In honour of Veganuary, Collard Veggie Wraps

For those trying out plant-based eating for Veganuary, here’s a quick and easy whole-food plant-based lunch – no tortilla required! Loaded with fibre and phytonutrients to help prevent disease and promote good health.

The trick for healthy eating is to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. When the urge strikes, you open your fridge and feel virtuous and inspired and have enough ingredients to make colourful and healthy meals and snacks.

1) Wash two large collard green leaves, dry and cut off the thickest part of the stem beneath the leafy part. Lay these flat.
2) Smooth about 1 tbsp hummus on the light green portion of each leaf as the base
3) Next layer a little arugula (or spring mix or chopped lettuce) on each leaf
4) Top with your favourite sliced vegetables. Here I’ve used red cabbage, red and orange grape tomatoes, green onion and sliced cucumber. Other options might be bell pepper strips, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts or slices of avocado.
5) If you enjoy them, sprinkle some fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro on top
6) Fold short edges, and roll up the leaves into a wrap. Then cut each roll in half and enjoy!

Note, if you overstuff your collard leaves and can’t roll them, just fold as best you can and eat taco-style…over a plate…with a few napkins handy. They can be messy, but delicious!

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

From Texas Caviar to Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas are the star of the show this time of year . It is said that eating these little beauties on New Year’s Day will bring much prosperity for the year ahead and if you add tomatoes, good health too.  Add collard greens (to represent the almighty dollar) and your financial future is set!

As superstitions go, this isn’t a bad one as black-eyed peas and collard greens are both nutrient-dense foods.

One cup of black-eyed peas has: 160 calories, 8.2 g of fibre, 5.2 g of protein and 263 mcg of folate, 53% of your daily required amount. All that fibre acts like a little toothbrush through the colon – most people don’t get enough.

One cup of cooked collard greens has only 49 calories, 5 g of fibre and 4 g of protein. It is extremely high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, plus a host of other nutrients. Collards are from the Brassica family, related to cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These cruciferous veggies have sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates which may reduce cancer risk.

Get all of that goodness inside of you with this spicy Creole-inspired dish. It’s a perfect food any day in January! 

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Garlicky Collard Greens

A perfect New Year's Day dish, guaranteed to bring you good health and prosperity throughout the year! Black-eyed peas in a spicy tomato broth, served with collard greens lightly sautéed with garlic.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Creole

Ingredients
  

  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas rinsed and soaked overnight (8-10 hours)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes fire-roasted preferred, but regular are fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce optional

For the Collard Greens

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

Instructions
 

  • Heat a 5L/5QT pot to medium-high. Add a little water to the pot and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until the peas are soft. At that point add the liquid smoke, starting with 1/4 tsp (as it is pretty potent and can destroy the dish if too much is added). Cook an additional few minutes and serve, hot.

For the Collard Greens

  • Remove and discard stems and centre ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. 
  • Heat 12" skillet to Medium-High
  • Add 1 tbsp of water (or broth, if using) plus the garlic to the pan, stirring for just a few seconds. Add the chopped collards, cherry tomatoes and remaining water to pan, gently sautéing until greens are tender but not mushy . Sprinkle with coconut aminos or soy sauce to taste. Give a final stir and serve with the black-eyed peas over brown rice.

Notes

 
 
Keyword Oil-free, Vegan

Tepache Time

Fermenting has intrigued me since childhood. Every fall, my parents used to shred countless heads of cabbage, by hand, enough to fill a rain barrel. They salted it, packed it in and kept it in the cold cellar. We had fresh sauerkraut “on demand” for the next year. It was great fun watching my nephews’ reactions as their grandpa removed the top layer of ferment “scum”  (“EWWWW!!!”) to reach the fresh sauerkraut below.  I make sauerkraut exactly the same way today, except in far smaller quantities. 

Now that we know how beneficial fermented foods are for gut health, I am experimenting with fermenting all sorts of other foods. 

The newest and most exciting thing I have stumbled upon is tepache (teh-PAH-chay) and the funny thing is, it’s not that new.  Tepache dates back to Pre-Columbian Mexico as a popular drink among the Nahua people. Originally, corn was the base of tepache but the contemporary recipe (tepache de piña) uses pineapple rind and core to make this drink. It’s totally fine to just cut up the whole pineapple as well, which is what I did in the batch pictured below.  In fact, there are countless variations on how to  make tepache – rules and recipes vary and that’s what makes it so fun experimenting.

HOW TO:

  • 1 whole ripe fresh pineapple, rinsed clean (organic is best if possible)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 to 6 cloves
  • 1 thumb ginger (optional)
  • 1 large cone of  Piloncillo ( Piloncillo, named “pylon” for its conical shape, is a raw form of pure cane sugar that is used in Mexican cooking. Alternatively, use 1 cup of brown sugar, rapadura, panela, jaggery or any variation of raw cane sugar).
  • ​16 cups of filtered water, or enough to cover the pineapple pieces

Cut off the crown and base of the pineapple and compost. Cut the rest up into slices and then triangles. Put the cut pieces of pineapple with rind into a 1-gallon glass jar or  container.

Add the sugar and spices and enough filtered water to cover.

Muddle, or stir it well with a wooden spoon.

Cover the glass container with cheesecloth or small dishtowel, holding it firm with an elastic.

Place on counter at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

The timing of the fermentation depends on temperature and can take anywhere from 2 days in a warmer climate to a week or more to get to the bubbly refreshing drink stage. If left longer, it becomes an alcoholic beverage and if left longer still, pineapple vinegar.

I begin sampling once I see a thick layer of white foam on the top. The foam means it’s alive and fermenting. I sample by moving a bit of the foamy stuff with my spoon and testing the brew below.

It should taste light, bubbly and not too sweet. There may be a bit of a musty smell similar to an overripe pineapple,  but it should not be repulsive. I find it a bit smoother and tastier than kombucha.

Aiming for the “refreshing beverage” stage rather than hooch or vinegar, I strained this batch into jars after five days on the counter. A second ferment is possible – meaning once it is strained in the jars, you let it sit another day or two to get more bubbly. It’s important to “burp” the jars at least once a day to avoid explosions from the build-up of carbon dioxide. I used one mason jar and one jar with a clip top (pictured).

Once it tastes as you like it, it should be refrigerated, where it  keeps fermenting, but at a much slower pace.

Tepache tastes best very cold or over ice.

I’m sure it would also taste great in cocktails such as a piña colada.

¡Salud!

 

A is for autumn, apples and the air fryer

Not long ago my gas range went kaput and the budget being what it is, I decided to not replace it for a while. The barbecue carried me through the summer, along with an older toaster oven (which I have to watch carefully as it routinely sets off the smoke alarm) .  After hearing so many great things about them, I decided to try an air fryer. Crispy french fries with just a teaspoon of oil, or even with none? What’s not to love? 

I took the plunge with a Philips VIVA air fryer (Model HD9220C) from Costco that came with a bonus grill pan. I think they’re discontinuing this line which is why it was on sale, but it had great reviews. 

First try – fries of course. Fantastic. Lightly browned. More like baked than truly fried, but I prefer them this way rather than greasy. I’m sure if one added a bit of oil, they’d be crispier. The ones pictured here were air fried with NO oil at all. Really, the air fryer is just a tiny convection oven that is more energy-friendly and possibly quicker too. 

I have been having great fun experimenting with things to air fry. My last effort was breaded steamed cauliflower which came out very well. 

It’s fall now and apple season. As the weather cools and the leaves turn, bring on the comfort food and those wonderful smells: apples, nutmeg, cinnamon…crisps and cobblers. 

I thought I’d experiment with apples in the Air Fryer. First try apple chips – I just sliced up an apple, tossed with juice of half a small lemon, a tbsp of  coconut sugar and a tsp of cinnamon. Air fried at 200 C for 10 minutes. Tossed the slices and air fried 10 minutes more. These are really delicious – sort of a cross between a dehydrated apple slice and a baked apple. Would be lovely topped with a scoop of ice cream/ice dream. 

So why not a whole baked apple? 

 

WHAT I DID:

I cored two Mutsu apples but certainly select your favourite.

In a separate bowl I mixed 

2 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp coconut sugar (brown sugar would work as well)
Sprinkle of chopped walnuts
Sprinkle of craisins (or raisins)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg or a scant sprinkle
A scant sprinkle of salt
Approx 1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan spread (or coconut oil)

Mix this blend together until the oats seem moist and want to clump and stuff the two cored apples. Place in Air Fryer at 175 for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on type of apple. It should be fork tender but still keep its shape. You can open the drawer and check with no consequences! The result is a tender, delicious baked apple with a crunchy, sweet topping. 

Happy Autumn and enjoy those freshly-picked apples!