Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

I know I’m really bending the definition of hummus. Technically, this probably should be called a bean dip. But pretty much any chickpea or bean combination pureed into dippy goodness – is hummus in my book. I just can’t help myself… #hummusisafoodgroup :)

Even if we can’t agree on whether it should be called a dip or hummus – I have a feeling we can agree that this combination tastes delicious!

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

This was another recipe intended for my Plant-Powered Families cookbook. I got a little excited with recipe development! When needing to round out the recipes by chapter in PPF, I decided to scale back with a hummus recipe – and share it here. Once again, I thank Nicole Axworthy for bringing her exceptional talent to these food photos.

This hummus is a little unique, combining a mix of kidney beans with chickpeas, along with cooked sweet potato. Yes, sweet spuds! I love sweet potato in bean dips hummus. They lighten up the bean texture, while adding a touch of creaminess and also some sweetness – which is incredibly tasty in contrast to the spices and lime juice. So, whenever I bake sweet spuds, I’ll cook a few extra to have on hand for recipes like this (see recipe note below). I talk about this type of batch-cooking and repurposing ingredients in PPF as well. Just prepping a few extra portions of staples can really come in handy for other meals during the week.

Lime most hummus, this dip is wonderful with veg and snack chips. But, also try ‘repurposing’ this dip. Use it as a spread to hold other fillings in green wraps, or for baked burritos. Or, try a lunch or dinner bowl, gently warming the hummus and topping over cooked quinoa along with some veggies and chopped avocado, with a drizzle of dressing. Think outside the hummus bowl. Do you have any suggestions for turning hummus into a meal? If so, please share!

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus link for Recipage to print/share

Cooked sweet potato lends a little creaminess and sweetness to this hummus-like dip. The lime juice lends a fresh tang, and there’s just enough chili powder and cinnamon to give it flavor without too much kiddo-offending spice!

1 can kidney beans, rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup precooked (and peeled) orange sweet potato (see note)
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 – 1 tsp chili powder (adjust to taste; see note)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 medium or large clove garlic, sliced or quartered
4–4½ tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1–3 tbsp water (as needed to thin)
fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)

In a food processor, combine the kidney beans, chickpeas, sweet potato, tahini, sea salt, ½ tsp of the chili powder, cinnamon, garlic, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of water. Purée until smooth, gradually adding remaining water as desired to thin dip, and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add fresh cilantro or parsley if desired, and purée briefly to incorporate. Season with additional salt and spices to taste, if desired. Serves 4-5.

Sweet Potato Note: Prebake your spuds! Keep whole and unpeeled, just give a quick wash. Then, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425/450 for 40-60 minutes (baking time varies based on size of spuds). Bake more than you need at a time, keep extras refrigerated for 4-5 days to use in other dishes – like salads, soups, pasta sauces, and more.

Spice Note: Use a good quality chili powder that isn’t too hot. If you aren’t sure of the heat intensity, start with a lesser amount, and then add more if desired. Our kids like this with 1/2 tsp of chili powder, but you may want to add more. You can also substitute a chipotle powder or chipotle hot sauce, to taste.

Enjoy the hummus, guys! And, quick reminder… if you already ordered Plant-Powered Families, be sure to email us to get that bonus 15 recipe ebook. Those 15 recipes are not included in the printed book, and I know you’ll find some favorites in there! I’m already hearing back from many of you on some of the recipes. So be sure to get your copy. :) For details, see this post

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

x Dreena


Review & Giveaway: Gourmet Creations spreads (vegan and gluten-free)

Usually when I post about a new dip or spread, it’s a variation on hummus. And, when grocery shopping I rarely find vegan spreads that aren’t hummus. You guys know I love my hummus, but sometimes we want a dip or spread that uses vegetables, or with different flavor combinations not typically found in hummus.

Gourmet Creations Spreads and Dips #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree

Enter Gourmet Creations! This is a local company (based in Langley, BC), that produces a line of plant-based, gluten free spreads and dips. When they reached out to ask if I’d review their line, I was most interested.

Gourmet Creations has six varieties of vegetable- and bean-based spreads that are all plant-based, gluten-free, and nut-free. The flavors are:

  1. Carrot-Ginger
  2. Black Bean Salsa
  3. Red Pepper
  4. Butternut Curry
  5. Mexican Chili
  6. Sundried Tomato

Review Summary

Taste: Overall, the collection of dips are flavorful without being too salty. Most have a tangy flavor, and several have spicy notes.

Ingredients:  Their flavor and ingredient combinations are quite unique. While red pepper and black bean dips are not uncommon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “Carrot-Ginger” or “Butternut Curry” spread in a store. Also, Gourmet Creations includes some unexpected ingredients within each flavor. The Red Pepper spread has quinoa as one of its ingredients. The Carrot-Ginger spread includes sunflower seeds – so unique! I also liked how the Mexican Chili has chickpeas that had been crushed or chopped to add body to the spread, a nice textural touch.

Favorites: My favorite spreads were the Butternut Curry, Sundried Tomato, and the Mexican Chili. The sundried tomato spread works particularly well spread on sandwiches and wraps for lunches. I gently heated the Butternut Curry spread, as it reminded me a little of a butternut squash soup, but obviously thicker and with more tang. The Mexican Chili was good straight up with tortilla chips.

Family-Friend Factor: As a mom, I’d say that these dips are best suited to more mature palates, as most have some spicy tones. However, diet is learned. I remember being so surprised to witness my friend’s toddler scooping salsa straight from a jar! So, I guess it depends on how much spice you generally eat in meals. The spiciest dips (to me) were the Carrot-Ginger and Butternut Curry. I think the Red Pepper dip had the mildest flavor. (I used the red pepper dip in a quinoa bowl with avocado and served it to our 13-year old – she really enjoyed it.)

Gourmet Creations dips and spreads #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree

Serving Suggestions: Often when we buy dips and spreads, we simply think to pair them with tortilla chips, rice crackers, or pita breads. There are so many other ways to enjoy these dips. Here are some of my ideas…

  • Red Pepper Dip – As mentioned, I used it in a quinoa bowl, but you could also work it into hot pasta or use as a base for pizza.
  • Sundried Tomato – This was my favorite spread for sandwiches, but I also tried it in these cucumber bites, hollowing out about 3/4 of the centre (not all the way through) and filling with the spread. Do something similar with mini-peppers, makes a great snack or party appetizer.

Gourmet Creations Sundried Tomato Spread #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree

  • Butternut Curry – Put an autumnal, ethnic spin on pizza, spreading as a base and topping with roasted vegetables and cashew cheese. Or, thin it out with coconut milk and mix it through steamed veggies like cauliflower, parsnip, and winter squash.
  • Mexican Chili – I liked this one straight up with tortilla chips, but it would be terrific mixed with quinoa and stuffed in taco shells,
  • Black Bean Salsa – Try this in stuffed baked potatoes. I’d use a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, add a little of the salsa, some green onions, chopped red pepper, top with vegan cheese if you like and bake.
  • Carrot Ginger – This spread was lovely on this toasted gluten-free bread (below), and even better with a layer of cashew cheese. Gourmet Creations Carrot Ginger Dip #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree

I’m sure you could come up with other serving ideas. And… you have the chance, since Gourmet Creations is offering 2 boxes (12 dips) as a giveaway! To enter, leave a comment telling us which dip you’d like to try, or one of your serving ideas.

Since these dips need to be refrigerated, contest is open to resident of BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. For more details about Gourmet Creations spreads and their tasting events in your area, visit their site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Gourmet Creation send samples of their spreads for me to try, and I was compensated for my time to review and host this giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

Green Chickpea Hummus

A couple of months ago, Paul returned from Costco with a big bag of frozen green chickpeas. I had heard about them, but never tried them, so I was pretty excited about his food find.

Green chickpeas are the raw, fresh form of chickpeas we know and love. They aren’t a fresh legume you find often in markets, but it is becoming easier to find them frozen. The taste, to me, is somewhat a cross between edamame and green peas. So, I think they would substitute well in many dishes where you might use either green peas or edamame. I first tried them in a cooked dish (briefly cooking through), and really enjoyed them. Then, I turned my thoughts to…

Green Chickpea Hummus by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Hummus. Glorious hummus! I’ve only ever made hummus with cooked legumes, so I wasn’t sure the fam would dig this more ‘raw’ version. Plus it was green. That’s usually tricky with kids. Well, to my surprise and delight, it was a hit! With Paul and the older girls, anyhow. Our 5-year old is in the stage where everything green (other than green smoothies) is “ewwww”, so her vote doesn’t count right now. 😉

Personally, I would choose this over classic hummus… at least most days! The combination of flavors is a little addictive, and it is just so fresh and vibrant. We noshed on it straight up, but you could also use it in sandwiches and wraps, or for topping sweet spuds (that combination would be tasty)!

If you can get your hands on some frozen green chickpeas, they are worth experimenting with. If you can’t find them, try substituting frozen edamame here, or a half-and-half combo of frozen edamame and frozen green peas.

Green Chickpea Hummus by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Green Chickpea Hummus

link to print/share

3 cups (frozen) green chickpeas, blanched and drained (see note)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic (can use larger if you love garlic)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (don’t omit!)
1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 1/2 – 3 tbsp tahini
3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbsp water (or more if desired to thin)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

In a food processor (see note), combine all ingredients, starting with 3/4 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp of water. Puree until smoothed out, scraping down the processor bowl as needed. Taste, and add additional salt to taste, and extra water to thin out as desired. Serve!

Chickpeas Note: Add chickpeas to a pot of boiling water, and let cook about 3 minutes. Remove, and run under cold water. I cook them very briefly just to bring out their vibrant green color. Be sure to run them through cold water to stop the cooking process. If you cannot find green chickpeas, use a combination of green peas and edamame (half of each preferably), or the full amount of edamame.

Food processor Note: If you have a high-speed blender, you can puree it in the blender for a smoother consistency. I quite liked the more textured consistency with the food processor.

Green Chickpea Hummus by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Please share your ideas for using green chickpeas, and of course your feedback on this recipe! 




Choosing Raw: The Cookbook (& Recipe for Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream)

At last, the brilliant and creative soul behind the Choosing Raw blog has published her first cookbook. Many of us have been a fan of Gena Hamshaw‘s work for years. It’s hard not to be. Gena delivers posts that educate and inspire us, not with recipes alone, but also with her life observations and food knowledge. She is a bright light in our plant-based world, always offering a balanced approach to raw and vegan food.

Choosing Raw cookbook

When I think of Gena, a few words come to mind: integrity, compassion, and knowledge. You feel it in every post she writes, and in Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, these qualities shine through in print. Gena shares so much within this book, from her wisdom of food nutrition to her passion of recipe creation, to her commitment to animal rights.

I received a copy of Choosing Raw last week, and know you will love its content. Not only visually appetizing with food photos, it is a lifestyle book, answering the why, what, and how of eating a raw and vegan diet. The book is broken down as follows:

  • Preface: Kris Carr
  • Introduction: My Story
  • Part I: The Why
    • Your Health
    • Beyond The Plate
  • Part II: The What
    • Vegan Nutrition
    • All About Raw Foods
    • Frequently Asked Questions About Raw and Vegan Foods
    • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Part III: The How
    • Setting Up
    • Getting Started
    • 21 Days in The Life
  • Part IV: The Food
    • The Recipes: 15 essentials, 5 Juices, 10 Snacks, 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads, 5 Meal-Size Salads
    • Level 1: Tried and True: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 2: Something New: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 3: Brave New World: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • 13 Desserts for Everyone

Gena has cleverly partitioned the recipes into food preparation/cooking “levels”. This is one very special feature of her book, graduating home cooks from easier to more complex raw recipes. I also think her meal plans (21 Days in the Life) will be extremely useful for people new to raw and/or plant-based foods.

Of course, apart from the brilliant recipe planning Gena offers, her heart truly shines through in the introductory sections. This is especially true in her personal story, but also even evident in the FAQs and myths and misconceptions. Gena connects with us from a very personal level through every chapter.


Raw Cobb Salad, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky


Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

Let’s talk about the recipes for a moment, though, because they are not to be underestimated. Gena is exceptionally creative, and  the recipes range from fully raw to high raw and cooked dishes. There is spectacular food photography (by Hannah Kaminksy) for many of the recipes, capturing the vibrance of raw foods. I have highlighted many recipes that I want to try out, including: Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, Green Lemonade, Creamy Maple Chipotle Dressing, Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble, Raw Pad Thai, Coconut Curry Kelp Noodles, Raw Peach Cobbler, and (last but not least!) Sweet Pea Hummus Tartines. Because #hummusisafoodgroup. 😉

So many enticing recipes! This week I tried Gena’s Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream and Nut or Seed Pate. These were both fully raw dishes, both incredibly easy to make. One of the myths of raw foods dishes is that they involve tedious or complicated food preparation. Not always true. These recipes were quick for me to make (I need that right now with 3 girls on summer vacay and a very active puppy), and were instantly gratifying!

Nut or Seed Pate (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

First up, the Nut or Seed PateI enjoyed snacking on it straight up with crudite, but it looked super lovely as I was assembling a sandwich, so I pulled out my iPhone to snap some pics! This particular recipe is very flexible, you can use a combination of nuts or seeds. I chose to use a combo of raw almonds and raw pumpkin seeds, and it was delightful.


The same day I made Gena’s Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream. I mean, who am I to resist ice cream? :) My all time fave dessert, sweet, treat. Period. This particular recipe is one of the GORGEOUS featured food photos on the cover. It’s a cinch to make, does not require an ice cream maker, and is wonderfully refreshing and tasty. I reduced the fresh ginger a little so the girls would spoon in too, as they aren’t super fond of ginger. The flavor is bright, fresh, and still creamier and more luscious than a fruit sorbet.

Gena allowed me to share the recipe with you today. We had some fresh cherries and blueberries on hand the day I took a photo. After taking these photos, I thought this would be a very beautiful (and easy) Fourth of July dessert!

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

Raw, Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (link to print/share)

This ice cream tastes entirely too delicious to be dairy free and made without an ice cream maker! Ginger and blueberries are a surprisingly harmonious combination, and the color of the finished ice cream is phenomenal. Garnish with fresh mint or a few extra blueberries before wowing your friends. Makes 4 Servings

1⁄2 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or more and drained
4 frozen bananas
2 heaping cups frozen blueberries
1 1⁄2 tablespoo

ns fresh, grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder if you’re using a food processor)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons almond or hemp milk (may not be needed for the food processor version)

If you’re using a high-speed blender:
Blend all the ingredients together in a highspeed blender. Use the tamper attachment to facilitate blending. Add a little more almond milk, if necessary, to facilitate blending.

If you’re using a food processor:Place the cashews in a food processor and process until they’re broken down. Add the bananas and let the motor run until they’ve turned into soft. When you have soft serve consistency, add the blueberries, powdered ginger, and lemon, and blend until totally smooth. Add the almond milk only if you need a thinner consistency; you may not. Serve.

Leftover ice cream can be transferred to a sealed storage container and frozen for up to a week, then reprocessed in the food processor just prior to serving.

From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream from Choosing Raw

I encourage you to add this genius work to your cookbook collection. Gena will welcome you into the world of raw foods, demonstrating that it can be very simple to include raw meals and snacks in your daily meal plans. It’s not about attaching to a label or being rigid with a dietary regimen. With her heartfelt approach to eating healthy, this is far more than a cookbook. It offers guides, meal plans, scientific support, and a lot of heart. No matter where you are with plant-based eating, we can all enjoy – and benefit from – Gena’s talent and insights in Choosing Raw.

Do you have a copy of Choosing Raw? If so, what recipes have caught your eye, or have already become favorites? 

Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers topped with “Almonnaise”

Fourth of July and Canada Day (July 1st) seem to launch summer – the food, the picnics, BBQs, and kids breaking from school. For us, summer essentially started two weeks ago. Our teachers went on strike, so the kids abruptly left school two weeks early. Our girls will be going into grades 8, 5, and kindergarten in September. Our eldest had her grade 7 graduation this year, and our youngest her preschool graduation. Milestones. There’s been a lot going on to wrap up our school year, and I’ve enjoyed some simpler with the girls these past couple of weeks. (Not completely simple as we just got a pup, more on that in another post!) :)

With the kids home unexpectedly early, training a new pup, and also getting ready for the cover shoot for my next book (this Sunday, more on that in another post too), I’ve really enlisted their help with more work around the house, including some of the food prep. The older girls mostly, as it’s far more productive, and they are really curious about ingredients and the process. For instance, one of their favorite lunches is a quinoa bowl. I usually speedily prepare it, but lately I’ve had them take turns. As busy as it can be in the kitchen (we don’t have a ton of counterspace), it’s really enjoyable. Feeling in the moment with them, enjoying the simplicity of preparing easy, tasty, healthy food. That’s been lovely. Mind you, there’s a little competition going on regarding whose quinoa tastes best! Geez! Well, better than squabbling over toys.

We also tried a new burger recipe, discussing what ingredients and flavors might work together well. Eldest girl is quite artistic so she was drawing characters on our recipe plan. That recipe still needs some development. 😉 But this burger recipe does not! These Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers are tucked away in the burgers chapter in LTEV. I wanted to show people in that chapter just how fantastically delicious whole foods vegan burgers can be! Our family loves these, and I think the kids quite enjoy the small bites of sweet apple inside the otherwise very savory burger (as do I). Don’t skip the apple, I promise it works!

Lentil Walnut Burgers with Fresh Apple

Along with the burgers, I’m sharing my recipe “Almonnaise”. It’s a fresh take on mayonnaise, made by blending presoaked almonds with a few essential seasonings. No, it doesn’t taste quite like mayonnaise. Nor like vegennaise. It tastes different, but I think that different is better. With a creamy, rich texture and more-ish flavor that you expect from mayonnaise – just fresher and healthier. Scrumptious on veggie burgers and sandwiches, but also wonderful in green wraps, baked spuds, and wherever you’d like a dollop of creamy/salty/rich sauce. I love it, but then those of you that have LTEV know that I am a little saucy.

These burgers will be a hit year-round, and especially for your Fourth of July and Canada Day BBQs and celebrations. Enjoy! (p.s. If you’re looking for a festive dessert, this pie was a hit for many folks last year.)

Lentil Walnut Burgers with "Almonnaise"

Lentil Walnut Burgers (link to print/share)

These savory burgers will surprise you with little bites of sweetness, courtesy of fresh apple.  Plus, they hold together quite well, without being too starchy or heavy. Makes 9-11 patties.

1 tbsp olive oil or water (for saute, see note for skipping saute and cooking onions/garlic with lentils)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

3 medium-large cloves garlic

1/8 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper (generous is good)

2 cups cooked green lentils (will need about ¾ cup dry lentils, see note)

1/2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (omit for wheat/gluten-free version or use a gluten-free vegan worcestershire)

1 ½ tbsp mild miso (I use Genmai brown rice Miso)

1 tsp dried thyme (or 2-3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves)

3/4 tsp dried sage

½ tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp sea salt

¾ – 1 cup ground steel cut oats (or ¾ – 1 cup rolled or quick oats; see note for firmer burgers) (use gf-certified oats for gluten-free option)

3/4 cup raw walnuts (or can toast to enhance the flavor)

1 cup apple (firm, crisp apple like Gala, Fuji, or Yellow Delicious), peeled and diced (in small cubes) – *toss with a squeeze of lemon juice (see note)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the water/oil. Add the add onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and let cook 7-8 minutes until onions have softened.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the cooked lentils, worcestershire sauce, miso, thyme, sage, basil and salt, and blend through.  When onion mixture is ready, add this to the food processor and puree through again, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the oats and walnuts, and pulse through a few times to break up the walnut (but not fully pulverize, leave in a rough chop).  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Add apple and mix through until well combined.  At this point, you can refrigerate mixture until ready to fry in patties (refrigerating for at least 1⁄2 hour will make it firmer and easier to form). Take scoops of the mixture and form into patties with your hands. In a non-skillet over medium-high heat (use a wipe of oil unless you have a very good non-stick pan), add the patties, flatten gently on the pan, and fry for 6-9 minutes on each side, until golden and a crust has developed; flip them over only once or twice (the second side will cook quicker than the first).

Serving Suggestions:  Instead of whole-wheat burger buns, try serving in pitas, or a folded whole-grain tortilla with your favorite fixings!  Try a dollop of “Raw-nch Dressing”, p<>, or a large romaine salad tossed with “Classic Caesar Dressing”, p.<>.

Saute Note: Some days you might want to skip the step of sautéing the onions and garlic.  If you’re having one of those days, simply toss the onion and garlic in with the dry lentils and water (see lentil cooking note below), and cook through while the lentils simmer.  You can omit the oil and salt, and simply add a titch more salt with the puree (lightly round the ¼ tsp salt in the pureed mix).

Leftovers? Use leftover patties in sandwiches, much like a pate, or crumble and add to other fixings in a pita or wrap sandwich.

Oats Note: For ground steel cut oats, simply add steel cut oats to a food processor or blender and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.  If you don’t have steel cut oats, you can substitute quick oats for the ground steel cut oats.  These burgers form patties that will hold together, but are still fairly soft.  For firmer burgers, add another ¼ – 1/3 cup of oats.

Lentils Note: If cooking lentils yourself, use about 3/4 cup dry lentils to about 1 ¾  – 2 cups water.  Add a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer covered for about 35 minutes or longer, until lentils are tender and the water is mostly absorbed.  If the lentils are tender but there is extra water, either drain off the water, or remove cover and simmer until water has evaporated).  Of course, feel free to use canned or packaged cooked lentils in a pinch!

Apple Note: You can also grate the apple for the mixture if you prefer.  Use a large-holed grater, and then toss the grated apple with the lemon juice as per directions. Also, if refrigerating the mix for more than ½ – 1 hour, reserve the apples.  This mixture can be refrigerated up to a day or two in advance, however, the apples will lose their texture and taste if they sit in the mixture that long.  So,  if preparing burgers in advance, you can prepare the entire mixture and refrigerate, and then stir in the chopped apple later, before getting ready to pan-fry the patties.

‘Almonnaise’ (link to print/share)

This thick, rich sauce can easily take the place of mayo for your favorite burgers or in sandwiches.  You might just find yourself topping it on just about everything, from baked spuds to pasta, beans and rice, or just a big ol’ dollop on a raw salad.  Make a double-batch (see note); it is that good! Makes about 1 cup, single-batch.

¾ cup soaked (and drained) raw almonds (see notes)

1 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice

¼ tsp dill seed (or ¼ scant celery seed), or omit either, see note

¼ tsp ground mustard (optional, see note)

¼ + 1/8 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup + 1-3 tbsp water

optional: 1-2 tbsp neutral flavor oil (ex: organic almond, avocado oil – omit for oil-free,  add another splash of water if needed)

Using a blender or immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all ingredients (starting with 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of water) until very, very smooth, scraping down sides as needed.  (A high-powered blender works best to achieve a smooth consistency, but a standard blender or immersion blender can step in, just takes a little longer to smooth.)  If texture is very thick, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water (or more, if needed).  I like this mixture fairly thick, so if you want to thin it out more, go ahead and add more water until you have your desired consistency.

Almonds Note:  Soaking almonds makes them softer for pureeing, and will give a little creamier consistency (plus make the blending easier). If you don’t have time to soak the almonds, go ahead and still use ¾ cup of raw almonds – and just add more water.  You will need to start with ½ cup, and then add another tablespoon or two if needed to get the mixture blended and thinned out a little. I use raw almonds that have the skins intact, so this ‘naise has some flecks of color from the almond skins.  If you don’t want this color, feel free to use blanched almonds, or remove the almond skins after soaking (it’s easy, they slip off)!

Double-Batch Note: The blender has an easier time working through this mixture if you double the batch.  It’s not essential, but if you think you will use it up within 4-5 days, consider a double whammy!

Kid-Friendly:  I love this ‘naise best with the dill seed and also the dried mustard, but our kids like it without the dill (or celery seed) and dried mustard.  Also, our children like the addition of just 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to this mix – give it a try!

Another shout-out to Emma Potts for these mouthwatering photos!

Do you have any inventive burger toppings? Share your fave toppings and inspire others too! 

Impromptu Post: Gimme Chimis with Guacamole Con Alga Marina!

I’m sitting at my computer early on a Sunday morning catching up on emails. As it’s Father’s Day, I’m also thinking about what special meal I might make for dinner tonight. Hubby has some definite favorites, including these burgers. Oh and these burgers – okay, most burgers! But he loves any hearty meal that is tasty, whether a soup or casserole… and he also loves Mexican dishes. I got to thinking “what meal would he really like on Father’s Day… what would other dads really like?

These Gimme Chimis from eat, drink & be vegan came to mind – I haven’t made them in ages. I hadn’t planned to post today, but since I was thinking about this recipe and realized it’s one you may not know about – here we are!

There are great flavors going on in this meal, but also wonderful texture. Though these chimichangas aren’t deep-fried, the tortillas still become deliciously crisp on the seared edges, and then the filling is soft but also has some vegetable crunch. DO add all the spices! Even though you may think “really? … cinnamon? … cloves?Yes! It’s a very small amount that contributes a wonderful depth of seasoning.

Of course, don’t forget that guacamole in the background. Normally I don’t follow a recipe for guac. I typically just season up some mashed avocados with lemon juice and salt to taste. But, I’m including the recipe for this guacamole, because it’s a little special!

Gimme Chimis with Guacamole Con Alga Marina - by Dreena Burton - vegan

Gimme Chimis

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These chimis are spicy and smoky, but without intense “heat”. They are incredible served with the Guacamole Con Algo Marina (recipe below) and a salad with Cumin-Cinnamon Vinaigrette (in ed&bv).

1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil or 1 tbsp water

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped (1 small onion)

2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1 – 1½ tsp chipotle hot sauce (I use Tabasco brand, can use more for extra heat if you like!)

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp sea salt

1 ½ cups julienned zucchini (or combination of zucchini and finely sliced green peppers)

½-3/4 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 14 oz. (398 m) can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)

½ cup chopped tempeh or chopped tofu  (or another ½ cup beans of any type)

1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 – 10” whole grain tortillas (see note)

2 tbsp olive oil (for frying, if you have a very good non-stick pan, you can skip the oil)

Accompaniments for serving: Lime wedges (a must!), chopped cilantro or parsley, guacamole (see recipe) or chopped avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, etc.

Heat the olive oil/water in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, chipotle sauce, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add the zucchini and tomatoes, and let cook another 5-7 minutes until the veggies have softened.  Add beans and tempeh (or other choice), and stir through cooking for another 3-5 minutes.  Finally, stir in the vinegar and remove mixture from the heat.  Transfer mixture to a bowl or plate (scraping out all the filling from the pan) to cool a few minutes and then get ready to fill your tortillas (Preheat your oven to 425 degrees while preparing your chimichangas.  Lay out your tortillas, and spoon ¼ of the filling in the centre of each, leaving an inch or two on the top and bottom.  Bring the bottom edge over top of the filling, and begin to roll up the burrito, tucking in the sides as you go until fully rolled.  Heat the olive oil in your skillet over medium-high heat and place the burritos, folded side down into the pan.  Cook for a few minutes on each side to lightly brown and then either transfer chimichangas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or if your skillet is oven-proof, then simply place your skillet in the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Remove and serve with any accompaniments you like! Serves 3-4.

Note: You can use 4 tortillas and make very large chimichangas, or use one or even two more tortillas to make them much thinner and less ‘stuffed’.

Guacamole con Alga Marina

Guacamole does not have to be complicated.  In fact, it’s one of the easiest, fastest – and most delicious – dips you can make.  This is a very basic recipe, made with the addition of kelp granules, which add a salty flavor along with some extra nutrition.   This recipe name translates literally to “guacamole with seaweed”, and this recipe name was offered up by a visitor to my website (and let’s face it, this recipe name makes this dish sound fantastically sophisticated)!

1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups avocado, cut in chunks (roughly 2 medium-large avocadoes, peels and stones removed)

1 – 1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

¼ tsp sea salt (a little scant)

1 tsp kelp granules (I use Maine Coast Sea Seasonings brand)

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients (starting with 1 tbsp of lemon juice) and mash.  Mash to desired consistency, keeping some chunkier pieces or mashing until fairly smooth.  Serve, seasoning to taste with additional sea salt and lemon/lime juice if desired (you may want the extra lemon juice and a touch more salt if using the full 1 ¾ cups of avocado). Serves 4 or more (maybe 2 in my house)! 😀

Note:  Want to enhance this guacamole?  I like it simple, as above, but you can certainly jazz it up and vary it from time to time.  Some options include chopped fresh tomatoes (about ½ cup), a finely chopped shallot, a clove of garlic (finely minced or pressed), finely chopped cilantro (about 1/3 cup), a few pinches of cumin, or a combination of some of these ingredients.

Note:  Since avocado oxidizes quickly, it’s best to serve this soon after making it so the guacamole doesn’t turn brownish.  If, however, you need to store it for an hour or more, see this post.

Do you have a special meal planned for Father’s Day? What are you making? 

Ok, I’m off to get organized for Father’s Day as this post was totally unplanned! Enjoy your time with the special dad in your life today.



Artichoke and White Bean Dip


Ever taste something, love it, and later discover that it contained an ingredient that you were pretty darn sure you didn’t like?

If you’re a parent, you may have intentionally done this to ‘sneak’ in a particular food with your kiddos. But, ever have the experience where it happens naturally? Just serving the food and forgetting… if even for a rare but blissful moment… that one of your kiddos might reject it because it contains ____ or ____ or (go ahead, fill in the blanks)!

Artichoke and White Bean Dip, from Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton

Yes, us mommas are well acquainted with picky eaters food preferences. With our own three girls, there are dozens of foods that one likes and the other does not. Our list includes berries (my long-time readers already know this one!), olives, asparagus, mangoes, red peppers, and mushrooms for starters. Sometimes the food preferences shift one year to the next. Unfortunately, artichokes have been on this list for some time.

I love artichokes. So does hubby, and our eldest daughter. Our youngest is in a particularly picky stage (oh joy) and our 9 year old has never taken a liking to artichokes. I don’t use them as often as I’d like in weekly meals for this reason, and yet every time I do use them I think “why am I not using artichokes more often, I love them?“! But I know why, I don’t want to pick them out of servings or see them go to waste.

Well, when I created this Artichoke and White Bean Dip for LTEV, a food miracle occurred. I first simply called it “hummus”, and put it on the table. It’s busy enough with recipe testing and keeping up with this family’s appetite, that the details of food aren’t always important. Just need to get – it – on – the – table. And fast! This was one of those days. As we were eating, our middle girl soon announced how much she looooved this new hummus. Once I realized she was eating artichokes (!!!), I decided not to say anything immediately, but just make the dip again another day.

So I did. So she ate it again, and asked for it again. In fact, the whole family asked for it again, devouring it in a sitting (sigh, must remember to double-batch). Afterwards I casually mentioned to her “oh, I forgot to tell you, that hummus had some artichokes in it… hey, you liked it anyway!” She shrugged her shoulders and said “I guess so”. That was that. No fuss, just a brief puzzled look on her face (and probably some suspicions that mommy pulled a fast one). But, all was fine – and she continues to eat the dip!

She still won’t eat artichokes whole or in noticeable pieces, but I guess the moral of this post is sometimes we just need to serve the food. Not have expectations for what they might like or not like. Not try to explain that they might like it because… or they will like it if we add this to it… or take that out… etc etc. If it tastes great, it tastes great! They may not even notice the artichokes, olives, or berries. Scratch berries. One girl I know will always notice those! :)

I often say the same about vegan food in general. If it tastes fabulous and is satisfying, do we really care about what’s not in there? No, it just tastes wonderful! So enjoy the good food for what it is… deeeelicious!

Now, if you do love artichokes, you’ll really, really love this dip. Somewhat like hummus but with quite a twist. Plus, some of you that asked about a nut-free alternative to my Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip –  this White Bean Artichoke Dip is a great one to try. It’s not baked, but you could bake it, in fact I enjoy it a little warm. Maybe even top it off with a few olives for the fam! I kid.

Artichoke and White Bean Dip, from Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton

Artichoke and White Bean Dip

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Artichoke dip is always one of those more-ish kinds of dips, and I’ve made several recipes over the years. This one borrows creaminess from white beans, and a cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast. It is especially delicious gently warmed, and then slathered on pitas or other breads. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

2 cups artichoke hearts (I use frozen, blanched in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, then drained, see note)

1 can (14 oz) white beans (navy or cannellini), rinsed and drained (about 1 ¾ cups)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small-medium clove garlic

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil  (optional, OMIT for oil-free option and use 1-2 tbsp of water to thin if desired; OR can also sub 1/2 – 1 tbsp tahini and 1 tbsp water — but don’t overdo tahini, flavor will be too pronounced in this dip)

2 tbsp freshly flat-leaf parsley, chopped

½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced (try not to omit, it adds a lovely subtle flavor)

¾ tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

After blanching/draining artichokes, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste, and season to taste with extra lemon juice/salt, etc, as desired. Serve straight away, or transfer to an oven-proof dish and heat until just warm and a little golden on top!

Ingredients 411: Frozen artichokes have a much better flavor than canned, so opt for frozen if possible. Don’t use the artichokes that are jarred and marinated in an oil/vinegar liquid – their flavor is too strong, even if rinsed.

Serving Suggestions: Try using this dip as a layer in lasagna, or to stuff pasta shells.

Shout-out to Emma Potts of coconutandberries for assisting with the beautiful dip photos!

Have you had a food experience like this yourself, or with your kiddos? Have you tried this dip? Share your stories! 

Enjoy, and I’ll be back soon!

plant-powered xx’s… Dreena

Incredibly Edible Edamame Dip: Recipe and Review of The Blender Girl Cookbook!

Undoubtedly you’ve heard about The Blender Girl cookbook, it’s been getting plenty of attention through the blogging circuit not to mention traditional media. If you haven’t, then grab a hot tea (or kombucha!) and settle in for a read!

I’ve been wanting to share a review of this cookbook for months – you’ve probably noticed the book widget on the sidebar of my blog. I was eager to help spread the word about this book, I’m quite fond of Tess Master’s work and knew her cookbook would be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, I’m a wee tardy with my review due to my recent blogging break. This is a case of “better late than never”. If you don’t yet have The Blender Girl, it’s time you nab a copy. This is a book to learn from and grow with in your dietary journey. It’s also a joy to flip through this cookbook to gather ideas and simply soak up plant food beauty!

Blender Girl High Res Cover

I first met Tess at VVC 2013. We had originally connected online when Tess included my Nutty Veggie Burgers recipe in her gluten-free Breville recipe event. After that blogging event, we kept in touch and finally met at Vida Vegan Con. Tess is an enchanting soul. Engaging and charming, she has a contagious, enthusiastic energy and it’s invigorating to just chat with her over a green juice. What I quickly learned about Tess is that her large and lively online presence is deserved – she is not “all fluff and no stuff”. Nope, Tess knows her stuff. To our delight, she shares much of her incredible food knowledge and healthy eating experiences with us all in The Blender Girl.

This book is delicious in more than one way. Yes, the recipes are brilliant… creative, simple, quick, and healthy. But the entire book is absolutely visually engaging (like Tess herself). Her writing draws you into her spunky, life-loving personality, and then the photos throughout the book are almost intoxicating. You feel brought into the process with Tess, preparing lush fresh-from-the-market plant foods. It’s truly a masterpiece of healthy cooking and food preparation that every home cook can enjoy.

There are 100 whole-food gluten-free, vegan recipes – with color photographs in the book. In addition to the recipes, Tess also discusses probiotic-rich foods, alkalinity, food combining, and superfoods in this book, and details the benefits of soaking, sprouting, and dehydrating. The book is broken down as follows:

  • introduction: birth of the blender girl
  • the lowdown
    • love your blender
    • healthy ideas to blend in
  • the recipes
    • smoothies & shakes
    • appetizers, snacks, dips & spreads
    • salads
    • soups
    • the main event
    • desserts
    • drinks,juices & tonics
    • condiments,sauces & creams
  • resources
  • great reading
  • acknowledgments
  • index

Hmmm, we thought a blender cookbook would be all about smoothies, right?! But this book is so much more! I use my blender for far more than smoothies, and once you see the versatility of using a blender to assist with healthy food preparation, it really opens up a whole new whirrrrld. 😉

Tess has selected some recipes to share from her book, and I chose the Incredibly Edible Edamame Dip. It’s odd that I picked an edamame dip recipe to share, because all my vegan life I haven’t quite understood the appeal of edamame. But, about a month ago, I gave edamame a try again… and shabam!.. I liked it! I’ve been using it in pasta sauces, eating straight up, and will be sharing some edamame recipes down the road.

Edamame Dip

But right now we are digging into The Blender Girl’s edamame dip. You will love it! I’ve made it a couple of times already, and made a few adaptations so it wouldn’t be too spicy for the girls. (I’ve added my modifications in a note below the recipe).

This dip can be enjoyed many ways. Most obviously, with breads, crudite, or tortilla chips. I first munched on it with tortilla chips (above), but next served it slathered over hot baked spuds and sweet spuds (below). It was utterly divine that way, especially on the sweet spuds with the contrast of the sweet/salty. I’ve also used the dip to spread in sandwiches and wraps for hubby and the girls’ school lunches, and can imagine it dolloped on soups, spread on a thin pizza crust, worked into quinoa or even thinned out slightly to toss through a big lunch salad.

Edamame Dip on Baked Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Now, for the recipe and accompanying cookbook photo…

Incredibly Edible Edamame Dip (The Blender Girl Cookbook)

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One of the enduring favorites on my website, this recipe is addictive. Not only because it tastes so darn good, but also because it only takes minutes to blend up and devour. However, the recipe only works in a high-speed blender or food processor. Use it as a dip with raw vegetables and crackers, or spread it on sandwiches or wraps. Totally guilt-free, super-healthy, alkalizing, and nutrient-dense, this one’s a winner on all fronts. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Incredibly edible edamame dip from "The Blender Girl  Cookbook"

Photo Credit: Photo taken by Anson Smart © 2014

3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil*
2 cups (320g) shelled raw edamame beans
2 cups (54g) loosely packed baby spinach
1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (yellow, white, or Vidalia is good, but not red)*
2 cloves garlic, minced, plus more to taste*
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste*
1 teaspoon natural salt (see box, page 38), plus more to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
1/4 cup (12g) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)*

Throw the oil, edamame, spinach, lemon juice, tahini, onion, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt into your high-speed blender or food processor and blend on high or process for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Stop the machine periodically and scrape down the sides of the container to fully incorporate the ingredients. A food processor will give the mixture a coarse consistency, which some people prefer. Tweak flavors to taste. (You may like more lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, or salt.) Serve topped with the sesame seeds and parsley.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks–100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes! by Tess Masters, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

*Dreena’s Family-Friendly Notes:

  • I used just one clove of garlic, substituted a small amount (about 3 tbsp) sliced green onions for the white onion, and omitted the red pepper flakes.
  • I also tried the dip without oil so I could offer my experience for those wanting an oil-free option – entirely delicious without the oil, so don’t let that hold you back! Just add a touch of water to get the dip pureeing, I didn’t need more than 1/2 – 1 tbsp in my blender.
  • I didn’t use the optional sesame seeds, and pureed the parsley through the dip, rather than using as a topping. (I have mad parsley love, and will get it into the kids whenever I have the opportunity)!

Thank you Tess for the recipe, and congratulations on the success of your scrumptious book!

Do you have The Blender Girl Cookbook? Have you tried any recipes? Any favorites?

Recipe: Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto

Summer is winding down. Already I’m feeling blue! I’m a summer girl, so it’s hard for me to say farewell to the warm weather – SUNSHINE (vitamin D!) – abundant summer fruits and vegetables – and herbs. One of my cold-weather coping mechanisms is to batch and freeze pesto at the end of summer… for a burst of warm weather memories in the dark of winter. Gosh, is this depressing or what? Let’s move on to the food – and quick!

Since we were talking about fresh herbs all month with the Vegan Mainstream cookbook club, I thought I’d share this new Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto recipe. It’s actually from LTEV, but new to those of you that don’t yet have LTEV… or maybe flipped past the recipe (we all do it)!

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto from "Let Them Eat Vegan"

This pesto is a special because it includes some ingredients that you might never think to add to pesto. Like parsley. And spinach. And pistachios! For a very long time I was devout to basil in pesto. Basil and only basil. Yet basil isn’t plentiful most of the year. You may find it year-round, but in small amounts. And I love my pesto, people! So this recipe combines just a little basil, enough to imbue its peppery-anise essence, with other greens that are more abundant during basil “off-season”.

Before I get to the recipe, let’s quickly talk about freezing. I am asked about freezing recipes all the time. Almost every day! I freeze a lot of things in portions, like hummus, muffins, cocoa cookie dough balls, snackles, hummus, more hummus. #hummusisafoodgroup 😉 And pesto.

When I make pesto, I at least double the batch. Sometimes triple it (my food processor is a 16-cup). Then, I portion out about 1 to 2 cup batches and freeze. Yes, it tastes a little better freshly-made. But, when October rolls around and it is dark and dreary, pulling out a container of hummus is like a quick burst of summer in your kitchen. Totally worth it! So, freeze some up, and then just thaw in the fridge overnight to use the next day. You can thank me later. 😉

For this pesto, I thought I’d show you something different than its usual pasta-counterpart. I love using pesto in many more ways than tossed through cooked pasta. For instance:

– It’s stellar as a pizza base. Top with juicy sliced summer tomatoes, a few olives, and black pepper… outstanding!

– As a spread for sandwiches. I pack hubby’s lunches everyday, and in the summer this is such a quick sandwich fix. Add some sliced red peppers, tomatoes, or leftover grilled veggies… done!

– In green wraps. I need to do a collard wrap post, because I LOVE lunch collard wraps. So versatile, easy, nutritious. Smear some pesto love on that collard leaf, and your wrap will sing!

Baked Spuds and Sweet Spuds: Instead of adding a vegan margarine to your spuds, try a dollop of pesto. This is especially good on sweet potatoes with the contrast of the salty, punchy pesto against the creamy sweet potato. Just amazing. Try it.

Bean and Grain Salads. You have plain brown rice. Or quinoa. Or plain white beans. How to jazz them up? Thin out a little pesto with some water and/or lemon juice, and work into salads with beans and veg, or grain and veg – or both. Satisfying, a meal in a bowl.

See? Many ways you can use pesto. And here’s another: cucumber rolls!

Cucumber Rolls with Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto

This idea comes from my friend Tess Masters (aka The Blender Girl). We’ve been ‘twitter friends’ for a little while and I met her in person at VVC. A couple of months ago we joined a twitter chat and she mentioned cucumber pesto rolls. So, I had to try them! Brilliant! Here was my experimentation with making the rolls:

Using a peeler, the cucumber ribbons were a little too thin and did not peel evenly through the length. I got very thin slices, but not consistent…

cucumber peeling

With a sharp knife, I could slice evenly through the full cuke length. The slices were thicker, and only the thinnest slices worked well for rolls. But, they did work well…

Cucumber Slices

I popped a few toothpicks in the rolls and they were ready to serve! If you make these, do not make them ahead of time. You can slice the cucumber in strips ahead, but don’t roll until ready to serve. The salt and acid from the pesto will draw moisture from the cucumber – so keep them fresh and make when ready to eat! Afterwards, I thought I probably could have used my food processor, because it has ninja assortment of blades. Are there any raw gadgets that would also do this job well?

Other fresh and raw ideas for using pesto include stuffing mini-bell peppers, rolling in lettuce leaves, scooping into endive leaves, tossing into zucchini noodles, or simply working the pesto through a chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach – whatever you like!

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto from Let Them Eat Vegan

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto soy-free, gluten-free, oil-free option 

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1 cup raw pistachios (not salted)

2 tbsp pine nuts (optional, can use more pistachios)

1 – 2 medium-large cloves garlic, quartered (see note)

1 ½ – 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional, helps keep pesto fresh, but can omit for oil-free)

1/2 tsp sea salt (see note)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 – 3 tbsp water (or more as desired, see note)

3 ½ cups (loosely packed) baby spinach leaves

¾ – 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves

¼ cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves

crushed pistachios for serving

In a food processor, combine the nuts, garlic, 11⁄2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, olive oil (if using) salt, pepper to taste, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the water, and the spinach, basil, and parsley. Puree until fairly smooth, less for a chunkier consistency or longer for a smoother one. Add and blend in additional water if you need to, for the consistency you desire.  At this point, you may refrigerate the pesto in a covered container until ready to use it.

Pasta Note: If you are serving this immediately with pasta, set the pesto aside and cook the pasta (using about 3/4 – 1 lb dry pasta) according to the package directions.  Just before draining the pasta, remove and reserve about 1⁄2 cup of its cooking water. Drain the pasta (don’t rinse it!) and toss with the pesto, using as much or as little pesto as you like. If the pasta is a little dry, add more pesto plus a tablespoon at a time of the reserved cooking water.  Season to taste with additional salt, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice, as desired. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios.

Adult-Minded: I typically use one clove of garlic, because when the pesto is warmed by the pasta rather than cooked, the garlic maintains a raw taste. If you like a stronger garlic flavor, by all means, add another clove!

Seasoning Note: You may want to add more salt to this pesto after tossing with the pasta. The seasoning depends very much on how you use this pesto, and also how much of it you use! For instance, if you like just a light coating of pesto with your pasta, you may find the seasoning a touch bland, and in that case you can add a touch more salt to your pasta, to taste. If you like a thick, generous coating of pesto on those noodles (as I do!), then adding extra salt will be just too much. Also, if you like using pesto as a spread for breads or vegetables, this amount of salt is just right.

Have you ever made pesto cucumber rolls? Do you freeze pesto? What ways do you enjoy pesto the most?

Vegan Travel Tips, My Trip To Newfoundland, and Hummus Recipes!

If I’ve seemed a little distant the past few weeks, it’s because I was – literally. We took a family trip back to Newfoundland to visit family with our girls. The last time we visited was 6 years ago, before our youngest was born. It’s a day-long trip with a 4 1/2 hour time difference. Some of you know that I was born in Newfoundland, so most of my extended family (and all of my husband’s family) live there. It was time us to reconnect with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I was not looking forward to the travel, however, and had no idea it would be even harder than I imagined…

Our trip began with us arriving at Vancouver airport in the morning and getting the announcement that our flight was just cancelled. What?! We don’t take a family trip for six years and then our flight is cancelled when we do? The next flight we could jump on was at 7pm that night. With 3 kids travelling a total of about 11 hours and 4 1/2 hours jet-lag, a red-eye was NOT happening. We talked to the manager of WestJet and eventually we were put up in the airport hotel overnight, given some food vouchers and some credit for future WestJet travel, and booked our flight for the next morning. I didn’t want to go home because there was no fresh food and I knew the girls would be bummed to return home. So, we made it a mini-adventure to stay at the hotel. The girls got to swim and watch planes take off and land, plus they thought it was SO cool to hang out in the hotel. View from our room:


The real inconvenience was the food. Eating vegan in an airport is hard. Eating a whole-foods vegan diet and eating well in an airport is near impossible. I had packed a lot of food for the flight, so we ate most of that the first day. But, what about a proper dinner and food the next? We had $150 in food vouchers, which sounds terrific. But, that’s for 5 people for 3 meals, and they had to be used in certain dollar quantities for each vendor. We ate the food we had packed, and that night we ate at the Fairmont Hotel restaurant. This is a very nice hotel, and the restaurant had vegan options. I got a vegetable curry with rice – it was nice but a small portion. Hubby got a roasted vegetable pizza which was beautiful. The girls – we ordered the all-too-typical pasta with marinara sauce. But, their pasta had eggs. So, we ordered it over brown rice. The girls wanted bread but the hotel bread had dairy. I’m sorry, but if you have vegan options on your menu, you need to have vegan bread. How hard is that? Most breads are made without dairy! Frustrating. Dinner was decent and satisfying, but we used the bulk of our food vouchers – $100. Oh well! The next day we had to figure out some food for travel. In the morning, we still had some fruit and muffins and almond butter sandwiches that I packed, so the girls ate those. I grabbed a Starbucks Soy Chai Latte (love those). We picked up some water and granola bars, and then our next best bet for lunch on the plane was Subway. We knew they could do a veggie sub so we ordered a few of those. Our eldest girl had tried the veggie patty and convinced us all to get it. I should have just ordered a full-on veg sub, I was not a fan of that patty – and neither were the other girls or hubby! I took a few bites and passed on the rest. But, at least it was a vegan option, and at least one of us loved it!

I had hoped there would be food options on the plane to purchase, but there was really nothing. I asked if they had fresh fruit, the attendant said “no, trust me, we’ve come a long way with the popcorn chips“. OY! There was an Asian Veggie Wrap, but it had dairy when I looked at the ingredients. So, we snacked on the subs and nibbly food until we got to Toronto. I was wise to tote some Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. They satisfied my treat-need! Plus, they can be made in advance and frozen – so you can prep them a couple of weeks before a trip. Make note!


It made me a little sad to see what people eat regularly, with the time spent in the airport and on flight. Sodas, diet sodas, chips and more chips, just a steady intake of sugar, aspartame, and fat and salt. What is all this “food” we are eating that isn’t even food? All chemical concoctions designed to bring us back for more and continue to be hungry because we are never really nourished. I was a little disturbed and talked to hubby about it, but he told me to relax (as usual). 😉  I guess because I’m so connected to a healthy eating community online that I am often distanced from what society consumes regularly. Being reminded of it wasn’t pleasant. But, it grounds me in what I am doing to help educate and inspire people to reach out to whole plant food choices more often.

Once we hit Toronto I saw light… a sign with a menu that had rice and quinoa bowls, vegetables, tofu, and… KALE! BINGO! I hit the washrooms with the girls (it must be easier travelling with boys!), and then got to that green-glowing Freshii counter! I ordered some quinoa and noodle bowls, and we got on to our next flight to St. John’s. We dug into those bowls and hubby said “I never thought I’d be so happy to see broccoli“. Even the girls were sighing, saying “mom, this is really good“. They ate a lot of veggies, without coaxing! Thank heavens for that food, it got us through our day! We arrived in St. John’s around 1 am, and were eager to get settled after a long day of travel, hence blurry photo. (Real men wear flower backpacks.)


The next few days we were adjusting to the time change. In fact, we didn’t really adjust fully until we were about ready to return home! That morning, we popped out for some staple items – sprouted breads, fresh fruit/veg and avocados, nondairy milks, larabars (for out and about), nut butter, and some veggie burgers and a few other quick vegan meals. Before leaving for this trip, I told hubby I was not cooking while in St. John’s. We were staying with his parents, and I was visiting my mom a lot. I decided all of our meals would be quick/simple, and I would go out for some lunches and dinners with hubby and my sisters and mother. We rarely get to do that in Vancouver, so that was the plan!

Our first day there my eldest sister Debbie had a get-together at her house for her daughter’s graduation from university. Great timing for us, we were able to connect with many extended family members and friends. Here I am with my beautiful sister Debbie, and then another of us with the hubbies!



Plus, my sis made a BIG pot of veggie chili. Hubby kept saying how good of her that was, we were able to have a decent meal that first day, plus brought leftovers home. Also, she made batches of my cookies! I was so excited I pulled out my camera… yup, and posted to Instagram. Here they are: my Berry Patch Brownies and Troll Cookies (both from LTEV) and my Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. My sis adds peanut butter to them, and they are amazing! (Deb, if you’re reading, please tell us how much you use, I forgot to ask!) My sis made many more batches of cookies while we were there. One day, she welcomed me with an ENTIRE, batch of freshly-baked, still-warm Troll Cookies! Hit. The. Spot.


Many happy nanny hugs on the trip. Our girls only see my mom and hubby’s parents every year or two. They sure love spending time with them, it’s hard being so far removed – maybe many of you reading have family living far away and can relate.


And I taught mom how to take a selfie! Not sure she’ll repeat it, but pretty good for a first try, right?


With the time change, most days we weren’t all awake until about 10 am (except me, I’m up with the sun – or earlier)! So, breakfast was light and then I’d lunch, usually wraps with fresh veggies and prepared hummus, or nut butter sandwiches on sprouted bread. As I said, I was keeping things simple. But, simple should still taste good, and I tell you I got sick of storebought hummus. Truly, most brands of hummus give hummus a bad name. They have a weird, predominant flavor from the citric acid preservative. And, some are more garlicky than kiddos like. After a few days eating different varieties, I got sick of them, just couldn’t eat them. I said to hubby “if people think this is the hummus we eat and love, no wonder they think vegan food isn’t good“! We needed other lunch options.

THIS was not one of them.


We passed this food truck several times in downtown St. John’s. So very NOT vegan! 

Thankfully, St. John’s has two vegetarian spots that are great for quick meals. The Sprout and The Happy Hummus Hut. We got a terrific lunch at The Happy Hummus Hut one day, and another day stopped in for some snacks (they make dessert rolls with rice paper wraps and raw chocolate or pumpkin ‘fudge’… pumpkin was my fave!). I met the owner, Hlynn. We have tweeted quite a few times. She is incredibly warm and generous, and gave me a couple of her raw savory rice rolls to sample – they were delicious! They have a featured ‘hummus of the day’ each day. How much could I love that? Much!


And, I had a few dinners at The Sprout, enjoying the Pad Thai (shown below, image credit: The Sprout), Lentil Burger, Tempeh Burger (zoinks! amazing tempeh!), and soups and salads. All delicious meals! One night I had dinner there, then lunch and dinner again the following day. Just slightly embarrassing.


We ordered take-out pizzas at Pi Pizza two evenings. They mention some vegan specifics on their menu, including their vegan crust and non-dairy cheese. Though their menu says “soya cheese”, Pi actually had Daiya – which is far better than other (soy-based) vegan cheeses. And, we dined at Quintanas, a Mexican restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they knew about modifying for a vegan diet. They also had Daiya cheese as an option to dairy for their burritos, and so we had a delicious veggie/bean burrito with salad that night. Here I am with my mom and sister having our Mexican meal:


We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing on our visit. This trip was all about our girls spending time with grandparents and close relatives, and also hubby and I getting a little time out together (we rarely do), and me getting to have some ‘solo’ time with my sisters and mom. We did, however, take the girls to Signal Hill. One MUST go to Signal Hill when visiting St. John’s. It’s a crime not to! Truly it’s beautiful up there. The wind can literally sweep you off your feet on a gusty day! Check out hub’s hair – and he has thick hair! Our youngest girl kept calling Cabot Tower “Rapunzel’s Tower”… she is a huge fan of the Tangled movie (and I still cry at the ending after seeing it a good 25 times). Yeah.


Our eldest loved it, here she is looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. If you look close you can see walking trails… not for the faint of heart in some spots!…


Some of you know that I have 5 sisters. All of our names begin with a “D”, and I’m the 5th in line, second youngest. Here I am with my other beautiful (and youngest!) sister, Dayle.


…and with our beautiful mama…


Fashion Sidenote: You can’t quite see it fully in this photo, but I am wearing a new skirt I bought from Squeezed Yoga in Toronto. I have seen most of their beautiful, comfy clothes via Melissa West of Namaste Yoga, as she models their yoga wear through her video segments (and on the Squeezed site). After seeing Melissa’s bamboo skirt last year, I had to have one this year! Sign up for their newsletter, because you can get in on pre-orders for new lines. I did just that when I ordered this skirt and got in on their discount. The skirt fits beautifully, and is soft and light. I ordered a small, and when it arrived I choked a little because it looked like and extra-small. But, Donna knows how to design clothes to flatter women’s bodies. When I tried it on, it just fit like a glove skirt. 😀

My eldest sister, Debbie, also has three children so our girls had a blast getting to know them better in person. They also have a wee dog, Winston. Our girls fell in love. Ok, so did I. Think I need to find our family a little Winston!


Oh, and Deb also has a Porsche! Here we are going for a spin. We took off like Thelma and Louise! … To David’s Tea. Then Toys ‘r Us. Then Starbucks. Party women. 😉


One of the highlights for our girls on the trip was visiting their grandparents’ cabin. Hubby spent many of his summers there as a child, and they have a beautiful big pond and often rabbits, beavers, and yes moose come for a visit! No moose pictures, but lots of water fun!



On the return flight home, I was armed with small meals and substantial snacks to carry us through the long day. I made quesadillas with hummus, leftover sweet potato fries (thanks Deb!), veggies, and Daiya for the girls. That was one meal. I also had larabars, granola bars, granola, fresh fruit (apples, oranges, grapes), baby carrots, and some baggies of snack chips for the girls (a healthier alternative than those in airports and on the plane). For our second ‘meal’, I kept it as lightweight/simple as possible with some sprouted grain bagels with almond butter. My bags of food were getting heavy already! In addition to the fruit and veg, we kept hydrated with plenty of water and for me – mint tea on the plane. It was a long flight back – 3 hrs to Toronto, then another 5 to Vancouver, and that’s just flying time! The view from over western Canada, gosh it’s beautiful out here!


If YOU are flying or doing other long hours of travel, here are some of my ideas for snacks and small meals. PLEASE feel free to add your own in the comments! —

  • Wraps or quesadillas with hummus and veg. I love using collard leaves for wraps, so while I packed whole-grain wraps for the fam, I snuck in a collard wrap for me!
  • Sprouted grain sandwiches with sliced cucumber/tomato and cashew cheese or rawesome nut dip
  • Whole-grain bagels with nut butter or low-sugar/sweetener preserves.
  • Small containers of hummus along with fresh veggies (cukes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes).
  • Healthy oatmeal-to-go cups, soup cups, and noodle bowls. Search out varieties that are lower in sodium, have organic and natural ingredients, and no artificial ingredients/MSG. Airlines sell these types of noodle/oatmeal cups on the plane, so if you tote your own they can fill with hot water – plus they are LIGHT for packing in your carry-on! At VVC, we took home an oatmeal cup sample from Straw Propeller. That’s one brand of healthier oatmeal cups, there are a few others on the market.
  • Fresh fruit. Keeps you hydrated and is satisfying!
  • Teas. I kept a stash of bags of my favorite teas in my purse while travelling, all through my trip. I could use them at restaurants, visiting with my mom, etc. Plus, I carry small packets of stevia to sweeten my tea. I don’t use stevia in baking or otherwise, but love a little sprinkle in my tea!
  • Dry cereal and individual non-dairy milks for the kids. They can either munch on the cereal straight up, drink the milks straight up, or combine both in a baggy – pack a few spoons!
  • Larabars. They saved our butts through the trip!
  • Granola. Terrific for nibbling. You can find a few decent store-bought varieties, but most are still sweeter than I’d like. Try my Hempanola, Cocoa-Goji Granola, or my oil-free Almond Zen Granola from the Plant-Powered 15!
  • Popcorn, kale chips, and baked chips. For very long flights, crunchy snack foods are great for the kids (ok, adults too). There are healthier options than those sold in-flight or airports!
  • Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or nuts – plain or seasoned. I love the Kaia Foods salt and vinegar pumpkin seeds. Actually, our 4 year old loves them even more. Eat straight up or make a little trail mix with raisins, or mix with popcorn, etc.
  • If you have time to bake/cook: Tamari Roasted Chickpeas, healthy muffins/snackles, Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls, Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars (they keep very well)!

Finally, knowing you love hummus as I do… and knowing that you also believe it such be deemed a food group, after returning from my trip I posted two more hummus recipes for you to enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from ed&bv; it has an entire HUMMUS chapter, hoo-ahh! (link to print/share)

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from eat, drink & be vegan

and Peanut Sesame Hummus, also from ed&bv (link to print/share)

Peanut Sesame Hummus (background) from eat, drink & be vegan

Make some hummus! Make it often! Double or triple your batches, because it freezes brilliantly. Make it for a friend, travelling without a food processor. 😉 Don’t forget it can be enjoyed slathered on pizzas, used in wraps and sandwiches, thinned out and tossed into pasta, dolloped on baked spuds! Or, put a big ol’ scoop in your salad. Trust me on that one!

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Have you done any travelling eating plant-powered? Have any words of wisdom or extra food ideas to share