Jamaican Coconut Collards & Black Eyed Peas, Carrot Cake

Trevor was out for the evening and all I wanted to do was just stay in and read.  I decided to make a carrot cake with cream cheeze frosting since I haven’t had that in years, probably not since being vegan.  I used the recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes (but I use the cream cheese frosting recipe from the pumpkin cupcake recipe from the same book)  It was easy and delicious.

So, then I woke up and ate it for breakfast.  And, er…lunch, too.  What?!  It was really good.  So, anyway, by day’s end I was feeling much like someone who had eaten nothing but cake all day; that is, to say, like shit.  I had to remedy that with something that was chock full of vegetable matter.

I’m so inspired by the little takeout place called One Love Vegetarian in Toronto.  I first discovered what ital was when I ate there and have since grown to have a huge appreciation for the food of Rastafarians, and really, of the Caribbean in general.  Especially when I’m feeling under the weather or have been eating poorly, I reach for greens and peas, lots of spices, ginger, garlic, yams and more, and always feel better for it.  This is real food, yum.

We made some brown rice, steamed cubed sweet potatoes and layered this all together, bowl-style.  I feel better already.

Coconut Collards

1 bunch of collards, hard stems removed and torn into pieces
1/4 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 19 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the vegetable broth over medium heat.  Add the collards, place the lid on and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and adding more vegetable broth as needed.  Once the collards are wilted, soft and bright green, remove from the pot and set aside.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion, ginger, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno and sautee until softened and onions are translucent.  Add all the spices and salt and cook the spices for 30 seconds before reintroducing the wilted collards back into the pot.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Add the black eyed peas and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently (the black eyed peas may break up a bit, which is good).  Turn heat down to low, add the coconut milk and stir, coating everything.  Cook for another minute or so, tasting for salt and pepper.

– Crystal

BBQ Tofu, Smoky Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens

The closest I’ve been to anything remotely Southern US-like is driving through Tennessee and Georgia on our way to Florida when I was 8 years old.  So it’s a pretty far stretch to say I know anything about culture in those parts.  What I do know is that I love adapting the flavours of what I think a good old Southern meal should have and making it vegan.  This was a quick, weeknight version of a comforting Southern-style meal.  Another great thing is, while you may think of Southern food as being high on the heart-attack-as-soon-as-you-finish-your-meal scale; this one wasn’t.  Totally cholesterol free (like all vegan food), and low in fat.  
The smoky mac and cheese is whole wheat macaroni, smothered in the Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction (with an added 1/2 tsp liquid smoke stirred in when the sauce is finished cooking).  So good!  So quick!   
Since our little barbecue is covered in a foot of snow right now, the tofu was cut into triangles and then dry-fried in a pan until it was golden with some nice charred bits.  Then it was doused in a generous bath of some locally made BBQ sauce we found at the farmer’s market – smoky, sweet and hot.  Yum.  It was left to bubble and thicken on the tofu for a while before serving.

The collards were made using a recipe from Appetite for Reduction, the Ye’abesha Gomen (Ethiopian Collards) recipe. Regardless of it being called Ethiopian Collards, the recipe produces tender, soft collards that complement the heartiness of the rest of the meal.

Also, last Sunday we went to try out The Early Bird, a new diner/greasy spoon place that just opened up and is run by one of Trevor’s oldest and dearest friends.  They have a vegan soup option each day, and a couple of sandwiches on the menu which can easily be made vegan by removing the dairy element and replacing it with some nice, grainy mustard.  I had the Ginger Beer Battered Tofu Sandwich with a bowl of Ginger Carrot Soup.  Good stuff!  It’s always great having new places to go and get something to eat.

Show posters everywhere at The Early Bird 

– Crystal

Black Eyed Beans with Collard Greens

This week we made the Hottie Black Eyed Beans with Collard Greens from the book Appetite For Reduction. This is a very quick, easy and nutritious dinner with a spicy Southern kick. You can whip them up when you’re feeling lazy, like we were after coming home from the gym. Its full of protein, carbs, and iron, but also low in fat and calories. We paired it with mashed potatoes and butternut squash which were leftover from Thanksgiving.

For the recipe you’ll have to buy the book!

Crystal’s note:  I love how the butternut mash has a highlight of potato.  It’s like a stylish hairdo in side dish form.
-Trevor