As everyone knows, I love being able to support local farmers and producers. It doesn't stop there though, I also try and support my local economy in other ways too - by visiting independent businesses, buying locally made products, and also getting my hands on cookbooks from local residents.
My most recent purchase was 'Cook with Kindness' by Chantal Coolen.
Chantal is a vendor at the Halifax Seaport Market and is known for her gluten-free and vegan treats. She sells cookies, muffins, tarts, granola, almond butter, and my favourite, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.
Once I found out she had a cookbook coming out I knew I had to buy it.
After looking through the book for the first time I was overwhelmed by the number of recipes I just HAD to make. This post is the result of cooking from this book for the last two weeks (and I still didn't make as many as I wanted).
The first recipe I tried was the Spiced Maple Walnut Ice Cream. It was delicious! Made with coconut milk, what made it awesome was the cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Yum!
Next up were the Maple Almond Cookies. Again, these turned out great.
I can't remember the last time I made traditional butter, white sugar, brown sugar, flour chocolate chip cookies. There are so many great recipes out there using alternate ingredients. This one is a keeper for me!
For dinner one night we had the Broccoli, Spinach and Quinoa Casserole. This was a yummy one!
Another dinner a couple of days later was a rice bowl with mushroom gravy. We always enjoy a good rice bowl. Any opportunity for my husband to pull out his chopsticks makes him happy. He spent a lot of time in China for work and, as a result, he has great chopstick eating skills. Me? Not so much.
For breakfast we tried the Peaches and Cream Breakfast Parfait. For this recipe I used some of the diced peaches I had canned over the summer.
Unfortunately, I killed my food processor with this one... Instead of putting the frozen bananas for the 'soft-serve ice cream' in half pieces, I should have frozen them in smaller pieces. Lesson learned!
That same morning I made the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars to have as after-school snacks for the week. I don't know what I did wrong, but instead of granola bars I ended up with a really great granola cereal instead. It made for some really tasty breakfast cereal for the week.
Since the granola bars became breakfast I made the Banana, Coconut, and Chia Seed Muffins for snacks instead. These were fantastic! I'll be making these ones again.
The book has many soup recipes, like Roasted Tomato Soup, Roasted Carrot Maple and Pistachio Soup, and Miso Soup.
One that I hope to try soon is the Maple, Coconut, and Beet Soup with Cashew Cream. Odd mix of ingredients but sounds tasty. I didn't have any beets on hand though, so I made the Carrot, Ginger and Cashew Soup instead. Perfect soup to warm up with on a cold evening.
There are a few desserts in the book, but one that caught my attention was the Caramel Pudding. It was 'okay'. I topped it with some chopped walnuts and a caramel sauce made with almond butter and maple syrup. I think I just don't like tofu in desserts...
Another meal I made was the Curried Root Vegetable Stew. We all really enjoyed this one. It's always nice to have recipes on hand that are so simple to make and use just one pot.
Chantal and I talk quite a bit at the market. She is an avid runner and has participated in many races in the area. I had been telling her that I was hoping to get back into running and has been encouraging me to do so. She was happy to hear that I have, in fact, started running again.
After coming back from one of my runs I figured it would be a great opportunity to make the Post-Run Smoothie from the cookbook. With coconut water (or milk), a banana, some berries, flax seeds, almond butter and some greens, it's the perfect drink to have after a nice long run. Energizing!
One of our meals during the week was the Grilled Vegetable Wraps with an avocado mayonnaise and a salad on the side. The wraps were store-bought. A quick and easy meal!
One of the recipes I was really looking forward to was the Spaghetti and 'Meatballs'. Because it's a vegan (and gluten-free) cookbook I wanted to see how these 'meatballs' would turn out. The verdict? This was one of my favourite meals of the cookbook. To top the dish I made the parmesan 'cheese' recipe too. Although the 'cheese' is made with cashews it tasted 'just' like parmesan cheese. Awesome!
I'm no stranger to overnight oatmeal and make them often, but Chantal's cookbook has many different variations, like chocolate raspberry, oatmeal cookie, and pumpkin pie. I thought I'd try the coconut bliss one morning. I was excited because I had finally found some coconut butter in town recently and hadn't used it yet. The coconut butter was weird because it hardened pretty well as soon as it hit the cold oatmeal, which left me with some chunky pieces that weren't very tasty. I'll leave the coconut butter for use in desserts from now on.
I'm going to try the oatmeal cookie version next time.
Another dinner meal that we all enjoyed was the Squash Curry. We love, love, love curries so this one was a winner before I even made it.
As a result of the weather being really drab, rainy, and foggy the last couple weeks I felt myself needing some extra energy in the afternoon. Chantal's chocolate milkshake came to the rescue on one of those afternoons. Yum!
As a result of those crummy days I was also looking for some warm, comforting meals and came across the Black Bean Chili. Instead of making it on the stove like the recipe dictates, I put all of the ingredients into my slow-cooker instead and didn't have to worry about dinner all day.
What I did make to go with the chill, however, were some biscuits (not from this cookbook). However, being that it was Friday, my fridge was getting empty and I realized that we didn't have any kind of milk in the fridge to use for the biscuit recipe. Cook with Kindness came to the rescue!
The book has many, many different recipes to make your own milk - almond milk, strawberry almond milk, chocolate almond milk, coconut milk, and even hemp seed milk. I didn't have time to soak almonds, was too lazy to make the coconut milk and then strain it, so opted for the easiest one - hemp seed milk. Seriously - put the hemp seeds and water into the blender and blend. Milk ready in one minute flat!
(the biscuits were delicious by the way!)
Although I am not vegan this cookbook has quickly become a go-to resource for last-minute recipes or to provide me with more ideas to incorporate meatless dishes into our repertoire. I definitely recommend this book!
The book can be purchased at the Halifax Seaport Market from Chantal herself, from Chapters, and on Amazon too.
Chantal's blog: www.thekindcookie.com