Archive | October, 2011

Nutritional Yeast: A Vegan Cheese Substitute

28 Oct


You might be wondering, “What exactly is nutritional yeast?” and “how can this flakey substance be used as an alternative to cheese?” At least, those were my thoughts when I first heard of nutritional yeast. This ingredient is common among vegans who are looking to replace dairy-rich cheese in their diets.

Nutritional yeast is grown from yeast, which is a tiny form of fungi. It is produced by culturing the yeast with sugarcane and beet molasses for seven days. After the seven days have passed, the yeast is then harvested, washed, dried and packaged.

Nutritionally, this yeast contains many essential nutrients. It is a great source of the B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B12. This makes it a great alternative for vegans as vitamin B12 is typically found only in animal byproducts. Nutritional yeast is also very rich in protein (a complete source containing all of the essential amino acids!), iron and folic acid. Additionally, it contains 15 minerals, specifically chromium. Chromium has been recognized in helping to regulate blood sugar, making this yeast great for diabetics and people with low blood sugar. It is also appropriate for those following gluten-free diets!

It can often be found in the health food section of your grocery store or even at bulk food stores. If you’re able to find it, give it a try! It can be used in many ways, such as: sprinkled on popcorn, added to gravies and sauces to add creaminess or used as a cheesy topping on pizza.If you’re looking for a simple and quick snack, this popcorn is perfect for you 🙂

Emily’s Famous Popcorn

Source: All Recipes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add popcorn, and place the lid on the pan. Shake to coat kernels with oil. When the corn starts to pop, shake the pan constantly until the popping stops. Remove from heat, and pour popped corn into a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle the melted butter over the corn if using, and sprinkle with yeast, chili powder, cumin and salt. I like to give it a little stir before serving.

Other recipe suggestions:

Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip 
Vegan Easy Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto
Vegan “Cheese” Breadsticks
Vegetarian Gravy
Not So Queso Dip
Vegan Mac and Cheese 


Tempeh: A Meat Alternative

25 Oct


Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) may be a familiar ingredient among vegetarians, as it is a great source of vegetable protein (before cooking, it contains 19.5% protein) for those who do not consume meat or animal products. For many others, tempeh may just be an unfamiliar ingredient that is emerging in grocery stores.

Tempeh originated from Indonesia where it has been a staple for 1000 years or more. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans but it has different nutritional characteristics as well as a different texture. It is formed by the fermentation of cooked soybeans which results in a compact white cake. Different varieties include soy tempeh or tempeh fermented with grains, such as rice, sunflower seeds, etc.  The flavour of tempeh has been described as nutty, meaty and mushroom-like. 

Soy products have been linked to reduced risks of: breast cancer, prostate cancer, coronary heart disease and bone fractures. There is almost no reliable evidence indicating that soy consumption leads to adverse health effects. However, more research is needed to support these nutritional findings.

Nutritionally, tempeh is a great source of: protein, unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and more. For an extensive nutrient analysis visit The World’s Healthiest Foods!

There are many ways to prepare tempeh. It can be used as an ingredient in items like chili, soups, salads, pasta sauces, tacos and sandwiches. It can be purchased in grocery stores in its natural form (solid cakelike slab) or pre-marinated strips, often taking only a couple minutes of cooking to prepare.  


An easy recipe for those first trying tempeh is a barbecue tempeh sandwich!

Barbecue Tempeh Sandwiches

Source: All Recipes

Serves 4


  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, your choice
  • 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split and toasted


  1. Pour the barbeque sauce into a medium bowl. Crumble the tempeh into the sauce, and let it marinate a little, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the red and green peppers, and the onion. Cook, stirring frequently until tender. Stir in the tempeh and barbeque sauce, and heat through.
  3. Spoon the tempeh mixture onto kaiser rolls, and serve.

Other recipe suggestions:

Tempeh Chili
Tempeh Bacon
Tempeh Crab-Free Cakes
Sweet Potato and Tempeh Stew
Vegetarian Tempeh Taco
Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Tempeh

Quinoa: The Ancient Superfood

21 Oct

Have you ever heard of quinoa? These nutrient-dense seeds are starting to gain popularity in grocery stores, and while some of you may have heard of it, there is still some confusion on how it can be incorporated into the diet.

Let’s start from the beginning! What exactly is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)? Quinoa is native to the Andes and has been around for over 5000 years!  It is often confused as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a leafy plant that is related to spinach.


Quinoa is a complete protein which means, unlike most other plant-based protein sources, it contains all of the essential amino acids required in the diet. It is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including: iron, potassium, B vitamins and zinc. In addition to these nutritional benefits, it is also gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease to consume.

The seeds are small and circular and come in different colours, including white, red and black. Quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating, called saponin, which is mostly removed before sold. However, it is still important to rinse the seeds prior to cooking in order to remove any potential trace of the saponin.

How do you cook quinoa? After rinsing the seeds, you can toast them in a dry skillet to give them a roasted flavour (this step is not necessary!). Quinoa is then combined with liquid in a pan (two parts liquid to one part quinoa), brought to a boil, and then reduced to simmer and covered until the grains become translucent.  After cooking, the seeds will increase a great deal in volume, so it isn’t necessary to cook a whole bunch!

One of the great things about quinoa is its versatility! It can be purchased in different forms, such as seeds, flour, flakes, and even pasta. It can also be used in a variety of different recipes, anything from pancakes to side salads to milk. To get an idea of its many uses, check out the cookbook Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood


A great starter recipe for those who want to try quinoa is stuffed peppers. Switching out the rice for quinoa and the meat for beans and vegetables, this recipe is both nutritious and vegetarian.

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Source: Vegetarian Times

Serves 8


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed


  1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
  2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.
  4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

For other recipe ideas:

– Gluten-Free Quinoa Buttermilk Pancakes
Quinoa Porridge
Homemade Quinoa Milk
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Red Quinoa Mediterranean Salad


14 Oct

Hello, and welcome to Adventures in the Kitchen! My name is Lauren; I’m 21 years old and currently studying human nutrition in my fourth year of university. I’ve really garnered a passion for food and nutrition over the past few years and in doing so, I’ve changed my relationship with food.

            A former picky eater, I would like to think I’ve come a long way from the days of refusing to eat foods simply because they look gross. I have become more open minded and started to try new-to-me foods and even surprised myself by actually liking them!

            I’m sure you’ve also had one of those instances at the grocery store where you walk by a shelf, looking for a certain product, and spot something you’ve never heard of.


Sometimes, if you’re feeling adventurous, this mysterious ingredient may pique your interest enough to actually pick up and place in your cart. Other times, the thought of trying to figure out how to use an unfamiliar ingredient becomes too much of a burden and it is returned to its spot on the shelf.

The idea behind this blog is to explore some unusual ingredients, where they originate from and the ways they can be used in a recipe. Some of these ingredients you may have never heard of before, some you may have seen before but didn’t know how to incorporate into your meal preparation.  Hopefully you stick around as I start this journey into the world of unfamiliar food and become more adventurous in the kitchen!