Category: dairy free

You Want This

I proudly present to you my latest creation obsession, Spiced Pepita Cake! Now, you may be wondering, “Pepita cake? Why would I want that?” Trust me, you want this. Just imagine ooey gooey chocolate that melts in your mouth with every bite. Now, imagine that chocolate wrapped in fluffy cake that’s sweet and salty and the slightest bit savoury. I’m telling you, you want this. 
Not quite sold? Let me ask you a few questions. 
1. Do you like cake?

2. Do you like chocolate?

3. Do you like easy recipes?
4. Do you like things that are delicious?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above,  you want this.
This recipe is a heavily adapted version of chef Rick Bayless’ Mexican Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Seed Cake. While Rick uses Mexican chocolate, I used dark baking chocolate and I added some of my own spices into the batter. I also subbed out the butter for Earth Balance Spread, and I added in some sunflower seeds to the mix. Now, without further adieu… The one, the only…
Spiced Pepita Cake with Chocolate
makes one 8″ cake, recipe adapted from Food and Wine

ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
250ml Earth Balance Spread (or butter)
3 eggs
1 tbsp tequila
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate 
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground anise (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper 
pinch black pepper
pinch salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter & flour an 8″ round cake pan. (I also like to put a parchment circle at the bottom of mine!) Sprinkle 1/4 cup of seeds + 2 tbsp of sugar directly into pan. In food processor (Robot Coupe), pulse the remaining seeds with sugar until sandy. Add eggs, shortening, tequila and pulse until homogenous. Add dark chocolate and pulse until incorporated. Add all dry ingredients and pulse again slowly, but do not overmix! Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and cake tester (toothpick) inserted in centre comes out clean. 
Once cake is slightly cooled, invert to serve. 
Dust with powdered sugar and more cinnamon if desired. 

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!)

Green Dream (Edamame & Avocado Hummus)

Summertime cooking tends to pair well with three particular descriptors: light, fresh, and fast. 
With pot-lucks and BBQs-a-plenty, it’s sometimes hard to stick to the “light” and “fresh” part of that equation. I’ve been known to generally bring along my no-fail-crowd-pleasing spinach dip whenever the occasion permits. Today, however, I felt like being a little different – I wanted to bring it up a notch. I decided that I was going to make something healthier, fresher, brighter… 

Leaning further toward the vegan side of life these days, I was inspired to make an egg-free, dairy-free dip. You’d think this would have limited my options, but in fact, it just opened a whole new door into the world of food. Last week, I fell in love with a simple salad that I picked up at the grocery store – edamame beans, cilantro and sesame. A flavour combination that would certainly blend well into a dip, I thought! Well, today was the perfect day to try it out. Gathering all my fresh ingredients, I knew I was ready to wow the crowd. I threw everything into my blender, hit pulse and… watched it fail. My blender just didn’t want to whip up something so thick and creamy. What a jerk! Just when I was about to give up, a tiny imaginary lightbulb hovered over my head and lit right up – hand blender to the rescue! The result: Hummus meets Guacamole at a party and they make a delicious baby together. 
Sounds about right. 




Edamame Hummus with Avocado
original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 ripe avocado
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup shelled edamame beans, steamed (cooled)
pinch sea salt (to taste)
handful chopped fresh cilantro (to taste)
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1tbsp lime juice
sesame seeds or cilantro for garnish (optional)

how to do it
in a small bowl, whisk together tahini and oil. Using a fork, mash in avocado. Mash in beans and chickpeas, a little at a time. (Mixture will be a bit chunky!) Sprinkle with salt, lime juice and cilantro. With hand blender, smooth to desired consistency. If dip is too thick/dry, add water, 1 tbsp at a time, and blend until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately, or refrigerate well covered and stir well before serving.