Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Since Halloween is right around the corner I think it's okay to keep piling on the pumpkin themed recipes. Especially when I found the most adorable little pumpkin for a dollar, just crying out to be roasted and made into pie. Last night was the windiest one I can ever remember, but since I was hiding away in my apartment, I didn't see too much of the storm. So much to be grateful for, my power didn't go out, and since there's no trees around my condo that wasn't a worry either. On the second hand I don't know if the no tree thing is great or awful, but it worked for last night! My heart goes out to all the people who are affected by Sandy, I can't believe the photos that keep popping up on Instagram and twitter. A strange age we live in now where the most up to date and reliable news sources are social media, no?

I made a raw cheesecake for the first time last week, and was so in love with it I thought it could only be improved with pumpkin thrown in to the mix. And a spooky topping for the holiday! My spider web looks a little like the spider making it may have had a few too many, but we're not judging it. This cheesecake's almost raw, but I don't think raw pumpkin would taste too great, which is why it's roasted. You can sub canned pumpkin for the roasted chunks, I think the ratio would be about 1 cup of puree, but I'm not positive since I haven't tried it.

In most raw crusts dates are the usual, but raisins are a little more affordable, taste great, and work fine for sticking the crust together. A little water is needed to get it to stick, since they're usually a bit drier.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 cup almonds
1 cup raisins
1/2-1 tablespoon water
Dash of cinnamon and cloves
Pinch of salt

1 cup roasted pumpkin cubes(roast a seeded pumpkin for about 35-40 mins, remove skin and cut into pieces)
1 1/2 cups soaked cashews(at least 5 hours)
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/6 cup maple syrup
1/6 cup agave(or other liquid sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Blend crust ingredients in a food processor til fine and they start to stick together. If it's not sticking, add water a little at a time. You don't want it to be mushy, just until it starts to clump. Press into a springform pan, and let set in the fridge.

Blend cheesecake ingredients(except for pumpkin) in a blender until super smooth. Remove 1/3 of the mixture and set aside. Add in pumpkin and blend again. Pour into crust, and let set in the fridge while you're making the topping.

For the topping, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together. Cover the cheesecake in the rest of the filling mixture, then draw circles onto the cheesecake like a bulls eye. Run a knife through from the outside to the middle to create the pattern.

Leave in the freezer for 2 hours to let set, remove 30 mins before serving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butternut Squash Stew

For me Autumn is all about cosy nights, hiding indoors while the weather outside does it's thing, and eating warming tasty things. I love the simplicity of the Butternut Squash Soup I made earlier, but sometimes you want something a bit heartier. Through adding in some tofu, and roasted veggies and topping it all off with a dollop of hummus, you get a stick-to-your-ribs meal to warm you up on the coldest of nights!

This stew is pretty forgiving, and kind of grain works really, and you could easily sub tofu for beans. Lately I've been really into just throwing a bunch of things into a pot that I think would taste good and hoping for the best. By lately I mean always. I have a tendency to buy cookbooks for reading material, then hardly ever end up cooking out of them. It's a bit embarrassing, really. Sometimes I don't even bother to read the recipes, I just look at the pictures. I can't be alone on this!

Butternut Squash Stew
1/2 recipe Butternut Squash Soup
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp curry powder

Add ins
1cup cooked wild rice/quinoa/barley/etc.
1 cup finely chopped tightly packed kale
2 cups roasted veggies, finely chopped

1/2 block tofu, diced small
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp curry powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil

In a pan heat coconut oil, stir fry the tofu, mushrooms, and zucchini in the tamari and ACV.

In a pot on the stove over medium heat mix together the soup, almond milk and curry powder, bring to a simmer. Add in wild rice, kale, and veggies with tofu mixture.

Serve with a dollop of hummus on top!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Maple Granola

I've almost run out of pumpkin in my house. I realized when making this that I've never tried making home made granola before, and then I was embarrassed at how easy it was. But after that I was too busy to be concerned about that, and instead took to topping this on everything. Eating it on it's own straight as well. Then I remembered that the grocery store sells this stuff for $13 a measly bag. That was followed by thoughts of maybe I'm missing out my chance to be a multi millionaire because I'm not selling overpriced granola. It's never too late. I'm quitting my job and going to start hawking this stuff instead.

This is a little less sweet than most granolas, but if you like it sweeter just add more maple syrup. Agave and honey are good as well, but I'm Canadian and since the stuff comes out of taps, I might as well use it. You could sub the almonds for walnuts too. The hemp seeds provide a nice extra protein kick, plus some healthy fats.

Pumpkin Maple Granola
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl til evenly coated. Spread flat on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20ish minutes, it's okay if it comes out a little soft since it firms up on cooling.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding with Maple Cream and Granola

Sometimes things are greater than the sum of their parts.

People changing the world.

Chocolate and almonds.

This recipe.

The pudding's good on it's own, and so it the granola, but when you combine them all together something amazing happens. It's ridiculously easy as well, which makes it all the more worthwhile.

You can used canned pumpkin, but I'd really recommend trying, at least once, roasting your own. Tis the season after all, you can buy canned pumpkin whenever you want. The real deal only comes around once a year! For directions on how to roast a pumpkin, go here.

Pumpkin Pudding with Maple Cream and Granola

Pumpkin Pudding
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 small banana
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1-2 packets of stevia(to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, nutmeg, ginger

Blend pumpkin, banana, chia seeds, maple syrup, almond milk, and stevia in a blender til smooth. Add in the spices and blend til incorporated, let set in the fridge for about an hour.

Maple Cream
1 cup vegan whipped cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Stir maple syrup into whipped cream.

Maple Almond Granola
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir everything together, and bake for 12 minutes in the oven at 350, or until slightly crispy.

Serve pumpkin pudding with a dollop of maple cream and a sprinkle of granola on top!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding Oats

Chocolate Protein Oats are still my favorite breakfast, but they've been fall-i-fied now by the addition of pumpkin. Protein, carbs, fibre, and deliciousness all in one bowl! They're extra good with chopped apple on top, tons of cinnamon, and maybe a dollop of vegan whipped cream....

Yeah you can use canned pumpkin I guess. But this is so so so much better if you roast your own pumpkins. Which is way easier than it sounds. Canned food freaks me out.

Make sure you purchase Sugar Pie Pumpkins, the little tiny ones. They're sweeter, and the flesh is more tender. Leave the giant monsters for hacking at later.

To roast them, chop the pumpkin in half, removing the stem. Scoop out all those seeds in the middle, and save them for later. Place cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350. They're done when you can poke them easily with a fork, and the skin comes away easily.

Peel off the skin, then chop the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Toss those in a blender and blend until smooth. Voila! Told you it was easy.

As a side note, the 'pumpkin' that you purchase in cans is not actually all pumpkin. It's a mixture of a couple types of squashes, including hubbard and butternut. Weird, no? So now your pumpkin baked goods can actually be real pumpkin!

Pumpkin Pudding Oats

1/2 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup almond milk
1 scoop protein powder
1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Mix oats and protein powder together, then add almond milk. Stir til combined, then add pumpkin and stir some more. Top with a chopped apple and cinnamon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Now that October is in full swing and fall is falling, I feel like it's appropriate to unveil my Autumn food obsession. It started weirdly early this year, with me craving soups and the like in August. But now that the trees are starting to get naked, I think it's okay to indulge in my obsession with squashes, and cinnamon, and roasted everything. By next month you're going to be so sick of seeing pumpkin on here. Or you'll be orange. I won't judge.

I've been on a soup binge as of late. Travelling a bunch tends to make you crave homey things, soup is nothing if not homey. I had this cute little butternut squash hanging out in my fridge, so I roasted it up with some garlic and onions(no colds here!), then tossed it into the vitamix. This was the first time I've used the vitamix for making soup, and it turned out like silk. With all that vitamin A, C and B6 from the squash, and the generous helping of onions and garlic, this'll help ward off all those nasty colds everyone seems to be getting. And vampires too.

Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things, it takes on this nutty mellow sweetness that's kind of divine. Same goes for the onions, something magical happens when you put those babies in the oven.

This soup is great just on it's own, or if you want to make it more of a meal some quinoa and veggies tossed in would be great too. With lots of crusty bread for dipping, if you're into that thing.

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 sweet white onion, chopped into pieces
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 1/2 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 375, combine squash, garlic and onions with parsley, s&p and coconut oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 40 mins, or until squash is tender and golden. Allow to cool slightly.

Put half of squash into blender, with half of stock and almond milk, and rosemary. Blend until smooth, repeat with second half. Stir in lemon juice, and serve!

The next squash on my list is pumpkin. I purchased two adorable little pie pumpkins yesterday and have been making more pumpkin themed things than I ever thought possible. Pie. Pudding. Oatmeal. You'll see.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eating in NYC

Whenever I find myself in NYC I'm torn between the option of revisiting all my favorite old restaurants, and trying something new. This trip I decided that I was going to attempt to eat somewhere new everyday, and try to find some new favorites.

By accident while wandering around the East Village(favorite neighbourhood, hands down!), I stumbled across Stogo. Their mantra is 'We are passionate about offering the healthies, most delectable frozen dessert on the planet using only the finest premium organic dairy-free ingredients, with no refined sugars, animal products, gluten, or artificial flavorings.' Totally up my ally!! It was pretty grey and cloudy that day, but I think any day is a good ice cream day. I tried their Vanilla Chocolate Chip(they make all of their flavors from scratch!), and it did not disappoint! Mildy sweet with a hint of coconut, and an amazing melt in your mouth texture. The texture of dairy ice cream is one that I usually find hard to replicate, but this one could have fooled anyone. You can also get them to sandwich a scoop between two cookies, it's pretty much heaven.

An old favorite that I had to visit was Pure Food and Wine. I first visited One Lucky Duck for some Thai Salad Wraps, then finished up at Pure Food and Wine for Sangria and a Blueberry Crumble with Maple Ice Cream. I adore raw food for the way you can feel like you're indulging, but everything is good for you. The feeling of lightness and energy after a meal isn't in your head, I've realized. I just don't experience that ever from eating cooked food! The Salad Wraps were wonderful, mildly spicy and tangy and creamy goodness. I could have drank a vat of the sangria. The Blueberry Crumble was that perfect mix of gooey warm fruit and melting ice cream, it was truly a perfect meal. I followed it up with a walk home through Times Square, I always think the best way to see NYC is on foot.

I've heard the praises sung of Candle 79 over and over, so I decided to pay a visit to their sister restaurant, Candle Cafe on the Upper West Side. It was a lovely balmy evening so I decided to take my order to go, and have a picnic in Central Park. I ordered the Tofu Club Sandwich, it was probably the best sandwich I've ever had ever. Crispy toasted bread, a huge hunk of perfectly seasoned tofu, avocado, tomato, and watercress, with vegan mayo. Sitting on a bench watching the sun set over the reservoir  and it kind of hit me how happy I am that I can eat food like a normal person and enjoy it. Central Park is one of my favorite haunts, so it was a perfect place to recreate that memory. I know that peacefulness is not the first word that comes to most people's minds when they think of NYC, but it's how I felt for most of the trip. This weird, innate sense of peace that all was right in the universe.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IIN Live

This past weekend I went to NYC to attend the IIN Live conference, and it was honestly such a magical experience! Getting to meet so many other past and present students of the school, and just to be in the same room as so many like minded people was inspiring. We heard from several awesome speakers, and Joshua Rosenthal, the school director, had us do lots of exercises to interact with the people around us.

It was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a super beautiful theater in the Time Warner Center. I think my favorite speaker was probably Daniel Amen, who spoke about how your lifestyle impacts your brain(which no pun intended, I've never though about before). He showed scans of people's brains as they age, and how certain things such as alcohol and obesity affect the size and mass of your brain. Being fat physically makes your brain smaller! I was blown away at finding that out. He also showed that if you take care of your brain, you can reverse damage done to it previously, and in fact make it younger. Fascinating stuff! 

Sadie Nardini also did a short talk and mini yoga practice. I love her Youtube videos so it was such a treat getting to see her in person, she has such amazing energy. She spoke about following your dreams, and when people telling you that you can't do something, tell them 'watch me'. I know there's always such a long journey at the beginning of any success story, but I love hearing the backstory, of how they were challenged as well. It keeps me motivated!

One thing I felt in the auditorium that I've never felt in any learning situation before was such love, for lack of a better word to describe it. A room full of passionate people committed to helping heal others and make the world a better place. It was truly beautiful! It inspired me more in the work I think I want to do as a Health Coach, and it was so reassuring to talk to others and see that they had some of the same concerns as I did in terms of trying to identify a target market. Having a support system is so important!

After the conference was over I made it a goal to try a different vegan restaurant for every meal I was there. I didn't quite succeed, but the ones I got to were all phenomenal! My favorite I think was Candle Cafe, sister restaurant to the more upscale Candle 79. I got the Tofu BLT, and ate it sitting in Central Park as the sun was setting. Definitely one of those perfect moments I'll treasure forever! This was my first trip going to NYC pretty much 'recovered' from my eating disorder, and actually being able to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted while actually enjoying it was a milestone for me. I ate ice cream. I ate bread. I ate a lot of salad cause I truly love greens, not just because I was scared of calories. I didn't at any point want to make myself throw up or try and starve myself for the rest of the day to compensate. I ordered whatever I felt like, and savoured it, and honestly for the first time in a very long time felt free.