than to eat live, raw vegan food? Now, I’m not talking about a 100% raw diet. While that might appeal to some, it is certainly not for all (for many different reasons that I won’t get into here.) However, incorporating more raw vegan components into your daily diet is almost certain to make you feel pretty darn good.

Eating live food is a stepping stone to hitting that refresh button on your body. Some benefits of eating raw: raw food is cool. Not hipster-cool, but literally cool – temperature wise! Eating cool foods more often is said to reduce inflammation in the body and reduce stomach irritations. Furthermore, many raw foods are known to contain certain good-for-you enzymes that are lost in cooking. There is a lot of conflicting information out there about raw diets, and a lot of bias, as there often is in the agricultural industry. However, as with anything, in moderation, there are definitely benefits to eating this way.

My first experience with full-out raw vegan was at a restaurant earlier this week called Crudessence. What intrigues and attracts me the most to this dietary choice is the incredible creativity that goes into preparing such meals. For example, I went in asking myself, what would a “wrap” possibly be made out of? Seaweed and rice paper! Well of COURSE that stuff is raw – but I never thought of it that way before. This experienced opened me up to trying even more new things. I started sprouting my own seeds. I tasted nutritional yeast (surprisingly delicious, slightly reminiscent of tempura flakes). And, I made quite a few rice paper and seaweed wraps.

And then, I made this: The Un-burger. Now, it is not completely raw, as I roasted the mushrooms. (Portobellos should not really be eaten raw due to possible carcinogens that are killed in the cooking process. Which brings me back to the point of how a 100% raw diet is not ideal.) In making this, I found a place to incorporate both my sprouted beans AND my nutritional yeast. Ok, and I added some Veganase. So I guess this isn’t REALLY all that raw at all… BUT it is vegan. And it is DE-LI-CIOUS.
Make it and see for yourself!

Roasted Portobello Burger with Sprouted Seeds & Avocado
note: I sprouted my own seeds for this. Very easy, and very tasty. So much fresher than the sprouts that come already packaged at the store! I use the hemp sprouting bag as I find it’s the quickest method, and it yields the best results. For more information about sprouting, visit Sproutman’s website, full of useful tips and tricks! 

what you’ll need
for the burgers:
2 portobello caps
2 tsp grapeseed or olive oil
pinch salt, freshly ground pepper
for the topping:
1 avocado, cubed
1 cup arugula (aka roquette/rocket)
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional, but delicious!)
1/4 cup sprouted seeds/beans
2 tbsp Vegenaise or mayonaise

how to do it
Preheat oven to 350F. Rub portobellos with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment (creating a papillote) and place in shallow baking dish. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Toss beans, avocado and nutritional yeast together. Divide greens over two plates and place burgers on top. Spread each burger with Vegenaise/mayo and top with mixture.
Eat and enjoy!

Que-Pasta? (Noodles & Avocado Sauce)

My name is Allison, and I am an avocadoholic. 
I can’t help it; it’s all I ever want to eat. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that draws me to this ridiculously expensive – albeit healthy – habit, and I’ve come to a handful of possible conclusions. I’ve thought that perhaps it’s my body craving the 20 essential nutrients that avocadoes have to offer. I’ve also considered the possibility that maybe it’s just my body craving healthy fats. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s simply because it’s something that just tastes so darn good! It’s a creamy, delicious, versatile food that can be used as a dip, in a sandwich, or as I’ve discovered recently, as a sauce.
This lovely creation was actually inspired by a condiment that I quite enjoy at this Venezuelan resto in the plateau (aptly named Arepera Du Plateau – and highly recommended if you’re in the Montreal area!) They serve their sandwiches and salads with this bright green addiction-forming avocado-based deliciousness. I’ve been known to order an avocado and cheese sandwich and slather it in avocado the stuff. (Because, well, I can never have too much avocado!) I don’t quite know what’s in their sauce, but I’ve taken my three favorite elements form it (avocadoes, cilantro and spice) and created my own version. I served it atop some egg pasta and garnished it with extra chopped fresh cilantro. The result? Delicious dinner in a flash, and a new way to use my favorite fruit!

Egg Noodles with Avocado Sauce & Cilantro

an original recipe by allison sklar
what you’ll need
2 medium avocadoes
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
dash salt
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 cup egg pasta, cooked al-dente and drained
(If you follow a vegan diet, this will work well with any thin flat pasta as well!)
how to do it
while your pasta is cooking, mash up avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic and hot sauce. Add cilantro. Slowly stir in vegetable broth, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. For a creamier sauce, use less broth. For a thinner sauce, add more. Adjust salt and spice to taste. Toss with cooked pasta while pasta is still hot. Garnish with additional cilantro. 
(hint: round out this meal by adding some vegetables on top. I had mine with sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes and it was delish!)

Spring Fresh (Avocado & Mango Salad)

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest welcome to my most desired season: springtime. While blooming flowers begin to paint the city with their limitless palette and scent the warming air with their intoxicating perfume, while the days get longer and the skirts get shorter, and while the sunshine begins to lend my chalky skin a warm glow, my two favorite elements of springtime are, unsurprisingly, food-related. 



My favorite part of spring? Visiting the outdoor farmers’ markets to obtain fresh, local produce, and planting my vegetable & herb garden. (Harvesting my own garden is my favorite part of Summer, but we’ll get to that when it happens.) This year, I’m trying something new: a balcony garden. As many of you may have experienced, urban living often comes with the sacrifice of a yard. However, inspired by a friend of mine, I’ve decided to be more proactive about where my food comes from and have decided that a little lack of terrain will not stop me from relishing the joy of harvesting my own veggies at home! 

As it’s the first time I’ll be doing this, I’m keeping it quite simple, with an assortment of herbs, some lettuces and, (my favorite) yellow cherry tomatoes. If you have any advice on balcony gardening, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment here or on my facebook page. 

Until my garden grows, I’ll be getting my fresh produce at the markets, where it seems as though each week something new is in season, which is an encouraging way to consume variety and enjoy fresh flavours at their peak!

A recent pot-luck dinner that I’d attended showcased a delightfully refreshing mango salad, and it inspired me to add some variety to my routine mixed greens. Today, I wandered over to the market, where I was further inspired to throw this fantastical salad together. The following is a recipe that I’m going to be making about one million times this summer. Once you try it, you likely will be repeating it, too. 

The list of ingredients alone are enough to make any foodie drool: Mangoes. Avocadoes. Radishes. Mâche.  An odd combination, perhaps in your mind. But in your mouth, I assure you, it is like no salad that’s ever grazed your lips.

Oh, and to top it off, a nutmeg balsamic dressing. 
Yeah. That’s right. Nutmeg. 
Crazy you say? 
Delicious, actually. 

Note: if you cannot find mache in your area, it can be replaced with watercress or dandelion greens.


Avocado Mango Salad with Nutmeg
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need (serves 2)

salad:
3 ripe medium-sized avocadoes (1 cup, diced)
3 or 4 ripe medium-sized mangoes (about 1.5 cups, diced)
1 cup chopped baby spinach
2 cups mâche
10 medium radishes, slivered thin

dressing:
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard/mustard powder
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

how to do it
Combine all dressing ingredients into pouring cup. Whisk until well blended.
Combine mache and spinach. Toss with dressing. Lightly toss in radishes, mangoes and avocado. (Do not toss too much, as avocadoes will turn to cream!)
Enjoy immediately. 
Preferably on a nice spring day. 







The WhatTheHellAreYouEating Sandwich (Avocado & Beans)


Sometimes, the best tasting foods are the messiest ugliest most aesthetically unappealing ones. Prime example: Sloppy Joes. Visually, Sloppy Joes resemble a bread bun that’s regurgitated a hamburger onto itself. And, living well up to their name, these babies will dribble down your chin, pour down your wrists, and splash all over your brand new cream coloured pants. But, there is a reason why these greasy, juicy open-face sandwiches continue to be a comfort food for North Americans – because they’re absolutely delicious!

Though I do often love a beautifully presented meal, lately I’ve had a tendency to just slop a bunch of stuff together and dig right in. My recent meal choices have often come hand in hand with my host family making funny faces at me and often uttering the phrase “what are you eating now?!” Today was no different. I decided that I wanted to eat some leftover beans for lunch, and I felt like they’d go well with some avocado.

Fajitas perhaps? No desire to clean a frying pan.
Burritos? No tortillas.
Makeshift-whatever’s-in-the-fridge-tex-mex sandwich? Done.

Super hearty. Super healthy. Super delicious.


Bean & Avocado Sandwich
original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
note: quantities are for 1 sandwich. multiply to your liking.
two slices toasted bread (of your choice)
1 tbsp hummus
1 avocado
2 tbsp cup red kidney beans
1 tbsp chickpeas
2 tbsp corn kernels
1 tsp garlic powder
1 sprinkle salt
1 dash lime juice (optional)

how to do it
In a small bowl, mash avocado with garlic, salt and lime. Toss with beans, chickpeas and corn. Spread hot toast with hummus on both sides. Top each toast with avocado mixture. Garnish with sour cream and fresh sprouts. Eat open face.

Good For The Heart

Many of you might recall a little jingle from childhood, you know, the one that relates beans with flatulence a certain bodily function that shall remain nameless. Well, that little ditty also suggested that beans are good for your heart – and that was smack on! While it is widely known that beans are chock full of fibre, making them your digestive track’s most powerful alli, a lesser known fact is that beans are also loaded with unique phytochemicals that protect against certain cancers as well as heart disesase. Oh, and they’re yummy. Especially when you make them into this deliciously refreshing salad!

Before you go on and read the recipe, I must let you know – it really is the cilantro that gives it a the perfect little kick of Mexicana, and makes it reminiscent of an authentic salsa.  So for all of you cilantro haters out there? I sympathize. I really do. I used to be one of you. Then, something changed inside of me. It began one faithful evening, while I was out with a few of my girls, dining at a local mexican resto that I’d been wanting to try.  I requested that they omit the cilantro on my dish, however, to my horror, the dish came to me brimming with the evil green leaf. The little piles seemed like mountains, mountains of cilantro that I would never be able to conquer. But, being a pushover extremely polite, I will very rarely send anything back at a restaurant. I decided at that moment that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and eat it. I told myself, hey, it’s meant to be prepared this way, right? And I came here for the experience of authentic cooking afterall, right? So I’ll eat it this exactly how it’s supposed to be eaten! Right.

And then something really weird happened. I. Liked. Cilantro.

So go ahead, be brave, try it for yourself, because it really does make this dish what it is. Replace it with flat leaf parsely if you must, or omit it alltogether, but definitely do make this bean salad.
Your heart will thank you.

Black Bean Salsa Salad
an original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
1 cup of canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small italian tomato, diced
½ an avocado, cut into cubes
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin

how to do it
Combine salad ingredients. Toss with hot sauce, lime juice and seasonings, just until coated. Serve immediately. Keeps well in the fridge for two days. Serves 1, adjust quantities depending on the number of servings you desire.

Three Minute Masterpiece

Rice wraps.
If you haven’t done so already, I strongly urge you to get on the bandwagon.

Light and easy to work with, rice wraps are a fail safe go-to anytime that I need a quick-fix meal. Thanks to their neutral taste, they can be stuffed with pretty much anything that you desire. I could imagine them filled with any savory meal that you’d normally eat as a salad – for instance, some seared strips of steak and raw spinach. Or, for the vegetarian, tofu, ginger, carrots and sprouts. You can even venture to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and make desert rolls, filling them with a fruit salad and dipping them in chocolate. When I make them, my preference has generally been sushi-inspired. The other day, I had a fishepiphany – why don’t I make a bagel-inspired one? I am from Montreal afterall…

Ah! There she is – the above photo was taken pre-wrap, of course. A true beauty: avocado, alfalfa sprouts, Coho smoked salmon, cream cheese and toasted sesame seeds. As a bonus, since the rice papers each contain only 45 calories and 0 grams of fat, I was able to enjoy all of the best parts of my Sunday morning bagel, without any of the usual carby guilt. 
My favorite part about these wraps is that they look ridiculously impressive – and only take a couple of minutes to throw together. For real: this little baby took me three minutes total! A three minute masterpiece…. I’ll now title this blog post accordingly. 

Rice Wraps

An original recipe by Allison Sklar
what you’ll need
  • Rice paper (available in the Asian/Sushi section of the supermarket, or in any Asian food shop)
  • any combination and/or all of the following:
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 package shredded pollock (or real crab meat, if you swing that way)
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise mixed with a few drops cayenne pepper sauce (spicy mayo)
  • soy sauce, or more spicy mayo for dipping

how to do it 

Thoroughly wet rice paper on a large plate with warm water. Let soak for about 3 minutes or until soft enough to work with. Place on a dry plate for 30 seconds. Place ingredients in the middle of the wrap. Fold in ends, then wrap like you would a tortilla. (Let sit for a few minutes to dry if it is too wet. Wrap should not be slippery, but slightly sticky.) Cut in half and EAT!

My Noodly Appendage

I’ve always been known to keep a well stocked fridge and pantry. Among other basic necessities, you’ll rarely find me lacking any of the following foods: assorted cheeses, frozen vegetables, multiple bags of pasta and jars of Classico tomato sauce. [A note on the latter: though I’m a stickler for homemade, those chefs over at Classico really know what they’re doing. Though I wasn’t paid to say that, I’d just like to inform the fine folks over at Classico that I really wouldn’t mind some free sauce. Or a coupon. You know, both are good!]

All I had was an hour, but all I wanted was pasta. With some garlic toast. And maybe even a little use-up-the-veggies-up-before-they-wilt salad. I thought it would be as fast as boiling some noodles and opening up a jar. Alas, I was jar-less. My Classico supply had been depleted.

That’s when I hit the vodka… 

Paired it with tomatoes and cream and turned it into a velvety smooth sauce!
Though the actual preparation is quick, if you have the time I highly recommend that you make this earlier on in the day and let it simmer over low heat in order for the sauce to thicken and the flavours to enhance. I served mine over spinach fettucine (to add a splash of colour & pizzazz to the plate… yes, I just used the word pizzazz) with a side of pumpernickel toasted with garlic butter and a hint of shredded cheese. I balanced it all out with a cherry tomato, avocado & romaine salad tossed with Renee‘s naturally low-cal cucumber, dill & yogourt dressing.


Nutrition facts about this meal

Pasta myths debunked: Spinach pasta is not any healthier than regular pasta – the spinach is mostly used for the colour, though the spinach content does add a small ammount of vitamin A and some iron. I choose spinach pasta because I prefer the taste and texture, but you may prefer the enriched semolina (regular) variety. If you’re looking to add fibre to your diet, whole-wheat pasta is the choice for you. The “healthiest” pasta in my opinion is quinoa pasta, as it contains the most nutrients overall – however, this is not to say that you should banish pasta from your diet. In a well-balanced meal like this one, pasta can be a satisfying and healthy choice, no matter what variety you use.

Vitamins & Nutrients: Lutein, the compound that gives tomatoes their bright red colour, is a vitamin that is said to reduce the risk of serious eye disease. This sauce is chock-full of it! The avocados in your salad are a source of HEALTHY fat – the kind that helps to unclog your arteries, as well as 20 other minerals and nutrients. Contrary to popular beleif – eating avocados will not make you fat! The yogourt in the dressing is a source of “good” bacteria that help with food digestion, and is low in saturated (unhealthy) fat. People who are slightly lactose intolerant can often digest yogourt due to it’s bacterial content.

Drunken Tomato Sauce 
note: you can add other vegetables into this sauce while simmering, such as diced carrots, crushed garlic, chopped spinach, etc. I kept the recipe simple because that’s how I like it but I’ll leave it to your discretion to make it your own! 

what you’ll need
•    1 large can plum tomatoes (other varieties will do, but this is my recommendation)
•    1 large onion, diced
•    1 tbsp vegetable oil
•    1 tsp sugar
•    1/2 cup cream (at least 10%, use 35% if you prefer a creamier sauce)
•    1/4 cup vodka
•    2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
•    dash tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
•    handful of fresh basil, chopped (optional)

how to do it
In medium saucepan, heat oil on medium and add onions. Sprinkle with sugar and cook until soft. Add tomatoes, breaking up with mixing spoon. Stir in tabasco & vodka. Simmer until tomatoes begin to break down. Bring cream to room temperature while simmering. Once sauce has reached desired consistency, slowly stir it, one tbsp at a time, into cream, just until the cream is warm. This will ensure that the cream does not curdle upon entering the hot pot. Whisk cream into sauce, slowly, little by little. Add salt and basil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Garnish with grated fresh parmesan cheese.