Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili – Ate by Ate Cooks Fall Comfort Food!

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Ate by Ate is baaaack!  Taking a week off was one of the weirdest feelings in the world.  I haven’t stopped blogging for more than a day in the last two years so with the exception of posting some photos to Ate by Ate’s Facebook galleries, not blogging at all for a week was a complete 180.  I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’ll feel completely caught up, but a week off was exactly what I needed.  It took the pressure off, I got to do a little bit of holiday planning with friends, and while I still feel like there are a million things to do for Ate by Ate, at least I’m a tiny bit caught up on sleep at the very least!

And now we’re ready to dive right into the holiday blitz!  I’m so, SO excited for Christmas and the holidays.  I’m excited to see friends, to give my family and friends their presents, and of course, to eat!  I’m currently working on the December Food Calendar (the 1st draft went to Food Bloggers of Canada last night!) and I’m planning my weekends of food the best I can.  I forsee Christmas cupcakes, vegetarian yummies, tea, hot drinks, peppermint and candy canes, cookies, baking, and hopefully lots of special winter menu items and comfort food!

Cooking up a storm!

My week off from blogging not only allowed me to do some heavy-duty planning for the month of December, it also allowed me to cook for the very first time!  I KNOW!  The girl who has only ever baked has finally cooked a great, hearty meal all on her own from scratch!  For those of you who don’t know, my mum has always done the cooking in my family and shoos me out of the kitchen.  Always has, probably always will so long as I’m living under the same roof.  I consider myself lucky when I can take out my baking sheets and mixing bowls without so much as a frown.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.  Point is, I’ve read food magazines since the age of 8, have watched more cooking and food shows than I have anything else, have been fascinated by cooking and baking and the culinary arts for years, but have never truly cooked!

Boiling water for pasta and noodles doesn’t count.  Making sandwiches and salads don’t count.  Or eggs.  I’m not discrediting the preparation of those foods at all because goodness knows making food isn’t a skill you’re just naturally born with, but it’s just different for me because of how I’ve grown up.  I’m not a food blogger with a wealth of cooking experience under her belt and I don’t have a plethora of recipes (although I do hope everyone enjoys the cookie and baking ones I do post!); but what I do have is a willingness to learn and a passion that sees no end.

So, what did I end up making as my very first, real foray into cooking?  VEGAN CHILI!  I cannot tell you how happy and elated I feel about this meal!  I couldn’t stop smiling for the entire day after I made it.  I feel so proud that I did it all on my own and that it didn’t taste awful – I got the thumbs up from both my brother and my mum and I thoroughly enjoyed it myself!  I took a cue from this vegetarian chili recipe from All Recipes.com, modified it, and made it my own.  And best of all, I used the most amazing, delicious and fresh butternut squash from the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market to make it!  And if you can believe, it feeds 4 hungry stomachs and is incredibly hearty!  I hope you all enjoy it as much I did!

Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili recipe

Serves 4 to 6

(adapted from “The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World”, allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 fl oz/796 mL) no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added mixed bean medley (white kidney beans, chickpeas, romano beans), rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper/chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (12 fl oz/341 mL) corn kernels

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in large, deep nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Stir in onion and garlic; cook 3 min. or until onion is tender.  Add tomatoes and oregano; cook 5 min., stirring occasionally.
  2. Add beans, butternut squash and spices; stir until evenly combined.  Add water, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 25 min.
  4. Stir in corn, cook 5 min.  Serve with hummus or avocado.

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A Springtime Avocado & White Bean Salad to Brighten Up the Palate!

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Okay, so the weather outside was absolutely frightful today.  A mix of wet snow, sleet, ice pellets, hail, and everything in the kitchen sink falling from the sky does not make for a fun day out.  But!  I’m here to the rescue!  Instead of looking out the window and wanting to bang your head against the wall because winter knocked on the door and sweetly said, “did you miss me?”, you can look at my bright and yummy avocado and white bean salad instead! 😀  Yesterday I posted photos and wrote about Fresh’s white bean and avocado dosas, and it was that particular dish that inspired me to create this one over the weekend.  My mum and I had a great time making it (we love using our cute little colander, haha.  If you can believe it, I bought it from Bath and Body Works!) and a VERY good time eating it!  We had plenty of avocados that were nice and ripe and this salad made for a fantastic vegetarian dinner.

We used white kidney beans, avocados, sweet corn, diced green bell pepper, chopped green onion, a nice fistful of chopped cilantro, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  SO DELICIOUS OH MY GOODNESS.  I just love the versatility of beans and avocado.  I loved the combination of mashed black beans with baby spinach and alfalfa sprouts with a dollop of sour cream, and I absolutely adore this combination too.  The kidney beans have this great potato-y, earthy flavour, you have that creaminess from the avocado and corn, the cilantro gives it that fresh, spicy zing, and the bright, crunchy bell pepper and green onions give it the salad lots of extra texture which complements the softness of everything else.  My mum and I were heaping spoonfuls of this salad on our dinner plates!  

The salad itself could have definitely functioned as a main meal, but I ate it with a bowl of yummy udon noodles with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of black pepper and red chili flakes.  I love udon noodles, with or without the soup broth.  My mum and I will usually grab several packs of udon noodles at the Chinese supermarket and when I eat non-veggie meals, I’ll eat them with some pork chops and veggies, or with cut up hot dog weenies and mixed veggies, ha.  Yummy to the max!

Spotlight on Fresh: Avocado White Bean Dosas With Tomato & Cilantro

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Ever since I started integrating more vegetarian and vegan meals into my diet, I’ve been eating and exploring many different kinds of beans and legumes and the foodie in me is super happy because of it!  I’m a huge fan of kidney beans (red and white ones), black beans, lentils, chickpeas, the list goes on…and on and on 😀  Beans offer so many vital nutrients (iron, fibre, and protein among others) and they scream, “I am hearty and delicious and I can be your meal!”  I love starting with a bean and building a great meal around it with vegetables and great sauces. 

Beans with avocado is one of my favourite food combinations and Fresh offers a great appetizer on their menu: white bean and avocado dosas!  Dosas are a cross between pancakes and crepes and are popular in Indian cuisine.  They’re super soft on the insides and crispy on the outside, and quite honestly, I’d eat these even without any filling in them because they’re so delicious!  The dosas are filled with large white kidney beans and chopped red onion, and they’re slathered with spicy chipotle avocado sauce.  Tomatoes and cilantro are served alongside, as well as a wedge of lime for a squirt of fresh citrus flavour! 

Fresh has a fantastic selection of juices, shakes, rice, noodles, wraps, burritos, soups, and vegan and vegetarian style “pub” food, like sweet potato fries and garlic mayo and quinoa battered onion rings, as well as dosas with different fillings and corn tortilla starters that function just as great as actual main meal items.  You can take a look at my first Fresh post here, and visit their fab website here.  I’m really excited to post these because tomorrow, I’m going to show you all a great salad dish that my mum and I whipped up over the weekend, inspired by these yummy dosas!

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

Appetizers and starters range in price from $3 up to $11 for larger sharing plates.