Food for Thought:
February is for comfort food!
Recipes to warm you up, celebrate Valentine’s and the Super Bowl
By Penny Arsenault and Irwin Rapoport
February 8, 2023
It’s February, and winter just seems to be digging in. It’s a short, busy month, and we’ve got you covered on all bases here, with foods to comfort and warm you, surprise your beloved with Valentine’s desserts, and give you alternatives for Game Day!
We have another couple of months of winter ahead of us, so we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to share some soup, stew, baked beans, and other comfort food recipes! Along with the cold, something else is in the air this month, and well, that is love! So we’ve included a couple of sweet treats for Valentine’s Day that Cupid, even if he was a vegan, would highly approve of.
It’s a short, busy month, and we’ve got you covered on all bases here, with foods to comfort and warm you, surprise your beloved with Valentine’s desserts, and give you alternatives for Game Day!
We’re currently in the midst of the dreaded deep freeze period, which can lead to some bitterly cold and bone-chilling temperatures. Below are a few healthy and nourishing comfort foods from readers and websites we like to fuel your cold-weather activities.
Indulge yourself with these healthy and nutritious ingredients. If you can try these recipes, let us know how they turn out.
This wonderfully flavourful hearty Winter Stew is from Meagan Duhamel’s Lutz of Greens website. Meagan is a two-time world Champion figure skater and Olympic Gold silver and bronze medalist. She promotes the vegan lifestyle to other elite athletes to complement their training and recovery.
Penny: “I have made it many times, sometimes with whatever vegetables I have on hand. The seasonings are perfect.”
Almost everyone from our generation remembers having baked beans growing up, making it comfort food. Recently, Susan Schachter was pleased to try this plant-based Baked Bean recipe from The Simple Veganista and she says it is delicious! Though it calls for a hot pot, she adds: “I don’t have a slow cooker or a hot pot, so I cook it on the stovetop on a lowish heat or in the oven at 325 F. Boil first, then turn down the heat. Check every hour or so to see if it needs more liquid.”
Flavourful Lentil Soup
One of our readers in Westmount shared this savoury soup recipe with us. She enjoys revisiting her amazing soup recipes and making them vegan-friendly. The flavours in this soup are so lovely and layered.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup diced carrots
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- ½ cup green lentils
- ½ cup French lentils
- Zest from 1 lemon and juice from ½ lemon
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrots, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala and let cook for a minute or so.
- Stir in broth and lentils. Cover and let simmer until lentils are soft, about 40-50 minutes.
- Add cayenne pepper if you want it a little spicy.
- Add lemon juice, garnish with zest, and serve!
Tip: Add more spices as the soup cooks and changes. Don’t be shy to adjust it all to your taste!
A bowl of hot chili is a much-welcomed meal when coming out of the cold. Some like it hot – five-alarm, and others prefer it to be mild. Here is a very good and rather easy one from Nora Cooks.
Valentine’s Day is a time to express one’s love for a spouse and partner. But if you’re hoping to start a relationship, it has always been true that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Chocolates and sweets, cupcakes and brownies, every day should be celebrated as Valentine’s Day. Below are some desserts that we hope are a hit on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
- 1½ cup (300 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (185 g) unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp ground flaxseed
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp melted vegan butter*
- 1 1/3 cup (165 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (95 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (175 g) non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips
- Optional: 1 cup (125 g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease an 8 × 8-inch (20 × 20-cm) baking pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the sugar, apple- sauce, and 2 tbsp water.
- In a small bowl or food processor, combine the ground flaxseed with the ½ cup (120 ml) water.
- Add this to the applesauce mixture, along with the vanilla and *melted vegan butter, and stir to combine.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts, if using.
- Add to the applesauce mixture, and stir just to combine.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
- The finished product should be moist. Bake longer if you like a more cake-like result.
- Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
*recipe slightly altered during the trial
If February 14 is spent at home with a movie, you need to try this indescribably delicious Caramel Popcorn, also from The Joy of Vegan Baking.
- 14 cups (1400 g) popped popcorn (air-or oil-popped, or micro-waved in a paper bag)
- 1 cup (145 g) dry roasted peanuts (optional)
- 1 cup (225 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (75 g) *light maple syrup or corn syrup
- ½ cup (55 g) non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter (like Becel vegan or Earth Balance)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Lightly grease a shallow pan, such as a roasting pan, jellyroll pan, or high-sided cookie sheet.
- Place the popped popcorn in the pan. Add the peanuts, if using, to the popped corn. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C, or gas mark ½).
- Combine the brown sugar, maple or corn syrup, butter, and salt in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy.
- Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pan, and stir to coat. Don’t worry too much at this point about getting all of the popcorn coated.
- Bake for 1 hour, removing the pan every 15 minutes and giving the popcorn and nuts a good stir.
- Line the countertop with waxed paper. Dump the popcorn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces.
- Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or re-sealable bags. Package as gifts!
If you’re too late to bake or uninspired, Sophie Sucrée, 3770 St. Laurent Blvd in Montreal, has a scrumptious array of Valentine’s day sweets for the sweet.
Super Bowl Sunday
Now, for your Super Bowl Sunday, are you ready for something a little different?!
Vegan Charcuterie Board
- The trick to making a good charcuterie board is to include some key flavours: salty, sweet, savoury, and spicy.
- Place individual small bowls with some or all of these: regular and spicy olives, pickles, hummus, babaganoush (or eggplant salad), olive tapenade, salted mixed nuts and sesame sticks.
- On the actual board, you can place sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, snap peas, grapes, dates and strawberries around the small bowls.
- Try some of our great Canadian cashew cheeses:
Nut Grove camembert from À Votre Santé, 5126 Sherbrooke W in NDG, adjacent to Westmount.
Nuts for Cheese, from L’Autre Choix, 330A Victoria in Westmount and Metro, 4840 Sherbrooke W.
- And if you’d like some mock deli slices, Yves Veggie Cuisine has some convincing ones – veggie salami and sliced turkey, to name a couple.
- Around the outside of the board, supply a selection of crackers and bread for dipping and spreading.
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings tutorial! If you aren’t worried about gluten-free, you can use regular flour. Oat and almond flours work as well!
Super Bowl Chili
For your Super Bowl Chili, see the recipe in the above comfort food section or try this one from Cookie and Kate which has a vegetarian option (dairy topping)
We hope these recipes will become additions to your culinary repertoire. We welcome suggestions for recipes to feature, especially with the upcoming holidays and the start of BBQ season in the spring.
Feature image: Chocolate Brownies, by Maahid Photos, Pexels
A figure skating coach and ballet dancer, Penny Arsenault is a friend to cats, dogs, and all animals, dedicated to fitness and nutrition, and tireless in her optimistic pursuit of the improvement of urban gardens, and preservation of wild spaces.
Irwin Rapoport is a freelance journalist with Bachelor degrees in History and Political Science from Concordia University.