MAP Wellness

MAP Wellness
Spreading the Health

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegan Lentil Loaf - my BABY

Hit any bookstore’s cookbook section these days, and you’ll discover shelves and shelves of vegetarian and vegan recipe collections available for purchase.  This wasn’t always the case however, as I recall during my first serious venture into the plant-based diet world in the late 90’s.  Back then I was living in a small town for one thing, but at that point going all-veg was also still considered a pretty severe and radical way to live (especially for a teen). 

Fast forward a decade, and I am back on the meat-free (and dairy and egg free) train, and life is a whole lot simpler.  Nowadays, it is easy to find an abundance of recipe options that work for me, and I love that when I plan a dinner date, there is a whole new slew of restaurants out there offering menus that cater to folks like me.  The benefits of including a vast variety of colourful vegetables in the diet are widely known, and it is great to see how many people have begun to embrace the idea of consuming less meat in favour of more greens and earth’s vegetative bounty. 

I have chosen to join the green-food revolution, and through my culinary training am trying to help spread the word that vegetarian food can be chic, easy, tasty, and comforting.  I have spent many hours rocking out in my kitchen developing my very own food creations to comfort the soul.  One recipe that I remember often eating while growing up is meatloaf.  Such a cozy meal when paired with mashed potatoes and gravy!  Here, I have re-vamped the loaf concept, and created a savoury main dish that I have fed to even the most meat-loving men I know with great success.  I admit it is a bit labour intensive, but it is well worth it in the end, especially when paired with a side of yummy sweet potato smash or cauliflower puree!

Very Vegan Lentil-Walnut Loaf

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (or half pine nuts/half walnuts), roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbsp ground flax seed, plus 1 Tbsp ground flax seed separated
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup  onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated, squeezed of excess water*
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/3 of an apple, grated (makes 1/3 cup grated apple)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates or raisins
  • 2 1/2  cups cooked green lentils (if using canned, be sure to rinse & drain well)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ Tbsp herbs de provence
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh organic lemon zest(about 1 medium lemon’s worth)
  • 1/2 cup oat bran (gluten free option)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (gluten free option)
*You can grate using a box grater, or save time by using a food processor with the grate plate attachment

*Optional add-ins: ¼ Cup chopped sundried tomato, ¼ sunflower seeds

Meg's Sweet Glaze – this is a flexible recipe; use what you have on hand!
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce or Red Pepper jelly
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a loaf pan with parchment so that parchment paper hangs over the edges by 2 inches.  Set aside.

2. On a baking sheet, toast 3/4 cup of walnuts at 350F for about 6 minutes, keeping an eye to ensure they do not burn.  Set aside to cool.

3. In a small bowl, mix ground flax with 1/2 cup warm water and stir well. Set aside for at least 5-10 minutes so it can gel up.  This is your binding agent.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp flax to large mixing bowl for later.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring often until translucent.  If veggies stick add 1 Tbsp of water at a time and scrape up bits form pan.  Add mushrooms, carrot and zucchini and cooking for 5 minutes more.  Stir in grated apple, raisins, and chopped and cover pan and let heat through for another 5-6 minutes. 

Add herbs, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste (stir in any optional add-ins now). Remove from heat and set aside.

7. In food processor, process about 3/4 of the lentils until smooth.  Add to bowl and mix in remaining whole lentils.  The two textures make for a nice meaty mouth-feel in the loaf.

7. To the bowl, add the breadcrumbs, flax egg, cooked veggie mixture and oat bran.  Stir well!  Dump the mixture into your loaf pan and spread out with a spoon. Now take your hands and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan.

Glaze & Bake!
In small bowl combine all glaze ingredients.  Spread evenly over loaf and bake, uncovered 45 minutes at 350F.

Cool for about 10-15 minutes, slice into 8 slices and serve.

**This recipe freezes very well – you can freeze individual portions and then re-heat the slices in the oven.  Just wrap the piece in foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 mins.

***Make a couple of loaves at a time to save extra work!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

I love sprouting garbanzo beans!  Ever since I tried it at home for the first time and met great success, it has become an almost weekly habit in my kitchen.  I giggle a little when I remember one of the first rounds I brought to life, and the fear it had instilled in me.  You see, that early batch was a lively bunch, and the snap, crackle and pop of the wee sprouts bursting from within the chickpea’s exterior wall had me padding through my apartment in the middle of the night convinced there was some sort of intruder in my home.   But alas, it was no burglar, just the sweet sound of germination, water bringing to life the dormant enzymes within the walls of humble hummus-base.

How do I sprout?  Well for chickpeas, I simply soak the dried beans overnight in a bowl with enough water to cover them by a few inches.  In the morning, I transfer the beans to a mesh colander, rinsing them well, and then for the next few days, I rinse them well in the morning, and then again at night with fresh water.  Within a day or two, the little sprouts begin to grow.  Sprouted chickpeas are raw, so this is any easy way to hop onto the raw food wagon, and a delicious way to incorporate some raw protein and fibre into your diet every day!  Try this twist on your standard appetizer of hummus for a delicious and crowd-pleasing recipe to introduce these raw beans to your brood this holiday season.  

2 C sprouted chickpeas (mine had tails about ¾ inch in length)
2 T tahini (sesame butter)
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1 lrg clove garlic
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ t sea salt
½ t sweet paprika
1 T tamari or soy sauce

Add all ingredients to bowl of your food processor.  Process on low until well incorporated and smooth.  You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula from time to time.

Enjoy with your fave crackers, bread, or fresh crudité!  Stores well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Raw Applesauce

Raw food is often seen in one of two ways; super bland and boring or far too complicated.  Many people relate raw meals with nothing but gargantuan green salads, or at the other end of the spectrum, far too extreme, labour intensive, and time consuming.  Well, I can attest to the fact that it is all up to the cook, err, diner, to decide just how intricate daily recipes need be.  

Sure, I admit that I love spending hours in my kitchen whipping up dishes that pile flavour layer upon flavour layer, incorporating many defined preparation techniques and styles.  I adore my dehydrator, would not be able to live without my veggie spiralizer, and would drop hundreds in a second if my high powered Blendtec blender ever where to die on me. 

But, there are also days when I just don’t have the energy or time to commit to a prep-heavy menu, and on those occasions all I want is to be able to present as many fresh foods I can, in the quickest and simplest way possible.  And when you start with delicious local produce you can’t really go wrong!  One of my fave go-to treats that I have devoured for breakfast, made dessert with lunch, and snuck as a late night snack is this raw applesauce.   The sweet-tartness of the McIntosh’s blended with the smooth heat form the cinnamon and decadence of the dates makes it a real palate pleaser.  And it really doesn’t get an easier than this:

Raw Applesauce
Makes 2 servings
·         2 medium McIntosh apples
·         3 dates, soaked in warm water for an hour or two
·         1 t cinnamon
·         1/2 T fresh lemon juice

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth & creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  

Serve at room temperature for maximum flavour.

Pantry Protein Bars

When times get tough, the tough get…protein.  Well, I do anyway.  As I mentioned a while back, when I feel a period of excess stress approaching I often turn to maca root powder to help keep my hormones and emotions on an even keel.  But another weapon I like to keep in my arsenal against anxiety, is a stash of protein-packed, blood sugar stabilizing snacks at the ready to power me through long days or hard-core workouts.  And these little bites should preferably have the ability to be prepared well ahead of time and frozen, OR be whipped up in an emergency energy situation with ingredients that I often have on hand.

Enter: Emergency Pantry Protein Bars. 

Pantry Protein Bars
·         1/2 C protein powder (chocolate or vanilla flavour is nice)
·         1 C oat bran (or blender pulverized rolled oats)
·         1 C crispy brown rice cereal
·         1 t cinnamon
·         1 T flax seeds
·         2 T raw cacao powder
·         Pinch sea salt
·         3/4 nut butter of choice
·         1/2 C agave syrup
·         1 t vanilla

1.       In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
2.       In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt rice syrup, nut butter & vanilla until well combined and smooth.
3.       Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir well to incorporate.  This mix will be STICKY.  Use your hands if you have to.  It takes some real elbow grease!
4.       Press into an 8X8 baking pan.  Freeze for 10 minutes to an hour, and then cut into bars.  Store in the freezer or fridge individually wrapped, and snack at will!