Christmas Recap

It is so hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or holidays) filled with family, friends, and lots of delicious vegan food!

With a Christmas tree upstairs, I don’t do a tree in my place, but I did do a bit of decorating for the first time.¬†

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So glad I remembered where I’d tucked away these snowflakes that my late Grandma made years ago! ūüôā

I’m officially done one third of my Natural Nutrition program and enjoying a nice break from my studies. Which gave me time to sneak in a couple days of baking before Christmas Day. The week before, I’d made these Peppermint Bark Raw Brownies to share at work.

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Monday, Jem and I had our annual Christmas Baking Day. We like to turn on some Christmas music and make a few different goodies at once, mostly to share with family and friends over the holidays. Since I made the switch to vegan, Jem is lovely enough to let all our choices be vegan. This year we choose to make Thin Mint Cookies, Pumpkin Blondies,  Chocolate Chai Shortbread, and Coconut Sugar Cookies (from Vegan Food Gifts). (The links will take you to the original recipe, but I did make some changes, which I will share with you in later posts.)

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(Please ignore the non-vegan red sprinkles on Jem’s cookies.)

And Christmas Eve I baked a Cranberry Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (this one, but with fresh cranberries added), and Christmas morning I baked fresh Herb Drop Biscuits. These were my contribution to my family’s Christmas brunch.

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I’m feeling completely spoiled from Christmas! This is all the vegan/cooking/baking-related stuff I was lucky enough to receive.

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Can you detect any themes? Seems as though my family has figured out that if I get kitchen stuff and Lush stuff, I will be a super happy camper!

Not sure if I’ll have another post for you before the end of 2013, so just in case I miss it: have a very Happy New Year! See you in 2014!

P.S. – I am so excited about my new Crockpot, but have never used one before. Does anyone have any favourite or tried-and-true vegan slow-cooker recipes they’d like to share?

Also, I’d love to hear about your favourite moment or favourite gift from this year’s holidays!

My Most Made Recipes

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Post #12

I don’t have a lot of time today for a post, as I should be spending the day studying for a test I have tomorrow, so I thought I’d just share with you some of the recipes I’ve posted about that I actually make repeatedly. The number is actually pretty small. There are just always so many new and interesting recipes to try that I find it difficult to repeat past ones, even when I really loved them. The ones that I do repeat are usually the ones that were really quick and easy, in addition to tasty.

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I make these Chickpea Flour Omelettes all the time! They are quick, easy, very filling, and easily adaptable to whatever vegetables I have on hand. My favourite fillings include spinach, peppers, something spicy like pickled jalape√Īos or red pepper flakes, and a bit of Daiya Cheese.

And for a variation, I’ve made these Vegan Scrambled ‘Eggs’ a few times since I discovered them.

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I’ve been making these Easy Hot & Sour Refrigerator Pickles on and off all summer long and they always disappear very quickly! I mostly just eat them as snacks.

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It isn’t a recipe, but I am pretty much obsessed with falafel salads and wraps. (Seriously, search my blog for ‘falafel’ and you’ll see one pop up on almost every What I Ate Wednesday post.) I used to use Casbah Falafel mix, but now I’ve been using the Baked Falafel Burgers from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way. Staples in my falafel salads are cucumbers, peppers, either hummus or tahini sauce, and (lately) Sriracha.

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These Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Veganomicon are a big hit with my family and I. I love the texture and taste from the oat flour and the recipe is really easy. The small batch means you won’t be taking cookies in and out of the oven for hours, and you won’t have too many leftovers to tempt you in the following days.

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This Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Veganomicon has been repeated quite a few times in our household, and is a big hit with omnivores and vegan (just me) alike. You can also see it here, with the addition of raspberries!

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This Basic No-Mayo Coleslaw is (in my humble opinion) crunchy, tangy, coleslaw perfection. I make this quite a lot, both for myself and as a contribution to family dinners. My mom and sister have also requested the recipe and made it a few times! ūüôā I find it seriously addictive, in a good way, and it never lasts long.

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And last, but certainly not least is my Avocado Toast with Balsamic Vinegar. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I make this all the time, at all times of day, and I always thoroughly enjoy it! Hearty crunchy whole grain bread (I prefer Silver Hills), rich creamy avocado, tangy balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, and a punch of spice from the black pepper! Yum yum yum. I think I know what I’m having for lunch today.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Vegan Mofo 2013 – Post #11

What could be better than combining all your favourite cookies into one? When they are also super easy to make and pretty darn healthy as far as treats go! And they taste amazing!

Sound good? Check out these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Oatmeal With A Fork!

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I actually used the last bits of my almond butter and peanut butter up to make these, so it ended up about half and half.¬†Also, I just realized that I never added the stevia, but I really didn’t feel like I was missing any sweetness, so I’ll probably just leave it out next time.

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Gorilla Food, Take 2

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Post #3

I don’t have much time for a full post today, so I just thought I’d share this meal with you that I had at Gorilla Food recently.

This was my second time enjoying a meal from Gorilla Food, an organic raw vegan cafe in downtown Vancouver. You can read about the last time HERE.

My lunch was the Mini Gorilla salad (it also comes in a larger size) with a BC Blue smoothie and a Gorilla Biscuit for dessert.

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The Mini Gorilla – “A combo salad packed with delish and nourishing leafy greens, veggies, chill almonds, sunny-pate, olives, sprouts, avocado, almond, super-food dressing.”
I absolutely loved this salad! It is super fresh and just has so much going on: lots of great textures and flavour. I really enjoyed the addition of sun-dried olives, which I’d never tried before. So good!

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Gorilla Biscuit – This is a raw cookie, consisting of a nutty layer, a chocolate layer, and coconut on top. This was the first treat I’ve tried from Gorilla Food, and I was really impressed by the texture of the cookie part. The combo of the three layers made for a perfect little dessert.
BC Blue smoothie – That’s my (awesome recycled paper) smoothie cup that the cookie is sitting on. This is a simple smoothie, but oh so good! Very fresh and refreshing!

If you’re in the Vancouver area, you should definitely check out Gorilla Food. And if it’s a nice day, I highly recommend taking your food the few blocks down to the waterfront. ūüôā Or, if you’re not in the area, Aaron Ash, the man behind Gorilla Food, also has a cookbook of the same name that includes recipes for almost everything on the menu, plus more.

You May Also Enjoy:
My Birthday Part 2: Wild Rice
Raw Vegan High Tea at Indigo Food Cafe
Lemon Coconut Energy Bites
Vega Chocolate Macaroons

Lemon Coconut Energy Bites

These lemony little gems were dreamed up out of necessity. I had three lemons in the fridge that needed to be used before I left for Victoria for five days. I had been meaning to try a raw lemon bar recipe with them, but I never got around to it. As lemon bars aren’t really portable I knew I had to save that recipe for another time. So I decided to use most of the same ingredients that would have gone into the lemon bars (lemon juice, coconut, oats, and dates) to make some energy bites for my trip.

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I have to say that I am very happy with how these turned out! Bright lemon flavour, a hint of coconut and nuttiness, and a natural sweetness from the dates and coconut. These lemony little bites of chewy goodness are perfect for travel and on-the-go snacks. Or you may just want to stand by the fridge and scarf a few down! Don’t worry, that’s okay too.

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Collage, lemon bars 1

Collage, lemon bars 2

Lemon Coconut Energy Bites (Yields 32 small squares)
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced/slivered/chopped almonds (raw or blanched)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (20-25 dates)
Juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
Optional: 1/4 cup vanilla or berry flavoured protein powder (I like Vega One)

Notes:
If your dates aren’t soft then you should let them sit in a bowl of hot/warm water for at least 15 minutes before using.
I prefer to cut these into small squares because they pack easily into storage containers and I can choose the size of my snack better, however you could also make larger bars, or roll the dough into small balls. Totally up to you.
For gluten-free, just make sure your oats and protein powder are gluten-free.
For nut-free, use sunflower seeds or more oats, in place of the almonds.

Add the oats, coconut, almonds, lemon zest, and protein powder (if using) to a large bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is at your desired consistency: less if you like a chewier bar with larger pieces, or more if you’d like a finer texture.
Add the dates and process until they are in small pieces and mixed up with the other ingredients.
Add the lemon juice and process until everything is thoroughly mixed and clumping together. It may be crumbly, but should stick together when pressed.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a 11″x7″ pan, but the size doesn’t really matter as long as it is at least 8″x8″. Dump the mixture into the lined pan and press down until the top is relatively flat and even. With a sharp knife, cut into small squares or bars. Place the pan in the fridge for at least an hour, then transfer the squares or bars into an airtight container. Store in the fridge or freezer.
The energy bites will soften a bit when at room temperature, but they shouldn’t fall apart. Enjoy!

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I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (8/27/13), Allergy Free Wednesday (8/28/13),¬†Gluten-Free Wednesdays (8/28/13),¬†Raw Food Thursday (8/29/13), Healthy Vegan Friday, Wellness Weekends (8/29-9/2/13), Gluten Free Friday #55.

Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies

I just got home yesterday from a lovely week of camping with the family. It’s really amazing what a road trip, a change of scenery (forest!), and some campfire time can do! Even with the lack of sleep over the past week and a few too many treats, I’ve come back feeling really energized and eager to get some things done I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, all those nights sitting around the campfire watching my family enjoying s’mores (while I happily sipped my tea and munched on Oreos or dark chocolate), reminded me of this recipe for Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies that I made a few months ago. I’ve never really liked marshmallows or s’mores but when I received a bag of Dandies in a package from the Canadian Vegan Food Swap, I was curious to try out some recipes with them, and this is one of the things I came up with.

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With a few tweaks, I used this Dark Chocolate Brownie recipe as the base for my brownies. I knew the addition of chocolate chips, marshmallows, and cookies would mean a lot of sugar, so I wanted to start with a brownie base that was on the healthier side. These ones are quite low in sugar for a brownie, use whole grain flour, and are oil free. Even if you don’t wish to make S’mores Brownies (though really, why wouldn’t you?) I’d still recommend trying this brownie recipe.

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Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies
1 tbsp ground chia seeds (or ground flax)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup Sucanat (or organic brown sugar)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 cup vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies)
1/2 cup crushed vegan graham crackers or ginger snaps

Preheat your oven to 375¬įF and lightly grease a 9’x13′ pan.
In a small dish combine the ground chia with the warm water and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, applesauce, milk, vanilla, and vinegar.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt.
Whisk the chia mixture into the wet ingredients.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour about 3/4 of the batter into your prepared pan.
Spread the marshmallows out over the top of the batter, then sprinkle on the crushed cookies.
Drop the remaining batter on top of the cookies and marshmallows, one teaspoon at a time.
Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Cut the brownies into squares before they are fully cool, otherwise it will be difficult to cut through the marshmallow. I cut mine into 18 pieces.

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These brownies are best enjoyed warm, so that the chocolate chips and the marshmallows are a bit gooey. Enjoy!

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These Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies were a huge hit. The brownies are super chocolatey, dense, and moist, without being too sweet and the toppings sent them over the top. I had a hard time not eating the whole tray in about 2 days, and when I shared with Jem (just so I wouldn’t eat them all) she loved them. Apparently she had “a brownie experience”!

I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (6/11/13).

You May Also Enjoy:
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Frosted Blueberry Cake, Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

Veganomicon’s Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Jem and I whipped up a batch of these Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies recently for a last-minute evening treat and they were fantastic! This recipe is another one from Veganomicon that I’ve just tried for the first time. I love Veganomicon, and I love the fact that after almost a year and a half on my shelf, I still keep discovering new things within it’s pages.

As it says in the book, “these cookies couldn’t be any easier to make, unless you had someone else make them for you” (Veganomicon, Moskowitz and Romero, p. 237). Even with the extra step of processing some oats into oat flour, this recipe was very quick and easy to throw together. I will say that, while the tip included in the recipe suggests using a blender or food processor for making oat flour, I wouldn’t attempt it with a blender unless you have a very high-powered one. I used my blender and it was not very successful. I will be using my food processor next time.

The only change that we made to the original recipe was with the sugar. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Since I prefer my chocolate chip cookies not very sweet (I find the chocolate chips provide more than enough sugar) and I only had sucanat on hand, we just used 1/2 cup of sucanat. Personally, I could lower this even more  next time, perhaps to 1/3 cup.

I also wanted to mention that I was surprised that this recipe actually made the exact amount (18) of cookies stated. Maybe I’m just not good at following recipes, but always find that cookie recipes almost always make far less cookies than the states yield suggests.

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Anyway, Jem and I had some of these Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with our evening tea and they were delicious! The oat flour gave them a really great taste and texture. Also, they are chocolate chip cookies. Hard to go wrong there.

If you are going to make this recipe (and you really should) I wouldn’t suggest doubling it unless you are making them for a crowd. These cookies were still good the next day, but absolutely at their best fresh from the oven! And, they are so easy that you’ll have no problem making them all the time if that’s what you need to do!

Lucky you, in addition to Veganomicon, this recipe can also be found at the Post Punk Kitchen. Happy baking!

You May Also Enjoy:
Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (Veganomicon)
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Ginger Chocolate-Chunk Scones (Post Punk Kitchen)
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Almond Joy Cookie Bars
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Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars

Collage, Lemon Cranberry Coconut Squares

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Let me just say that unless you absolutely hate lemon, cranberries, or coconut then you need to try these Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars from Angela at Oh She Glows.

The lemon and cranberry make for a delicious combination of sweet and tart flavours, and the coconut make these fantastically chewy.

These bars are also quite simple to make, and while probably quite high in calories, they don’t contain anything to really feel guilty about.

The only changes I made to the original recipe was to use whole wheat flour in place of the oat flour, mainly because I was too lazy to take that extra step of processing the oats. I also replaced the pistachios with pumpkin seeds, because I didn’t have any pistachios and I figured pumpkin seeds are the same colour and would still give me the crunch-factor.

I love these Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars!

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What I Ate Wednesday #85: Fall Into Good Habits

First of all, I love the above badge! Don’t get me wrong, I love summer but after a few weeks of sunshine and heat I am ready for fall. I can’t wait for clear cool weather, falling leaves, boots, and cozy layers!

Anyway, before I even knew the theme for this month’s What I Ate Wednesday, I was trying to jumpstart myself into making some changes. Its been a rough couple of months and despite the fact that I’ve definitely upped my fresh fruit intake, I haven’t been eating all that well and haven’t been exercising AT ALL. Especially in the month of July when I was spending most days at the hospital, meals were mostly whatever was quick and easy, and I was way too tired all the time to exercise any more than walking back and forth from the ICU a bazillion times. Combine that with the fact that I wasn’t working at all during July and August (which keeps me on my feet and lightly active) and it’s not difficult to see why I’ve gained a bit of weight over the summer.

About 2 1/2 years ago when I decided I really wanted to lose weight and get in better shape, what jump started me was getting a Wii Fit (a great way to get into exercising, as I never really exercised before) and using a food/fitness tracker (I used LoseIt on my iPod and computer). I still love my Wii Fit: it has a great variety (there are still exercises and levels I haven’t done), is fun, got me interested in yoga, and my workout is¬†different every time if I want, but my use of it in the past year has been sporadic at best.

Anyway, because I know it worked for me last time, yesterday I downloaded and started using the diet and exercise journal from My Fitness Pal (its available online, for iPhone, IPod touch, Blackberry, Android, and Windows). It probably will be a big help that my sister Jem is also using My Fitness Pal to get back in shape after recently going through chemo and beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. ūüôā While I do want to lose some¬†weight, I’m more interested in eating healthier and starting to exercise again on a regular basis. I find using the diet and exercise journal makes me a lot more aware of what I’m eating so I make better choices, and want to exercise so I can minus some calories (and eat more). Plus, If I log throughout the day I can see what nutrients I’m maybe lacking and make choices to fix that. Also, because I’ll be inputting most of my recipes into the journal already, I am going to start posting the nutritional information of my recipes.

Sorry, I really didn’t intend to write so much, but as you can probably tell, I’m getting a little excited about this!

Here’s what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast:
Potato Vegetable Hash – leftover Greek roasted potatoes, white mushrooms, orange pepper, Cajun seasoning.
1 piece Silver Hills Mack’s Flax toast with red pepper hummus.
2 cups of coffee with unsweetened soy milk.

Lunch:
Chana curry, rice pulao, and vegetable pakora (leftovers from take-out).
Chilled chai tea with vanilla soy milk.

Dinner:
Southwest Quinoa Confetti Salad with 1/2 an avocado.

Snacks:
1 Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle (I think I forgot to take photos, but it was basically Isa’s recipe, except I made a few changes which I will detail next time I make them).
Tropical peach smoothie & Tropical peach smoothie soft serve – 1 peach, 1/4 serving Natural Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer, 1/2 serving Tropical Vega Energizing Smoothie, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1/4 tsp pure orange extract, 3 coconut milk ice cubes, 1/4 cup frozen banana slices, and 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk. I drank 1/3 of this smoothie before a workout and put the rest in a small bowl in the freezer. I stirred it up and had it post-workout.
1/2 an apple.
2 slices off a Banana Bran Mini Loaf.
1 cup vanilla soy milk.

Plus, thanks to my beautiful tumbler and a little lemon juice I managed to drink 7 whole cups of water! Which may be a record for me, though I don’t usually keep track (one more thing My Fitness Pal helps me keep track of). I’m sure I never drink enough water. I realized I enjoy drinking water more if I add a small amount of lemon juice, and if its in an open cup (not a water bottle with a lid I have to take off), preferably with a straw!

And, a few other things I’ve eaten in the past week:

From top, left to right:
1) Baked Vegetable Spring Rolls with soy sauce & Sriracha.
2) Peach Blueberry Crumble
3) Roasted Greek Potatoes (red potatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, Epicure Greek Seasoning) & green salad (romaine, grated broccoli stalk, cucumber, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, olive oil balsamic vinegar, hemp hearts).
4) Mixed pasta with Kale Pesto & crumbled Spicy Lime Tofu Nuggets.
5) Smoked Tofu & Harvarti Sandwich on toasted Silver Hills Mack’s Flax bread with red pepper hummus, romaine lettuce, Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Wedge, and thinly sliced Soyganic Smoked Tofu lightly browned in a pan. Definitely not the healthiest sandwich ever, but super tasty!

Chocolate and Almonds: Two Ways

In the past week, without even realizing it, I have made two different things which both focus on the flavours of chocolate and almonds.

First up is Chocolate Almond Porridge. You’d never know it from the two chocolate and nut-butter porridges on this blog (check out my Peanut Butter Porridge), but for a long time the only oatmeal I ever made was totally focused on dates, apples, and almonds (I will post this recipe next time I make it). I made this one morning when I was in need of a treat. It is rich and chocolatey, not too sweet, and has three incarnations of almond. Its hard not to love a breakfast that feels like dessert, but is actually really good for you. I was more than happy to eat this 3 mornings in a row.

Chocolate Almond Porridge
1 cup large flake oats
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/8 cup ground flax
1/8 cup wheat bran
1/8 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut (or brown) sugar (depending on your prefered sweetness level)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp carob powder
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Combine all ingredients, except the last four, to a medium-sized pot. Heat on medium until water has started to absorb and mixture is starting to bubble. Now stir in the sliced almonds, sugar, cocoa, and carob powders until well combined. Turn heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is fully absorbed and the oats are cooked, about 10 minutes longer. Enjoy!

I like mine with some non-dairy milk poured over.

Next up are Almond Joy Cookie Bars from Peas and Thank You. I used the recipe from the book, which is a little different from this version online, doubled it, and altered it a bit. To minimize confusion I’m going to write my version here.

Almond Joy Cookie Bars
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1 cup large flake oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup vegan mini dark chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 cup natural almond butter (the only ingredient is almonds)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350¬į and lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl combine flours, oats, coconut, almonds, chocolate chips, baking soda, and salt. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the sugars, almond butter (you might need to heat it up a bit to soften it), milk, and extracts.

Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until just combined. Spread batter into your prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!