Pungent kraut made in house with local organic cabbage, chillies, garlic and daikon.
Pungent kraut made in house with local organic cabbage, chillies, garlic and daikon.
A staple in the vegan pantry, apple cider vinegar can add a sweet, sharp tang to your cooking. Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider which has been left to continue to ferment until acetic acid-forming bacteria turns the cider into vinegar.
Filtered or Unfiltered-Which Type Should You Choose?
Apple cider vinegar can be found filtered or unfiltered.
The unfiltered version contains the “mother of vinegar” which is a mixture of cellulose and acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter aceti). This bacteria was what converted the alcohol in the cider into vinegar.
The filtered version simply has had the “mother of vinegar” removed. This version is more likely to have been pasteurized as well, and is a clearer liquid than the unfiltered vinegar.
Basically, if you want a raw product that has a more flavourful taste, then choose the unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Otherwise, they both can be used interchangeably when using apple cider vinegar in recipes.
What to Do with Apple Cider Vinegar?
Bean salads, grains, dressings, spreads, sauces, dips, can be enhanced by the addition of apple cider vinegar.
The key is not to add too much. An excessive amount of apple cider vinegar will overpower the other flavours of your food. Usually adding two tablespoons will be sufficient, and of course, you can add less according to your taste. Apple cider vinegar is so versatile, and can be indispensable in cooking. For instance, check out this delicious marinade which would not be the same without apple cider vinegar:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 teaspoons molasses
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chilli paste or a splash of chilli oil
1 cake tofu (3/4 pound)
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Cut up the cake of tofu into 1 inch long strips. Add the tofu strips to the sauce, and marinade for ten minutes.
Here is another recipe starring apple cider vinegar:
Apple Cider Vinegar and Maple Dressing
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon (for the juice)
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
Blend together the apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Mix well. Then, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Use this dressing for all kinds of salads, whether they are grain-based or simply greens. Add some fruit to increase the sweetness.
Try adding in apple cider vinegar when making your own barbecue sauce, or use apple cider vinegar for your baking. Having apple cider vinegar in your pantry sure is useful!
I used to think that limes were just unripe lemons. I was wrong. Limes are a distinct species from lemons. They obviously taste different, and because of this, they are used differently in cooking. Both lemons and limes contain very high amounts of vitamin C. Incidentally, Green Cuisine makes a delightful lemon cheesecake as well as a wonderful lime cheesecake.
Did you know that during the 19th century, British sailors regularly ingested limes on their ships to prevent scurvy? Initially, they were given lemons, but the switch was made to limes, so the nickname “Limey”, used to refer to a British soldier, was born.
Limes are coloured green, and taste bitter and acidic. They taste stronger and more bitter than lemons. Lemons and limes are not interchangeable in recipes.
Lime juice is excellent in Thai dishes, Vietnamese dishes (such as pho), and Southeast Asian curries. Lime juice is also delicious in salsas, marinades, hummus, and sauces. And you don’t even have to stop at lime juice. Lime zest can also be incorporated into your recipe.
Cocktails (such as mojitos) love the participation of limes in the mix. And who can forget key lime pie?
Can you imagine life without having known lemonade or lemon meringue pie?
Lemons add acid to your recipe, and can bring out other flavours without itself being too overpowering. It can add brightness.
Lemons can add a “zing” and a freshness to your pasta, marinades, sauces (including tomato sauce), salad dressings, and vegan dumplings. Like limes, the zest of lemons can be used as well. Lemon curd, lemon mousse, and lemon syrup are tantalizing and will add variety to your meal.
Put together lemon, soy sauce, sesame oil, and lemon zest and you have a dipping sauce which combines both the salty and sour tastes.
Chili Lime Tempeh
1 package Simply Soybean Tempeh
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilies
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
4 tablespoons lime juice
Cut tempeh into eight squares. Mix everything else together and pour over tempeh. Let sit for two to four hours. Place tempeh and marinade into a pan and cook covered for five minutes. Turn tempeh over and cook on the other side until the liquid has been absorbed. This is excellent served in a wrap, with some crispy salad vegetables.
Bell peppers can be excellent on pizza, in sauces, stir-fries, curries and salads. Technically a fruit, bell peppers are treated as vegetables in cooking, as tomatoes are. Bell peppers come in a variety of colours, including green, yellow, orange, and red. All these colours are very charming, but do the colours make any difference?
Yes the colours do make a difference.
Taste and Nutritional Value
One obvious difference I’ve always noticed is that the green bell peppers taste less sweet than the yellow, orange, and red ones. This is because the green ones are actually unripe bell peppers.There is, however, a variety of bell pepper which stays green even when ripened.
As the pepper ripens, it becomes sweeter and the colour changes to red. While the green peppers contain a lot of chlorophyll, the yellow peppers have lutein and zeaxanthin. Orange peppers contain alpha, beta, and gamma carotene. The red peppers are the sweetest and contain the highest amount of lycopene, astaxanthin, and vitamin C.
The coloured bell peppers are more expensive than the unripe, green ones because it takes some time for the peppers to ripen before harvest.
Did you know that you can actually eat the seeds and the white parts inside the bell pepper?
Where Did the Name “Pepper” Come From?
When Christopher Columbus brought the “pepper” plant to Europe after pillaging, the Europeans named it as a pepper, as peppercorns (a completely unrelated plant) were very sought after and all spices that tasted hot and spicy were called “pepper” as a result.
The bell pepper is the sole pepper in the Capsicum genus which does not contain capsaicin. This is why you do not have to worry about the burning sensation or spiciness with bell peppers as you would with all the other Capsicum peppers.
Roasting Your Bell Peppers Will Bring Out Their Flavour
Roasted red bell peppers are simply delicious. Once roasted, you can use them in soups, on pizza, in burritos or sandwiches.
Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Ginger is a valued spice in the kitchen. It is a rhizome or root which can add a unique aroma and flavour to your dishes. Did you know that ginger is related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal?
In addition to being a spice, ginger also has medicinal qualities.
Ginger is Medicinal
Ginger in Cooking
Ginger is excellent in sweet as well as savoury dishes. The best way to use fresh ginger is to remove the skin and then chop or slice the ginger to put into stir-fries, soups, stews, curries, tofu, tempeh, seitan and fried rice.
You can also steep a piece of ginger for a healthful tea. Here is a ginger tea recipe that you can play with:
A 2 inch piece of raw ginger
2 cups water
juice from 1/2 lime
sweetener (agave or stevia works)
Take the fresh ginger, peel it, and slice it into thin pieces.
Throw the ginger into the water, and boil the water. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes. The longer you simmer the tea, the stronger the ginger taste you will get.
When you are satisfied with the degree of ginger flavour in your tea, remove from the heat. You can strain out the pieces of ginger if you wish. Put in the lime juice and sweetener.
There are Different Forms of Ginger
Ginger comes in many forms, including fresh, powdered, pickled, and candied.
At Green Cuisine, we make an excellent vegan ginger cookie. This recipe is in Andy’s excellent gluten-free cookbook which you can pick up from the restaurant, but we are sharing it here as well. Candied ginger and ginger powder are used to instil a bold, ginger flavour into this cookie. Enjoy!
Makes 10 cookies
2 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup dried cane juice
1/4 cup candied ginger (chopped fine)
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Oil a cookie sheet or line the sheet with parchment paper. Use a scoop to deposit cookie-sized dollops onto the cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with a wet fork. Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
Peanut butter is one of my favourite foods. I prefer the all-natural peanut butter which contains no sugar or other additives. This wonderful vegan food is not only good for sandwiches or carrot sticks. I love to put liberal amounts of peanut butter in my oatmeal. I can even eat it out of the jar-that is how much I love peanut butter. Here are some other delicious recipes that put peanut butter in the spotlight. Check them out!
Peanut Butter Balls
(Makes approximately 20 balls)
2 cups of crunchy peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas
2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Combine the crunchy peanut butter, ripe bananas, and whole flaxseeds in a large bowl. Place the cocoa powder into another bowl. Make balls out of the peanut mixture, and dip the balls in the cocoa powder. Put the balls into a container and refrigerate for a few hours (until the desired firmness is achieved).
Peanut Butter Milkshake
1 1/2 cup of your preferred vegan milk (soy, almond, or cashew works wonderfully)
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Makes one serving.
2 inch piece ginger, peeled
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup of water
chopped peanuts (optional)
Put the ingredients into a blender and blend. Add the water into the mixture and blend. If you want a thinner sauce, add more water. Add the chopped peanuts and blend until dispersed.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding
2 ripe avocados
1 large ripe banana
1/2 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
Chocolate Peanut Banana Smoothie
1 large ripe banana peeled, sliced and frozen
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 pitted dates
1 Tbsp cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice
Turmeric is a rhizome, and is a part of the ginger family. It actually resembles ginger to some extent. It is a staple in India and parts of Asia as a spice as well as medicine. Whether it is fresh or in powder form, turmeric is a bright yellow and if you get a turmeric stain on your clothes, it will be difficult to get it off. This staining property of turmeric allows it to be a dye, as well as a natural food colouring. Wherever turmeric is added, the food looks more yellow. Like, for instance, in mustard. Most curries are yellow due to the presence of turmeric.
Studies have shown that the active medicinal ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, is a promising compound in the fight against inflammatory diseases and cancer. Curcumin is an antioxidant, and can scavenge free radicals. However, more studies need to be done in order to have more solid, conclusive results.
There are many ways to use turmeric in your dishes. Fresh turmeric can be grated. Or you can buy the powdered turmeric, which is cheaper. Add this spice to soups, curries, stir-fry, tofu scrambles, and smoothies. You can also add turmeric to rice, quinoa, millet, or beans. Add some to your roasted vegetables and into savoury sauces.
Turmeric Orange Apple Juice
3 apples, peeled and chopped
4 oranges, peeled
1 lemon, peeled
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, cut up into small pieces
1 tbsp. fresh turmeric, cut up into small pieces
2 cups water
2 cups of non-dairy milk such as almond, coconut, soy, or pecan
1 teaspoon turmeric
a little bit of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon sweetener
Blend together the above ingredients in a blender. You can make ahead of time and keep it chilled in the refrigerator.
In addition to curries, sauces, and soups, turmeric can be placed into beverages such as juices, smoothies, milks, and teas.
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Maple syrup or other sweetener to taste
Boil the water, and then add the turmeric and ginger. Turn the heat down to simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the tea, and add the milk and sweetener to taste. This tea is wonderful for colder nights.
What is Kombu?
Kombu is an edible kelp that is very popular is East Asia. In fact, the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans all have names for the same seaweed. Most of the kombu seaweed that you find in stores is grown in Hokkaido, Japan. It is grown on ropes in the sea.
I mistakenly thought that dried kombu seaweed can be eaten straight out of the package. Well, I tried that and it was so stiff and dry, almost not chewable. Afterwards, I learned that you are supposed to cook with it, or at least simmer it for a while first in order to be able to eat it by itself.
Green Cuisine makes a very popular kombu cake. It is a patty that brilliantly incorporates kombu. The reason kombu is so great with recipes is that it possesses the sought after umami (savoury) taste. This is due to its high glutamic acid content.
Kombu is very high in iodine, and is a good dose of fibre as well.
What to Do with Kombu
Add it to beans. Did you know that kombu can aid in the digestibility of foods such as beans? You can throw some dried kombu into a pot of cooking beans. A 6 inch strip of dried kombu should work fine. Don’t worry about it afterwards, as it tends to falls apart on its own after about an hour.
Make a vegan broth. If you want to make a delicious vegan broth, add four cups of water to a pot, and a 6 inch piece of dried kombu. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can use this as a base for miso soup, or any other soup (including ramen noodle soup).
Enhance your vegan stew. Add dried kombu to your vegetable stew for increased flavour.
Throw kombu into your favourite salad. But first, you should simmer your kombu in water until it is soft enough to eat on its own. Cut it up and toss it into a salad.
Season your food with kombu. In a frying pan, toast your dried kombu until it is crispy and can be ground up into a powder. Sprinkle this on whatever can use more flavour.
Kombu’s ultimate significance is in dashi, a soup stock that is a solid part of Japanese cuisine. Here, kombu is indispensable.
Dates. Those sweet, tender morsels you can eat as dessert. I can eat so many of them, and they are like candy. Dates have been eaten for thousands of years in the Middle East and the Indus Valley. The flowering tree from which dates come from is called the date palm, and it is in the palm family. Dates are cultivated traditionally in Iraq, Arabia, north Africa and Morocco. However, dates are also grown in southern California, Arizona, southern Florida in U.S.A., as well as in Sonora and Baja in Mexico. The medjool and deglet noor dates from our grocery stores often come from the United States.
Delicious Things to Do with Dates
You can obviously eat them one at a time. But there are lots of things you can do with these fruits as well. Here are some examples.
For a nutritious energy booster, try this recipe!
2 cups pitted dates
1 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder
2 cups water (500mL)
Soak the dates in the water for about an hour. Then, throw this mixture along with the bananas, dark cocoa powder into a blender and blend well.
You can use this paste as a natural sweetener. It can last up to three months in the refrigerator.
You will need:
2 cups of pitted dates
3/4 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Soak the dates overnight in the water. Put the mixture into a food processor, along with the salt. Mix for about 8 minutes, or until the mixture reaches a nicely smooth consistency. Store in a mason jar or an airtight container.
Date and Peanut Butter Balls
1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 10 dates)
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
Pinch of salt
Put the dates into the food processor, and process until a paste is formed. Throw in the roasted peanuts and pinch of salt. Process until smooth.
Take the mixture and shape it into balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Simple Date Smoothie
Put into blender:
1 cup of unsweetened nut milk of your choice
1 large frozen banana
4 pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend until smooth. This is great for breakfast or a quick booster.
Peanut Butter and Date Smoothie
6 deglet noor or medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup of preferred non-dairy milk
Blend until smooth. Great for breakfast or as a post-workout drink.
Dates can also be used to naturally sweeten baked goods, such as cookies, bars, and banana bread.
Agave syrup is a natural sweetener which can be found in the heavenly vegan gelatos at Green Cuisine.
Do you know where agave comes from?
What is Agave?
Agave is a succulent plant which is native to the hot, dry parts of Mexico, Southwestern United States, and South America. Of the many species of agave plants, agave tequilana and agave salmiana are among the ones that produce agave syrup. Interestingly, agave tequilana is also the plant from which tequila is produced. Tequila is made from the fermentation of fructose and glucose present in the sweet sap of this plant.
Agave syrup is composed primarily of fructose and some glucose, and is 1.6 times sweeter than sugar. Therefore, you don’t need very much of it in order to sweeten something. It can substitute sugar and honey, and is vegan and gluten-free.
How Agave Syrup is Produced
The inside of the agave plant contains a sap which is naturally sweet. This sap is extracted from the plant, filtered, and heated at low temperature. This heating process converts the carbohydrates into fructose and glucose. There is naturally a higher amount of fructose than there is that of glucose. The final result is the concentrated, sweet syrup we know as agave syrup.
How to Use Agave
Agave syrup can dissolve easily in cold and hot beverages, so you can use it to sweeten chilled tea, alcoholic drinks like daiquiris, hot tea, and hot chocolate. Instead of sugar, you can use some agave for your muffins, cookies, pies and cakes. Instead of honey, you can put agave on your pancakes and French toast. And of course, when you make your vegan ice cream, regardless of whether your ice cream is composed of coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, avocados, or a combination, you either can use agave as the main sweetener, or blend in some fruit juices as well.
For white sugar, 1 cup of sugar is approximately 2/3 cup of agave. Because agave is liquid, you will have more total liquid in your recipe unless you reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
For brown sugar, 1 cup of sugar is approximately 2/3 cup of agave, but you should reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by 2 tablespoons.
Like all sweeteners, especially ones that contain calories, agave nectar should be consumed in limited amounts. It is definitely an excellent, bee-friendly, vegan substitute for honey.