Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

A lot of good recipe stories begin with a bunch of bananas languishing on a counter. That's what happened in this case as well. I smushed the offenders up with some ground up almonds and oats, and these babies were born.

I once saw some graffiti on a wall that said "Oatmeal raisin cookies are the reason I have trust issues". I can relate. It's the worst when you're deliberating in front of a pile of cookies and you can't tell the difference between chocolate chip and raisin. I don't see why you have to choose though, just put them all into one cookie and your problem is solved. And I don't see why you need to stop at those, goji berries, chopped nuts, and hempseeds should also be invited to the party. Some is good, more is better, too much may be just enough.

If you're not feeling bananas, you could try pumpkin puree, or applesauce perhaps. Each banana is equal to about 1/2 cup. If your dough looks a little too wet though, try adding some more oats.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 cup almonds
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons oat flour
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons chocolate/vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Grind the almonds in a food processor so that it's almost flour texture, but still a little chunky.

Mix almond meal, oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, protein powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine bananas and vanilla, then mix into oat mixture. Add in chocolate chips and raisins, stir till combined. 

Bake on a cookie tray at 350 for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buckwheat Blueberry Chocolate Pancakes

Yesterday my friend Shawnna and I tried a new vegetarian restaurant for the first time, Sadie's Diner. Cozy and adorable on a rainy night, it was adorable and looked like someone's granny's kitchen. I was overwhelmed for choice with the menu, but had been craving a veggie burger, so I went for that.

No regrets, it was the tastiest morsel I've eaten in awhile. It tasted like it had been home cooked on a BBQ in the summer, and I probably put off everyone around me with the ketchup dripping all over my face while I ate it.

Incredibly meaty seeming for a veggie burger, and with some delish onions on top. Definitely going back! Shawnna got pancakes which led me to my inspiration for this post. Lately my pancake experiments haven't been quite right, they're tasty but missing that fluffy cakiness that is quintessential pancakes, to me. I haven't attempted buckwheat pancakes before, but had some buckwheat hanging out in my cupboard, so these were born.

If you're feeling eager you can mix the dry ingredients up in a bowl the night before so you can have pancakes even faster in the morning. Then you don't have to try to figure out measurements that early in the day. I'm always at a loss for why blueberry and chocolate chips have to be two seperate options on the menu. I want it all in one pancake.

Topped with some blueberry compote, maple syrup, and pumpkin butter, these were a perfect start to a Tuesday. Depending on your protein powder, the batter might get a little too thick. Add some almond milk if that happens, you want it to be not quite liquid, but still pourable.

I like to wait til the pancakes are in the pan to add the blueberries, to avoid turning the batter grey.

Buckwheat Blueberry Chocolate Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder(I used Vega)
2 packets of stevia
1 tablespoon agave(optional)
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 flax egg(1 tablespoon flax meal, 3 tablespoons water mixed and allowed to thicken)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup blueberries

In a bowl mix together buckwheat flour, protein powder, stevia, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips.

Mix together almond milk, agave, vanilla and flax egg. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet. Stir until smooth. Add more almond milk if necessary.

In a medium heat pan, cook pancakes, about 2-3 mins each side depending on size. They're ready to flip when the edges look firm and a bit bubbly.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chocobanana Fudge

I've been trying to come up with a solid brownie that's also gluten free, and it's been an interesting, if tasty road. They come out almost right but one thing will be off. Like the texture, or it's capability to hold itself together. These were part of that process, but to be honest it seemed more like fudge to me. They're no bake, which is nice, and you can keep them in the freezer for awhile. You need a high speed blender for them to properly get the right texture however.

Coconut butter and oil are two different things. Coconut butter is just pureed coconut meat, and the oil is something else although I'm not entirely sure what. Coconut butter melts slightly, but doesn't liquify. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts into liquid. While it's probably not the end of the world if you interchange them in this recipe, I have no idea what happens, so you're on your own with that one.

Chocobanana Fudge
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup coconut butter(NOT oil)
pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Place everything into a blender and blend until smooth, then spread into a pan and let set in the freezer. These are best kept cold, they tend to melt a bit when they warm up!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spicy Maple Tofu

I was recently given a can of maple syrup and have been trying to find ways to sneak it into everything since. I used to hate maple syrup(bad Canadian, I know)  as a kid, but one day that switched and we've been full steam ahead since. Good thing since it comes out of the tap here.

This is a good recipe for when you feel lazy, but want something delicious. Usually with tofu flavours seem to absorb better when you let it drain for a bit, but to be honest I usually skip that step since I'm impatient. If you think far ahead enough it helps to unwrap your tofu when you get it home from the store, dump all the water out of the container, and store it like that. It helps it dry out a bit which leaves more room for flavours to get in there. Flavourless tofu is a sin.

This works magically with tempeh as well!

Spicy Maple Tofu
1/3 block of firm tofu, cut into slices
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

1 cup of kale packed
3 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cauliflower/broccoli
1/2 avocado

Melt the coconut oil in the pan over medium high heat, then add the tofu. Coat each side with the maple syrup, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Let each side cook til golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

In the same pan add the kale, shrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, and ACV. Stir fry until soft, add a little water if necessary.

Serve tofu over kale with avocado on top!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Since Halloween is right around the corner I think it's okay to keep piling on the pumpkin themed recipes. Especially when I found the most adorable little pumpkin for a dollar, just crying out to be roasted and made into pie. Last night was the windiest one I can ever remember, but since I was hiding away in my apartment, I didn't see too much of the storm. So much to be grateful for, my power didn't go out, and since there's no trees around my condo that wasn't a worry either. On the second hand I don't know if the no tree thing is great or awful, but it worked for last night! My heart goes out to all the people who are affected by Sandy, I can't believe the photos that keep popping up on Instagram and twitter. A strange age we live in now where the most up to date and reliable news sources are social media, no?

I made a raw cheesecake for the first time last week, and was so in love with it I thought it could only be improved with pumpkin thrown in to the mix. And a spooky topping for the holiday! My spider web looks a little like the spider making it may have had a few too many, but we're not judging it. This cheesecake's almost raw, but I don't think raw pumpkin would taste too great, which is why it's roasted. You can sub canned pumpkin for the roasted chunks, I think the ratio would be about 1 cup of puree, but I'm not positive since I haven't tried it.

In most raw crusts dates are the usual, but raisins are a little more affordable, taste great, and work fine for sticking the crust together. A little water is needed to get it to stick, since they're usually a bit drier.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 cup almonds
1 cup raisins
1/2-1 tablespoon water
Dash of cinnamon and cloves
Pinch of salt

1 cup roasted pumpkin cubes(roast a seeded pumpkin for about 35-40 mins, remove skin and cut into pieces)
1 1/2 cups soaked cashews(at least 5 hours)
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/6 cup maple syrup
1/6 cup agave(or other liquid sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Blend crust ingredients in a food processor til fine and they start to stick together. If it's not sticking, add water a little at a time. You don't want it to be mushy, just until it starts to clump. Press into a springform pan, and let set in the fridge.

Blend cheesecake ingredients(except for pumpkin) in a blender until super smooth. Remove 1/3 of the mixture and set aside. Add in pumpkin and blend again. Pour into crust, and let set in the fridge while you're making the topping.

For the topping, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together. Cover the cheesecake in the rest of the filling mixture, then draw circles onto the cheesecake like a bulls eye. Run a knife through from the outside to the middle to create the pattern.

Leave in the freezer for 2 hours to let set, remove 30 mins before serving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butternut Squash Stew

For me Autumn is all about cosy nights, hiding indoors while the weather outside does it's thing, and eating warming tasty things. I love the simplicity of the Butternut Squash Soup I made earlier, but sometimes you want something a bit heartier. Through adding in some tofu, and roasted veggies and topping it all off with a dollop of hummus, you get a stick-to-your-ribs meal to warm you up on the coldest of nights!

This stew is pretty forgiving, and kind of grain works really, and you could easily sub tofu for beans. Lately I've been really into just throwing a bunch of things into a pot that I think would taste good and hoping for the best. By lately I mean always. I have a tendency to buy cookbooks for reading material, then hardly ever end up cooking out of them. It's a bit embarrassing, really. Sometimes I don't even bother to read the recipes, I just look at the pictures. I can't be alone on this!

Butternut Squash Stew
1/2 recipe Butternut Squash Soup
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp curry powder

Add ins
1cup cooked wild rice/quinoa/barley/etc.
1 cup finely chopped tightly packed kale
2 cups roasted veggies, finely chopped

1/2 block tofu, diced small
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp curry powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil

In a pan heat coconut oil, stir fry the tofu, mushrooms, and zucchini in the tamari and ACV.

In a pot on the stove over medium heat mix together the soup, almond milk and curry powder, bring to a simmer. Add in wild rice, kale, and veggies with tofu mixture.

Serve with a dollop of hummus on top!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Maple Granola

I've almost run out of pumpkin in my house. I realized when making this that I've never tried making home made granola before, and then I was embarrassed at how easy it was. But after that I was too busy to be concerned about that, and instead took to topping this on everything. Eating it on it's own straight as well. Then I remembered that the grocery store sells this stuff for $13 a measly bag. That was followed by thoughts of maybe I'm missing out my chance to be a multi millionaire because I'm not selling overpriced granola. It's never too late. I'm quitting my job and going to start hawking this stuff instead.

This is a little less sweet than most granolas, but if you like it sweeter just add more maple syrup. Agave and honey are good as well, but I'm Canadian and since the stuff comes out of taps, I might as well use it. You could sub the almonds for walnuts too. The hemp seeds provide a nice extra protein kick, plus some healthy fats.

Pumpkin Maple Granola
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl til evenly coated. Spread flat on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20ish minutes, it's okay if it comes out a little soft since it firms up on cooling.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding with Maple Cream and Granola

Sometimes things are greater than the sum of their parts.

People changing the world.

Chocolate and almonds.

This recipe.

The pudding's good on it's own, and so it the granola, but when you combine them all together something amazing happens. It's ridiculously easy as well, which makes it all the more worthwhile.

You can used canned pumpkin, but I'd really recommend trying, at least once, roasting your own. Tis the season after all, you can buy canned pumpkin whenever you want. The real deal only comes around once a year! For directions on how to roast a pumpkin, go here.

Pumpkin Pudding with Maple Cream and Granola

Pumpkin Pudding
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 small banana
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1-2 packets of stevia(to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, nutmeg, ginger

Blend pumpkin, banana, chia seeds, maple syrup, almond milk, and stevia in a blender til smooth. Add in the spices and blend til incorporated, let set in the fridge for about an hour.

Maple Cream
1 cup vegan whipped cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Stir maple syrup into whipped cream.

Maple Almond Granola
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir everything together, and bake for 12 minutes in the oven at 350, or until slightly crispy.

Serve pumpkin pudding with a dollop of maple cream and a sprinkle of granola on top!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding Oats

Chocolate Protein Oats are still my favorite breakfast, but they've been fall-i-fied now by the addition of pumpkin. Protein, carbs, fibre, and deliciousness all in one bowl! They're extra good with chopped apple on top, tons of cinnamon, and maybe a dollop of vegan whipped cream....

Yeah you can use canned pumpkin I guess. But this is so so so much better if you roast your own pumpkins. Which is way easier than it sounds. Canned food freaks me out.

Make sure you purchase Sugar Pie Pumpkins, the little tiny ones. They're sweeter, and the flesh is more tender. Leave the giant monsters for hacking at later.

To roast them, chop the pumpkin in half, removing the stem. Scoop out all those seeds in the middle, and save them for later. Place cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350. They're done when you can poke them easily with a fork, and the skin comes away easily.

Peel off the skin, then chop the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Toss those in a blender and blend until smooth. Voila! Told you it was easy.

As a side note, the 'pumpkin' that you purchase in cans is not actually all pumpkin. It's a mixture of a couple types of squashes, including hubbard and butternut. Weird, no? So now your pumpkin baked goods can actually be real pumpkin!

Pumpkin Pudding Oats

1/2 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup almond milk
1 scoop protein powder
1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Mix oats and protein powder together, then add almond milk. Stir til combined, then add pumpkin and stir some more. Top with a chopped apple and cinnamon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Now that October is in full swing and fall is falling, I feel like it's appropriate to unveil my Autumn food obsession. It started weirdly early this year, with me craving soups and the like in August. But now that the trees are starting to get naked, I think it's okay to indulge in my obsession with squashes, and cinnamon, and roasted everything. By next month you're going to be so sick of seeing pumpkin on here. Or you'll be orange. I won't judge.

I've been on a soup binge as of late. Travelling a bunch tends to make you crave homey things, soup is nothing if not homey. I had this cute little butternut squash hanging out in my fridge, so I roasted it up with some garlic and onions(no colds here!), then tossed it into the vitamix. This was the first time I've used the vitamix for making soup, and it turned out like silk. With all that vitamin A, C and B6 from the squash, and the generous helping of onions and garlic, this'll help ward off all those nasty colds everyone seems to be getting. And vampires too.

Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things, it takes on this nutty mellow sweetness that's kind of divine. Same goes for the onions, something magical happens when you put those babies in the oven.

This soup is great just on it's own, or if you want to make it more of a meal some quinoa and veggies tossed in would be great too. With lots of crusty bread for dipping, if you're into that thing.

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 sweet white onion, chopped into pieces
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 1/2 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 375, combine squash, garlic and onions with parsley, s&p and coconut oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 40 mins, or until squash is tender and golden. Allow to cool slightly.

Put half of squash into blender, with half of stock and almond milk, and rosemary. Blend until smooth, repeat with second half. Stir in lemon juice, and serve!

The next squash on my list is pumpkin. I purchased two adorable little pie pumpkins yesterday and have been making more pumpkin themed things than I ever thought possible. Pie. Pudding. Oatmeal. You'll see.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eating in NYC

Whenever I find myself in NYC I'm torn between the option of revisiting all my favorite old restaurants, and trying something new. This trip I decided that I was going to attempt to eat somewhere new everyday, and try to find some new favorites.

By accident while wandering around the East Village(favorite neighbourhood, hands down!), I stumbled across Stogo. Their mantra is 'We are passionate about offering the healthies, most delectable frozen dessert on the planet using only the finest premium organic dairy-free ingredients, with no refined sugars, animal products, gluten, or artificial flavorings.' Totally up my ally!! It was pretty grey and cloudy that day, but I think any day is a good ice cream day. I tried their Vanilla Chocolate Chip(they make all of their flavors from scratch!), and it did not disappoint! Mildy sweet with a hint of coconut, and an amazing melt in your mouth texture. The texture of dairy ice cream is one that I usually find hard to replicate, but this one could have fooled anyone. You can also get them to sandwich a scoop between two cookies, it's pretty much heaven.

An old favorite that I had to visit was Pure Food and Wine. I first visited One Lucky Duck for some Thai Salad Wraps, then finished up at Pure Food and Wine for Sangria and a Blueberry Crumble with Maple Ice Cream. I adore raw food for the way you can feel like you're indulging, but everything is good for you. The feeling of lightness and energy after a meal isn't in your head, I've realized. I just don't experience that ever from eating cooked food! The Salad Wraps were wonderful, mildly spicy and tangy and creamy goodness. I could have drank a vat of the sangria. The Blueberry Crumble was that perfect mix of gooey warm fruit and melting ice cream, it was truly a perfect meal. I followed it up with a walk home through Times Square, I always think the best way to see NYC is on foot.

I've heard the praises sung of Candle 79 over and over, so I decided to pay a visit to their sister restaurant, Candle Cafe on the Upper West Side. It was a lovely balmy evening so I decided to take my order to go, and have a picnic in Central Park. I ordered the Tofu Club Sandwich, it was probably the best sandwich I've ever had ever. Crispy toasted bread, a huge hunk of perfectly seasoned tofu, avocado, tomato, and watercress, with vegan mayo. Sitting on a bench watching the sun set over the reservoir  and it kind of hit me how happy I am that I can eat food like a normal person and enjoy it. Central Park is one of my favorite haunts, so it was a perfect place to recreate that memory. I know that peacefulness is not the first word that comes to most people's minds when they think of NYC, but it's how I felt for most of the trip. This weird, innate sense of peace that all was right in the universe.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IIN Live

This past weekend I went to NYC to attend the IIN Live conference, and it was honestly such a magical experience! Getting to meet so many other past and present students of the school, and just to be in the same room as so many like minded people was inspiring. We heard from several awesome speakers, and Joshua Rosenthal, the school director, had us do lots of exercises to interact with the people around us.

It was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a super beautiful theater in the Time Warner Center. I think my favorite speaker was probably Daniel Amen, who spoke about how your lifestyle impacts your brain(which no pun intended, I've never though about before). He showed scans of people's brains as they age, and how certain things such as alcohol and obesity affect the size and mass of your brain. Being fat physically makes your brain smaller! I was blown away at finding that out. He also showed that if you take care of your brain, you can reverse damage done to it previously, and in fact make it younger. Fascinating stuff! 

Sadie Nardini also did a short talk and mini yoga practice. I love her Youtube videos so it was such a treat getting to see her in person, she has such amazing energy. She spoke about following your dreams, and when people telling you that you can't do something, tell them 'watch me'. I know there's always such a long journey at the beginning of any success story, but I love hearing the backstory, of how they were challenged as well. It keeps me motivated!

One thing I felt in the auditorium that I've never felt in any learning situation before was such love, for lack of a better word to describe it. A room full of passionate people committed to helping heal others and make the world a better place. It was truly beautiful! It inspired me more in the work I think I want to do as a Health Coach, and it was so reassuring to talk to others and see that they had some of the same concerns as I did in terms of trying to identify a target market. Having a support system is so important!

After the conference was over I made it a goal to try a different vegan restaurant for every meal I was there. I didn't quite succeed, but the ones I got to were all phenomenal! My favorite I think was Candle Cafe, sister restaurant to the more upscale Candle 79. I got the Tofu BLT, and ate it sitting in Central Park as the sun was setting. Definitely one of those perfect moments I'll treasure forever! This was my first trip going to NYC pretty much 'recovered' from my eating disorder, and actually being able to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted while actually enjoying it was a milestone for me. I ate ice cream. I ate bread. I ate a lot of salad cause I truly love greens, not just because I was scared of calories. I didn't at any point want to make myself throw up or try and starve myself for the rest of the day to compensate. I ordered whatever I felt like, and savoured it, and honestly for the first time in a very long time felt free.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Caramel Crispies

I've got a confession to make.

The first set of photos I took of these I deleted from my camera before they ever saw the computer. Oops.

So now that the tray is pretty much done I figured I'd better squeeze in a quick shot before I devoured the last piece, cause this recipe is too tasty not to share. These were originally sort of inspired to be Luna Bar knockoffs(inspired by this recipe), but they turned out to be much better and not like Luna Bars at all. I also topped half the tray in coconut butter(NOT oil!), but that was the half that got eaten first, so no photos for them. But just imagine it's there.

Caramel Crispie Squares

3 cups puffed millet
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cashew almond butter
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 scoop Vega chocolate protein powder
2/3 cup coconut butter(not oil), optional

On the stove over medium heat mix together nut butter, agave, salt, and vanilla extract til melted. Pour over millet in a large bowl, and add protein powder. Mix well, then press firmly into a baking pan.

In the same pot you mixed the nut butter in, melt the coconut butter til smooth. Pour over the pan and spread to cover.

Freeze until firm enough to cut into squares.

I liked storing these in the freezer because of the chewy texture it gave them, but the fridge would probably work too!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crispy Tofu Steaks

I love tofu. For awhile I pretended I didn't, and then for a bit soy kind of freaked me out so I didn't eat it. It seems like evidence in inconclusive(as of right now) that tofu is completely terrible for you, so I'm going to keep eating it til someone proves otherwise. I try to stick to organic soy products only though, since non-organic soy is susceptible to being genetically modified, which is something I'd like to avoid!

I've tried a lot of tofu brands in my day, and contrary to what most people think, tofu does have a subtle flavour, and the flavour is more pronounced depending on brand. My favorite right now is called Soyarie, and it's made in Canada. I usually choose the one with herbs, since who doesn't like extra herbs in everything? It's also pretty cheap at $2.19 a pack, and I'm all about cheap protein!

Tofu works like a flavour sponge, it'll absorb the taste of whatever you put it in. If you're feeling fancy you can press your tofu between two plates(the top one weighted with cans or something), and that'll squeeze some water out to allow room for extra flavour in it. If I do this I usually press it for about an hour, but if you don't feel like it it's not a big deal. Marinating it or using lots of spices usually works great. The smaller you cut your pieces the more flavourful they'll be!

For these tofu steaks I marinaded them for about an hour, then covered them with a Nooch based coating then tossed them in the oven for about 20 minutes. They're great for dipping, or in a salad, or any other way you can think to eat them.

This weekend's the Vegetarian Festival in Toronto, and I've got butterflies! 3 days of vegetable goodness, last year was great and I ate so many samples I pretty much needed to roll home. Hopefully this weekend will be the same!

Crispy Tofu Steaks

1 block extra firm tofu, cut in thirds lengthwise then into triangles

1/3 cup soy sauce/tamari
1 tsp garlic powder
1tsp coriander
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Crispy Coating:
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Combine all marinade ingredients in a tupperware container, then submerge triangles. Leave to marinate for an hour or two.

Stir coating ingredients in a shallow dish, and coat each triangle throughly.

Preheat oven to 400. Place triangles on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Almond Cashew Butter

While nut butters are super easy to purchase from the store, I'm continuing on my journey of trying to make store bought things at home. Nut butter is remarkably easy to make, and tastes awesome, without having to worry about any weird preservatives or the high amounts of sugar most conventional nut butters seem to mix in. I love almond anything, and cashews always add such a pleasant creaminess to any recipe. So I decided to mix them together. All of this has nothing to do with the fact that I just got a food processor and am using it for everything under the sun.

Adding a little bit of oil can help get things going faster, as it can be a bit of a process for the nuts to break down and start releasing their oils. A little salt also helps perk up the taste. You could try adding some maple powder in for maple almond butter, or if you're feeling fancy some cocoa powder. If you wanted to you could throw some chopped nuts in at the end to make it chunky.

Almond Cashew Butter

1 cup unsalted almonds(I used raw but roasted would work too)
1 cup unsalted cashews
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the nuts in a food processor and blend until it becomes almost smooth, add in oil and keep blending until you reach the consistency you like!


Lately I've been thinking a lot about people changing. For the most part I used to think that people don't change at all. They can't or they're stuck with set personality traits and they have to work within those paramaters. But lately I've been thinking that's not true. Humans are incredibly changeable, the catalyst is that they have to want to change, either out of necessity or realizing that past patterns don't dictate who you are forever.

Someone recently mentioned to me that they weren't a 'sports person'. Neither am I, in most senses of it. I can't catch or throw a ball properly to save my life. Back when I was younger I couldn't even run around a small field(less than 1/2 a mile), without stopping multiple times and feeling like I was going to die. I could have accepted that I wasn't a 'sporty person', and just left it at that. But I kept going with it, and figured out what things I like. And now I love working out, and do it most days and don't feel complete without it. People are inherently changeable, you just have to be willing to make that change.

Or being a vegetarian, for example. Most vegans and vegetarians will tell you that at one point, they were in the camp of saying they 'could never give up meat'. Many do though, and thrive and continue happily with a plant based diet. Did it happen overnight? No, not for most people. Habits can be deeply engrained, but with dedication and time you can create big changes. The journey of a 100 miles starts with a single step, and all that. It's true. You can't just look at the place you want to be and hope you'll make it in one jump. It's baby steps. One at a time, and sometimes you fall down. But if you just keep getting up and keep going, you'll find you're there eventually.

It's a lot easier writing it than doing it, I find I'm definitely an impatient person on the journey, and I want to speed things up usually. I find I can be an all or nothing person frequently, I want exactly what I want when I want it and am usually willing to take big risks to get it. There's pros and cons to this though, and more and more I'm trying to teach myself to enjoy the journey. Years speed by faster and faster, so learning to live in the moment and appreciate each and every one is becoming more and more essential. It's such a gratifying feeling being in a moment and knowing that you're just savouring every second of it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Back in the day KD was my favorite thing. I'd come home from school, whip up a box in the microwave and then pretty much eat the whole thing in a sitting. I've got so many childhood memories centered around KD, eating it at a friend's birthday for the first time. At a friend's for breakfast after a sleepover. At a cracked and weathered picnic table at a cottage on Saltspring Island. I love how so many memories can be tied to a food, or a smell or a song.

After going vegan I pretty much stopped eating it(obviously), and from before I had all these weird food hangups about pasta and not eating it. Gradually over the past little while I have been trying to revisit 'fear' foods. Things that I crossed off my mental checklist of things I could never consume, cause one glance would make me fat. It's amazing how some mental patterns can become so ingrained into your brain. Trying these foods now is interesting. Some of them I eat them and realize I don't really care for them, it's just more of that 'you can't have it so you want it' thing.

While I'm still steering clear of wheat pasta, quinoa pasta is totally a go. My stomach seems to figure it's fall now and is looking for all kinds of hearty, comforting, tasty foods. Yesterday I got it into my head that I wanted to attempt some vegan mac and cheese.

I also tried a new health food store yesterday. The Big Carrot, on the Danforth, a neighbourhood I don't visit too much since it's out of the way. Visiting new health food stores is a favorite hobby of mine however, so I went to check it out. I love how big it is, and it has an adjoining juice bar and wholisitc wellness shop beside it. It's got a large beauty section, bakery, bulk section, a vegetarian cafe, and carries most of the usual suspects of products on the shelves. It's priced fairly well, a bit cheaper than Whole Foods(my measuring stick for all health food stores!). It's still not as affordable as Herbs and Nutrition though, which is quickly becoming my favorite place I've ever been. I visited the Juice store after and got a huge wheatgrass/beet/carrot mix which was delicious.

Something I hear a lot is that health food stores can be intimidating. And I guess they can, but I generally tackle it like I would any other store. I walk all the way around it and down all the aisles, just to see what they have. Then I usually make another round and pick up the things I'm looking for. Produce and other perishables, like milk, tofu, meat etc. are always around the outside. The inside shelves are sundries and whatever else doesn't go bad quickly. And I totally know that healthy food can be expensive. I'm not going to deny it, but shopping around a lot helps. Seeing all your options and knowing where you can get products for their best value makes it much more affordable. If a certain store carries something you use lots of for cheap, stock up on it! Freeze it, if possible. Healthy eating is an investment on your health, and if you don't invest in it now you'll most likely be paying for it later!

I'd seen a couple recipes for vegan cheese sauce incorporating sweet potato, so I decided to give this a shot. That paired with lots of Nooch and cashew milk it turned out super tasty! You could use whatever non-dairy milk you like, I just love the creamy flavor cashew gives.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Cheese Sauce:
1 Sweet Potato
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1 cup water
7 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, melted
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp mustard
pinch of cayenne(optional)
salt and pepper to taste

8 oz Macaroni shells

1. Cook Macaroni shells according to package.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Prick sweet potato all over with a fork, then wrap in tin foil and bake for 35-40 minutes(until soft).

3. In a blender, blend water and cashews together til smooth.

4. Add in nutritional yeast, garlic, apple cider vinegar, Earth Balance, curry powder, parsley, mustard, and cayenne. Blend until smooth.

5. Scoop sweet potato out of skin, measure 2 cups and add to blender. Blend until smooth.

6. Mix into pasta, serve!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Banana Soft Serve

This week is flying by, I can't believe it's Thursday already. This morning I woke up planning on maybe making today a rest day, but I was feeling zesty and wanted to go lift some weights, so off to the gym I went! It was empty today, which is my favorite way for it to be. I did some strength moves in short bursts of 20-30 seconds, with 15 second breaks which was great for getting my heart rate up. I feel like I noticeably lost strength when I stopped lifting heavier while I was in Vancouver, so I've been easing back into it slowly.

While I was in Vancouver I was experimenting with adding more healthy fat into my diet, and somehow from that I lost weight. Or toned up a bit more, or a bit of both. I've been using photos to measure progress because they don't seem to bother me the same way knowing numbers does. Even though it's been a year since I started making a conscious effort to feed my body what it needs, and not restrict it still seems like it's slowly stabilizing itself still. I only started getting regular periods in January, and I guess things are still working themselves out.

Lately I've been trying adding more carbs into my diet in the forms of whole grains mostly. It's kind of making my energy levels go off the walls! In my head for some reason I still think I should stay away from carbs, even though I know your body needs them. Still learning to let go of weird food hangups I guess.

I've done miraculously well with cutting down my sugar intake the past couple days. I've been eating less fruit than previously, and more lower sugar fruits. One thing I noticed was even though I've been eating lower sugar fruits, after I eat them I crave more for no particular reason, even if I'm full. It's interesting to see how foods can affect you when you start paying more attention to them.

I had my 5th Health History session today, and I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it. It was so much easier to talk and connect, and get meaningful answers. I enjoy so much about learning about other people's diets and journeys'. I never get tired of talking about food.

Banana soft serve is so ridiculously easy, and not even really a recipe. It's one that's been floating around the internet for awhile. I made some the other day because I was excited to try my new food processor, and it photographed well, so here it is:

Banana Soft Serve

Take 2 bananas, chop into pieces, then freeze til hard. Process in a food processor until soft. It will sounds like the food processor is about to die initially, but it will be okay!

For a bit firmer texture freeze it for about half an hour before serving, or use as is for a more soft serve consistency.

You can add 1/2 cup frozen other fruit as well, like strawberries, blueberries, mango, etc. Chocolate chips are a good mix in as well.

I topped mine with this recipe!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegan Minestrone

Although it's summer out and Toronto is a balmy 25 most days, I was craving soup the other day. Minestrone in particular, so I set out to make some. Maybe I was just missing the cosiness of being home in Vancouver, or maybe some devious thing inside me is getting excited for fall and sweaters and boots. Either way, the soup pot was the only pot I hadn't yet used from a new set I purchased recently, so it was time to break it in.

Making soup for one person is difficult. With inspiration from a few other recipes, I sort of cobbled this variation together, but I think I have enough to last me until next year. I've been mixing the leftovers into stir fry's for a sort of weird pasta sauce/stew hybrid. It sounds a bit bizarre, but if there's anything being a vegan has taught me is to be open to strange combinations. If most of the ingredients sound like they taste good on their own, they usually taste good together. Usually.

In IIN they've been discussing the principles of macrobiotics, which is more a way of life than an exact diet. It involves the quest of always searching for balance, in your life and in your diet. If you are feeling more on one side of the scale, you can try to bring yourself back by eating things more on the other spectrum. I've been feeling a bit out of sorts at the moment regarding the future, and since soup is such a grounding, comforting food, and it helps bring you back.

You could replace the quinoa with another pasta, if you like, but I like the thickness and extra protein quinoa provides.


1 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes, blended(14 oz)
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
6 cups vegetable stock(low sodium preferred)
1 small tin of tomato paste
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup dry quinoa
2 cups packed shredded kale
dried basil, parsley, and a bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon

Cook quinoa in 1 1/3 cups water with a lid on the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Don't peek! Fluff with a fork after.

To a large stock pot add the onion, garlic, and oil, and cook til soft(about 10 mins).

Add in the tomatoes, stir and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add carrot, zucchini, chickpeas, and stock and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste.

Turn off heat, add quinoa, herbs, s&p, lemon juice, and kale.

This soup tastes better after it's had a couple hours to let the flavours meld, and thickens up a bit!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chlorophyll and Fruit

While I was in Vancouver I saw a massage therapist who commented on my skin, which lately has been prone to break outs. It's something that's been kind of frustrating to me, as of late. Ever since gradually moving away from a pretty close to all raw diet, my skin has been breaking out fairly consistently. When I ate mostly raw it was flawless, and I didn't change my skin routine really otherwise. I eat a really clean diet and try to avoid refined sugars as much as possible, so I've been sort of confused as to what I could do different.

Anyways, so the therapist told me that my acid/alkaline balance may be off due to eating a large amount of fruit. While fruit is good for you, it also contains a lot of sugar, albeit the natural kind. Even so, sugar is sugar and your body recognizes it as such. She recommended I try eating more greens, and try taking chlorophyll to help alkalinize my body. So yesterday I picked up a bottle, and I'm going to give it a go. The eating more greens shouldn't be the hard part, but cutting down on fruit intake(just for a bit, to see if it makes a difference), is  going to be hell, to put it mildly. I love fruit. A lot.

Coincidentally, I was listening to a lecture by Robert Young, on the PH Miracle Diet. He recommends eating a diet with little to no sugars, natural or otherwise, and lots of blended and juiced greens, in a mostly raw form. His studies have shown that the less sugars you consume, and the more greens you do lead to healthier blood which is the most important organ in your body. While I totally agree everyone should make an effort to consume more greens, and everyone could do with less sugar, at a glance it seems a little to restrictive to me. Based upon personal experience I know that any diet that is massively restrictive or makes me feel like I'm throwing my health away by eating things that are not prescribed don't work for my peace of mind. My body might run better than it ever has, but if I feel like I'm depriving myself I won't be able to keep it up.

I'm going to try eliminating all refined/processed sugar from my diet(sometimes it sneaks in in the form of chocolate), and reduce my fruit intake to lower sugar fruits, and less of them. The chlorophyll is actually pretty tasty, you mix a tablespoon into water and just drink it. Mine is flavoured with mint, and it makes your water a fascinating emerald colour. I love experimenting with my diet to see what results come from it, so it'll be interesting to see how this affects me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blueberry Peach Parfaits

Summer is my favorite season for eating. All the fruit, berries, and vegetables in the stores looks luscious and vibrant, and all my favorite fruits are in season. I find that the simplest ways to enjoy them are sometimes the best, as they taste so great they don't really need much done to them. I picked up some peaches recently, and we had a fridge overflowing in blueberries, so I decided to throw them together, make some extra blueberry sauce for topping, and make some parfaits.

I've tried some brands of soy yogurt previously, but wasn't all to impressed with the flavours. When some genius (Amande, which is French for almond by the way), started making almond milk into yogurt. Probiotics and almond milk, what's not to like?! I tried vanilla, and it tasted great to me. The texture is remarkably similar to dairy yogurt, and it has a similar sweet tanginess.

Whilst in Whole Foods I was overwhelmed with the choices of dairy free whipped cream toppings, so I decided to purchase them all so I could determine which one I liked best, and then share that knowledge with you. In the past faux whipped cream has been very hit or miss(more misses than hits, really). While it's not too difficult to make your own using agar, I missed the joy of squeezing whipped cream out of a can into pretty shapes. Presentation is everything, my friends. And while yes I could just get my own piping tubes, I'm not really that motivated in that direction.

Soyatoo makes both a soy whipped topping and a rice milk one, which both contain about 16 calories per tablespoon. They don't have any strange ingredients on the label, which is a plus in my books(I'm looking at you Cool Whip)! The soy one tasted a little strange on it's own, but when mixed with other ingredients, it passed muster. It was a bit harder to get out of the can, and was a bit more solid than most whipping creams, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There was a bit of a weird sweetness to it though. I'd eat it again however!

The rice milk one was definitely my favorite in terms of taste and resembling real whipped cream texture. It came out of the can a little easier, and didn't have the weird sweet flavor to it. I've still yet to try the nut milk whipped cream, which comes in a carton and you have to whip it yourself. I'll report back on that one soon!

Blueberry Peach Parfaits

Blueberry Sauce(recipe to follow)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 peach, chopped finely
1/4 cup puffed quinoa
1/2 cup dairy free yogurt
Vegan whipped cream to top

Layer some blueberries in a glass, cover with a layer of yogurt, puffed quinoa, and peaches. Repeat in both glasses til all ingredients are used up, then top with blueberry sauce, more quinoa puffs and whipped cream.

If you can't find puffed quinoa substitute granola or buckwheat.

Blueberry Sauce

2 cups blueberries
2-3 packets stevia
juice and zest from half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
dash of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium low and let simmer until reduced into a thick sauce.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Grouse Grind

One of the things I miss most and love most about Vancouver is the mountains. They've been a big part of my life from the moment when I was 4 and pointed over at Grouse and declared it 'my' mountain since the snow on it looked like a K to me. Then there was a large portion of my life where I ate/slept/dreamed snowboarding and went 4 days a week for most of a season. When I was in Grade 8 they made us hike the Grouse Grind(a 2.9km hike straight up the mountain), it took me 2 hours and I felt as if I were about to die. To put that in perspective the fastest time recorded is 25 minutes. Most people seem to average a bit over an hour, according to my eavesdropping when I was at the top.

View from the parking lot.

Since then, I've planned to redo it, and today was finally the day. Tia and I got up and headed there for 10, and I managed to make it up with no stopping in 55 minutes. While it wasn't a walk in the park it wasn't too bad, I think right now I'm probably in the best physical shape I've ever been in. All those HIIT workouts and weightlifting are paying off in full! It's so satisfying to beat yourself, and to see how far you've come. While I was hiking it I tried to not focus on how much farther I had to go, or how much was behind me, but just to focus on one step at a time. Which I think is a great way to live your life as well. There's no point in worrying about the past, or stressing the future or how much farther you have to go on your journey. Enjoy the process, and know that if you keep going you will eventually reach the top!

The beginning of the trail.

Tired hikers at the top.

The feeling when I got to the top made me feel like I was high. Major endorphin rush, which lasted for hours afterwards! I was a bit worried about my knees since they've been giving me trouble when I run lately, but they felt great. I've never experienced a workout high as awesome as the one day, ever. I kind of felt like I could conquer the world(running up a mountain gives you that feeling, I guess). Definitely a success! I'm planning to do the Chief in Squamish next, to try to fit in as much mountain time as I can while I'm here, and I can't wait.

Tia and I after the hike!

I'm also going to try to give Stand Up Paddleboarding a try! I love trying new ways of working out, and it's nice to switch it up once in awhile. I'm lucky that I have friends who are willing to try all sorts of activities with me, workout buddies are the best. I'm normally more of a solo exerciser(no distractions!), but feeling like you've accomplished something with someone else is fun too. Do you prefer working out with a friend or alone?

The view going back down, Vancouver is too beautiful sometimes.