Sprouted quinoa bread

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Sprouting grains increases many of the grain’s essential nutrients and makes it easier for the body to absorb many of these nutrients. There is even some evidence that sprouted grains are more digestible to people with sensitivities. But sprouted breads are very pricey. Save a few coins by making your own.

I developed this recipe as a way to reduce food waste when making cashew cheese. Miyoko Schinner‘s cheese making method from her book The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, involves making rejuvelac, a fermented liquid made with sprouted quinoa. The rejuvelac is used to culture the cashew cheese.

Making rejuvelac

To make rejuvelac, soak 1/2 cup quinoa in a clean 1-quart wide-mouth jar overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the quinoa, cover the jar with a dish towel and let the grains sprout, rinsing them twice a day. When the grains develop little tails (about 24 hours later), they’re finished sprouting.

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Fill the jar with fresh water, cover with a lid and leave it at room temperature but out of the sunlight for a couple days. The rejuvelac is done when the water is cloudy and bubbly. At this point, pour the rejuvelac in its own jar ready for use.

What about the quinoa?

When the rejuvelac was done, I looked at my little sprouted quinoa and thought there had to be a use for these nutritious grains. I had seen the sprouted bread in the freezer aisle at the grocery store and knew its reputation for being more nutritious. And so, this recipe was developed.

To be fair, I haven’t sprouted all the grains I’ve used in this bread so I wouldn’t say this bread would be easier to digest than your average whole grain wheat bread but it is delicious and includes a sprouted nutritional powerhouse.

So when my son takes a plain hummus sandwich to school for lunch but I’ve made it on this sprouted quinoa bread, I’m confident he’s having a good meal. Quinoa is a good source of protein, iron, fibre and magnesium.

You don’t have to make rejuvelac to get sprouted grains, just soak the grains overnight then drain and rinse them twice daily until they grow little tails. You can sprout other grains too. They can be used in any bread recipe – treat them like a wet ingredient and reduce the amount of water you use.

For my sprouted quinoa bread, I’ve mixed a wet dough that I’ll keep in the fridge to make fresh bread throughout the week as needed. If you want to know more about how it’s done, see my post about my Rye Boule.

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Here’s the recipe.

Sprouted quinoa bread

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 cup sprouted quinoa
  • 3 1/3 cups lukewarm water

Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer – turn it on low for a few seconds to give the ingredients a stir. Add the sprouted quinoa and water and stir until everything is evenly distributed and there is no more dry patches. Cover with a dish towel, clean plate or loose-fitting lid and place on the counter for a few hours (at least two hours but it doesn’t matter if you leave it longer).

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With flour on your hands, pull out a sizeable piece of dough and shape it into a ball. Put it on a floured cutting board to rise while the oven and pizza stone preheat. Slip the rest of the dough into the fridge to use later.

When the stone is hot, slash the top of the loaf, brush it with water and sprinkle it with some dry quinoa or other seeds. Slide it onto the pizza stone to bake. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

Now you have enough dough in the fridge to make a couple more loaves at your convenience. Shape and let the dough rise on a floured board while the oven and pizza stone preheat and continue the same as above.

Have you ever sprouted grains? How do you use them? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear what works for you.

Creamy cauliflower and pumpkin seed soup

cauliflower soup
Creamy cauliflower and pumpkin seed soup with fresh bread for an easy weeknight dinner.

My goal with this blog isn’t to write about special occasion meals and instagramable photos but to show that it’s doable to increase the amount of nutrient-rich food on the dinner table. Vegan cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming (though it can be both). With a bit of creativity, it’s easy to have family-friendly plant-based meals on the table on weeknights.

You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these meals. Vegans have developed innovative recipes to mimic familiar foods we remember from before we gave up animal products. These foods have familiar textures and flavours but are much more nutritious than the foods that inspired them. If you’re looking to eat more vegetables or encourage your family-members to be less veggie-adverse, getting inspiration from vegan recipes might give you a new appreciation for a vegetable you thought you didn’t like.

Here’s a simple soup that is velvety smooth and flavourful despite the few plant-based ingredients required. The cauliflower blends into a rich, creamy texture that will make you forget you’re eating a low-fat, vitamin-rich vegetable soup. The pumpkin seeds enrich the soup with added protein and nutrients. It’s flavour is subtle enough to be enjoyed by kids but sophisticated enough for adults too. It’s easy to make – just add the ingredients to the pot and allow it to simmer.
Creamy cauliflower and pumpkin seed soup

I kept the flavours very simple so the kids would enjoy it but it would be nice with a dash of spice or extra garlic as well. Served with a side of rustic whole grain bread, it makes a nice, satisfying meal for a cool fall day.

Creamy cauliflower and pumpkin seed soup

  • 1 medium cauliflower, chopped into small flowerets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped garlic and cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes to brown the garlic and soften the cauliflower. Add the vegetable broth, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

That’s it – very simple and a great way to eat a nutrient-rich vegetable.

 

 

 

Orzo with roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli and romano beans

If you’ve never roasted your greens, you’re missing out. In a high heat oven for just a few minutes, vegetables transform from something you know you should eat, to something that must be dished out exactly evenly to avoid family squabbles over who got more brussels sprouts and broccoli. It’s true.

And it couldn’t be easier. I’ll explain how I made this dinner in less than 30 minutes to prove it.

orzo and vegetables
Orzo with roasted vegetables, romano beans, pine nuts and olives.

I preheated the oven to 400 and pulled the brussels sprouts from the fridge. These guys came from the farm and had been in the fridge for longer than they should have. They needed to be very carefully cleaned and picked over to get rid of any yellowed leaves and a few of them had worms so I tossed those ones. The rest were trimmed with the outer leaves removed. Inside were perfect little sprouts.

This was more time consuming than it would have been had I gotten to them last week when I first brought them home from the farm. As I trimmed them, I tossed them on a roasting pan that was liberally coated with olive oil. Then I trimmed the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. I peeled a clove of garlic and tossed it in the olive oil too and made sure the veggies were all evenly coated with oil. When you’re cooking for kids, it’s important not to skimp on the fats – at least, that’s the excuse I use.

By the time the veggies were trimmed, the oven was hot. So I tossed them into the oven. I had 20 minutes until I needed dinner on the table.

Orzo bowl

I put a large pot of water on the stove to boil to make the orzo.

Next came the beans. I peeled another clove of garlic and put a pot on the stove over medium heat with some olive oil. I crushed the garlic into the oil and opened the cans of beans. Draining the beans and rinsing them first, I tossed them into the pot when the garlic was browned (but not burnt) and added about a quarter cup of broth. Let that simmer.

Time to add the orzo. It’s about 10 minutes until dinner time. Perfect. That’s how long the orzo needs to cook.

Stir the roasting vegetables so they’re evenly cooked. I grabbed some pine nuts from the freezer (they go rancid quickly so it’s best to keep them fresh in the freezer) and tossed a handful into the veggie mix when they had about a minute left of roasting to do.

The garlic clove was a big one so I didn’t think it would be done at the same time as the other vegetables. I poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a ramekin for the garlic to stick it back in the oven when I took the vegetables out. It was in there for an extra 5 minutes because it was a huge clove.

Orzo, vegetables and beans

When the orzo was done, I drained it and added a bit of olive oil to keep it from clumping together. I dished it out into the bowls and topped them with the veggies and pine nuts, beans and a couple olives. Voila! Super easy and quick. I grabbed the straggling garlic clove from the oven and crushed it into the oil with a fork to add to the adults’ portions. Yum!

It had been a while since we’d had pine nuts so I didn’t know how they would go over with the kids – plus some of them were a little browner than others… my son gave them a thumbs up initially. But both kids tired of the taste of the pine nuts by the end of the meal. Crazy!

I would argue that roasting vegetables is easier than steaming or boiling them. It requires the same amount of chopping but the difference is that you toss them in oil and seasonings and go about your business without having to worry about them while you prepare the rest of the meal. Their sugars slowly caramelize and their flavours intensify while they cook. Anything that can be steamed or boiled is much better roasted, in my opinion.

Corn cakes with sweet potato and black beans

Corn cakes
Corn cakes with sweet potato, black beans, vegan sour cream and avocado for the kids.

Tonight is taco night but I wanted to do something a little bit special. I used masa harina, a corn flour used in Mexican cooking, to make little boats to carry all kinds of delicious toppings.

The masa flour is not like corn meal at all – it is made from corn that has been treated with an alkaline solution to alter the starch in a way that makes it stick together well.

You’ll notice the masa has a distinct smell and when mixed with water, it makes a soft dough. The dough is easy to manipulate – you can roll it into tortillas or form it into thick little cakes for frying or baking. It is found in most well-stocked grocery stores.

Vegan corn cakes
I topped a few cakes and put out the toppings for the kids to assemble their own – like tacos.

Corn cakes

  • masa harina
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Mix the water with the masa flour and knead it until it forms a soft dough. Cover it and let it rest for a few minutes while the oven preheats at 350.

Crunchy corn cakes
The crunchy corn cakes were paired well with the creamy toppings.

When I was ready to shape these little boats, I tore off a little ball of dough and flattened it on the counter with my hand. I formed a small ridge around the sides to keep the toppings from dripping off. They baked for about 15 minutes in the oven – I dabbed a bit of butter on the top of them since street food in Mexico is often cooked in lard and I didn’t want them to be too dry.

I topped them with baked sweet potato, vegan sour cream, salsa (on mine – my kids won’t eat salsa), black beans and avocado.

Garnachas
The kids enjoyed this crunchy variation on Taco Tuesday.

Rye boule and tomato-lentil soup with brown rice

Woke up to snow again this morning and when I got them out the door, the very excited kids crawled through the snow on their way to school. No wonder snow pants rarely last a whole season!

Rye and whole wheat bread

In this chilly November weather when our bones aren’t quite used to bundling up against the snow and wind, I crave rye bread. This bread was made with whole wheat flour, rye flour and all purpose flour, salt and water. Simple and good with a few flax seeds sprinkled over the top.

I didn’t give it time to ferment on the counter like I did with the baguettes last time but this loaf gets its flavour from the flours I used. I did leave it to rise for about three hours before shaping the loaf while preheating the oven and the pizza stone.

I wanted to have nice bread for tomorrow morning’s peanut butter and jam on toast but I doubt it will last until the morning – I may have to make another loaf. I made it using the technique in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. The website is healthybreadinfive.com.

The technique involves mixing a full bowl of dough, letting it rise for the initial period and then pulling out the amount I need to make a loaf and putting the rest of the bread dough in the fridge.

Over the week, the dough in the fridge develops a sourdough flavour and I can make another loaf whenever I want. I just have to shape it and let it warm on the counter while the oven and pizza stone preheat and then bake it for 30 minutes. With this method, it’s easy to have fresh bread that tastes amazing.

Rye and whole wheat bread with flax seeds

To eat with this whole wheat rye bread, I’ve made Tomato-Lentil Soup with Brown Rice. The recipe is from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Dishes from the Healthiest Region Under the Sun. I’ve left out the scallions (the kids won’t eat them) and the celery so it’s a very simple recipe of carrots, garlic, lentils, brown rice, vegetable broth and canned tomatoes with dried thyme and a bay leaf.

I cooked the carrots and garlic in olive oil until softened. Then I added the remaining ingredients and simmered for 50 minutes. My son’s not always keen on things that include tomatoes in the broth but I think he’ll like this soup since it’s so simple. The carrots are from a local farm and are very sweet.

Lentil soup with bread

It’s a hearty, chunky soup – he probably won’t eat the tomatoes but I’ll give him a chance to enjoy it as is even if it means there will be some whining at dinner. The lentils offer a good source of protein and dietary fibre and the brown rice makes it even more satisfying.

Tomato-Lentil Soup

I love to include big chunks of the vegetables that they love so when they first sit down to a dinner, they see something inviting and dig in. This helps them overlook the less desirable ingredients they may be more skeptical about (the tomatoes).

My son prefers to eat only cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden – I get it. They’re delicious and winter tomatoes just aren’t the same. If only it were August year-round!

I’ll get them to taste the soup before I let them eat their bread. If I don’t watch them, they’ll eat three pieces of bread and be too full to eat their soup. Can’t blame them – the bread is super delicious! But I know once they taste the soup, it will go down nicely.

Hearty soup served with bread

Orange layered cake with vanilla buttercream icing

It’s my husband’s birthday today so I wanted to make an extra special cake in his favourite flavour – orange.

Vegan orange cake
Orange infused cake with vanilla buttercream icing.

He likes light, fresh flavours – nothing too complicated or fancy. This cake is based on the Light Lemon Bundt Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets. The original lemon is one of my favourites – I make it in the summer when I crave everything lemon. But this cake was not for me and I had a nice bowl full of juicy oranges begging to be used.

I paired the orange cake with the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting from my trusty Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule. It’s a perfectly simple icing that I use all the time.

four layer cake

I wanted this cake to be extra special so I doubled the recipe to make four layers.

Orange layered cake

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons egg replacer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup freshly orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift the dry ingredients together. In a stand mixer, mix the egg replacer with the water on medium speed. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Combine with the dry ingredients. Divide into four round cake pans and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vegan orange birthday cake

The orange flavour of the cake was divine. Juicing the oranges made all the difference to the flavour too, I think.

I’m not the most patient cake decorator and the cake and icing together are sweet enough so I prefer a fresh fruit topping. I sliced an orange thinly and arranged the rounds on the top of the cake.

Vegan orange birthday cake

I could use some fresh cake decorating ideas – any ideas? Let me know how you decorate your cakes.

Fresh rye baguettes

vegan rye baguettes
Delicious with vegan butter or peanut butter and jam.

Making bread from scratch is simple as long as you have time and patience. Old techniques of kneading and shaping are over-rated. This bread took five minutes of mixing, a minute to shape and the rest was down time – letting the bread do its own thing. The result is a light, airy loaf.

I learned this technique for making artisan bread in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. No kneading required, just mix the ingredients and avoid over handling it.

The first rise is much longer – this is when the flavour develops. When it’s time to bake the loaves, you have to be careful not to disturb the air pockets that have developed as it was rising. Simply shape the dough into the desired shape (long baguettes or oval loaves) and let it rest while the oven warms.

My kids haven’t had many opportunities to eat white bread – so they don’t expect it. And when I make bread from scratch, it’s an opportunity to enrich it. Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, quinoa, oatmeal and anything along those lines will make it into the dough.

Enriched loaves are great. The only sandwich my son will eat at school is hummus and cucumber so it’s nice to have some variety in the bread I use.

But sometimes I want to make loaves that are super light and full of air pockets. Not quite white bread but very close. These loaves turned out perfectly.

Light rye baguettes

Patience is required. I made the dough for this bread yesterday and let it sit undisturbed for almost 24 hours.

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon traditional yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water

Mix the dry ingredients together and add the water. Once all the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough, cover the bowl loosely and leave it to rise at room temperature.

About 24 hours later, pulled the dough out onto a floured surface, divide it in half and gently shape them into two long loaves being careful not to puncture any air pockets that had formed.

Preheat a pizza stone in the oven at 450. Give it about an hour to ensure it is heated through. Once the oven and pizza stone are nice and hot, gently transfer the two loaves onto the stone, brush the top with water and bake them for a half an hour.

Rye Baguette
The baguette has a crispy crust and plenty of air pockets.

The loaves have a tough, crunchy crust and a soft interior. Because they were left on the counter for a day, they developed a mildly sour flavour to it. Bread like this doesn’t last long, which is a good thing because it doesn’t take long to get hard. It’s best if it’s eaten in a day.

If, by any chance, it lasts longer than a day or two, use the leftovers to make breadcrumbs.