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Chocolate smoothie, cashew french toast help make transition to plant-based diet

Cashew berry French toast is shown in a handout photo, from the

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Cashew berry French toast is shown in a handout photo, from the "Thrive Energy Cookbook". THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Penguin - Kevin Clark

In his fourth book, "Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 Functional, Plant-Based Whole Food Recipes," Brendan Brazier provides recipes that are allergen-free and help enhance performance for anyone who wants to feel more energetic.

Brazier says the recipes can be used by anyone, whether they follow his suggestions for a plant-based food plan or simply want to supplement their own diet with some healthy choices.

The following recipes are suitable for those seeking ideas for transitioning from a more traditional way of eating.

"Maybe they've eaten the standard American diet for decades and they're not going to change right away and that's fine," the endurance athlete says. "I think slow, gradual transitioning is the way to go."

Chocolate-Almond Decadence

This smoothie is rich and decadent. It has helped transition many followers of the standard North American diet to plant-based whole food advocates, Brazier says.

This recipe is rated transition, raw, gluten-free and super nutrient-dense.

Prep Time: 2 to 3 minutes

Special Equipment: high-speed blender

1 Medjool date, pitted

15 ml (1 tbsp) cacao powder

15 ml (1 tbsp) goji berries

15 ml (1 tbsp) vanilla bean powder or extract

15 ml (1 tbsp) almond butter (recipe follows)

1/4 avocado (optional, for extra creaminess and essential fatty acid)

5 ml (1 tsp) super chocolate powder mix (recipe follows)

125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut water

125 ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened almond milk

15 ml (1 tbsp) coconut nectar

About 500 ml (2 cups) ice cubes

15 ml (1 tbsp) cacao nibs

In a blender, combine all ingredients except ice and cacao nibs. Add ice to about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above liquid line. Blend on high speed until smooth. Serve topped with cacao nibs.

Makes 1 serving (550 ml/2 1/4 cups).

———

Super Chocolate Powder Mix

This tasty powder is a powerhouse of adrenal-restorative function. It dramatically enhances the nutritional value of any drink.

It is rated as gluten-free and super-nutrient dense.

Prep Time: 4 minutes

1 part reishi mushroom

1 part cinnamon

1 part yerba mate

1 part ginseng

1 part maca

In a spice grinder, combine all ingredients and grind to a fine powder. If you're starting with powdered ingredients, stir them together.

Keeps in a sealed container in a cool dry place for a long time, so make enough to last.

———

Almond Butter

Always good to have on hand, homemade almond butter is a simple, versatile, two-ingredient staple that is full of nutrition.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Special Equipment: food processor

500 ml (2 cups) raw almonds

Pinch sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread almonds on it. Roast in a 180 C (350 F) oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

Let almonds cool and blend in a food processor for 12 to 15 minutes straight, only stopping to scrape down the sides every few minutes, if needed, until achieving a thick and creamy texture.

Add sea salt and blend to incorporate.

Store in a mason jar in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

Makes 2 cups (500 ml).

———

Cashew Berry French Toast

The flavour of this will make it a brunch favourite.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Special Equipment: blender, griddle

125 ml (1/2 cup) raw cashews

250 ml (1 cup) water

250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk

5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) cinnamon

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) ground nutmeg

Pinch sea salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) virgin coconut oil

4 slices sprouted bread

35 ml (2 heaping tbsp) coconut cream

50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh raspberries

50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh blueberries

3 or 4 fresh strawberries, cut in half

30 ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup

In a blender, combine cashews, water, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat griddle to medium. Brush with coconut oil.

Dip both sides of bread in cashew mixture. Cook on each side until golden brown.

Top with coconut cream, fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Makes 2 servings.

———

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

A gluten-free twist on a traditional recipe, with loads more nutrients. Traditional tabbouleh is made with couscous, which is standard wheat. Quinoa contains about 20 per cent more protein, is gluten-free and is easier to digest than wheat.

Look for Mediterranean red pepper paste in Middle Eastern supermarkets or in the foreign food aisle at the grocery store.

This is rated gluten-free and super-nutrient dense.

Prep Time: 18 minutes

50 ml (1/4 cup) virgin coconut oil

250 ml (1 cup) quinoa (any colour), rinsed and drained

500 ml (2 cups) water

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) ground cumin

15 ml (1 tbsp) ground coriander

15 ml (1 tbsp) red pepper flakes

15 ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste

15 ml (1 tbsp) Mediterranean red pepper paste

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

6 green onions, finely chopped

5 or 6 fresh mint leaves, torn

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) fresh Italian parsley, chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice

15 ml (1 tbsp) pomegranate molasses (transition option) or coconut nectar

15 ml (1 tbsp) grapeseed oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and drizzle bottom with some of the virgin coconut oil. Add quinoa; toast, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes or until dry. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let quinoa sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat another medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, tomato paste and red pepper paste. Cook, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool.

Add paste mixture to quinoa and toss gently until fully incorporated. Add tomatoes, green onions, mint, parsley, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and grapeseed oil. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 or 3 servings.

Source: "Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 Functional, Plant-Based Whole Food Recipes" by Brendan Brazier (Penguin Canada, 2014).

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