Category: quick

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.

Vegan "Meat" Sauce with Lentils

I got 99 posts, but a meat sauce ain’t one! (Well, until now!)

You guys! This is my 99th post! Are you as excited as I am? Well, you should be. Because this is by far the best of the best. I mean, this is some real stick-to-your-ribs, blow-your-socks-off, even-ravenous-carnivores-will-love-it saucy sauce. Even my boyfriend, the lover of all things meat, declared this sauce to be “so meaty!”

Do you need any more reasons to make this right now? Really? Alright. Here are 10 reasons you should make this sauce: It’s hearty. It’s tasty. It’s spicy. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It’s vegan. Low sodium. Soy-free. Gluten-free. No added sugar. And, for all of those worried about protein intake, it’s an excellent source of the good stuff!

Serious winning all around.

One of my favourite things about this sauce is how quick and easy the process is. Chop up your ingredients, toss ’em into your slow cooker, set it, and forget it! Let your kitchen, and your house, smell like you’ve been slaving over the stove all day (when really, you’ve just been doing other important things, like catching up on some Netflix.)

Ok, ok. I’ll spare you more blab and just get right to the recipe – so that you can get right to it and cook!

Hearty Vegan Slow Cooked “Meat” Sauce
with lentils, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes
a.k.a AWESOME SAUCE
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown or green lentils (dried)
1 large can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped pitted mammoth green olives
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small green chile peppers (or more, if you like a spicy sauce!)
1 tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning mix (or a mix 1/2 tbsp paprika (not smoked), and 1/2 tbsp herbes de province)

method
Mix all ingredients together in slow cooker. Set on high for 3 hours. Remove lid, stir. If you notice it is starting to become too dry, add a few tbsp of water until desired consistency is reached. Return lid to pot and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 hours. Lentils will be tender and sauce will darken in colour.

Ways to serve it

  • On top of pasta
  • Mixed in with rice
  • On bread (as bruschetta)
  • With a spoon




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.

Waste Not, Want More (Roasted Spicy Squash Seeds)

Over recent years, I’ve come to notice that my vegetarian lifestyle is often accompanied with a heightened sense of consciousness in relation to environmental and health issues. I am more aware of what I put into my body, and I am more aware about the amount of waste that I produce. Suffice to say, this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the occasional processed food item. I do. I am just aware now that these are not the healthiest of options, so I opt for moderation over deprivation. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t buy anything in a package – I will. I just try to re-use as much as possible. notice how I didn’t say “Recycle”… because I’ve also learned that tossing paper and plastic into blue bins doesn’t do much to save the planet.

So, what do I re-use? First off, I opt for glass jars over plastic whenever possible – because once the food inside them is done, they’re washable and re-usable, even heatable… a chemical-free alternative to leeching plastic lunch containers. As for the things that come in plastic that I can’t live without – yogourt containers, for example – I bring the empties to the art teacher at my school so that she can use them for projects in class, as well as holders for art supplies.

And then, there’s my food. I like to throw away as little food waste as possible. Unfortunately, my area doesn’t have a composting program, and living in a small top floor apartment, it’s just not an option for me to be doing on my own. So, I reduce the amount of waste that I produce in the first place. I do this by buying less groceries, more often. I’ve been told that it’s the “European” way of shopping, and whether it is or not, I’ve come to find that it’s the best way to eat. The benefits of buying a little at a time (instead of one big grocery order): Foods are fresher, I get more exercise with bi-weekly walks to the market, I save money, and I waste less. Tips for anyone who’d like to try this – keep essentials on hand such as oils, vinegar, seasonings and grains. Buy one or two vegetable items at a time, and use it all up for a meal or two. To save even more money: buy what’s on sale each week – this will also encourage you to eat a bigger variety of veggies and fruits.

Ok, so what does this all have to do with the mouth watering picture above, you ask? My waste-not methods encouraged me to use up every inch of my winter squash after I made this (or this, or this…). I couldn’t bear to throw out all the lovely little seeds! Inspired by watching my mother roast pumpkin seeds every halloween, I decided to roast these baby versions of them and see what came out. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven in a handful. The best part – you can eat the shell. Warning – these are very addictive.

Roasted Spicy Squash Seeds
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
seeds from a fresh winter squash (butternut or acorn squash seeds work best)
1 tbsp grapeseed or light olive oil
1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice*

* if you can’t find this in your area, you can order some on Amazon, or make your own with a recipe here
If you’ve never had this spice mix before, get ready to be introduced to your favorite seasoning mix ever. I put this on everything from sweet potato fries to avocado salads to tuna sandwiches!

how to do it
Preheat oven to 300F. (I do this in a convection/toaster oven for faster results.)
Rinse the seeds, removing any squash goop, and pat dry with paper towel. In a small bowl, mix seeds with oil and spice, coating evenly. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 12 minutes (if in toaster oven, 4 to 8 minutes), or until golden. I highly recommend to turn your oven light on and check on these often. Every oven is different and it is possible to burn these very quickly. When the seeds change colour (brownish gold), they’re ready. 

Mediterranian Escape (Couscous with Kale and Feta)

Cheese – it’s my biggest weakness. Cheese is the reason I haven’t been able to stay on vegan wagon. Cheese is also the reason that I look forward to coming home after work. There’s something so comforting about letting a nice piece of aged cheddar melt on my tongue. Have you ever tasted a dish and thought to yourself “Mm, this is good, but it could use a little something!” HOLD THAT SALT SHAKER! I’ve seen so many people just salt up their bland dishes. You’re doing it wrong. My friends, cheese is often the answer to those blah-dish-woes.

Feta cheese in particular has a special place in my heart – growing up, my mother often made Greek-style salads to go along with our summer meals – the saltiness created a perfect balance with the acidic tomatoes and the refreshing cucumbers. Unfortunately, feta has always been salad-zoned in my kitchen. I’ve always found that the salt and the strong taste often overpower other flavours, so I’ve shyed away from using it in anything other than, well, a salad!

And then, this recipe came to me in the most recent issue of Canadian Living: curried spinach and kale hand pies with feta. An interesting combination, I thought, so I tried them out – omitting the turmeric and replacing it with cinnamon.  My, oh my, what a pie! Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of greens mixture that I needed for the filling, and found myself with a pretty substantial bowl of spinach and cheese mixture that I couldn’t bear to toss. So I kept it, thinking the leftovers would inspire me. And that, they did! I stacked them on top of a bowl of plain couscous that I was keeping for a quick snack/dinner and when I opened my fridge this evening, the combination seemed perfect!

This is a hearty meal, perfect for the type of weather we’ve been seeing here lately – oh, and for those of you not in Montreal, just picture the most disgusting wintery mix of slush and sleet and ice and everything cold and wet that you can muster, and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of our outdoor conditions. So here, I present to you, Couscous with Kale and Feta.

Cousous with Kale and Feta
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese*
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cup plain couscous, cooked according to package directions
Kalamata olives for garnish, if desired

how to do it
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Do not fill all the way to top as you need room for the kale!) Toss in kale and garlic, until kale becomes bright green (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and drain well. toss into large skillet brushed with olive oil, and heat over medium until mixture begins to reduce and water is almost all evaporated. Add mint, oregano and cinnamon, mixing well. Add the couscous to the pan, a little at a time, until it is all combined. Add feta just before serving. Garnish with olives, and another drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

*If you can find it, buy yourself some feta marinated in oil. There is a brand called Apetina that is in my opinion the tastiest feta that you can get at a conventional grocery store. If not, go to the cheese counter and ask for Greek feta, Goat feta, or Double Cream feta. (If you’re in Montreal, the absolute best place to get your feta is Adonis!)

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!)