‘Tis the Season to go Vegan
A lot of my friends are vegetarians. Truth be told, I’m pretty stoked when we have them over, because I love cooking and eating vegetables and sharing a meal with them is such a delight.
As I was planning this dinner, I went over different foods in my head and I remembered this great chilli recipe that I’ve made before and loved. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s so hearty, even declared meat lovers will fall head over heels for it. Then, I remembered that this dish isn’t just vegetarian, but actually full-on vegan, so I thought we could have a nice meat, egg and dairy-free dinner alltogether.
I didn’t have a lot of time for prepping, but I did have a baguette on hand and nice ripe avocados in the fridge, so I decided to make an entrée of tomato & avocado bruschetta, topped with a balsamic vinegar reduction, for an extra kick of taste. Dessert was a no-brainer: since I had avocados, I decided to make a super healthy chocolate mousse, that is both vegan and sugar-free. And since mousse is a make-ahead dessert, it also took care of my time problem.
For a period of forty days preceding Christmas, the Eastern Orthodox keep what is called the Nativity Fast, during which time they eat a vegan diet with 6 exempted days, when they are allowed to have fish. My Grandmother fasted and even if I never did it strictly, I remember that before Christmas, we rarely ate meat and instead, enjoyed a whole lot of veggies. So, even if I don’t fast, to me it makes sense to practise a little restraint before the holidays.
So, I say ’tis the season to go vegan, even if it’s only for a little bit, even if it’s just for a day in the week or a meal alone. For those of you who are vegans, congratulations! For the rest of us, I think we should try to eat plant-based foods more often, it really makes one more appreciative of all the lovely food we have access to all the time.
Consuming a plant-based diet is a wonderful cleansing process for your body and it can also be finger-licking delicious. If you don’t believe me, you should really cook this dinner or at least the chilli: the great thing about it is that it’s quite cheap and easy to make, most ingredients are probably already in your cupboard. Pair it with a nice earthy red wine for added pleasure.
Avocado & Balsamic Reduction Bruschetta
1 baguette or any bread you like, thinly sliced
4 Tblsp olive oil, divided
118ml/1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
300gr/ 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line oven tray with baking paper.Place baguette slices
onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place into oven and
bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
To make the balsamic reduction, add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small
saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil and reduce by half, about 6-8
minutes; set aside and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, avocado, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; add
salt and pepper, to taste.Top each baguette slice with tomato mixture, garnished with
basil. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve immediately.
Hearty Bean Chilli
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-4 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
400g/14oz kidney beans
400g/14oz cannellini beans
400g/14oz black beans
800g/28oz tinned chopped tomatoes
113g/4oz tin green chillies, chopped and drained
100g/3 1/2oz tin tomato puree
125g/3 1/2 quartered button mushrooms
300g/9oz tin non GMO sweetcorn
1tbsp dried oregano
2tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
750ml/3 cups vegetable stock or beer
1 tsp sugar
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the
onion is soft. Add the carrots, peppers and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the
chilli powder, smoked paprika and cumin, the cook for another minute, Stir in all the
remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about
30 minutes or more. Alternatively, bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes. The chilli
tastes better with longer cooking.
Avocado Chocolate Mousse
2 large ripe avocados
60 gr/1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
120ml/1/2 cup almond milk
4 tsp stevia (or other natural sweetener)
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
A handful of toasted sliced almonds or frozen mixed berries or coca nibs
Purée the avocado until smooth. Mix together the cocoa powder and milk until combined and add to the avocado. Stir in the stevia, vanilla extract, and any extra ingredients (I used toasted almonds) and mix very well. Transfer the mousse to individual cups and store in the fridge until ready to eat.