Archive for the ‘The Basics’ Category

Did I mention I’m in love with an immersion blender?

Just wanted to leave some comments about the following post!

After Gregarious Greens was given an immersion blender as a gift, I decided to get one myself! And so here’s my update: It’s amazing!!

I’ve used the small food processor attachment to make sauces, marinades and chop things for veg burgers. Today I used the measuring cup and blending wand, sceptically I might add, to make smoothies  and was very pleasantly surprised and impressed. I thought for sure my kitchen was going to end up with smoothie plastered everywhere- I mean, its an open cup and a spinning blade on a stick! So, I cleared the space, held my breath and hit the button! In a matter of seconds I had a delicious smoothie and a still clean kitchen 😉  … I think the vent cuts on the end of the wand make it act as a sort of vacuum and it works so well!

I’m a bit of a no fuss person in the kitchen so I’ve actually substituted this immersion blender for a blender and food processor! You may still find you need those two other things, but so far this has been doing the trick for me.

And… just in case you were curious, today’s smoothie had:   1/2 ripe avocado, 1/2 frozen banana, few tablespoons of yogurt, almond milk as needed, nutmeg and 2 pitted dates.

The Basics of Homemade Veggie Broth

I’m sure that this trick is as old as time, but we just started doing it so we thought we would pass it along.

As a vegetarian we eat a lot of veg, and ended up throwing out a lot of ends of veg; things like the tops and bottoms of onions, tops and peels of carrots, ends of celery sticks, asparagus, broccoli. Almost anything you are putting down your garburator, or that’s edible and going into your garbage. If you compost, you can still do that when you are done with it! Instead of throwing out these odds and ends keep them in a container or bag until the end of the week, or you can freeze them and save for later if you can’t accumulate enough before things go bad. It takes us about 1-2 weeks to get enough veg to make about 10 cups of broth. Its hard to say how much veg exactly you need to have, but generally have enough to be just covered by the water.

To add flavour to the stock you can add a number of things. Most commonly we use the following:

  • 5-10 bay leaves
  • A palm-ful of black peppercorns
  • 1-2 Tbsp of salt (You can also go salt free, but it will be fairly bland)
  • A palm-ful of cumin seeds
  • any leftover herbs from the week
  • a couple whole garlic cloves

When you’ve simmered it all for a while and achieved some tasty broth, strain it to separate the liquid. Now you use it in recipes for the week or freeze it! You can even make your own broth cubes: continue to simmer just the liquid of the broth until it reduces a little then pour into ice cube trays!

~ Gregarious Greens & Lavish Legumes

Immersion Blender

Hey folks, sorry for the long no posting period. We went through moves to new houses and have been settling. We are hoping to have new posts on a more regular basis.

During this period I celebrated my birthday. One of the wonderful gifts that I received was an immersion blender. I have used it a few times now and I love it.

The main use that I have for it is for soup. If you look back at some of the soup posts on the blog you will notice that I mention pulsing the broth in a blender or food processor until smooth. This is great, but it can be hard to blend everything in the pot and creates quite the mess. Well no more! I simply place the immersion blender into the soup broth, pulse for 30 seconds and I have a smooth broth with little to no mess. I don’t have to clean the food processor or blender containers anymore! Immersion blenders run a range of prices but I am led to believe that the one that I received was well priced and it works great for me.

I got a cuisinart immersion blender. It also comes with a few other attachments such as a whisk and a mini food processor for quickly chopping small batches of veg that I have yet to use.

Do you have an immersion blender or thoughts on them? Let us know in the comments below.

Burger and Fries

Nothing beats a burger and fries. When we first went Veg we used to eat the soy burgers with oven fries all the time. Since then we have found a few recipes that are good and easy to make to replace the store-bought soy paddies. The nice thing about these paddies is that they are made from things that don’t go bad so they can be made without having to go shopping.

These are from the book “The Thrive Diet” which I would recommend getting as it has lots of recipes that are quick and nutritious.

For these you can use any nut you have around. You can change the herb and spices; just try to keep the wet to dry ratio the same so that they form nice patties.

They have basically the same instructions. Put everything into a food processor and then form into paddies. They can be eaten raw or you can heat them in a frying pan or they would be great on the BBQ. Makes 2 paddies.

Almond flaxseed

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed (coffee grinder works great to grind them)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic
  • 2 tbsp oil (EFA or olive is best)
  • A pinch of salt

Walnut Hemp

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp apple cinder vinegar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • A pinch of salt

You can see the similarities between the 2 recipes. The flavour combos are endless. You can use half a cup of 2 different types of nuts, mix it up with the seeds, dig deep in the cupboards and find some fun vinegar. Fresh herbs like dill would make for a nice fresh paddy.

Garlic Oregano Yam Oven Fries

  • 2 medium yams- peeled and cut into fry shapes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • ½ tbsp basil
  • 1 ½ tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Toss everything and put it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300F for about 35 minutes. If you are BBQ’ing you can tinfoil wrap them and throw them on.

UPDATE – I recently tried freezing the burger before cooking them and it works great! I pressed them into paddies and then placed wax paper between each one and put them into a ziplock. works great for lunch and for evenings when you don’t feel like making supper.

Mustard

I think that mustard is one of the most underrated condiments in the fridge. I grew up on Dutch mustard; seedy, rich and delicious. Of course, I also grew up on French’s a-little-too-yellow mustard. I think this is the staple mustard in most homes. That squirt lid that always forms that little hard piece. I am here to tell you that this is not actually mustard.

Mustard comes in a wide array of shapes, sizes and flavours. In my fridge there are frequently at least 3 different mustards open, from the basic mustard to red pepper and curry to amazing beer mustard or even horseradish mustard when you want a bit of kick.

Most grocery stores now have a wide array of available mustards. I have found that farmers markets are a great place to find locally produced, unique, and delicious mustards. The last batch of mustard that I received came in mason jars from the Calgary Farmers Market and I haven’t found much that can beat them in terms of flavour.

Next time you’re out grab and new mustard and enjoy!

Salad Basics

The secret to a great salad is the dressing that you use and the lettuce. Iceberg lettuce will make for a dull salad no matter what you put on it. Romaine is ok, but I think we can do better. In the summer farmers markets are a great place to find quality and interesting lettuce. In the winter we buy containers of mixed greens at the grocery store. Spinach is also a great choice as is a source of iron. The vitamin C from the lemon juice in salad dressing helps you digest the iron making them a perfect match.

The classic salad of cucumbers and tomatoes is also a bit boring, not that these aren’t welcome in our salads. Nuts and seeds work great and help liven up any salad while providing great nutritional value. Almonds and pumpkin seeds are often found in our salads.

We have also had a lot of fun with what we call ‘hot salads.’ These are what they sound like. We will heat up some veg, roasted of fried, left over rice and beans, or anything yummy in your fridge, and will put it over the salad with the dressing. This transforms a boring side salad into something that can be eaten as a main and leaves us feeling satisfied.

Salad dressing basics

Store bought salad dressing can help make for an easy dinner, but making your own can be far better, and more nutritious! Even the best store-bought dressings can be plagued with low quality oils, artificial flavours and a myriad of ingredients that cannot be pronounced. There is no reason to use these dressings as a basic homemade one can taste fresh and delicious.

Basic Dressing

  • 1 part lemon juice (from lemon or we keep a bottle of lemon juice on hand)
  • 3 parts oil (We usually use Extra Virgin Olive oil, but I have recently also been incorporating EFA oil blends as well as there are a good source of omega fatty acids)
  • A bit of mustard (delicious mustards add a great flavour and are a binding agent so the dressing doesn’t separate as quickly)
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

Shake it up in a container and taste it, make any adjustments that may be needed and we have a quick easy dressing!

From this base we can flavour the salad to match the meal.

If we are eating Mexican style food then a bit of cumin and some hot sauce will zip up your salad. You can replace the lemon juice with lime juice for an extra kick.

One of our favourites is balsamic and sherry wine vinegar.

A bit of tahini(usually found next to the peanut butter in the grocery store) makes a more creamy dressing.

Some chopped up garlic is always welcome in our salad dressings.

Some dill and a bit of honey will make for a sweeter, summer time dressing.

See salad basics