Sunday, October 16, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Thanks so much to Jenn of Kale and Cookies for bestowing upon me this award!

“Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’.
The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!

The rules of winning this award are as follows:
1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.       Post the award on your blog.
4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
And the Liebster goes to:





These are some of the amazing blogs that I've discovered from Vegan MoFo! I hope everyone enjoys blogging in the second half of MoFo and I hope to discover many more new blogs!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips


This is the easiest and quickest recipe that I've made so far for Vegan MoFo! It is Alicia Silverstone's Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips from her book, The Kind Diet and her website, The Kind Life.  You can find the recipe posted on her site and it only requires a few ingredients - crispy brown rice cereal, brown rice syrup, a pinch of salt, peanut butter, and vegan chocolate chips (optional if you don't want to add 'em, you don't have to!  I love my chocolate.)

  • 1 box brown rice crisps cereal
  • 1 3/4 cups of brown rice syrup
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips
  1. Pour the rice cereal into a large bowl.
  2. Heat the syrup with a pinch of salt in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. When the rice syrup liquefies, add the peanut butter and stir until well combined.
  4. Pour over the rice cereal and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed and cooled to room temperature, stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Make sure the mixture is cool, or you will end up with melted chocolate instead of chocolate chips in your treats.
  7. Turn the mixture into an 8"x8" or 9"x13" baking dish.
  8. Wet your wooden spoon lightly and press the mixture evenly into the pan.
  9. Let cool for 1 hour - if you can - before cutting into squares or bars.
Of course, I didn't realize this until after I had made the treats but I used the wrong kind of cereal!  I had grabbed the "brown rice puffs" at the grocery store instead of "brown rice crisps".  So these aren't quite as crispy as they should be.  In fact, they're a bit soggy.  They still taste fantastic but they don't have that crispiness to them like a rice crispy square does.  So, you might want to make them with the brown rice crisp cereal rather than the puffs.  If for some reason, you can only find the puffed cereal at your grocery store, it will still work. I'll still eat them!

I also used crunchy natural peanut butter because that's what I had and it worked great.


I think I'll be taking this weekend off from blogging and Vegan MoFo.  Thanks to everyone for visiting my blog so far!  I can't believe I have over 1000 hits on my blog now, and I just started writing it a couple of months ago. 

Also, Happy Vegan MoFo Hump Day!!!!  To celebrate, vegan songwriter Leslie Hall has written a song for the occasion!  You can download it here!  And here are the lyrics:

I eat the finest cuisines, in the finest of places  Stuff my mouth full and always say thank you.  But if it's raised in a cage, and it can't even move, if it's hormone filled and in a bad mood.  I'm gonna pass on that.  Reach for something better.  The only milk I'll drink comes from the nipple of a soy bean. Veggies make you live forever, and they seem to taste much better. when they're cooked and grown with love.  So give a chef who knows what's up a hug. Momma just can't seem to get it, Papa he just rolls his eyes. When I tell them I'm much healthier, they just say that it's all lies.  But beans, nuts, fruits and veggies can really fill the belly.  Get you vitamins you need, shiny hair and extra speed.  Don't take that meat-wich any further, I want a marinated, deep fried, hand-tied mushroom burger.  I like it!  We gotta stand strong for our feathered furry sometimes scaly animal friends and their little babies.  'Cuz I wouldn't want to live in a cage in a dark warehouse killed at an early age.  Pumped full of hormones, sleeping in my feces.  Never met my mother, raised by machines.  Never get sunshine never get green, but that's just me.  [That girl loves fruit leather.]  So ask us what we're eating.  Delicious and repeating, fruits and veggies are so nice.  With a slice of tempeh,  yes, I'll have that twice.  Don't forget the legumes!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies


Since finding the vegan white chocolate chips, I knew that I wanted to make a yummy cookie with them!  I worked until 11:00pm last night, and when I got home, I started baking these cookies!  I know, I am a crazy lady baking at midnight.  These turned out so delicious!  They're so soft but they have a crispiness about them, too.  And the flavor - Paul commented to me today, "Those are vegan!? What!" and even said "These are way better than the ones at Subway."  Success!

Here's the recipe that I put together late last night:

3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Earth Balance
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup applesauce
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
big handful of vegan white chocolate chips
big handful of chopped macadamia nuts
(You can adjust the amount of chocolate and nuts to your liking)

Heat oven to 370 degrees. Mix sugars, margarine, vanilla, and applesauce together in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins


I was looking for a recipe to make that wasn't too unhealthy as I've been on a bit of a chocolate and cake kick lately.  I dug out my copy of Veganomicon and found the Banana Wheat Germ Muffin recipe - and I already had all of the ingredients at home!  Success. 

These muffins baked just perfectly. They have a slight crunch to them from the wheat germ, and they are soft and fluffy from the bananas.  Baked with whole wheat flour and wheat germ, you won't feel guilty snacking on these.  The recipe makes 12 muffins.

1 cup plain soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Add muffin liners to a muffin tin.
Pour soy milk into a measuring cup and add the vinegar to it.  Set it aside to curdle.
Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Add the soy milk mixture to the bowl along with the oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Add this to the banana mixture and use a wooden spoon to gently stir the ingredients, until all the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full and bake for 22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

I recommend serving them warm - they are just delicious!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vegan Treats at Panacea in Toronto


Today, I had the entire day to myself - Paul is on overnight shifts and has to sleep during the day and I had this one random Tuesday off work. I decided to hop on a bus and treat myself to a day of walking, enjoying the sunshine, and doing some shopping in downtown Toronto.  While I did manage to get a little bit of Christmas shopping done (this will _not_ be posted on the blog at all as I don't want anyone to accidentally read about their own surprise Xmas presents!), one of my main goals was to finally visit Panacea, a completely Vegan shop near Bloor & Bathurst in Toronto.

Yes, this store is completely Vegan! No label reading is necessary here.  And the focus here, beyond veganism, is eco-friendly, ethical, natural, and organic products. I will happily always shop at places that seek out ethical products and this entire store is full of them! Next time I'm there, I'm going to take a closer look at their bath & body products.  Today, I wanted to find food and snacks that I wouldn't be able to find anywhere in my local grocery stores.

I wanted to post about the desserts and treats that I bought since my Vegan MoFo theme is Vegan Desserts!  I bought those three chocolate bars pictured above made by Go Max Go.  I've seen pictures of these chocolate bars online but hadn't seen them in person until today, so I'm super psyched to try them.  There were about six different kinds in the store, but I bought "Mahalo" (similar to a Bounty or Mounds bar), "Jokerz" (seems similar to Snickers), and "Snap!" (similar to Crunch). I am super pumped to try dairy-free versions of my favorite chocolate bars!  They look amazing!


I don't know when the last time was that I ate a marshmallow. I couldn't resist this variety sampler of Vegan marshmallows by Sweet & Sara.  They look all gooey and yummy.  They come in a variety of flavors:  Vanilla, Toasted Coconut, Strawberry, and Cinnamon Pecan. I think these are gonna get eaten pretty quickly.



I found them!  Vegan White Chocolate Chips!  I've been looking everywhere with no success, other than possibly ordering them online.  Thankfully, Panacea has them on their shelves.  I think my next baking recipe will have to involve these white chocolate chips in some way!

The day was a complete success all in all - I went to a few stores along Queen St., walked through Kensington Market (finally found kelp noodles for sale in an organic grocery store there! yay!), and treated myself to lunch at Fresh.  It was a beautiful and very hot day for October with the sun shining brightly, so it was perfect for enjoying some time outdoors. It might also seem silly to those who live in the city and take public transit everyday, but I also feel rather accomplished for having figured out the Go buses/trains and the subway system on my own for getting around town!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maple Cupcakes with Rich Maple Frosting


Maple syrup is so sweet and so very Canadian, so what better recipe to write about on Canadian Thanksgiving.  I was inspired by the Rich Maple Frosting recipe on VeganBaking.net to create a maple cupcake with maple frosting.

The recipe for the cupcake itself is the Maple Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the WorldEvery recipe I have tried so far from this book has produced beautiful, delicious cupcakes of all different flavors!  I took their advice and tried substituting some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour with great results.

The Rich Maple Frosting recipe is the one that I linked above from VeganBaking.net.  The frosting was a bit tricky to make - I'm not sure if I did it properly since you had to heat the maple syrup and agave nectar over the stove and get it to a certain temperature... and then after refrigerating it for an hour, you had to blend it with margarine/vegetable shortening.  After doing this, the icing was quite runny, which it said may happen, and if it does, to refrigerate it.  No amount of refrigerating seemed to harden the frosting enough!  Not only that, but I found the recipe to be way too sweet for my liking.  It seemed to over-power the flavor of the cupcake and I found myself wiping off most of the icing...and I really didn't put too much frosting on these cupcakes to begin with.

With that said, Paul absolutely loved the cupcakes and wants me to make more!  He said that the Maple Frosting was perfect to his liking.  I have lots of leftover frosting so he may even use it as a topping for pancakes or waffles...or I will just have to make some more cupcakes for the icing.  I guess it is all just personal preference!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner - Tempeh Onion Curry & Chocolate Cake


I'm deviating slightly from my original Vegan MoFo plans of posting a dessert recipe or baked good every day for the month of October.  On Monday, it is Canadian Thanksgiving and since both Paul and I have to work on the holiday and aren't able to make dinner together, we decided to have our Thanksgiving dinner tonight.  I decided that I would write about our delicious Thanksgiving meal that we just shared!  Originally, we were thinking of going with some roasted vegetables (a little more traditional) but instead decided to try a new dish that I'd been eyeing for a while, Tempeh Do Pyaaza.

I changed up this recipe a little bit from the original, so I will post it below.  This was really fun because Paul and I went out to Whole Foods this afternoon in search of certain spices and ingredients for the meal that we didn't have on hand.  There were some ingredients in the original that we just couldn't find (anardana seeds), and some that we just don't really like (fresh mint in the curry) and some that Paul doesn't care for (fresh cilantro).  I also added some garlic and garam masala to the mix.

Tempeh Do Pyaaza, as originally posted on One Green Planet, is an Indian curry that literally means "double onion" (Do Pyaaza).  The whole "double onion" part of the recipe originally caught my attention - mmmm...onion!  And...double onion, even better!  This is definitely not your traditional Thanksgiving meal by any means, but it was hearty and warm for the holiday, and quite healthy!  We served the tempeh over brown rice.

This was also my first time cooking with fenugreek!  Yay for discovering new spices and ingredients! I was so surprised that the fenugreek had such a sweet smell to it, almost like maple syrup.  I read online that toasting the seeds lightly tends to bring out the aroma, and it was definitely a good idea. 

You'll need:

Olive oil (for frying)

2 hot chili peppers, chopped
2 large sweet yellow onions, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, sliced into rounds
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds, lightly toasted (toast these on their own in a pan lightly)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp Earth Balance
1 package tempeh cut into cubes
1 cup water

1.  Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan.  Saute one of the onions, one of the hot peppers, and the red bell pepper for 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
2.  Grind the Fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and the cumin seeds.  Saute the other onion, garlic, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, and ginger in the same pan with more oil as needed, until the onions are golden.
3.  Remove from heat, and place all items from the pan in a blender with the lemon juice.  Blend the onion mixture to make a thick puree.
4.  In the pan, combine the Earth Balance, agave, salt and onion puree.  Add the tempeh and cook for 10 minutes, until the puree thickens and the tempeh cooks a bit.
5.  Add 1 cup of water, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is not too watery and has thickened to a desired consistency.

Serve the onion tempeh over rice, and top with the fried onion/red bell pepper mixture! 

I also enjoyed some dessert tonight and took the night off from baking:


It is a slice of chocolate cake from Sweets From The Earth!  Mmmmm....delicious and chocolatey and Vegan!  Keeping with my blog's dessert theme for VeganMoFo, I did enjoy a lovely slice of cake today after all! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


This is the recipe that made me fall in love with Vegan baking from the start - the basic Vanilla Cupcakes from Isa & Terry's Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I'm sure it is a recipe that many people have come across if you're into vegan baking or baking cupcakes as it has been posted in multiple places all over the web.  There are 75 dairy-free cupcake recipes in the book, and it is really cheap to purchase at Amazon or your local bookstore, so I highly recommend that you check it out if you haven't already!

After I initially baked these cupcakes, of course I had to run out and buy the book, and then proceed to bake copious amounts of different cupcakes on my own and with friends.  So, let's get baking, and whip up a batch of super sweet and yummy, light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting!

1 cup soymilk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
1 1/4 cups flour 
2 tablespoons cornstarch\
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin pan with paper liners.  Whisk the soy milk and the vinegar together and let sit a few minutes until curdled.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix.
In a separate large bowl,use a handheld mixer at medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy, but don't beat past 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and other extract, if using, alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and the dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes till done. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting (you may want to half this recipe unless you want twice as much icing! This will frost 24 cupcakes):



1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer


Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pear Crisp Muffins


I baked these Apple Crisp muffins a little while ago, when Paul asked me if I could make Pear Crisp muffins for him. He loves pear and pear crisp so I thought...hey, I could swing that! I made them once before but they tasted very similar to the apple crisp muffins so I made sure to cut the pear pieces into bigger chunks and include a little bit more pear this time around.  They turned out wonderfully and definitely taste of pear this time!  With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner (this upcoming Monday!) these muffins would be a delightful addition to a warm Thanksgiving celebration.


As you can see, I left the pears pretty chunky - this muffin that I cut open may not be the greatest example as I think some of the bigger muffins had even more pear filling.  What I love about these muffins is that they are quick and easy to prepare and you can mix everything in the same bowl, so less cleaning up to do!  I only had an hour to spare before work today and I was able to bake the muffins and blog about them, so that's pretty good!  And more importantly, I have a great snack to bring to work with me!

Here's the recipe, as adapted from the one originally posted on Happy Herbivore:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
dash nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup organic applesauce
1 large organic pear, diced into larger chunks
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Add the applesauce, sugars, maple syrup and stir.  Add the pear chunks.  Pour into a muffin tin and sprinkle more oats and brown sugar on top.  Bake for 18-25 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Banana Everything Cookies


Unlike yesterday's peanut butter cookies, these cookies turned out perfectly! These are the Banana Everything cookies from the Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  Of course they turned out great, as everything I have made from their cookbooks always turns out super yummy!


These cookies turned out amazing!  They're a perfect combination of banana, oatmeal, walnuts and chocolate chips.  Chewy, soft with a slight crunch and this recipe made a whole lot of cookies - 36 small cookies for me, although the recipe says it makes 24 (depends on how big you make them I guess!)  Here's the recipe:

1 very ripe banana
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking (not instant) oatmeal or rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease two baking sheets.

2.  In a mixing bowl, mash the banana with a fork.  Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix with a fork.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Add the oatmeal/oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips and mix well.  If the dough is too slippery, add a few extra tablespoons of flour.
3.   Clean your hands and roll the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball.  Flatten it a bit in your hands and place each ball about 2" apart on the cookie sheet.

Cookie Dough, ready to go in the oven!
 4.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Cookies, fresh from the oven!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Martha Stewart's Peanut Butter Cookies...Made Vegan!


This is first attempt at taking a non-Vegan cookie recipe and making it Vegan! I have a whole magazine filled with cookies by none other than Martha Stewart, so I thought I would take a classic recipe and make it Vegan. This is your basic peanut butter cookie with no dairy or eggs, made with all natural peanut butter.

The cookies turned out okay, but not perfect. I found the dough to be a bit dry and crumbly, and the cookies themselves are a little bit dry as well. They have a very delicious peanut buttery taste to them and my fiance, Paul seems to think they are yummy, so that's good enough for me! I think they're pretty good, too.

If anyone has any suggestions as to how I could make these cookies any better, please let me know! I think maybe I should try a different egg replacer than the one I used. Someone on Twitter suggested using ground flax seeds plus water in place of the egg replacer.  I've also heard you can use banana, but I don't want to alter the flavor of the cookie since it tastes perfect just the way it is.

Here's the recipe! 

1 1/2 cups crunchy or smooth peanut butter (I used a bit of both)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 2 tbsp water (in place of 1 egg)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, sugar, and margarine until smooth.  Add the egg replacer.  Then, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing to combine.
3.  Pinch off the douch by the tablespoon and roll into balls.  Place 2" apart on the baking sheet.  Using a fork, press balls in a criss cross pattern, flattening to a 1/2" thickness.
4.  Bake, rotating halway through, for 18-22 minutes.

I would have flattened these with a fork to make the wonderful classic peanut butter cookie criss cross pattern had the dough not been so crumbly!  I flattened them down and they cooked fine and managed to stay together just enough.  I'd like to try them again using a different egg replacer as they taste great!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quick & Easy Blueberry Muffins


Yesterday, I posted about the Strawberry Lavender muffins that I made and today I'm writing about another fruit-filled muffin, the Blueberry Muffin! The recipe from yesterday was a little bit more involved but today's is quick and easy - I made them in less than 5 minutes, popped them in the oven, and brewed a pot of coffee.  By the time the coffee was ready, the muffins were nearly out of the oven and ready to be enjoyed.

Here is the recipe for Vegan Blueberry Muffins - you probably have most of these ingredients on hand and might just need to buy the blueberries!  I used fresh blueberries, though it will work with fresh or frozen depending on what time of year it is and where you live.

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup soymilk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup water
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add the blueberries to the dry ingredients.  Then, mix the wet into the dry, and bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Strawberry Lavender Muffins


Whenever I'm visiting downtown Toronto, I also almost always find myself eating at Fresh, a popular vegetarian restaurant (actually, there are three locations!).  It is one of my most favorite restaurants ever where you can find all sorts of fresh and wholesome dishes, and the menu is 100% vegetarian (nearly 100% Vegan as well, with the choice of adding cheese here or there).  Fresh also has the most delicious juices and fruit smoothies - I always make sure to get a smoothie with my meal.

Since I'm not in downtown Toronto very often, Fresh has published a couple of cookbooks so I can make some of their delicious food at home.  While I do not own any of the books (yet), I did purchase one as a Christmas present for a friend and I copied this recipe out from the book since I wanted to try it myself.  Pictured above are the Strawberry Lavender Muffins.  This recipe comes from the book, Fresh at Home, available in person at all Fresh locations, in bookstores, and for sale online.

The lavender adds a really interesting twist to the regular fruit muffin - the actual lavender pieces aren't inside the muffins, but infused inside the soy milk / maple syrup combination that you heat on the stove top.  All of the directions are below - these muffins are very easy to make and super delicious!  I don't think these will last very long around the house!

STRAWBERRY LAVENDER MUFFINS
Makes 12

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup and 1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
4 cups organic light spelt flour (I substituted half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.  You can substitute all 4 cups of all-purpose flour, too)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil

Directions:

1. Line the pan with paper liners.
2. Heat soy milk, maple syrup, and lavender in a saucepan - bring to a boil over medium heat.  (Keep your eye on the pan....once it starts to boil, it will boil over and FAST!  So...watch out!)
3. Remove from heat, cover and infuse for 5 minutes.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve and add applesauce.  Set aside and cool completely.
4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add strawberries and toss to cook.
6. Add liquid and oil to dry ingredients.  Mix gently until the mixture just comes together.
7. Scoop into muffin pans.
8.  Bake at 350 degrees F for approx. 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed.
9. Remove from pans, cool, and serve.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie


Here is a fantastic recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies that has become my go-to cookie recipe.  I slightly modified from the one posted at VegWeb. The cookies turned out super yummy! Very moist, a slightly cakey texture, and full of flavor!

I used the modifications to the recipe as a user suggested in the post and they turned out fantastic. All of these ingredients are easy to find, so you might have them already in your kitchen! This recipe makes about 36 cookies so you'll have enough to share with all of your friends :)

I also added a bit of peanut butter to the recipe that wasn't originally there that gives them a slight peanut butter flavor that isn't overwhelming. I also ran out of chocolate chips - I only had 1/2 a bag left, but this was definitely enough! So feel free to use the whole bag of chocolate chips, or if you just want to use 1/2 the bag, it will turn out great, too!

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 vegan margarine (non-hydrogenated, Earth Balance is the one I use)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup applesauce
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-12oz bag vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 heaping spoonfuls of natural peanut butter

Heat oven to 370 Fahrenheit. Mix sugars, margarine, vanilla, applesauce, and peanut butter together in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - No Baking Required!


It is Day 1 of VeganMoFo and here is my first post! I decided that I am going to post about a new Vegan dessert every day for the month of October, which can get, well, rather fattening. So I will be sharing my baked goods with others and spreading the word that baking can be delicious without dairy!

This recipe is a favourite amongst my friends and co-workers as I have shared this recipe with many people in the past. You can make your own version of Reese Peanut Butter Cups at home quickly and easily without baking! These are delicious and in my opinion, taste better than the candy bar. While they aren't exactly good for you, they do use natural peanut butter. Also, they are quite rich, so after eating one of these, your sweet tooth is satisfied immediately. I recommend making a small batch, no more than the twelve as outlined in the recipe.


INGREDIENTS:
12 mini cupcake liners
3/4 cup Vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add 2 tbsp peanut butter and stir. Set aside for 5 minutes to let it cool.
2. Place heaping tablespoon of chocolate mixture into each cupcake liner and spread all over with the back of a spoon. Place chocolate covered liners on a plate and into the fridge to harden.
3. In the meantime, stir peanut butter, vanilla, and sugar together. By this time, you can remove the chocolate liners from the fridge and divide the peanut butter mixture into all 12 liners, pressing down.
4. Top each liner with a heaping tablespoon of chocolate from leftover chocolate mixture. You may have to melt the chocolate a little bit again first.

Chill in the fridge for one hour before consuming.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Quinoa Pesto with Oven Roasted Tomatoes


This recipe came together when I was looking for something to make for dinner with ingredients that I already had on hand. It is a hybrid of a few different recipes that I found from across the web, and I can't remember the specific websites I was looking at (sorry about that!).  The only item I really had to buy was the pine nuts and it was a great way to use up the basil and tomatoes that I had from the garden outside.

This recipe really comes together with three different recipes - Vegan pesto sauce, quinoa, and oven roasted tomatoes.  Don't worry, it really isn't that complicated and it doesn't take that long to make!  Here is what you need:

Oven Roasted Tomatoes:
many cherry tomatoes, cut in half - enough to fill a 13x9" glass baking dish
big splash of olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar

You'll want to start the tomatoes first.  Cut all of the tomatoes in half and place cut-side up in a 13x9" glass baking dish.  Mix the olive oil and brown sugar together and pour over all of the tomatoes.  Make sure the tomatoes are completely coated in the oil/sugar mixture, and arrange them so they are all cut-side up on the baking sheet.  Place the tomatoes in a 350 degree oven, and bake for 45-60 minutes until they are all shrunken and roasted.

Vegan Pesto Recipe:
huge bunch of fresh basil (about 3 cups worth)
several cloves of garlic (I used 6-7, use less if you're not a garlic fanatic like me!)
6 tbsp raw pine nuts
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup nutritional yeast (I used 1/4 cup, but you may want to use more)

Place all items, except oil and nutritional yeast in the food processor and blend.  Then, add the olive oil and nutritional yeast and combine until smooth and creamy.

Quinoa Recipe:

1 box of quinoa (or at least 1 cup uncooked quinoa)
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn, frozen
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup Vegan Pesto recipe
oven roasted tomatoes

Cook the quinoa.  Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan, 2-3 minutes.  Add the quinoa and corn, and cook for a few minutes.  Stir in the spinach and cook for a few moments, until the spinach begins to wilt slightly.  Remove from heat, and add the pumpkin seeds and pesto.  Stir through and serve.  Top with the oven roasted tomatoes.  Add salt to taste, if needed.

You'll have to time this one out properly - start cooking the tomatoes first, and while they are in the oven, prepare the pesto and then the quinoa.  Once the tomatoes are almost finished, prepare the final quinoa recipe.

This one is super tasty and I've also made other variations of the recipe since making this!  I'll be posting that soon as well!  Very healthy, wholesome, and a great way to use up some items that you may have hanging around the kitchen or the garden!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Green Beans with Toasted Sesame Seeds


This dish is really quick to prepare and make - you'll be done in no time! It is very healthy and fresh tasting. It is a great way to use up those green beans from the Farmer's Market!  This makes for a wonderful vegetable side dish - we prepare this one on a regular basis.

INGREDIENTS

10oz green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp maple sugar (you can use brown sugar also)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (ie. Kikkoman brand)
Pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

1. In a saucepan of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in ice water, and drain again.
2. In a grinder, coarsely grind sesame seeds and transfer to a bowl. Mix in sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and salt to form a paste. Stir in the beans to coat.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Fresh Herbs



Mmmm. Just look at all of those rustic roasted vegetables. Here is a hearty and healthy meal that involves a lot of veggie chopping, but other than that, not much preparation. You can make as much or as little of this as you want, adding your favorite veggies in various quantities. However you prepare it, your home will be filled with an amazing aroma! We filled two casserole dishes and had some leftovers - yes, two casserole dishes split between the two of us, but hey, we were hungry, don't judge! ;) 

So, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Then, begin chopping your vegetables.  The veggies we used here were:  potatoes (boiled and soft enough when you pierce with a fork), carrots, zucchini, onion, yellow and orange pepper, and whole cloves of garlic.
When you chop up your veggies, try to keep them in larger chunks, especially the onions. You want all of the vegetables to cook at a similar rate, and you don't want any vegetables to get too mushy (and conversely, have some vegetables be too crunchy).

Throw all of the veggies into your casserole dish.  Drizzle generously with olive oil.  Then, you can add your spices. I ground up a whole lot of coriander seed in my mortar and pestle.  Then, I used a whole bunch of fresh rosemary, fresh basil, some Vietnamese cilantro that I had growing in the garden (which isn't much like regular cilantro leaves...I would stay away from adding that, unless you really want to experiment!), and of course, salt and pepper.  I think I used some dried rosemary here as well.

Every fifteen minutes, stir the mixture and add more spices if you'd like.  Each fifteen minutes, I would add a little extra ground coriander, freshly ground pepper and dried rosemary on top.  You will probably have to cook the mixture for about an hour in total before serving.

This is such a delicious recipe for using up all of those fresh summer veggies, but of course, you can enjoy it all year long! This dish would be perfect to make in the Fall or to make for a Vegan Thanksgiving dinner.  Or bring it to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as a vegetable side dish. I think just about everyone would go crazy for this, Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf from Veganomicon


One of my favorite go-to cookbooks is Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I love quinoa both for its health benefits and the taste, so I'm always looking for new quinoa recipes.  I found this recipe printed in the Veganomicon cookbook and I found it was pretty easy to make and quite delicious. I'm also a fan of chickpeas and spices like cumin and coriander - this recipe includes all of the above!  I also deviated from the original recipe by adding some diced yellow pepper, increasing the amount of garlic (Paul and I can't seem to get enough garlic!), and adding a bit of cayenne to spice it up.  You could probably add some other veggies of your choice as well.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely (about one cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp coriander seed, crushed with a mortar & pestle
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1-15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil for 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
2.  Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, black pepper and salt; saute for 1 minute.
3.  Add the quinoa and saute for 2 minutes.
4.  Add the chickpeas and the broth; cover and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 18 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.  Stir occasionally.
5.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans


On the same day that I made these Refrigerator Pickles, I also made some Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans. The green beans required a little bit of extra time in the fridge before eating, so we did not eat them until today. After eating the refrigerator pickles and now these green beans, I have a new found love for homemade pickled vegetables. They are quite delicious and fresh. The green beans still have a crunch to them and have a mild sweetness to them, combined with spiciness from the hot pepper. These are assembled a little bit differently than the pickles, and they are pickled with apple cider vinegar rather than plain white vinegar.

I think that we'll be doing a lot more pickling around our house in the future! I also should mention that this is super easy to do - all you need is a mason jar and the following simple recipe:

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed
1 jalapeno (I used a few smaller hot peppers from the garden)
few sprigs of fresh dill
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1 small clove garlic, lightly crushed (I used several)

For extra spicy beans, make a cut in the jalapeno.  I cut all of the peppers in half for maximum heat!  Add all of the ingredients to a large jar, topping off with water if necessary to cover the beans. Refrigerate for 3 weeks before consuming.

The hardest part is waiting for three weeks before eating them!  Just put them at the back of your fridge and forget about them for a while. It will be a special treat the day you are able to crack open the jar and devour them!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lentil Salad


Here is a great recipe for a lentil salad. It is super nutritious and tasty, and it makes a pretty large quantity that you can keep in the fridge for the next few days as leftovers. Lentils are especially excellent for vegetarians, vegans, or those of you who are looking to include other protein sources in their diet. Here are a few facts about lentils:
  • They contain 26% protein - the highest content in any vegetable except soy beans
  • They have a high fibre content (31% in green lentils, 11% in red lentils) and B vitamins
  • Lentils have virtually no fat
  • Lentils are one of the best vegetable sources of iron. This makes them an important part of a vegetarian diet, and useful for preventing iron deficiency
Now that you're familiar with the goodness of lentils, here's the recipe! It doesn't take long to prep, and takes about 25 minutes to cook.

Ingredients (Lentils):
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 bag of green lentils, washed (approx. 2 cups)
4 cups vegetable stock

Ingredients (Dressing):
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup freshly ground flaxseeds
1/8 cup flaxseed oil
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil on medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the broth and lentils. Cook on medium heat until boiling, then cover, and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Cook until all of the stock has been absorbed and there is just no liquid left in the mixture, but the mixture is still moist.

2. While the lentils cook, prepare the dressing. Grind the flaxseeds (you can easily do this in a coffee bean grinder). Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl for the dressing. Whisk until the mixture thickens. Set aside.

3. Once the lentil portion is fully cooked, remove from the stove and pour into a large bowl. Mix half of the dressing in with the lentils.

You can now place the lentils in the fridge and let them cool, or serve them warm. When serving, put a little more of the dressing on the lentils. Keep the lentils and the dressing in the fridge and you can have this tasty dish over the next few days if you wish! You can serve immediately after cooking, or wait until the mixture cools in the fridge.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vegan Tom Yum Soup (Thai Lemongrass Soup)


Here is a super nutritious quick & easy soup to make that is also vegetarian and vegan. It is called Tom Yum Soup and is a vegetarian variation on the popular Thai dish. It has a distinct flavor from the lemongrass, which you should be able to find at many grocery stores in the herb section. If you can't find it fresh, you should be able to find it in a small jar. Paul and I used to always enjoy this soup years ago from a Thai place in the food court, until I realized that it most likely had fish sauce in it. Since we're both vegetarians, I modified it slightly to make a vegetarian version, and we've been making it ever since!

When I buy lemongrass at the grocery store, I often get asked by the cashiers what I use lemongrass for in my cooking. Hopefully this recipe will allow you to enjoy the wonderful flavor and aroma in your cooking, too, especially if you've never cooked with it before!

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)

4 cups vegetable broth
3 large stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, bruised, cut into 2" lengths
3 green onions, cut
2 tbsp roasted chili paste
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
lots of sprouts, steamed
lots of broccoli, steamed
noodles (rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles)
3 garlic cloves, cut

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring stock to a boil, add lemongrass to broth, reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Put green onions and garlic into a serving bowl. Steam sprouts and broccoli.
3. Remove lemongrass. Add remaining ingredients to the simmering stock. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Serve. You can add red pepper flakes to the bottom of your bowl if you're looking for even more spice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tofu Baked Pasta


I made this tofu baked pasta for dinner and was so excited that we started eating it before any photos were taken!  Oops. That's the one thing about having a Vegan blog - always gotta be sure to snap the photos of any new recipes that you make. It does get a little bit annoying if you're super hungry, but thankfully doesn't take too long if you're able to run outside where it's a bit brighter to take a photo. I snapped this photo of what was left over after Paul and I ate our serving of pasta.

One thing that I will miss about eating dairy are baked pastas. While I didn't eat them very often, I will miss my vegetarian lasagnas, with layers of ricotta cheese and spinach with melted mozzarella on top. Thankfully, we have this Tofu Baked Pasta recipe, which fills my appetite for baked cheesy pastas quite nicely. I am continually amazed at how tofu can taste differently according to what you are making. I've never mashed up extra firm tofu before, but it totally worked in this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1 box of large shell pasta
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 package of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
a couple handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
splash of lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Boil the shell pasta according to the directions on the box.
2.  Mash up the tofu until it resembles a firm ricotta cheese texture.  Add the nutritional yeast, basil, spinach, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
3.  In a casserole dish, spread out some tomato sauce.  Fill the shells with a couple of spoon fulls of the tofu filling.  Top with the remaining tomato sauce, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

This recipe made enough pasta for the two of us to enjoy that evening, as well as a couple of lunches for following days. Any leftovers keep fairly well in the fridge for a couple of days.  The next time I make this, I may add some more veggies, like finely chopped onion or some minced garlic. Even some broccoli would go well in this pasta, too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hummus Pizza


Hummus Pizza. The concept of it sounds a little bit strange as we are accustomed to eating pizza with red tomato sauce, or even a pesto sauce or white cream sauce. Throwing a chickpea spread onto a pizza crust was definitely putting pizza in a whole other realm. Thankfully, this new world of pizza is a delicious one that I will be revisiting over and over again!

Paul and I made this pizza with a few simple ingredients and it was absolutely delicious. It is very quick to make if you're using a pre-made pizza crust. If you decide to make a pizza crust from scratch, be sure to first cook the crust for 10-12 minutes before adding any of the toppings on, including the hummus.  Then, cook your pizza following the recipe below.

We roasted our own red peppers and caramelized the onions. To roast the peppers, I chopped off the stems and removed the seeds from the peppers. I cut each pepper in half an turned them down on a baking sheet with the outside of the peppers facing up.  I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees and before putting in the peppers, I changed it to broil on high.  Place the baking sheet near the top of the oven and let them broil for 10 minutes.  They should be blackened a bit on the outside.  Let the peppers cool down a bit, and peel the skins off. If the skins don't come off easily, dunk the peppers in cold water for 30 seconds and they should come off easier.

For the caramelized onions, saute the onions in balsamic vinegar for about fifteen minutes until nice and caramelized. You can use about 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, although you may need to add more.

For this recipe, you will need:

1 whole wheat pizza crust (we bought a pre-made one from Whole Foods)
hummus
3 red onions, sliced
balsamic vinegar to caramelize the onions
3 red peppers for roasting
fresh or dried rosemary

To assemble the pizza, spread the hummus out on the pizza crust.  Place the caramelized onions on top, and then place your roasted red peppers (thinly sliced) on top of that.  Top with dried or fresh rosemary.  Place the pizza in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees and cook for 10-12 minutes.

This pizza is absolutely delicious and I'll be making this recipe again and again!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raw Aura Organic Cuisine in Port Credit


My visit to Raw Aura in the quaint waterfront village of Port Credit (part of Mississauga, Ontario) marked my very first trip to a raw food restaurant. I know that a raw diet is becoming more popular these days and I admire the dedication of raw foodists. Many foods lose their nutritional value after being cooked and by consuming the foods raw, we are able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from certain foods. However, I was not sure if Raw Aura would be able to create delicious cuisine while not heating their food over 105 degrees Farenheit. I wasn't even sure how creative you could get by keeping everything raw.

Well, the food that I ate at Raw Aura was absolutely delicious. That pile of noodles and vegetables that you see above is their "Sweet and Sour" noodles and that is what I ordered. Have you ever visited a restaurant and ordered an item, and decided that it was so tasty that you will keep ordering it no matter what every time you return? That's how I felt about this noodle dish. I have no idea how they created this immensely flavorful dish, but I sure wish that I had the recipe! It was my first time eating noodles made out of vegetables - these noodles were made out of kelp and zucchini. The full description of the menu item is: "A mix of kelp and zucchini noodles tossed in a light tangy maca infused almond butter based sauce with red pepper, fresh cilantro, romaine lettuce, red onions and topped with spiced almond bits." The noodles and the sauce were complimented by the crunchiness of the romaine, the spiciness of the onions, and the nutty almond pieces.  I'm in love!

I went to the restaurant with a couple of friends, but I brought home some leftovers of the pasta dish to Paul. After taking the first bite, he was totally sold on the meal and is already begging to visit the restaurant. I think we'll probably go back in a couple of days, just the two of us, so I may have some more pictures to post!

I also got a side of Miso Soup with my meal:


Here is what my friend, Shannon ordered - a Nacho plate.  The nachos were very interesting, definitely not your typical tortilla chips. From the menu:  "Crispy corn chips are served with guacamole, cashew sour cream, fresh tomato salsa and walnut taco meat." I tried a little bit of Shannon's nachos and they tasted way healthier and flavorful than any nachos I've ever tried! It was a different take on nachos, and definitely for the best.


Shannon also ordered the "Living Bread", which was sprouted sunflower, sesame, and spiced onion bread. I also didn't mention before that Raw Aura is completely gluten-free and dairy-free, so all of the bread items are not made with wheat. I didn't try the bread but she said it was very soft and tasted strongly of onion. Sounds good to me!


My friend, Chris ordered the Pasta Bolognese: "Zucchini noodles tossed in a rich tomato basil marinara sauce with red peppers, sunflower seed and sun dried tomato sausage, topped with almond Parmesan".  I didn't get the opportunity to try any of this for myself, but it certainly looked yummy!


I might also mention that the two friends that I visited Raw Aura are not vegetarian, vegan, or raw foodists, but thoroughly enjoyed their meal. I loved that I could order anything from the menu without the fear that dairy or meat might be hidden in the food somewhere. I also loved knowing that the meal was mostly all organic, plus it was extremely healthy with loads of veggies in their most nutritious state!

Shannon and I decided to order the same dessert, the Chocolate Ganache. The cake was divine - a crumbly layer on the bottom, a creamy cheesecake-esque filling in the middle, and a very chocolately top layer with caramel drizzled over the top. I don't know how this was dairy-free but it somehow was!  Yum!


The atmosphere of the restaurant was quite lovely - the cafe itself is very cozy and since it was rather nice outside today, they had the front windows wide open to the street. We sat in a prime location right by the window, so we were able to enjoy a fresh breeze off the lake.

I wouldn't hesitate to return to Raw Aura - heck, I'll probably be back there within the next couple of days. If you live in the area, I can guarantee that you'll love the food even if you aren't vegan, as I went for dinner with two meat-eaters and they loved it! A perfect haven for those who have a gluten intolerance and for those looking for a healthy meal away from home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Look What I Won at Whole Foods Market!


Last month, a brand new Whole Foods Market opened at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, and I was so excited to have a Whole Foods closer to home. I don't always shop there - sometimes I will shop at the local grocery store, sometimes I will shop at Farmers Markets (especially in the summertime), but I do love my Whole Foods. You really can't beat their selection and variety of different foods and they carry a lot of organic items as well. If there is an obscure ingredient that I'm looking for, chances are that Whole Foods carries it.

Around the time of their grand opening, I filled out a little slip of paper to enter a contest they were running.  Yesterday, I found out that I was one of their grand prize winners! So exciting! They told me that I won a gift basket and I could come and pick it up. I had no idea what I was going to win. When I got to the store, the cheerful girl at the customer service desk exclaimed, "Wow! You won the basket with the Magic Bullet!" I was stoked. I've always had my eye on the Magic Bullet but have never owned one.  Now, I am the proud owner of my very own Magic Bullet! Woo!



But wait, that's not all. I also won an assortment of goodies from Manitoba Harvest, makers of hemp products. In a beautiful woven basket, I also won two bags of hemp seeds (so healthy!), hemp milk in chocolate and vanilla (I tried this at the Vegetarian Food Fair last week but didn't get the chance to buy any!  Now I own some, yay!), two t-shirts (one for myself and one for Paul), and a tote bag (that I'm now using to transport snacks and food to work with me).

I don't recall the last time that I actually won anything, so receiving this lovely gift basket from Whole Foods was such an unexpected amazing surprise!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Participating in Vegan Mofo 2011!


I've signed up for Vegan Mofo - or Vegan Month of Food - for this year since I now have a Vegan blog of my own!  It runs for the entire month of October and right now, I'm thinking of going with the theme of baking vegan desserts or transforming my old favorite non-vegan desserts into vegan desserts.  That means a whole lot of baking and a whole lot of desserts around the house!  I will have to share them with some friends or co-workers as I can't have all of those baked goods hanging around - that's dangerous!  It will also be quite the challenge for me as my day job has picked up quite a bit and I haven't been around the house very much lately.  Hopefully I can get a little head start on the baking and save the dessert blog posts for October.

Hundreds of Vegan blogs participate in Vegan Mofo, so I can't wait to start reading some new blogs based on a whole variety of topics!  It will be interesting to see the different takes on this challenge and how creative some people can get.  I'm also excited to be a part of something amazing online, a whole network of like-minded people coming together to celebrate Veganism!  If you're ready to take on the challenge of blogging about something Vegan every day in October, you should sign up your blog as well.  All of the participating blogs will be listed after September 28th, 2011 (the last sign-up day) over at VeganMofo.com.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Restaurant Review - Fresh Fruit at Cora's


My first restaurant review!  Paul and I took a spontaneous trip to Cora's for breakfast today.  Cora's is a breakfast restaurant chain across Canada that originated in Montreal.  Their menu places fresh fruit in the foreground for breakfast, including it with nearly every meal!  As it is not a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, they serve your typical breakfast choices like eggs and bacon, but this restaurant is far from your average "greasy spoon" eatery.

As a vegan at Cora's, you have a couple of options that involve lots of fresh fruit. I ordered the king of all fruit platters - the Samira Wake-up.  It is described as "A beautiful plate of lavishly cut fresh fruit served with a choice of toast."  As you can see, it is a huge plate of fruit!  From what I can remember (and see in the picture) I enjoyed apple, pear, strawberries, grapes, banana, nectarines, kiwi, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, orange, grapefruit, starfruit, ground cherries, and watermelon.  It is quite an artistic plate, too, with some of the fruit being cut to fit decoratively wedged into other pieces of fruit.

You also get your choice of toast with a selection of jam and peanut butter.  Make sure you order your toast "dry" as it automatically comes slathered in butter if you don't specify.  Also, if you are a vegetarian, you can add slices of cheese to the plate at an extra cost.

I've also enjoyed smaller bowls of fruit and bagels in the past.  Plus, I ate a little bit of Paul's roasted potatoes from his plate that are just fried in some oil with sauteed onions.

While many menu items are catered towards meat-eaters, there is a good selection of vegetarian like waffles, crepes, and omelettes.  Thankfully, Cora's has their fruit plates and bowls for vegans!  These restaurants are popping up all across Canada and they provide healthier options for breakfast.  The focus here is on fresh flavorful fruit and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Response to "10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan"


Vegan Spoonful had a wonderful article entitled "Top 10 Things Never to Say to a Vegan" which I proceeded to post to my Facebook.  At work, someone came up to me and said "I saw the article you posted....and I'm fairly certain that we have all said all of those things to you at least once!"  I know people like to tease me and poke fun at me sometimes, but you have to know when you are crossing the line!  Here is my response to the top ten things to never say to a Vegan.

10.  ”If you were stranded on a desert island, and there was nothing to eat but animals, would you eat meat?”

I have heard this one a lot.  I've also heard "If I pay you X amount of dollars, would you eat a steak?" or "How much money would someone have to pay you to eat a steak?".  No, I wouldn't resort to eating animals if I were stranded on a desert island unless it became absolutely necessary, just as I wouldn't resort to cooking up and eating the friends I was stranded with unless it became absolutely necessary.  I would hope that this hypothetical island would have coconuts, berries, and other types of things on it.  I can't foresee myself becoming stranded on a desert island anytime soon, so I doubt I will have to ever face this situation.  I'm certainly not losing sleep over it!

9.  ”But where do you get your protein?”

This is probably the number one question I get asked.  People are so concerned about the amount of protein that I eat.  They don't ever consider the fact that they probably eat at least two or three times the daily required amounts of protein that they should eat, and that all of that extra protein can lead to health problems like cancer or heart disease.  There are plenty of ways for vegans and vegetarians to get their protein - whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and the list goes on.  I don't ask every meat eater that I meet - "Are you getting enough fibre?  Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?"

8.  ”I just ate <insert name of animal body part here> for lunch, it was soooo yummy!”  and then on and on and on, describing it in great detail.

I've even had a co-worker at a past job try to sneak meat into my food.  I'm not sure if all of the yummy descriptions are supposed to make me feel bad that I'm not eating meat.  I choose not to eat it and I wish that some people would respect my decision.  While I don't agree with your decision to eat meat, you can make your own choices and choose to eat whatever you want.  Please respect my decisions as well!

7.  ”Plants have feelings too!  Don’t you care about the poor carrots?”

This is one of the more ridiculous phrases that I've heard uttered on numerous occasions.  If you can't tell the difference between a vegetable and a suffering animal, maybe you had better take a closer look.   Or, as she says on Vegan Spoonful (couldn't have said it better myself): "If you truly can’t see the difference between pulling a carrot out of the ground and slitting a chicken’s throat, why don’t you try doing both and see if you feel the same about both acts?" 

6.  ”If humans weren’t meant to eat meat, why are animals so tasty?”

Just because animals are roaming the earth and co-existing with us, it doesn't mean that they were put here to serve our needs.  They should live peacefully just as we do.  To survive, we do not need to eat animals or create way more cows/chickens/pigs/etc. in factory farms to serve our needs.  In fact, the over-abundance of these factory farmed animals is horrible for our environment and the entire planet.

5.  ”So what made you decide to become a vegan?”…asked in the middle of a big family dinner while eating a hunk of ham.

I haven't had this one...yet.  Thankfully, most people are sensitive to the fact that I don't eat meat over dinner and have even offered to prepare vegetarian meals.  I've also been fortunate enough to have friends and co-workers ask if I was okay with them eating meat around me.  That is totally fine, and I am grateful that you are considerate of my feelings and choices.

4.  ”Oh, I could never go vegan.  I love meat way too much!  And I could never live without cheese!” 

I love how cheese and dairy tastes, too!  I choose not to eat it due to my ethical concerns regarding the poor treatment of dairy cows, chickens, and farm animals.  It is no wonder that I still have soy milk with my cereal, put Daiya cheese on pizza, and eat coconut milk ice cream - I obviously love the taste of dairy but I can't justify continuing to eat it knowing how the animals are treated.

3.  ”I feel sorry for you, that you can’t eat <insert animal food here>.”

I choose not to eat <insert animal food here> and I can sleep at night better knowing that I don't eat it!

2.  ”You sure don’t look like a vegan!”

I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean and thankfully, no one has ever said this to me.  I'm not sure if someone who is vegan is supposed to look skinny, malnourished, or like a tattooed hipster.  I just look like me and I am a vegan!

1.  Why don’t you care about people?  Aren’t people more important than animals?      

Of course I care about people.  I care about animals, too.  I choose to donate to animal related charities (Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Farm Sanctuary, Animal Welfare Association, etc.) and I choose to donate to human related charities, too (Red Cross for disaster relief, for instance).  I care about everything on this planet and I don't want harm to happen to anyone or anything.  Just because you care about animals doesn't mean that you don't care about people.  In fact, eating a vegan diet does help people - it allows us to enjoy a more sustainable planet, it helps to protect our waterways, it helps to protect against the exploitation of the workers who have to work in dangerous slaughter houses, and the list goes on.

How do you feel about this Top 10 list?  Do you have anything to add to it, any odd questions that people may ask you?  Personally, if the question doesn't come off as insulting, I don't mind answering people's questions about not eating meat or dairy.  I would rather give people some insight into my choices, provide them with some reading material or movies to watch about the topic, and maybe they might end up making similar decisions in the end.  I am always happy to answer my friends' questions, but I don't appreciate it when it comes across as an insult to my intelligence (for example, many of the above questions or retorts).