Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

I learned in a Raw Cooking Class with Meghan Telpner that if you simply whir cauliflower in your food processor you end up with a grain-like consistency. It’s actually very cool and tastes remarkably like rice. And it has the added benefit of featuring a cruciferous veggie that is often overlooked but comes loaded with antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory properties.

cauliflower rice

In a continued effort to not turn on my stove during our current heat wave, I thought this was the perfect time to experiment with more raw foods and thus this salad was conceived. My husband and I both enjoyed it but the kids only ate a small amount and found it a bit too tangy with all of the lemon juice. I might actually hold off with the lemon the next time I make it and let the kids control how much they put into their own servings.

The easiest way to prepare this rice is to use the “S” blade on your food processor or you can simply grate the cauliflower with a hand grater. If it is over processed it will become watery and mushy so be sure to pulse the florets slowly in your processor. Oh and word of warning – raw cauliflower may make you a bit gassy so don’t overindulge in your first sitting unless you are prepared to blow your family off the couch later in the evening if you know what I mean ; )

Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 pepper (the colour of your choice), chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
12-15 black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Break cauliflower into pieces and pulse in a food processor using an “S” blade until you achieve a rice-like consistency. Work in batches so that you don’t overload the processor and end up with big chunks- you want it all to be even and fine. Place the finished “rice” into a large bowl.

Stir in cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, olives, cilantro and basil. Add oil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve cold.

Enjoy!

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Billy Bob’s Fresh Pasta Sauce

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and although my dad was a very involved parent, my mom definitely did all of the cooking. And judging by most of my friends I think that is pretty much the norm for many men of my dads age…..and more than a few men today (yes I’m talking to you Mark).

So it never ceases to amaze me when I come upon a guy of my dad’s generation who can actually cook. My parent’s friend Bill is not only a brilliant chef but he is also a passionate lover of food, a great cooking teacher and an all round super guy. This is a man who will excitedly chat about his technique for “chiffonading” basil, is more than happy to share his homemade jam and relish and has been known to host a men’s only cooking class in his cottage kitchen for his biking buddies. Impressive!
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Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil & Toasted Almonds- Plus 4 Shout Outs

When our family switched to a more plant-based diet I had to rethink mealtime. When I could no longer plan my dinners around a centerpiece of meat, I had to get creative and learn about other satisfying options and healthy sources of protein. Trust me this took some adjusting, many spectacular flops and more than a few bags of Yves “Veggie” Nuggets before I had a repertoire of family friendly selections.

Once the warmer weather hits, I like to have the ingredients on hand to whip up salads for dinner that are light and refreshing but also pack a punch nutritionally for my active family. This quinoa dish is yummy and loaded with healthy protein, fresh veggies, herbs and nuts and is perfect for a pre-soccer game meal. I served this alongside a crisp green salad and a sliced baguette and everyone seemed to enjoy it (including the toddler who I passed the quinoa off on as rice).

Try this one out on your family- even as a side dish to see how it goes over. I find by serving up different foods and making sure to appreciate my children for their openness to trying new things (before they’ve even put a taste in their mouths) seems to make them feel proud of themselves and increases the likelihood that they will at least eat of bite or two of my latest creation. But you may want to keep a bag of veggie nuggets in the freezer just in case!

Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil & Toasted Almonds

quinoa salad 1

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
3 mini cucumbers, finely diced
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp. tamari
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, shaking a couple of times to prevent burning. Cool and then slice or chop using a sharp knife.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil. Rinse quinoa 2-3 times under cold running water and then add to the water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. Add quinoa and nuts and toss to combine. Toss with tamari, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
Enjoy!

*BONUS– 4 Shout Outs

Don’t you just love good customer service?! I’ve had a few amazing experiences lately that I wanted to share:

1. My youngest somehow managed to crack my iPhone OtterBox. When I went to a local electronics store to buy a new one, the salesman informed me that these cases have a lifetime warranty and that if I contacted the company they would send me a new one for free. I wasn’t 100% convinced this would actually happen but sure enough after forwarding a picture of my broken case along with the serial number, I received a brand-spanking new Otterbox in the mail within 3 days. Awesome!

otter box

2. On my recent trip to NYC, I bought a fabulous new yoga top at lulu lemon that I was dying to wear to class. But when I went to put it on I realized that I had purchased the wrong size. Damn! I’d already thrown out the receipt but I thought I’d bring it back to a local lulu lemon to check about the possibility of trading it in. They were only too happy to accommodate and quickly did a return for my NY shirt and made sure I left with the right size. Woohoo!

lulu lemon

3. I was driving through a local Starbucks this week and noticed a new offering- “Zesty Black Bean and Quinoa Wrap”. At least in my area, this is the first vegan option on their food menu and I think that is totally amazing. Way to go Starbucks! Now if I could just get them using almond milk in their green tea lattes……

startbucks wrap

4. Our iPad takes a lot of abuse and inevitably the sticky fingers, being toted all over the place and the relentless hammering on the screen during game play results in problems with how the poor thing runs. Recently we couldn’t get it to work at all so I headed off to our local Apple store to see if it could be resuscitated. When I walked in (accompanied by my little guy in the stroller) I was disheartened to see that the store was absolutely packed with customers. Of course my son picked that instant to start freaking out and I felt the uncontrollable urge to burst into tears. However, within seconds a lovely customer service associate approached and asked if he could help me out. He said he was a dad himself and he saw the “I-might-lose-it-at-any-moment” look in my eyes. In less than 5 minutes he had our iPad cleaned up and running perfectly – and he didn’t charge me a cent! Incredible!

apple store

In each case, I went straight home and fired off an email to the respective head offices complimenting the company on exemplary customer service. As quick as most of us are to complain about mistreatment and minor injustices, I think it’s equally important to recognize when people go above and beyond to treat their customers with kindness, compassion and generosity. Thanks so much to OtterBox, lulu lemon, Starbucks and Apple.

Have you experienced good customer service lately? Share your story in the comments!

Colourful Quinoa Casserole

When I decided to adopt a more plant-based diet, the very first cookbook I bought was Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. You can easily tell that I adore this book because I have probably made every recipe at least once (and many dozens of times) and my copy is completely dog eared and covered in food stains. I highly recommend it and Dreena’s other books because it she is not only a fantastic chef but also the mother of three young children so she offers up a bounty of food you can make at home that is both yummy and family friendly.

eat, drink and be vegan

This casserole is a particular favourite because it is hearty, delicious, easy to make and is perfect for my cleanse. It really packs a punch nutritionally with the combination of quinoa, veggies, nuts and fresh basil and it’s a great filling dinner for the whole family. Well the whole family minus the toddler who quickly told me he “hates this supper!” Don’t listen to him though – he hates most things these days. Give this one a try and I’m willing to bet you’ll love it. You can also serve it cold as a salad over greens, in a wrap with hummus or quickly fry up the leftovers in a bit of olive oil for different variations.

And hold on just a minute before you delete this because of the long list of ingredients (yes I’m talking to you Jessica and Nancy ; ) It’s actually super easy because you just pop almost everything in a casserole dish and slide it into the oven to bake. You can do it girls!

Colourful Quinoa Casserole (adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton)

colourful quinoa 1

1 1/4 cups uncooked quinoa (rinsed and drained 3 times)
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 15 oz can of mixed beans (rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups fennel bulb, julienned
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup of thinly sliced zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp allspice
1 dried bay leaf
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted – I just toast them in a small saucepan over med heat until lightly browned)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)

Preheat oven to 400. Oil a deep casserole dish with olive oil. Combine all ingredients (except for pine nuts, fresh basil, lemon juice and olive oil for finishing) and stir to mix well. Cover and bake for an hour, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked and has absorbed all liquid. Remove from oven and stir in lemon juice, basil and pine nuts. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. To serve, drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!

colourful quinoa 2

*I also have to add a “Woohoo” moment from last week. Kathy Freston – author of Quantum Wellness and the creator of the cleanse I am currently doing- sent out a tweet about me! What a thrill to get a shout out from one of my mentors. Thanks Kathy!

Luv that Lori is doing the cleanse https://lorileighwilson.com/2013/03/29/a-kathy-freston-spring-cleanse/ … Posting it in The Daily Lean fb chatroom if u want to join community