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Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes



When a “Let’s empty out the fridge and cook all the things,” dish becomes a “Let’s definitely make this again, like, all the time,” kind of meal, I know it’s time to blog.

This is one of those amazingly delicious get-your-omnivore-friends-to-love-vegan-food recipes. Seriously, this stuff tastes like love and comfort. A hearty, healthy, nutritional powerhouse, stuffed into a cute little potato package! You don’t even have to mention to anyone that it’s vegan, because really, they don’t even need to know that no animals were harmed in the making of this meal. They don’t even need to know that this is good for them. They don’t even need to know that it contains complete protein and is full of vitamins. Nope, they just need to eat it. And then, when they’re all done, you can casually fill them in. Oh, what’s that? You loved it? You want more? You can’t get over how creamy the sauce was? Yeah. Oh, bee tee dubs, it was vegan and naturally gluten-free!

And now, for the love of sweet potatoes everywhere, I present to you my 100th recipe!

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa & Swiss Chard
an original vegan recipe by allison sklar 

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
1 handful of chopped greens (I used swiss chard)
1 handful of chopped brussels sprouts (or cabbage)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of your favourite mixed all-purpose seasoning. (I like to use a Jamaican jerk seasoning because it’s tasty, but any spice mix that you have on hand will work!) 

Quick spicy vegan mayo: 2 tbsp Vegenaise Original + 1 tsp Sriracha

method
Roast your potatoes, wrapped in foil, in the oven for about 45 mins at 400F. When they’re ready, take them out, cut them in half and scoop out as much flesh as you can, trying not to break the skin. Sautée the greens and cabbage in some oil, once they are bright in colour, add in your quinoa and stir. Add your chopped potato. Add your spices. Scoop it all back into your potato. If they need to be re-warmed (mine did, because I made them in advance!) put them back in the oven at 350 for about 15 mins. Serve hot, drizzled with spicy vegan mayo.

Asparagus, Fava & Snap Pea Salad

Here’s a great, super fast, super easy vegan meal packed with flavour, packed with protein, packed with nutrients, and oh-so-green! I found some beautiful asparagus this week at my local grocer (nice, thin stalks & bright green in colour, which is what you should look for when choosing asparagus!) Inspired by Ottolenghi’s newest book, Plenty More, and whatever else I had on hand, I came up with this. This salad is on the hearty side, which means that you can enjoy it on it’s own, or as a stellar side dish. If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, don’t worry! I’ve put some substitution ideas in parentheses just for you.

Asparagus, Fava Bean & Snap Pea Salad 
inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More 
ingredients
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, roughly chopped
2 cups snap peas, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked, frozen, or canned fava beans (edamame works well, too!)
1 medium avocado
1 handful chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you prefer!)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp tahini (or dijon mustard)
1 tsp agave (or honey)

1 tsp harissa paste (or sriracha)
1 tsp ground corriander seed
pinch of chilli flakes
cracked black pepper
sea salt
Blanch asparagus, beans and snap peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place into colander. Run under cold water to cool. Place into large salad bowl. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro. Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss to coat.

Buffalo Tofu & Ranch

Fun fact: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a grammatically correct sentence in the English language. Wait! Before you go and fact-check that, make some of this deliciousness. This recipe is my vegetarian version of buffalo wings. You thought it couldn’t be done? Well it can! And it’s healthy. And it’s delicious. And it’s perfect. 

Vegetarians coming to your Superbowl party? PERFECT. 
Vegetarian yourself? PERFECT. 
Like spicy delicious meals? PERFECT. 

Everything about this meal is perfect. Even my super carnivorous boyfriend said, “you HAVE to make this again.” Win all around! Also, it really doesn’t take long to prepare, which is awesome if, you know, you’re super hungry. Seriously, this meal hits the spot. A little spicy, a little creamy, a little sweet, a whole lot of flavour! 

Pairs well with cold beer and good company.

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Buffalo Tofu with Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar
time needed: 15 to 20 minutes, plus marinating. 
serves 2. 

ingredients
1/2 package firm tofu, cut into strips (or 3cm cubes)
1 cup whole button mushrooms, or sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Original
1 tsp white vinegar

1/4 cup mayonnaise**
1/4 cup plain yogourt**
1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
pinch salt
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp soy milk
1 tsp granulated sugar 
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce 
generous amount cracked black pepper
dash hot sauce

2 cups mixed greens (radicchio, arugula, baby kale, spinach)
1/4 cup herbed goat cheese, crumbled

**VEGAN OPTION: Replace may & yogurt with Vegenaise Original, or another vegan mayo & omit cheese. 
how to do it
Marinate tofu for a few hours or overnight in a ziplock bag, air sealed, with ketchup, vinegar and Franks. Mix all dressing ingredients together and set aside. 

Heat a few tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop tofu into pan with juices. Pan fry about 5 minutes,  then add mushrooms. Continue to cook, turning tofu occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes. Do not leave unattended. 

Arrange mixed greens in bowls, drizzle with half of the dressing. Place tofu mixture on top. Top with remaining dressing and cheese crumbles. Eat hot or cold.  Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Alright, so I have a confession to make. This dish actually started out as an italian-style meatless meatball dish. It was supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese and served on top of a plate of spaghetti. But, with an ice storm a brewin’ outside, I did not feel safe venturing out to get the handful of ingredients that I was missing. So, I decided to just make a few changes and use whatever I had on hand. Basil became cilantro. Beans became chickpeas. And then, somewhere along substitution road, my meatless meatballs in tomato sauce became meatless falafel in yogourt sauce. Let me tell you, whatever you want to call them, these little babies are 100% pure deliciousness.
  
Just a few things to note before you go off and make this. You MUST roast the eggplant the whole way through. No if’s and’s or but’s, the roasted eggplant has a flavour and texture that is crucial to the texture of the final product.  Also, the chickpeas are what give it that distinct falafel taste, so if you decide to sub them for something else, you’re going to have a very different little ball! Oh, and be sure to use greek yogourt (I prefer to use 2% as it’s creamy but still low in fat, but you can use any % that you like.) Vegan? No fret! Omit the yogourt sauce and replace it with some red hot sauce instead. Alright, let’s get ballin’!
Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce
An original recipe by Allison Sklar. Inspired by Meatless Meatballs, Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015.
ingredients
(for the vegan falafel)
1 large eggplant, roasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
2 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
pinch salt & pepper
(for the yogurt sauce)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp harissa paste 
handful chopped fresh cilantro
Begin by roasting your eggplant. Preheat oven to 375F. Place whole eggplant on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Prick eggplant with fork all over. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it looks wilted on the outside and is soft enough to slice easily with a knife. Let eggplant cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before using. 
Meanwhile, prepare the broth for the yogurt sauce. In a small saucepan, combine spices and harissa paste. Toast on medium low heat until fragrant (2 to 4 minutes), moving it all around with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add vegetable juice & cilantro and whisk. Continue whisking intermittently on low heat until mixture reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You may transfer to fridge once it’s cool enough!)
While the mixture is cooling, prepare your “chia egg.” (This is your binding agent!) Combine milk with chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is slightly gelatinous. 
Now, it’s time to make the falafel! Mash chickpeas very well with a fork. Mix together with breadcrumbs, cilantro and garlic. Once the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop out the inside, discarding the skin. Mash as well as you can, and incorporate it into the breadcrumb mixture. Add in the chia egg, and use your hands to bring it all together. 
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside. 
Combine cooled broth with yogourt, mixing well. 
Serve hot falafel with cool yogourt sauce. Use more fresh cilantro to garnish if desired. 
NOTE: Short on time? No fret! Here are a couple of suggestions…
You can roast the eggplant the day before. 
You can skip the broth part of the yogurt sauce if you want to, and instead, just mix yogourt with a couple of tsp of harissa or sriracha! Instant spicy yogurt!


Pretty in Pink Salad (Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets)

Being vegetarian for over 10 years, I often get asked “but where do you get your protein?”
There are so many plant-based significant sources of protein out there, many of which you’re probably already eating. (Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, peas, spinach, broccoli, just to name a few.) Quinoa is among those plant-based sources, and it is a little powerhouse. Quinoa is even more versatile than rice, quick and easy to cook, and contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs for growth and repair. You can eat it sweet like porridge, savoury like rice, or go somewhere in between, like this pretty pink salad.

Watermelon + Beets: a tantalizingly refreshing combo that looks as wonderful as it tastes. The earthiness of the beets balance the sweetness of the watermelon, and the textures compliment each other beautifully. I convinced the boy to hop on the pink salad bandwagon with me, and we were both hooked. Imagine my surprise when came home after work one afternoon, about to rush over to school, when I was greeted by the loveliest smile and a hands that were holding a watermelon and beet salad, ready to go. Only this time, it wasn’t only watermelon and beets. No, my wonderful man took it up a notch, and invited quinoa and figs to join the party. With some avocado placed delicately on top, Josh had turned a side salad into a full blown vegan meal. I couldn’t be prouder!

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, so you can get right on to the market and pick yourself up a nice juicy watermelon to make this salad tonight. I’ll share the recipe, you share the love!

Happy August!

Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets

2 cups watermelon, cubed
4 small beets, boiled until tender, cooled and cubed
1 cup cucumber, cubed
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
Handful of dried figs, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 avocado, sliced

Combine all ingredients, except avocado, and toss gently. Garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle with pistachios or hemp seeds for an extra protein boost!

Summer Slaw (Creamy Sesame Coleslaw)

Any time that I feel as if I’ve overeaten, or when I’ve drank too much, I find myself attempting to compensate the following day by consuming ridiculous amounts of vegetables, taking multivitamins, and drinking green smoothies.

Today has been one of those days.
The only problem? I was super hungry, and craving something creamy.
My fridge brimming with a medley of fresh fruits and veggies, I concluded that a salad with a creamy dressing would perfectly satisfy this craving all while ensuring that my veggie intake for the day remained at an all-time high.

Inspired by a bagged Asian-style salad that I tried out recently, I decided to make a creamy asian coleslaw – and to take it up a notch, I made it vegan! Now, I know what you non-vegans are thinking. How can you make something creamy without actual cream? The answer to this perplexing question- Vegenaise and tahini – a match made in vegan heaven!

Creamy (Vegan!) Sesame Coleslaw
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need 

for the salad
2 cups chopped mixed cabbage greens
1/2 cup asian-style fried noodles (such as these: La Choy Chow Noodles)
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsp slivered roasted almonds

for the dressing
4 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp tahini
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar
salt & pepper to taste

how to do it
Combine cabbage, noodles, cilantro and almonds. Whisk dressing ingredients together until creamy. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

Note: if preparing ahead of time, only add noodles in just before serving, otherwise they will be soggy. Nobody likes a soggy noodle.

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!