Author Archives: Ileanna

About Ileanna

I am a young student studying contemporary dance in Montreal, Canada. I'm exploring the realm of vegan food to fuel my body and my art!

Raw Cherry Cheesecake

CSC_0565I’m proud of this one.

But first, I apologize for my unannounced hiatus. I had the worst semester, if not year of school and going back to see my parents, sister, and friends has meant no time to sit and plan a blog post (let alone relax). I’ve been cooking an excessive amount for my parents but considering it’s “summer” (we are still having days of 11 degrees…) it’s always simple and full of fresh garden veggies and herbs.

Recently, my pa and I took a roadtrip into the mountains and we ended up stretching a bit and going into southern British Columbia. The purpose of pushing eight hours (and more) of driving into BC was the fact that THE CHERRIES WERE ALL PERFECTLY RIPE. Yes. We were in southern BC for cherry season. I was eating cherries that were still growing (straight from the tree and into my mouth). It was amazing. Unfortunately we don’t know precicely what species of cherries we got (probably some Bing Cherries, some Sweet Cherries, some Rainier, maybe some Lapins or Namare?), but we must have brought back 10 to 15 pounds of cherries. I mean, HOW COULD WE RESIST?

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Regardless, here is a raw vegan cherry cheesecake I made with some of those amazing fruits.

RAW CHERRY CHEESECAKE: (makes 1 9inch spring form pan)

-CRUST:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 6 medjool dates, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup cherried, pitted and chopped

Method:

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a large crumb forms. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Press into the bottom of a 9inch spring form pan. Top with 1/3 cup chopped cherries and let set in freezer for 2 hours.

– CHERRY FILLING:

  • 3 cups young coconut flesh (I used 3 young coconuts)
  • 3 heaping cups cherries, pitted
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 avocado
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

Add everything into the bowl of a food processor and blend until very smooth; scrape the sides down every few minutes. (It took about 6 minutes of blending to get it to my desired texture) Pour on top of the set crust and allow it to set in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.

Garnish with cherries, cacao nibs, almonds and coconut.

Allow the cake to thaw for about 5 – 10 minutes before serving!

Creamy Curry Soup

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So. While I like to think I’m an efficient human being who gets her stuff done (and done well), I admit that lately I’ve been slacking. Okay… not slacking but just… not doing anything. Showtime is upon me, which means the end of school (THANK ALL THE DEITIES!), and time feels non-existent. Everyday seems to slip by and I feel like I’ve achieved NOTHING. That being said, at least I JUST completed the second year of my program and SUMMER IS UPON US. So here is a warming soup…

This soup, creamy due to the roasted eggplant, is best served slightly warm, in my opinion. It’s earthy and spicy and crazy refreshing. Not to mention there are SO few ingredients it’s a snap to whip up. I had leftovers over a bowl of amaranth one day, and the next I dipped crackers into it – both were awesome.

CREAMY CURRY SOUP (serves 4)

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder of choice
  • 2 cups water (or milk alternative)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped, to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat the eggplant rounds in the grapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 8 minutes, until they are golden and quite mushy. Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes. Remove the skin with a knife (it should peel off easily if it roasted long enough)

In a blender, blend the roasted eggplant, shallot, curry, water (or milk alternative) and salt and pepper. Divide the blended soup into four bowl, do a final test for salt and pepper levels, garnish with cilantro and mushrooms, and serve!

Balsamic Marinated Tempeh Steaks

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WOO! IT’S NOT A SALAD. It’s simple tempeh steaks that are marinated overnight and provide a big punch of flavour to the meal. I don’t have much else to say. It’s easy. If you don’t know what tempeh is, it’s soy based. However it’s not as processed as tofu. Here’s some info if you want to know more!

I recommend marinating the tempeh steaks in a large and flat container, but for lack of space, I used a narrow and tall container which worked well. The marinade filled up the majority of the container so the steaks were nicely saturated.

BALSAMIC MARINATED TEMPEH STEAKS (makes 16 small steaks – serves 4)

  • 1 350g package of plain Tempeh
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons¬†olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Method:

Slice the tempeh into 16 equal sized slices.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients for the marinade. In a large, and flat tupperware containter or a cookie sheet, pour in about 1/3 of the marinade. Place the tempeh steaks in the marinade, trying to make as few layers as possible. Slowly pour over the remaining 2/3 of marinade to soak all the tempeh.

Cover and place in fridge for at least one hour, or better yet, overnight. Remove from fridge before serving – best served at room temperature.

Beet Salad with Simple Miso Dressing

DSC_0668 Please don’t hate me because my last three posts have been salads. I’ve to realize that when I come home after class, extravagance is not a thing. Efficiency and simplicity is what I’m all about these days. Another things I’ve noticed about myself is that my diet is hugely raw. Yes, I eat cooked grains and sometimes make roasted yam fries, but otherwise, my cooking is kept to a minimal (mostly because of the time). This salad is a prime example: shredded raw beets! Of course, you could shred them and roast them for a while (with a bit of oil and salt and pepper)to tenderize them, but here, I love the earthy AND crispy texture they give. Add a simple miso dressing and BAM, I got a salad for the ages. With this I had a fieldroast sausage, and a plain piece of toast (I’m not lying when I say I’m really into simplicity these days – I crave plain slices of toast). I simply ADORE Silver Hill’s Squirrely bread. Silver Hills Bakery makes awesome bread; they are vegan and packed full of goodness (and freakishly delicious).

I really love the white miso paste (which is the mildest) mixed with the balsamic vinegar; it’s a great combo of earthy and acidity. If you don’t know what miso is… I really couldn’t give you a good education on it… Basically there are A TON of different types of miso. It’s fermented. Yeah… Here’s a link to some info on miso!

By now, I’m positive you know the basics of how I make my salads, but here is the recipe regardless.

BEET SALAD WITH SIMPLE MISO DRESSING (serves two big bellies)

  • 2 cups raw beets, shredded (I used three medium sized beets)
  • 2 cups greens, chopped (I used kale)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • nuts or seed of choice for garnish (sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc)

Method:

Shred the beets on a mandoline or box grater and place into a large bowl. Add the greens, parsley, mushrooms, and onion to the bowl and mix.

In a small bowl combine the miso paste, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. If it’s really thick, add more olive oil or a bit of water. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to coat.

Divide into two bowls and enjoy!

Amaranth Dill Salad

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I am a lazy lout. All I eat are giant one bowl meals/everything salads. That’s what the end of the semester does to me! As of today, it is exactly four weeks until go back to my parent’s to spend my 1.5 month summer vacation… sigh. It’s been a stupid year and I’m excited for my final performances in three weeks, BUT, I made a cool salad.

From what I can tell, amaranth is a fairly uncommon grain to cook with. It’s quite high in protein as well as iron. I adore the super earthy taste, and how it gets kind of gel-like when it’s cooked (A similar consistency to cream of wheat). The earthy flavour of the amaranth was awesome with the fennel and dill. And of course I loaded it with kale, cilantro, green onions, and lemon juice. I also topped it with a handful of pumpkin seeds and a hemp seeds. It rocked. It was also amazing because it held up for nearly 6 hours out of the fridge! Therefore, I recommend making a big batch and saving some for left overs/the next day. OR it’d be a perfect dish to take on a picnic… because it’s apparently spring…

AMARANTH DILL SALAD: (serves two)

  • 2/3 cup dried amaranth
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, shredded
  • 3 cups kale, or greenery of choice
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a medium saucepan, with the lid on, bring the amaranth and the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. Check it every 5-ish minutes after 15 minutes of cooking to ensure it doesn’t burn, and add more water (by the tablespoon), if necessary. Remove from heat, and let steam with the lid on for 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the shredded fennel, chopped greens, herbs, and green onion. Add the amaranth. Pour over the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Add a final shake of salt and pepper (salt is especially good here), and serve warm or cold!

Mushroom Lentil Salad

DSC_0413 Classic me. Lentil salad… SIGH. Whatever, it was still freaking amazing. To keep it short, this salad has greens, fresh cilantro, french lentils, sauteed mushrooms and onions and garlic, green onion, and dried basil. Bam. Simple, and filling and so hearty in flavour. For two meals worth, I fried up two large portabello mushrooms and it was the perfect amount. ALSO, I overheard from a chef that you’re not supposed to sautee mushrooms with salt because it makes them watery (you add the salt at the end). I tried this method and HOLY, it really brought out the flavour of the mushrooms and they didn’t get all watery when I cooked them! It was awesome.

I LOVE MUSHROOMS. They are a vegan’s steak. Am I right? My parents recently sent me a picture of their portabello mushroom burgers. Which were fried mushroom caps in a lettuce “bun” (with various fixings). Mushrooms are not only healthy as… really healthy things… they’re also tasty, versatile, and come in a huge variety. White button and crimini (look like brown button) are by far the most common and accessible. There’s also shiitake, porcini and oyster are also fairly common. Then there are the more “exotic” types such as king, enoki, chanterelle, and morel. Here’s a link to a super basic overview of some of mushroom’s health benefits, and here’s one more for safe measure (this second one is a bit more in depth).

Of course there is a plethora of information out there in books and web pages and humans about the amazing powers of mushrooms (even the magic ones!), but I want to give you my take. Mushrooms are great raw and cooked (sauteed, fried, roasted, grilled… anything). They’re also super simple to fix up, just cut, oil and cook. If I have time, I love to roast them with a bit of balsalmic vinegar. Ahhhhhhh. Yis. AND their meaty, chewy texture is sure to never make me crave meat (except ribs. I’ll admit that sometimes I miss big saucy ribs… maybe slathering a ton of mushrooms with rib sauce…). I’ve always wanted to try making these chickpea¬†crepes stuffed with smoky and herbed mushrooms. Or these mushroom-sunflower seed “meatballs”. MUSHROOM LENTIL SALAD (serves two):

  • 1 cup cooked french lentils (cooked from about 2/3 cup dried)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot (or white onion)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large portabello caps, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups greens (I used a Spring Green Mix, but spinach or kale would rock)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly ripped
  • 1 green onion/scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and peper to taste

Method:

Cook the lentils and set aside to cool. Here is a link to how to cook lentils if you don’t know how (just follow the 1 cup lentil to 2 cups water rule and cook for about 20 mins).

In a thick bottomed fry-pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Add the chopped portabello caps and cook for an additional 8 minutes until they’ve browned and softened. Remove the mushrooms from the heat and allow to cool for five to ten minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the greens, cilantro, scallions, cooked lentils, mushrooms and mix. Add the dried basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the salad between two plates/bowls and serve while the mushrooms are still slightly warm. Add any extra salt or pepper as needed.

There you go! Simple and rich. Much light and love.

Raw Caramel

DSC_0708 I feel like raw caramel is a bit of a trendy thing to do these days (I’ve seen about ten million recipes for it… I feel like even Lauren Conrad has one…). BUT I DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT TASTES LIKE SUMMER AND ALL THINGS GOOD. I love caramel. Specifically I love caramel apples. When my sister lived in Vancouver I would always demand to buy a caramel apple from Granville Island… I even forced her to fly one home on a few occasions… All that to say caramel has a special place in my heart.

The best part about this caramel is that there’s no boiling of cups and cups of white sugar! Or maybe the best part is that it tastes awesome… regardless, it’s super easy and made for a wonderful afternoon snack with some cut up apple. The main reason this is considered “raw” is because I used raw almond butter. Of course you can use any nut butter you want, and it can be roasted or salted if that’s what you have (I imagine this to be good with cashew butter).

As you can see in the picture, I had this caramel with apple slices (an organic Pink Lady apple, if you were curious). I imagine it’d be awesome with any other fruit, with chocolate, on toast with jam, in oatmeal or chia pudding in the morning. As I mentioned, it’s refined sugar free… therefore it’s the best kind of snack for any moment in the day.

RAW CARAMEL: (Makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1/3 cups dates, pitted and soaked for 4 hours in water (reserve the soaking water*)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons raw nut butter of choice** (I used almond)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Method:

In food processor, or a high speed blender (I used my handy little magic bullet), blend the soaked and pitted dates, nut butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the dates’ soaking water. If it’s too thick, add more of the soaking water.

Notes:*Instead of using the soaking water from the dates, you could alternatively use almond milk. **I’ve seen many recipes that use nut butter AND coconut oil. I imagine that’d be awesome and make it SUPER creamy… as always: feel free to play around!

 

Much love and peace in these stressful days of end-of-semester-madness.