Category: light

Comforting Cobbler

When it comes to summertime desserts, I tend to opt for all things simple and refreshing. Fruits are often the star, especially when they’re fresh and local. So, when I got my hands on a giant container of juicy blueberries last weekend, I knew that I had to make them into something special. In an act of perfect timing, I got the chance to sneak a peak at Canadian Living’s August cover recipe – a deliciously comforting blueberry cobbler.

If blueberry pie and cornbread got together and had a baby, this dessert would be their offspring! When a crispy, crumbly topping sits on top of a mountain of sweet blueberries, it’s a challenge not to devour it straight out of the oven. Not only does this comfort food taste as incredible as it smells, but it’s super satisfying to crack through the cobbler crust with your spoon for that very first bite!

You can whip yourself up one of these babies at home in no time flat, just follow the link below to take you to the original recipe on Canadian Living’s website.

Tip: top with a dollop of ice cream for an extra summery touch!

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Classy Lassi (Vegan Mango Chai Lassi)

One of my favourite little sandwich shops in Montreal, the Green Panther, makes this undeniably addictive smoothie called a Mango Chai Lassi. 
They blend tangy mangoes with coconut milk and chai spices, sweetening the whole thing with dates, for a creamy, dreamy mango experience. The addition of chai spices take an otherwise summery drink and turn it into something robust enough for a nippy winter morning. Inspired by this, as well as by my brand new toy (my Vitamix pro 350 blender), I decided to test out m own take on this newly found fave. 
Vegan Mango Chai Lassi
Inspired by Green Panther, Montreal
what you’ll need
1 cup fresh or frozen mangoes, cubed
1 cup soy or almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup mango (or other tropical) juice
4 pitted medjool dates
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp grated ginger (use fresh ginger if you like a little zing, or dried if you prefer a more mellow taste)
how to do it
Place all items in a blender. Blend until smooth. Stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

Savouring Summer (Sweet Potato Salad with Maple)

As I sit in the beaming afternoon sun, squinting to see my computer screen, sweating as if I’d just been to the gym for hours, one might see me and wonder why I don’t just go inside. The answer is simple: I’m trying my absolute hardest to absorb as much as I can of the last weeks of summer. Treating each day as if it is a mirage, knowing well that a Canadian summer is but a fleeting train filled with sunshine and happiness, I’m making a solid point to be outdoors as much as possible. Unlike many, I don’t complain that it’s 30 degrees C outside. I don’t complain that it’s humid. I don’t complain that I’m sticky and my skin is glistening with sweat. No, I don’t complain. Instead, I embrace it. I know fair well that in less than three months, the temperatures will dip to a number colder than the inside of my freezer, and I’ll be praying for these dog days to return. 
In the spirit of all things summer, I’ve been eating tons of salad. This afternoon, I decided that I should make something different than my usual spinach and whatever-is-around mixture. Opening my vegetable bin for inspiration, I spotted an almost forgotten sweet potato. Out of the corner of my eye, I also spotted my shiny new jar of Vegenaise. 
Sweet potato salad? 
Is that even a thing? 
It is now! (And is it EVER!)

Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Dressing (VEGAN!)
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
2 hot (or mild) cubanelle peppers (one large bell pepper would work too.)
2 lebanese cucumbers (1 regular cucumber would also work)
handful chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dijon mustard
pinch salt & pepper
Cook sweet potato as desired – I use the microwave to save on time, but I recommend chopping into cubes and boiling until desired tenderness is reached. Cool potatoes (to room temperature or colder.) Dice cucumbers and peppers. Combine with potatoes. In a seperate bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Toss dressing with salad and chopped cilantro. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.
Serve cold. 
Tip: For a more traditional “potato salad” flavour, add 1/2 cup of sweet corn kernels and 1/2 cup of chopped pickles, 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!

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. 







Move Over, Minnestrone (Vegetable Soup)

I am generally not a soup person. The idea of having something that’s both liquidy and chunky at the same time on my spoon just doesn’t jive in my head, nor does it feel right in my mouth. That being said, there have always been a few exceptions: matzah ball soup, for one. And, well, who can resist clam chowdah (…in a bread bowl, in San Francisco, at that?) Otherwise, soup is rarely a headliner, neither a sidekick on my table.

However, today, while staring blankly into my fridge as I often do, I found myself staring at my box of vegetable stock and slightly craving a warm cup of broth to soothe my sore throat. Known to some as Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup has been widely known as the go-to meal for generations of cold and flu sufferers. However, my lack of wanting to eat chicken, combined with the medley of vegetables in my refrigerator that have decided to wilt in unison, inspired me to stir up a vegetable-based bouillon.
Chop. Pour. Simmer. Who knew three simple steps could release the most magical aroma into the air? 
Soon after, I sat on the couch, sipping the magical masterpiece with my roommate while discussing possible names for my most fantastic creation. His favorite part was the sweetness provided by the corn, whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the colourful combination. 
I suggested “Rainbow Soup.” 
He said, “That’s corny.”
I laughed. Hard. 

Corny Rainbow Soup
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 box vegetable broth (I used Campbells)
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 can sweet corn
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp red pepper (chilli) flakes (Optional)
how to do it
Toss diced vegetables into pot. Cover with broth.  Heat on medium. Once soup comes to a boil, add corn & red pepper flakes & stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. 
Serve garnished with shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese, if desired. 

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!