Busy Bea Baking…It’s My Birthday

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And I’ll bake if I want to. Who says you can’t make your own birthday cake?

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

The cake is the mango tango cupcake recipe from Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky. I took liberty and made one small cake instead of 12 cupcakes. It still worked the same. It is covered in a ginger-spiced rum icing – all vegan of course.

That takes the cake

Many celebrations are recognized with cake: weddings, birthdays, communion and other special occasions. But why cake? I have been searching for a definitive answer to this and so far have not found one. I do have a theory though.

Cake is simply enriched bread. Bread is found in some form in all cultures throughout the world. It is everyday food for everyday people. Sugar, eggs and dairy were often luxury items for many people and the addition of these ingredients to flour, water, fat and a leavening agent signified a treat. Treats are reserved for special occasions hence the possible origin of the tradition.

Following a lean Lent, devoid of whatever one has given up, Easter breads are often enriched with sugar and eggs.

What is your take on the tradition of cake for special occasions?


Meatless Monday – InChallah

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Arabic for ‘God willing‘; popularly used to denote hopefulness

This Meatless Monday is breaking bread at an international table. With Lent well underway and Passover and Easter imminent, there can be peace when dining. In the spirit of making the world welcome at your table I bring to you the InChallah menu.

The ‘InChallah’ Menu
Hava Nagila (“let us rejoice“) and begin the feast by breaking (Challah) bread with your dining compatriots.
Challah is a golden-coloured sweet egg bread from Jewish tradition.

Course 1
The African diaspora
As a starter, serve an African-inspired groundnut soup: a tomato based soup with sweet potato and peanuts. For a side, serve with Jamaican jerk tofu sticks and baked plantain chips.

Course 2
Middle Eastern Meze
Pomegranate sorbet to cleanse the palate then straight into a tabbouleh salad and a mixed appetizer plate of meze˜ of dips (hummus and baba ghanouj, chickpea and eggplant purée respectively).
Be communal about it: Share the plate and share the food.
˜like tapas

Course 3
Asian inspiration
Miso soup and Indonesian gado gado (i.e. cooked vegetable salad with peanut sauce).
Use whatever vegetables you have.

Course 4
It’s sap season in eastern Canada. Finish the evening with a Québécois tarte au sucre. This sugar pie is made with maple syrup.

Easy Miso Soup
*Use 1 Tablespoon of miso paste for every 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let simmer 10 minutes.
*Extras to add in when the water starts to boil:
green onions, finely sliced; bok choy; finely chopped seaweed such as dulse

6 Hearty Vegan Dishes with International Flavour

Quick Tips

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Spring has sprung and who wants to be stuck in a hot kitchen when there’s sun and warmth to be enjoyed outside. Here are a few healthy ingredients that are easy-to-find and easy to prepare.

Quinoa – You’re so nutty!
This berry is eaten like a grain, related to swiss chard, is a complete protein (uncommon in plant foods) and has a nutty flavour. Here are some things you can do with quinoa.
*berries (those round pebbly things): Soak, rinse and cook. Eat in place of rice.
*flakes (looks like oatmeal): Cook with liquid and eat like oatmeal.
*flour (looks like flour) Replace up to 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour with this flour in your baked goods.

Kale – Your 15 minutes of fame is up but you are still so good!
*Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake to chip crunchiness.
*Eat raw in a salad.
*Let the leaves languidly stew in a soup.

Well hello kale!
*Combine cooked quinoa berries and kale in a salad.
*Thicken kale soup with quinoa flour.
*Use quinoa flakes in veggie burger mix and serve with a side of kale chips.

The World’s Healthiest Foods: Quinoa and Kale

It’s Not Easy Being Green

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I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like green eggs and ham!
~Dr. Seuss~

Thankfully there are other green foods far more appealing (and dare I say nutritious) than mutated ova and swine.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, callaloo, etc.) – See the Top 10 Leafy Greens on WebMD
  • green grapes – fibre
  • kiwifruit – potassium
  • green tea – antioxidants
  • green peppers – vitamin C

Previous posts on Ireland on Weal Food



Meatless Monday – Not Just for Breakfast

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With St. Patrick’s Day imminent this Meatless Monday is featuring steel-cut oats.

Apparently oats grown in Ireland are the bomb. The steel-cut version are the least processed and require more water and a longer cooking time to make them soft and palatable.

3 cups water : 1 cup of steel-cut oats

Simply add a pinch of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Add the oats and reduce heat to medium/low. Cook for about 30 minutes until oats are done. It’s a good idea to check half way through just to see how the oats are making out. This is also a good time to add the extras. Here are some suggestions:

  • tahini and honey
  • peanut butter and jam
  • banana and peanut butter
  • maple syrup and walnuts
  • ‘date squares’ i.e. puréed dates with a bit of lemon juice, pinch of cinnamon and some brown sugar
  • saffron, cardamom, rosewater
  • cashew cream and dates
  • roast sweet potato, avocado, coconut aminos/soy sauce and crumbled nori
  • peanuts, cucumber, steamed carrots, scallions and a bit of hot sauce
  • any others you’d like to add to the list…?

The minimal processing allows steel-cut oats to retain their nutritional value and fibre content. Whether you dress them up sweet or savoury, they are not just for breakfast anymore.

McCann’s Irish Oatmeal

Previous Post
Meatless Monday – Kiss Me I’m Vegetarian

A Feast of Festivals

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Not only is March National Nutrition Month, it is a month with some interesting food festivals happening locally: Ryerson Winter Vegfest and the Vegan Bake-off.

The Ryerson event, held at the university of the same name, promoted its Vegfest with the slogan “make fur history.” The usual suspects were in attendance: animal save organizations; poor students, vegan or not, clamouring for whatever free samples they can get; local businesses marketing their vegan-friendly food; and the Vegan-evangelists, zealously promoting a vegan lifestyle.

Toronto Pig Save & Wishing Well Sanctuary

It is also the seventh year for the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. It is my third year in attendance and second as a competing baker, (though I was there more for the experience than the win).

Food is all around us being celebrated, promoted and devoured. Participating in these events also affords the opportunity to educate and be educated about the foods we know and the foods we don’t. There’s no need to wait for a special occasion to participate in a feast-ival! Here are some things that happen frequently:

  • Enjoy free samples at the grocery store (but don’t be too greedy! Save some for the rest of us.)
  • Take advantage of promotional events at local restaurants and cafés.
  • Pick an ingredient of the month and centre your menu around it once a week/month or until it is all gone.
  • Organize a potluck with work colleagues, neighbours, family and/or friends.
  • Make your own feast-ival; I am. Inspired by the creativity exhibited by fellow bakers at the Bake-Off and armed with numerous cookbooks and mouth-watering recipes online, I have issued myself a monthly challenge to create a competition-worthy dish sans a competitive environment. Watch this space: Busy Bea Baking

Meatless Monday – On Your Mark, Get Set, Go

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There seems to be a connection between cross-fit (intense workout program) and paleo diets (the ‘caveman’ diet). And I just saw an ad today that said “Eat meat and stop jogging.” Is it really true that animal flesh is the only way to go for fitness? Clearly on this Meatless Monday, I disagree.

Vegetarian/vegan athletes have a decided advantage when it comes to exercise and their dietary choice. The benefits of a plant-based diet are:

  • shorter recovery time
  • less inflammation
  • more antioxidants

Exercising can result in tissue inflammation, proliferation of free radicals and depleted bodies. Foods that help with tissue repair, fighting free radicals and restoring the body are commonplace in the vegetarian/vegan diet. The recommendation is to consume a ratio of 3:1 carbs to protein post-workout. The carbs help refuel the body and restore energy reserves while the protein is needed for muscle repair and rebuilding.

Suggested items for a post-workout snack:
water of course-stay hydrated; tart cherries for inflammation; blueberries for vitamin C (an antioxidant); almonds for protein; cereal, sweet potato or rice for carbs; protein powder in a banana-based smoothie

10 Post-Workout Raw Meals from One Green Planet

See previous post Meatless Monday – Man Meets Grill for a brief list of vegetarian/vegan athletes.