Famous + Dependable Toronto Grub

Rice and Noodle Bowls

Rice and noodle bowls are my staples. I don’t think I could be happy without them.

The inspiration for this post came from an early cookbook by co-owners Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston of Fresh Restaurant, “Toronto’s original source for modern vegan.” All of these recipes give you lots of schmecky-ness, and don’t taste bland, boring, or good for you. The key of course is the sauce, and I tend to put on as much as I want.

I’ve included their “most popular rice bowl and one of the first ever created for Fresh,” the New Buddha.  You’ll also find out how to make sweet, satisfying Ponzu Noodles. Concocting the Ninja is certainly time consuming but it rewards you with an interesting combo of flavours. I get a lot of mileage out of the homemade hot sauce and crispy tofu across a number of dishes.

By way of compensation for the labour-intensive Ninja, I’ve included a fast and simple Pad Thai (adapted from a recipe in The Vegan Table, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau). I can walk into the house after a busy day and have these noodles in ten minutes.

If you have any beloved rice bowl or noodle links, please leave them in the comment section, or on the FB page @bodyasmachine.

I’ll be posting about once a month for a while. Life, in all its glory, has got me hopping.

See you April…

New Buddha Bowl

New Buddha Rice Bowl

from Fresh At Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking; by Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston

Marinated Tofu Cubes

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
1 ½ tbsp sunflower oil
1 (9 oz) block firm tofu, cut into 64 cubes

Mix vinegar, tamari, water and oil thoroughly in a large bowl.  It is very important to mix the ingredients first, before pouring them over the tofu.  If you pour the individual ingredients over the tofu, whatever you put in first will be the only thing that flavours the tofu.

Marinate cubes for at least 15 minutes.  Leftover marinade can be reused if stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.

Mixed Herbs

1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp dried dill
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp dried rosemary
1 ½ tsp dried sage

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well.  Keeps indefinitely in a sealed jar.  Just rub between your fingers before using to release the flavours and aromas.

New Buddha Sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, diced
6 tbsp minced fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/3 cup carrot juice, or veg stock
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
2 cups natural smooth peanut butter
1/4 lemon juice
2/3 cup tamari
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 sunflower oil

Heat oil in a pot.   Add onion, ginger and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add curry powder and cayenne pepper.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients.  Stir and let cool.  Purée in a blender until smooth. Then reheat the sauce in a saucepan – carefully, as the peanut butter has a tendency to burn – just before pouring it over the Buddha Bowl.  (It’s also great as a hot or cold dip for spring rolls.)

The sauce lasts about five days in the fridge and also freezes well.

Assemble the Bowl:

4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
16 Marinated Tofu Cubes
1 1/2 cups New Buddha Sauce, heated
2 cups bean sprouts
1 tomato, cut into wedges
8 slices cucumber, halved
¼ tsp Mixed Herbs
¼ tsp chili powder
1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
2 lemon wedges

Divide cooked rice between two large bowls.  Top with Marinated Tofu Cubes.  Pour Buddha Sauce over Marinated Tofu Cubes.  Arrange bean sprouts, tomato, and cucumber on top, then sprinkle with Mixed Herbs and chili powder.  Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Ponzu Noodles

Ponzu Noodles

from Fresh At Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking; by Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston

Ponzu Sauce

8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
3 stalks lemon grass, roughly chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
½ tsp crushed chili flakes
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups water
3/4 cup tamari
3/4 cup raw, unrefined sugar (I use coconut sugar)

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain, reserving liquids and discarding solids.

Will keep in the fridge for a month.

Assemble the Bowl:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and halved
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, halved
6 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup water
1/2 batch Ponzu Sauce
4 cups cooked soba noodles (or rice noodles)
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat oil in a skillet over high heat.  Add all mushrooms and cook 3 minutes until browned.  Add broccoli and water.  Cook 5 minutes until water evaporates.

Add Ponzu Sauce and bring to a boil.  When broccoli is almost tender, add noodles and cashews.  Stir. Cook 2 minutes until heated through.

Divide between 2 large bowls.  Garnish with diced red pepper and sesame seeds.

Ninja Rice Bowl

Ninja Rice Bowl

from Fresh At Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking; by Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston

Crispy Tofu

1 cup flaked nutritional yeast
1/2 cup wheat germ (I use gluten-free oats, pulsed in the processor)
1 tbsp garlic powder
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix.

Remove the amount of coating you think you’ll need and coat Marinated Tofu Cubes (see recipe above).  The rest of the dry mix will last indefinitely in an airtight container.

I’m sure they can be baked in the oven, but I lightly fried mine for about 5 minutes in a cast iron pan with a little sunflower oil, turning them occasionally to brown all sides.

Wasabi Dill Dressing

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp wasabi powder (find this at Goodness Me!)
6 tbsp water
2 cups chopped firm tofu
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp dried dill weed
1/4 cup rice vinegar
¼ tsp sea salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.  Set aside and let cool.

Put wasabi and 2 tablespoons water into a blender, and process for 5 seconds to mix. Add onion/garlic mixture, remaining olive oil, chopped firm tofu, Dijon mustard, dill weed, rice vinegar, salt and 2 tablespoons water.  Blend until smooth.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons water if needed.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.

Hot Sauce

Scotch bonnets are really hot, so feel free to use whatever fresh chilies you can find.  I use jalapeños because I prefer it mild. (This sauce has lots of flavour, not just heat.)

4 Scotch bonnet peppers, or whatever chilies you want
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed from woody stems
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from woody stems
1/2 cup tamari
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 stalk lemon grass, trimmed and chopped into 3-inch pieces
1/4 Dijon mustard
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp crushed chilies
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin

Purée fresh chilies, red onion, green onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, and rosemary in a a food processor.

Pour the purée into a saucepan and add tamari.  Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture turns dark brown. Add balsamic vinegar, lemon grass, Dijon mustard, curry powder, cayenne pepper, chilies, oregano, cinnamon, and cumin.  Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool.  The sauce keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

Simple Sauce

The folks at Fresh mix their Hot Sauce with Simple Sauce before drizzling it all over their Ninja Bowl. I found that my milder Hot Sauce is just fine mixed into my Ninja as is.  No simple sauce required.  I’ll let you decide… If your Hot Sauce is fiery, mix a 1/2 cup Simple Sauce in with 1 ½ teaspoons Hot Sauce, as the chefs at Fresh suggest.

1/2 cup tamari
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 tsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.   Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

Assemble the Bowl:

Crispy Tofu
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1 1/2 cups Wasabi Dill Dressing
8 cups mesclun lettuce mix (or any greens you have on hand)
sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced
1 cup sunflower sprouts
2 tbsp Hot Sauce (or use the Simple Sauce + Hot Sauce combo mentioned above)

Divide cooked rice between 2 large bowls, and drizzle both with half the Wasabi Dill Dressing.  Toss mesclun mix with remaining Wasabi Dill Dressing, and pile on top of rice. Scatter sun-dried tomatoes slices on top of lettuce, with sunflower sprouts and Crispy Tofu.

Drizzle rice bowls with the Simple Sauce + Hot Sauce combo, or just stir in Hot Sauce on its own.

Vegan Pad Thai

Lazy Pad Thai

adapted from The Vegan Table; by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

I take huge license with this dish.  It barely resembles Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s version.  But her recipe inspired the changes I made to it.  Just so simple and so good.

1/3 cup natural smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup tamari
1/4 lime juice
Sriracha sauce, to taste

green peas (I just keep a bag of frozen at all times)
rice noodles, cooked
tofu, chopped into squares

Mix the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, and Sriracha together in a bowl.

Gently heat the sauce in a saucepan and add a little water to thin it out if necessary. Add peas, noodles and tofu, and slowly heat everything through. (I’m not beneath throwing it all into one bowl and nuking it in the microwave if I’m starving.)

This makes enough sauce for two.

** I love the sour (tamarind-esque) flavour of this bowl, so I omitted the full 1/4 cup of sugar in the original recipe. Feel free to add some sugar if you like. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau hasn’t posted her Pad Thai online (it’s only in her cookbook), but if you’re curious the original recipe can be found (reposted by someone else) here.

Internet sharing. It’s shameless.




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The Not-So-Secret Life

'Out to Sea Inside of Me' Series by Valentina Brostean
‘Out To Sea Inside of Me’ Series by Valentina Brostean

A successful mental health picture requires work, and a tremendous amount of honesty.

I’ve had the flu and can’t get out for a run these days; surviving on tea and oranges, I fear I’ll soon tread into increasingly unstable territory.

“It’s so much work,” I say (actually sob) to my husband.

Why do I have to work harder than other people just to lead a normal life?

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Here’s To False Starts

by Jordan Sundberg at www.tincupdesignco.com

Hello. I’m back.

After about the twelfth person asked, “Are you still posting?” I thought, “Okay. People actually read this thing,” and I began to rummage around for blogging ideas to welcome the winter and resurface.

The fact of the matter: it’s time for me to talk about other stuff. Diet isn’t the whole enchilada. So I’ve relaunched, and obviously renamed too.

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How a Vegan Goes Camping

vegan campingWe’ve just returned from an impromptu June weekend at Killbear Provincial Park–our summer stomping ground–and I’ve sent a sad-to-be-home daughter back to school with whatever I could scrounge for her lunch: a hardboiled egg, some dill pickles, a few Fruit-To-Go fruit snacks, lots of kiwi, and a handful of Smartfood.

No, obviously my daughter isn’t vegan. She eats all the “normal camping food,” as does my husband.  It was a weekend of hot dogs, hamburgers, and deli meat sandwiches.

So what did I eat?

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Sweet Potato + Black Bean Salad

sweet potato + black bean salad

Years ago now, when my husband used to run the kitchen and bakery at Ouderkirk & Taylor Hand-Crafted Foods in downtown Guelph, this salad was one of his staple items. Sometimes he’d bring a tub of it home for me and I’d devour it, often as a salsa with tortilla chips. It’s packed with flavour and nutrition-dense fuel to help you do what you need to do, and it’s a great potluck salad or party salsa (with corn chips and a big bowl of guacamole).

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Film Review: Cowspiracy

Film Review: Cowspiracy
photo courtesy of mpora.com

I bartend in a Welsh pub.  Not one to push my opinions (to each his own), especially in that context (chicken wings, anyone?), I mention my newfound vegan status minimally.

A few weeks ago a middle-aged man in a dark jacket came into the bar.  I set down his Stella, and out of the blue: ‘I watched Cowspiracy last night,’ he said.  ‘Have you seen it?’  ‘No,’ I answered.  ‘But I know the premise.  Isn’t it like Food Inc.?’

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