Regular readers may be well aware of my love affair with the mighty coconut. I use coconut oil in baking and sauteeing, coconut milk in desserts and in main dishes, I put coconut water in my smoothies, and I've even been known to make cream cheese and sour cream with just a can of coconut cream. It's no surprise then, when HarperCollins Canada asked if I'd like to review a cookbook called Coconut 24/7, I jumped at the chance.
This book was written by Pat Crocker, who also wrote The Juicing Bible, The Smoothies Bible, and The Vegan Cook's Bible. She is also a culinary herbalist who includes health tips along with her recipes. Coconut 24/7 is a very enjoyable cookbook with many delicious recipe ideas, as well as some DIY beauty treatments. I can't wait to make my own body scrub and face masques!
Some of the delectable recipes that I want to try are the Green Shiitake Stir-Fry, the Vegetable Rice Stacks, and the Hawaiian Antioxidant Punch. My husband really wants me to make the Coconut Curry Chicken for him—it looks really easy and flavourful. So many coconut recipes, so little time!
I was allowed to excerpt a recipe for you, and I chose Chard and Chickpeas. I have always wanted to find a good recipe for Swiss chard, and this one is a definite winner—filling enough for a main course, but also nice as a side. It's very flavourful and so wonderfully packed with energy. It was also incredibly easy and fast to throw together.
Here's the situation—you are just about to slide a perfectly prepped roast beef into the oven when your child announces, "I don't want to eat meat anymore." You wonder how in the world you are going to make dinner in such a way that a) everyone is happy, b) everyone is receiving sufficient nutrition, and c) you are not going to turn into a short order cook.
It is possible to smoothly incorporate vegetarian options into a meat-eating household. I've been a vegetarian for many years, and I've been following a mainly vegan diet for the past two years. Neither my husband nor my children share my dietary philosophy—in fact, there is nothing better that the three of them like than big, juicy steaks on their plates, preferably with a side of bacon. And yet, I cook only one dinner for everyone.
Here are my tips to ensure that meat-eaters and vegetarians eat together in perfect harmony:
Open Your Mind. There are many countries in which meat does not figure significantly into day-to-day eating. Why not use this opportunity to explore new dishes and methods of cooking? Have your child help with the new meal preparation—you could both learn some new skills.
Think “On The Side.” My favourite movie is When Harry Met Sally, and I identify with Sally Allbright. “On the side is a very big thing for you," says Harry, and it certainly applies to my life in the kitchen. I prepare all meat on the side, in separate pans, and then the meat-eaters can add it to their otherwise-vegetarian meals. Think sauteed chicken on the side of a stir fry or pasta dish, or spaghetti with meatballs on the side.
Explore Protein Options. Dairy and eggs are excellent sources of protein, but don’t forget about beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes, which can be easily added to salads, pasta, stir fries, and other main dishes.
Have a "Create Your Own Meal" Night. I do this a few times a week. Create your own mini pizza! Create your own tortilla wrap! I set out the ingredients—sliced vegetables, meat, cheese, and beans—and everyone assembles their own pizza or wrap. The bonus is that my own work in the kitchen is minimized!
Include Vegetarian Options at Traditional Dinners. This is the tricky part—planning a meal, such as a turkey or roast beef dinner, in which the meat takes centre stage. In this case, I always prepare a few dishes that can be a complete vegetarian meal in and of themselves, but are also delicious sides for the meat-eaters.
Above all, take this opportunity to discover and enjoy new food experiences, and who knows, maybe you'll be making your next Monday a meatless one!
It all started, many years ago, with an obsession with Tim Hortons' cranberry blueberry bran muffins. My soon-to-be husband and I were cross country skiing and we stopped in Canmore to refuel and get lunch; I looked at all the baskets of baked goods and chose a cranberry blueberry bran muffin, not knowing that one bite later I would be hopelessly hooked. I thought about that muffin for days, and after that I would go out of my way to obtain another. I would stop at nothing, it seemed, to get my muffin fix.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I found myself with two babies under 18 months. I could barely find my way to the mailbox — and I get door-to-door delivery — and so the likelihood of me packing the babies up to head out in the dead of winter just to get a muffin seemed frivolous somehow. Also impossibly daunting, given that my newborn was colicky and screamed whenever he was in a car seat. How, then, was I to manage with my muffin addiction?
In the face of adversity, one needs to be resilient. One needs to summon inner strength. In these trying times, one needs to grab the mixing bowls, preheat the oven, and make one's own muffins.
And so this recipe for cranberry blueberry bran muffins was born. It is easy to throw together — it can be in the oven inside fifteen minutes — and is tasty, healthy, and vegan. The muffins are best served warm, but also make a wonderful addition to school lunches. My nine year old son would like me to mention that these are his favourite muffins in the whole world, so apparently the addiction is hereditary.