Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

Archive for the tag “dairy free”

Quick and Easy Curry with Seitan (or without, if you wish)

I made this curry after my first attempt at making seitan. Super quick and easy to throw together, and if you prefer not to use the seitan you can certainly leave it out, or sub in shrimp, chicken, etc.

1 seitan “sausage”, cut into small strips (see the recipe I posted, or use commercially available seitan)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal
2-3 tbsp. of your favourite curry powder
1/3 cup seitan broth (or veggie broth)
a few grinds fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste (you may not need salt if you have used the seitan broth, as it has the soy sauce in it)
1 can coconut milk
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large frying pan and sauté seitan until it browns up, this takes a couple of minutes. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and carrot, and sauté until onion starts to soften. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Add the unsweetened flaked coconut.

This mixture will thicken after simmering 10-15 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a bit of broth or water.

Serve over basmati rice. Makes 2-3 helpings.


Seitan Worship…not for the gluten-free

As we shift more and more back to being vegetarians, I have decided to experiment a bit. When we were in Montréal in the summer, I had seitan for the first time in my life. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical and my expectations were not super high. We were in an amazing Thai food restaurant, ChuChai, and I should have known better by the quality of the food we had already been served – exceptional! Anyway, one of the dishes our group ordered was a spicy “duck” dish…I was enthralled. Very duck-like, without the loss of any quackers. Totally guilt-free!

Now back at home, I decided to try to make my own seitan. Seitan is also known as “mock meat”, as its texture is more meat-like than tofu and through different seasonings, it can be made to mimic most meats. Realistically, it is not exactly the same as meat, but it is a tasty, and guilt-free, alternative. It can be made using regular flour, but that process involves washing the flour repeatedly to remove the starch, leaving the gluten. The gluten, when the seitan is cooked, is what gives it the chewy, meat-like texture.

I found this excellent recipe at the Post Punk Kitchen vegan site:

IsaChandra’s recipe seemed to me to be the most straightforward and easy to follow. There are also many helpful suggestions in the comment section below.

I will repeat IsaChandra’s recipe below, with some suggestions following with what to do with your homemade seitan.

“1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

For the simmering broth:
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Fill a stock pot with the water, broth and soy sauce, cover and bring to a boil.

In the mean time, in a large bowl mix together gluten and yeast. In a smaller bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has absorbed and partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s an elastic dough. Divide into 3 equal pieces with a knife and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off and take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. Slice and use as desired.”

Okay, it’s me again…first of all: DON’T throw the broth away. Store your seitan in it, and use it as you would any stock/veggie broth in your recipes.

This recipe, making three seitan sausage-like pieces, will make 6 servings.

It does look a little unappetizing in its newly poached form, but for recipes you cut it into slices, cubes, etc.
Now you have made your seitan, you can use it right away or store it in your fridge – I would think storage for up to a week is a reasonable amount of time.

My first attempts at cooking it in recipes, both successes, will be posted separately.

Be brave! I am sorry I brushed it off for so long. I am not a super-huge fan of tofu (not that I dislike it, it is just never my first choice), but I do like seitan.

Delicious Yam, Red Pepper and Spinach Salad

I recently discovered “Eat Clean” food and fitness author Tosca Reno. Her “Eat Clean” style of cooking is delicious and inspired. Although I can’t quite do egg-white omelettes yet – the yolk is my favourite part! – I have been incorporating her style of cooking into a lot of our meals. I recommend her cookbook, the recipes are easy to follow and her choices of ingredients unusual and yummy. I made this salad of hers, and as usual had to mess with it slightly. I found the seasonings just a little on the shy side, so I upped them a bit. The contrast of colours and tastes (sweet and sour) are wonderful. The results were both colourful and delicious, and I thought I would share 🙂

1 large or 2 medium (orange!) yams, peeled and diced into 1/2′” cubes (about 4 cups’ worth)

1 large red pepper, cut in 1″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups fresh spinach


2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, minced finely

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss yam cubes and pepper pieces in olive oil until coated. Sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and toss again. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until yam cubes are fork-tender. Let cool.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in small bowl.

Place cooled yam and pepper in salad bowl. Toss with dressing. Incorporate spinach leaves, tossing gently.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad, or 2 as a generous and tasty main course 🙂

Spicy Millet Cakes with Garlicky Red Pepper Sauce

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on the Forks Over Knives site. It is very easy to make, and definitely hits the spice buttons. Leftovers refrigerate well and make great lunches for work, which will incite jealousy in your colleagues.

The sauce in the original recipe called for tofu. I don’t mind it occasionally but am not a huge fan. If you are, just blend one package of silken tofu in as described below. It also called for half the number of red peppers, but blackened and peeled. Roasted peeled red peppers which are lovely…but a pain to do, especially if you are pressed for time. My modification saves time (and there is extra fibre from the pepper peel!), and it got very good reviews. However, if you have time to roast the peppers, I am sure it would be delicious 🙂

For the millet cakes:

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup millet

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tbsp. mellow white miso, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but good)

salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 large red bell peppers, diced

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, plus a bit more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

zest and juice of 2 small or one medium lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook millet in vegetable stock – bring to boil and reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat or until millet is tender.

While millet is cooking, heat oil in large frying pan and saute onion for a few minutes, until transparent and fragrant. Add curry powder, garlic and cayenne and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Add miso, tomato paste, and if you are using the nutritional yeast, add it. Add the cooked millet to this mixture and mix well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup (1/3 cup size), shape millet into cakes and place on paper. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

While the millet cakes are cooking, make the sauce (you could make this ahead). For the sauce, heat olive oil in pan and fry red peppers over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and the skin starts to darken. Don’t crank up the heat, you don’t want “scorched”, only darkened – this will approximate the “roast pepper” flavour. Once most of the pepper pieces’ skins have started to darken and they are nice and soft, put peppers into food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients, and whiz until pureed.

To serve, make a “puddle” of the red pepper sauce on the plate and position the millet cake on top. Sprinkle with additional chopped coriander if desired.






Fish (of your choice, you choose the seasonings) with Lemony Quinoa

The fish I used in this dinner was a fillet of steelhead – a delicious and cheaper alternative to “regular” salmon, which we love also. The steelhead is mild enough to go with many different types of seasonings, and makes a regular appearance on our dinner table.

The quinoa I made used plain cooked quinoa I had in the fridge – I have taken to making a large batch of quinoa, cooked with water, and using it up over several nights, in different recipes. It is convenient, and seeing as quinoa is so versatile, it inspires me to be inventive because half the work is done 🙂

The lemon in the quinoa complements pretty much any baked fish. I was pleased with this dinner because it was pretty as well as tasty – the black, red and green in the golden quinoa looked good with the pink fish. We had it with carrots! Very colourful 🙂

For the Fish:

For four servings, you will need one fish fillet (by this I mean one side of the fish) or piece of fish weighing about a pound or so – of steelhead, salmon, halibut, your choice. You could always use fish steaks and adjust cooking time accordingly.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line your baking pan with tinfoil to save on cleanup time and mess later. Drizzle a thin line of olive oil down the centre of the tinfoil centre and lay your rinsed and dried fillet of fish, skin side down, on this. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of it, and brush it all over the surface of the fish.

Sprinkle your seasoning of choice over the fish – it can be as simple or as exotic as you like. You could also just top it with chopped green onions and minced garlic which have been tossed in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper for something simple and flavourful. Alternately, a Malaysian-style seasoning called Nonya (from Victorian Epicure), which has a fair amount of cayenne pepper in it, is tasty. Mediterranean type seasonings would also be good. Be creative!

Once oven is heated, place fish in oven and cook for about 15 minutes (slightly more than 10 minutes per inch) or until fish tests barely opaque at thickest part.

While fish is in oven, prepare the quinoa:

3 tbsp. pine nuts

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups plain cooked quinoa

3 tbsp. black olives, chopped

juice and grated zest of one juicy lemon

2 tbsp. chopped chives or green onions

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/3 cup dried cranberries

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy frying pan, toast pine nuts over medium heat until fragrant. Once they smell yummy, add olive oil to the pan, wait until it heats up and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until translucent.

Add quinoa and stir gently until oil mixture coats quinoa thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients, heat through over medium heat and serve with fish and a side veg or salad.

African-ish Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

Recipes for this soup have always intrigued me because they are such eclectic combinations of ingredients, all of which I love. Today, finding I had ingredients I could work with, I came up with this version 🙂

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tbsp. medium curry powder (use less if your curry powder is “hot”, or to taste)

2 large orange yams, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks

4 cups vegetable broth, or low-salt chicken

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut

1 teaspoon (or to taste) Asian “hot” chili-garlic condiment (or use cayenne pepper to taste)

3/4 cup *natural* peanut butter (do not use the homogenized, icky kind with icing sugar in it, use the “just peanuts” kind)

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves

In large pot, heat oil and saute onions and garlic. Sprinkle curry powder over top and mix in, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add yams and fry for a couple more minutes. Add coconut, canned tomatoes (with their juice) and broth, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the 20 minutes has elapsed and the yams are soft, stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavours and melt peanut butter completely into soup, and serve. Yum 🙂

Mixed Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This salad is one that I put together today with our new beloved, quinoa. It is a different combination of tastes, and will be served with falafel (which I did not make), with minty-chivy yogourt on the side. You could try different veggies in this – feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes! 🙂

By the way, the seasoning I used was Victorian Epicure Moroccan seasoning – if you do not have that, a combination of equal parts of ground cumin and cinnamon would be good.

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 broccoli crown, chopped into small pieces

6 green onions, sliced (use both white and green part)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped into dice

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (“pepitas”) – sunflower seeds would also be tasty

1/2 cup Tamari almonds (or plain raw almonds)

1/2 cup dried blueberries (dried cranberries would be great, too)

about 10 mint leaves, cut into fine shreds

1-1/2 teaspoons Moroccan seasoning (or 1/2-1/2 ground cumin and cinnamon)

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 2 limes

salt and pepper

Bring quinoa and water to boil in saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, leave lid on and let sit for 5 more minutes. Fluff with fork and let cool.

In large bowl, combine vegetables, nuts, seeds and berries. Add cooled quinoa and mix gently. Toss with the mint leaves, Moroccan seasoning, oil, lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put in fridge to let flavours mellow, and enjoy 🙂



New Look, New Recipe… Mixed Vegetable Tortilla

The overall look of the blog has been changed to make it easier to read and access recipes – hope you like the changes 🙂


To celebrate this new change of look, I have decided to post a recipe that is one that I “changed” myself and the results of which were very happily received. True to form, I read the original recipe but did not have half the ingredients it called for, so I started mixing and matching! I love the colourful look and interesting combination of tastes of this tortilla/frittata/crustless quiche.

10-12 pieces of asparagus

1/4 cup olive oil

1 bunch beet tops, stems removed and shredded (about 1 packed cup, total)

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium sweet potato (or yam?  I can never remember…the orange one, anyway), cooked and peeled, then chopped into 1″ cubes

1-14 0z can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into chunks

8 eggs

1 tsp. ground cumin

pinch salt and pepper

Snap lower stem off asparagus pieces and discard. Chop asparagus into 2″ pieces. Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes, only until they just turn colour – remove from heat, drain and rinse in cold water to arrest cooking. Drain and set aside.

Mix eggs in bowl with salt, pepper and ground cumin.

Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, and saute garlic and onion in it until they just begin to soften. Add beet tops and cook for a few minutes until they wilt. Add sweet potato/yam, artichoke hearts and asparagus pieces. Stir gently to mix.

Preheat broiler in oven.

Pour eggs over vegetable mixture, and stir gently to combine all in pan. Cook over medium-low heat for about 8-10 minutes or until almost set – top will still look runny. Do not stir.

Once eggs are set-looking, slide pan under broiler to cook and brown top – this will just take a couple of minutes, so watch carefully.

When brown, remove from heat and let cool. This tastes best when eaten at room temperature.




How to Cook Asparagus, the Easy Way

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that many people enjoy when they go out for supper, but rarely cook at home. For some reason, it has a reputation for being a complicated or exotic…the only thing you can do wrong with asparagus is overcook it. You don’t need a fancy pan or anything. My favourite way to cook asparagus is as follows, although you can prepare it in other ways, like roasting it. I personally feel that the asparagus loses something in the roasting process.

First, purchase the best asparagus you can find, as you would everything you buy to consume. That means that the stalks are not dried out, and the tips have not fallen off or gone mushy and indistinct. It should be firm, a pretty green with a purplish tinge to the tips. Some people like fat stalks, others prefer thin – neither is necessarily better. The important thing is that it is as fresh as possible.

Once you have washed the asparagus, take each stalk and snap the end off. Don’t cut them! If you snap the end rather than cutting, the stalk with break where the asparagus is not dried out. Knowing this, you may have to snap the stalk in half and discard the bottom part. Keep moving up the stem and bending slightly until it snaps.The end result may not be restaurant-perfect, but will be far better than if you just cut it and hope for the best.

Place the asparagus in a shallow frying pan and add about 1″ of water. You do not need to submerge the asparagus. Bring the water to a boil and cook the asparagus for just a couple of minutes, until it turns bright green but is still firm. This is literally a COUPLE of minutes. If you absolutely do not want crisp, firm asparagus (and who wouldn’t?) you can cook it for just a short period longer to make it more tender – but no more than a couple of minutes longer.

The Romans apparently used to have an expression: “Do it in less time than it takes to cook asparagus”, which means…quickly! Your bit of trivia for the day.

Lift the cooked asparagus out of the water with a slotted spoon or spatula and let the water drip off, and place it on a platter. Now you can use your imagination…just butter, salt and pepper is lovely, but branch out with your favourite sauce (cheese or hollandaise are two classics). Of course, lots of chopped garlic and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice works for me 🙂

Garlic Makes it Better (if you had not already noticed) – Spinach and Broccoli get a little makeover

One common ingredient in almost all of my savoury dishes is garlic. I have not yet figured out a way to incorporate it into desserts, although I did try garlic gelato in Vancouver once (can’t say I was a huge fan, but I did like the balsamic vinegar gelato offered at the same establishment). I find it brings almost any recipe, that had not initially included it, up a notch or two 🙂

Two vegetables that seem to have mixed reviews are spinach and broccoli. I will tell you for free that garlic makes them special! Adding garlic to them will definitely add to their fan base. Here are my simplest ways of adding garlic to these veggies and making them delicious…

Spinach with Garlic (a dish I had for the first time many years ago in Portugal…I don’t know its name in Portuguese, or what its “official” recipe is, but this is a good approximation) – serves two to four people

one large box or bag fresh spinach (wash if package does not specify it has not been washed, do not spin dry, just pat most excess liquid off with paper towel)

one bulb garlic, separated into cloves which have been peeled and cut up fairly coarsely

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

sprinkle (1/2 tsp.? more?) cayenne pepper flakes

pinch salt

Heat olive oil in large frying pan (which has lid). Add garlic and seasonings, saute for a couple of minutes. Add spinach a handful at a time, stirring into the hot oil until it starts to wilt. As you create more space, add more spinach until you have it all in the pan. If the spinach was completely dry, add 1-2 tbsp water to the pan, stir well, cover with lid and let cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or so, until all spinach is completely wilted. Tip pan over sink and drain off any excess liquid, if necessary (don’t let the garlic bits get dumped out!) and if desired, stir in a bit more olive oil. Add more salt if necessary, and serve.

Broccoli with Garlic, for 3-4 people

3 cups or so broccoli florets (washed and cut into equal bite-sized pieces)

one clove garlic, separated into cloves which have been peeled and cut up fairly coarsely

2-3 tbsp olive oil

sprinkle (1/2 tsp? more?) cayenne pepper flakes

pinch salt, or 1-2 tbsp soya sauce

Cook broccoli in saucepan containing small amount of water for a couple of minutes, until it just turns bright green. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water to arrest cooking process.

While broccoli is cooking, heat olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and saute garlic, pepper flakes and salt (if not using soya sauce) for a couple of minutes. Add broccoli, and stir it around in the olive oil to coat. If using soya sauce, sprinkle it in now.

This is also nice with almonds (add a handful and saute with the garlic), or a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds (toast in separate, dry – no oil – frying pan for a couple of minutes until fragrant).

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