Charred Brussels Sprouts with Shallot and Garlic

I am a big fan of brussels sprouts, but I am amazed how many people don\’t like them. I can only imagine this is because of too many mushy overcooked experiences as a child. However, I find that even the doubters will turn around after smelling these cooking away in the oven.

The key to getting these perfect is not to overcook them and to get just a little bit of char on the sprouts. I think these are wonderful as a side dish, but I particularly like them served over pasta with a squeeze of lemon.

Ingredients


4-5 cups of Brussels Sprouts, hard end cut off and then cut in half.

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Shallot, peeled and sliced thinly.
4 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and sliced thinly.
Salt and Black Pepper

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and preparing your sprouts. Put the sprouts into a Pyrex oven proof dish, which is large enough that they can lie in one layer. Add olive oil, shallots. garlic and toss, and then add salt and black pepper. Put into the oven and bake for at least 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.


Serve as a side dish or over pasta. If you choose to serve them over pasta, then I think they are great with a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of chili flakes and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Maple Sweet Potato Pie

I had this maple sugar hanging around in the cupboard. I had bought it to make some Mennonite cookies and it just never happened so I decided to figure out how to use it and I thought that maple sugar and sweet potatoes sounded like a great combination and they were indeed. 

The maple sugar can be ordered online at the King Arthur Flour website, if you can\’t find it locally. Its worth worth the extra effort and cost to find it. 

Ingredients

4 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (About two med/large)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup Maple Sugar

2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Earth Balance Spread or butter
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated

1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Sweetened Coconut – Optional, but very yummy. 


Boil the sweet potatoes in salted water until they slip off a knife when skewered 

In a mixer, combine the cooked sweet potato, coconut milk, Earth Balance, vanilla extract, maple sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Mix until smooth. Fold in the coconut at the end if desired.

Pour it into your pie crust and put into a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is browning on the edges. Remove and let it cool completely before serving.

My Favorite Vegan Must Haves

I get this question from non vegans quite frequently, \”What do you eat?\” So, after many requests, I thought posting some of my favorite vegan \”must haves\” would be helpful.

I don\’t think that you can expect to have vegan products that taste exactly like non vegan, but that\’s not really the point. Bottom line, do they taste good? All of these products certainly do.


Often I hear from people that they can\’t find these products locally. Firstly, start by asking for them at your local store and they will often order them and start stocking them. Secondly, find a place that might be a bit of a further drive and stock up. 


You can find most of these products at Whole Foods and most Von\’s and Kroger locations in the US. Sadly, Daiya is not yet available in the UK, but they are actively looking for a partner, so fingers crossed.

For many people, cheese is the most difficult food to transition, and honestly I loved my cheese too, so it was initially a big concern for me. The key is to have realistic expectations and just experiment. Here are my vegan cheese must haves.


Daiya – Hands down, this is the best cheese substitute out there and they make many other great products. My absolute must have is the Cheddar. They also make Mozzarella and Pepper Jack. This melts like real cheese and makes killer nachos and quesadillas. I have found that it tastes much better when it is melted.

Go Veggie – While I am not a big fan of their cheese slices or their shredded cheese, but they do make a very good Parmesan cheese substitute. This one is amazing. You do not need a lot, to get a bold parmesan taste. With these two cheese substitutes in my refrigerator, I can make Italian, Mexican and most any sort of cheese based dish. It\’s worth noting that Go Veggie have a new package, so it might look quite different.


Meat Substitutes – I am a big fan of Boca, Beyond Meat and Gardein products. Note, Boca makes a lot of products and while they are all vegetarian, they are not all vegan. Garden and Beyond Meat are all 100% vegan.





Lastly, I love the Beyond Meat Crumbles which can be used wherever you would use ground beef and they also make fantastic soft tacos, chili and spaghetti sauce.


Butter Substitutes – Earth Balance. I have tried them all, but for me this is the very best and it can be use for all recipes, toast or really anytime you need butter. They also make it in sticks for easier baking and they have many other wonderful products. Check out their website.


Mayonnaise/Dressing – There are two top brands. They are Vegenaise and Just Mayo. Both are very good for making salads, on sandwiches and often people who say they don\’t like normal mayo, actually like these brands. I do find that Just Mayo seems to stay emulsified better than Vegenaise, but it is a bit more pricey.

Quick Meals – I always have some soup in my desk and at home for quick meals. I have never found anything better than Dr McDougall\’s soups. They are low in calories and really good. They are a great quick meal and good for you. I like all the flavors but the Vegan Pad Thai and Hot and Sour Soup are special favorites. You can get them online and at most retailers.


So, if you look in my refrigerator/freezer and pantry, you will always find these products along with:

Broccoli

Bananas
Berries
Apples
Red Peppers
Onions
Green Onions
Garlic
Ginger Root
Spices and fresh Herbs
Vegetable Oil- Remember to keep it in the fridge.
Olive Oil
Soy Milk
All sorts of nuts, perfect snack food.
Frozen Corn and Peas- Great for making chili, risotto, soft tacos and corn lime chili soft tacos.
Fresh Salad Greens
Corn Tortillas
Whole Grain Bread
Peanut Butter
Pasta
Potatoes
Mung Beans and Lentils
Canned Black and Pinto Beans
Canned Tomatoes

With these products you can eat very well and get healthy too. 
 Enjoy and eat well.


How to store bananas? Problem solved – UPDATED

I don\’t know about all of you, but over the years I have thrown away a lot of bananas that have gone overripe and its always bothered me. Such a waste of food, and you can only freeze so many. I mean how much banana bread can one person eat? So, what to do?

I decided to do some research and after reading too many long winded scientific explanations. Yes, people have spent a lot of time on this subject. I realized that most of the suggestions were far too much work, like wrap each banana individually and use a banana hanger and increase the airflow, keep away from other fruit etc.


I came up with what seemed to be a simple solution and I am happy to say, it works very well, and I have pics to prove it. 


Apparently, its all about blocking the uptake of ethylene to the bananas, and there is a simple way to do it. The pics below show the bananas after 4 days and they have not ripened one bit more than when I bought them.


Step 1- Wrap the base of the banana with plastic wrap/cling wrap.

Step Two – Wrap an elastic/rubber band around the plastic wrap to secure it.

When you want to use a banana, just remove the wrap and take off a banana and re-wrap. This is important. If you cut one off, then you create a spot for the ethylene to uptake.

I mean how easy is that?  I will update after a few more days and compare, but 4 days is good for me, as I was losing bananas in 2-3 days.


Update: Here they are after 5 days sitting on the counter. Minimal difference from the original pic and they are still firm and slightly green on the ends. Works for me.