Tag Archives: Sweet potatoes

Recipe testing, new yoga class and post-half-marathon high, OH MY!

27 Oct
I run for Animals!

PETA Pack for the win!

This past month has brought many highs amidst a devastating low. I completed my first half-marathon, despite my stupid knee acting up, and it was one of the greatest personal accomplishments EVER. I raised 750$ for PETA, and completed the race 30 minutes shy of my expected time! Not only was my experience with PETA Pack an incredible one, but the organization and efficiency of the Oasis Marathon organizers and volunteers made Race Day a very special, smooth and inclusive event for everyone. To all my friends and family: if anyone is interested in joining the team next year, please let me know! Let’s start training early, together, and run the race as a group!

As much as i enjoyed my pre-race training, i was happy and excited to return to my yoga practice. When i started training for the half-M, i vowed to continue practicing yoga on a daily basis. I failed. My practice dwindled to once a week (if i was lucky). It was gross. I was gross. My hips were tight, my shoulders were stiff, and i was kind of an emotional wreck. Adding to this was the fact that i was teaching 2 classes a week, which made me feel like a yogic hypocrite. As i entered Moksha yoga for my first class back in 3 months, a look of shame was clearly written all over my face. Even before we prepared for our first downward dog, i knew this class would be a disaster. A wonderful, eye-opening, sweaty disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. By the end of that class, i left the studio with shaking arms, a sore core and the biggest smile ever on my face. I had returned home. Just like returning home after an extended absence, the familiarity of the practice was there, but it was surrounded by change. I embraced the shaking of my legs in Warrior 2, I relished in the screaming of my hips during any and every forward bend we went into. There was so much stiffness in my body, so many points of tension. I felt like i was rediscovering yoga asana all over again. And it was awesome. Though i initially felt frustration at having let my practice slip during training, i have begun to discover that taking a step back, to then revisit my practice, has offered me a whole new journey of self-exploration.

Reuniting with my asana practice has been a welcome addition to my weekly schedule, as has the addition of a morning yoga class to my teaching schedule. Starting next week (November 2nd) I will be teaching a morning yoga class at FlowSpace, a wonderful space in the historic Union Francaise building. If you or anyone in your circle is interested in yoga before work, this class is for you. I’m hoping its proximity to the downtown core will attract 9-to-5ers, as us office workers can always benefit from the awesomeness of yoga! (I don’t know about you, but Computers give me Stiff Shoulders.) It’s better than coffee, i swear! For a look at my complete teaching schedule, please click on the option under the “About” header.

On the food front, I’ve signed on to test recipes for one of my favorite vegan cookbook authors, Terry Hope Romero. I’ll be posting lots of food pics once i start testing; I’m really looking forward to getting started!

To celebrate Halloween, i have tried incorporating pumpkin into soup and desserts. The soup (roasted pumpkin soup) was awesome, the dessert (pumpkin brownies) was a huge fail. I literally had to scrape the pumpkin layer off the brownie crust and throw it out, so as to salvage the brownie part. It was messy to make, messy to eat, and messy to dispose of. I should have known better than to try and change a good thing; brownies are the cat’s pajamas on their own, with no need for a layer of gelatinous pumpkin to dress them up.

The soup, however, was warming and spicy; perfect for crisp fall lunches.

Garlicky Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 small pumpkin

1 full head of garlic (to ward off vampires, of course)

1 medium yellow onion

2 sweet potatoes

1 carrot

1 regular potato

1/2 cup red lentils

6 cups veggie broth

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon of cayenne powder or crushed red chili flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pumpkin in half through the middle and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. You can keep the seeds for roasting if you’re into that. Cut the garlic in half through the middle, keeping the white outer layer on. Drizzle olive oil on inside of the pumpkin halves, rubbing it on the flesh. Rub olive oil on the exposed flesh of the garlic as well. Place the pumpkin halves side by side on a parchement-lined baking sheet, flesh side down, with the garlic halves under the pumpkin halves. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until tender. (WARNING: It’s going to smell soooo good.)

While the pumpkin is roasting, prep your other ingredients. Chop onion into little pieces. Peel sweet and regular potatoes, and chop into small pieces. Peel and chop carrot into small pieces.

Once pumpkin is ready, get out your favorite soup pot. Cover the bottom with a couple of swooshes of olive oil. Throw in the onion. Cook the onion on med-high heat for 5 minutes, until soft. While the onion is cooking, scoop out the flesh from the pumpkin, discarding the skin. Put in a bowl and reserve. In your soup pot, throw in the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the potatoes, lentils and pumpkin. Take your sweet, delicious roasted garlic bulbs. Grab the bulb halves from the top and squeeze the bulbs out of their skin into the pot. Add all the spices and cover with broth. Turn the heat to med-low and let simmer, partially-covered, for at least 45 minutes. Once the potatoes are tender, you are ready to mash this soup into potage form. Take the cauldron off the heat and grab your handheld masher (electric or potato masher). Mash the soup until it reaches a creamy consistency, or leave it a little lumpy if that’s your thing.

Put pot back on heat, and heat soup on med-low heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!

You can sprinkle pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top before serving, it gives the soup a delicious crunch.

I wonder if our neighborhood will get many trick-or-treaters? I wonder if the trick-or-treaters will stage a mutiny against me if i give out vegan fruit chews or carrot sticks?

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The Compassionate Glutton meets the Compassionate Shepherd.

10 May

When i was a child, my mother would make the dish to end all dishes. Sweet, crunchy corn, mushy peas and perfectly mashed potatoes, burnt to a light crisp on top came together to create scrumptious Shepherd’s pie. (Ground beef was also in there, but really, this blog post is about eliminating that component, so i am not listing it as a yummy ingredient. Take that, ground beef.) I  remember dousing my portion in ketchup, delighting in the mix of different textures and flavors coming together to form one. I haven’t had Shepherd’s pie in over 3 years, since giving up meat. This weekend, Shepherd’s pie was brought up in conversations with different people i crossed paths with at least 3 times. I  already had this dish in the back of my mind after an extensive conversation with the B, comparing our mothers’ versions (Peas NEED to be in there!!!), when i went to visit my parents on Sunday evening. My pops had come across a recipe for Shepherd’s pie with lentils, and had thoughtfully bookmarked it for me. I initially got really excited; i had been toying with replacing the ground meat component with lentils for some time. After a quick scan, i realized the recipe was not vegan (why add veal to the lentils? That’s just silly!), and was inspired to create my own version.

The Compassionate Shepherd’s Pie

You will need:

1 9×9 inch square pyrex pan

1 1/2 cups lentils (any color will do, i mixed 1/2 red and 1/2 brown)

2 1/2 cups of water

1/2 a veggie bouillon cube (optional)

4 medium sized sweet potatoes (or white potatoes, but sweet potatoes are healthier!!)

1 can corn

1 can peas (not optional! My mother, Suzie, says peas are an essential part of Shepherd’s pie. Suzie’s word is gold.)

1 small onion, chopped in small pieces

A couple of slabs of vegan margarine (i love Earth Balance)

Directions:

Put lentils, piece of veggie bouillon cube, water and onion in a pot, and heat on high heat. Once lentils are boiling, lower heat to simmer, and cover. Stir frequently so lentils do not stick to bottom. Simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until hardly any liquid is left.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the potatoes. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into bite size chunks. Throw into a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt if desired, and boil potatoes until they are soft enough to mash.

To assemble pie:

Mash sweet potatoes with a bit of vegan margarine, until no lumps remain. Pour lentil-onion mixture into pyrex pan. Make sure the bottom of pan is completely covered. Pour can of corn on top of lentil layer. Por can of peas on top of corn layer. Scoop up mashed potatoes and spread on top, as the final layer. Use a fork to get the potatoes all over the top, so that it completely covers the top. Cut 2-3 thin slabs of margarine, and place on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until a fork placed in center comes out piping hot throughout the middle. For last 5-10 minutes, place your oven to broil, and broil the top of the pie so the potatoes develop a crispy top layer.

Oh Compassionate Shepherd, you complete me.

This dish easily made 4-5 portions,  enough to bring for lunches this week! The lentils pack lots of protein, while the sweet potatoes give the dish a hearty feel without being too heavy. This is the perfect dish when you’re looking for comfort food, without the unnecessary calories!
Every family seems to have their own version of Shepherd’s pie, especialy here in Quebec. This version lends well to alterations and additions. Your mom adds paprika to the top? No problem, go for it!! Your grandmother sprinkles cheese on the potatoes? Grab yourself some vegan cheese and throw it on! Your maman adds spices to her ground beef? Add those spices to the lentils! Seeing as i am biased to my mother’s recipe, i will leave you with this one last tip for creating amazing vegan Shepherd’s pie: Dont forget to add peas! (Happy Mother’s day, Momma!)