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. 🙂 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

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What I Ate Wednesday #136: Vegan In Victoria

I’ve got something a little different for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post: I’m going to share with you all the awesome vegan eats from my trip to Victoria last week. And their really was A LOT!

Victoria is not far from where I live (just a ferry-ride away), very pedestrian friendly (I don’t drive so this is important), I hadn’t been since a school trip to the Parliament Buildings in like Grade 5, and I’d been hearing rumours of lots of great vegan food. So when I was trying to think of somewhere to go for a quick last-minute getaway before school starts, Victoria was on the top of my list.

I did some research before I went and made a list to take with me of all the vegan and vegan-friendly places in the downtown area that I was interested in. I was surprised at how big the list got, and was even more surprised when I discovered a few more places in my exploring of the city!

I found these sites very helpful in my research:
The Victoria Vegan: Vegan News and Resources
Vegan Mischief’s A Vegan Traveler’s Guide to Victoria
Sarah’s Guide to Downtown Victoria
The Real Meal’s Vegan Food in Victoria, BC

Now on to the food! I’ll just say here, so I don’t repeat myself a zillion times in the following descriptions, that everything I ate ranged from great to amazing and I would eat it all again, no problem. 🙂

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I was starving when I arrived, so I headed straight to Green Cuisine after checking in to my accommodations. Green Cuisine is a buffet, so I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long to eat. It is also 100% vegan and has lots of different options. Almost everything is paid for by weight, except for some items such as soup, bread, and desserts that are priced per each. Results of walking straight into line without looking at what was available first: a meal of things that don’t go together but all taste great: Thai noodles in sweet chili sauce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, steamed kale with sweet chill sauce I took from a tofu dish, tempeh in brown sauce, falafel, and lemon cheezecake. The standout here was that lemon cheezecake. It was so light and creamy and lemony!

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Dinner was the Carmanah Bowl from Cafe Bliss, an almost 100% raw (a few cooked things) vegan (except for honey used in multiple items) restaurant and juice bar that is pretty much the cutest place ever. Cooked brown rice, steamed broccoli, raw chard, cabbage, carrots, red pepper, avocado, sugar peas and red onion in a sesame garlic sauce and topped with sesame seeds and dulse flakes, plus a multi-seed cracker. I’ll just say that the combination of warm chewy brown rice and cool seasoned veggies was blissful! 🙂 I didn’t take photos, but on a different day we also tried the Hummingbird Juice (orange, watermelon, raspberry, lime) and the Protein Berry Burst Smoothie (banana, blueberry, rice protein, hemp hearts, acai, mylk). I thought it was pretty cool that if you get any of their smoothies or juices to go, you get it in a mason jar. You have to pay a deposit for the mason jar which you get back if you bring it back to the cafe. Or you can just keep them like I did.

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Breakfast from the downtown location of Shine Cafe, a bright little place with quick friendly service, that suited the name just fine. I stumbled upon this place because it was one block from where I was staying. This is the only marked vegan breakfast: it’s called Karin’s Brunch and you get to pick four items out of nine options. I choose the hashbrowns, multigrain toast, homemade bean and rice patty, and sauteed spinach,  mushrooms, and roasted garlic. Also included in your options are pecan cranberry granola with soy milk, sweet chill sesame tofu, refried beans, grilled tomato, and a fresh fruit salad. Whichever options you choose, its a tonne of food for the price tag! Perfect way to start a full day of exploring. I don’t normally have such big breakfasts, but as you’ll see, Victoria has lots of fantastic vegan breakfast/brunch options, so I had to try some out. Shine Cafe also has a vegan burger patty, a hearty vegan salad, and a few other items on the menu that could easily be veganized by removing cheese and/or mayo.

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The Creamy Almond Veggie Sandwich from the Hot & Cold Cafe (Cook Street location). This was an amazing and amazingly messy sandwich! Creamy almond spread, grainy Dijon mustard, cucumber, tomato, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, pea shoots, and red pepper on super soft house-made organic focaccia bread. This little cafe also had other marked vegan items on the menu, including a Red Curry Tofu Rice Bowl, Yellow Coconut Curry Soup, salads, and fresh-fruit popsicles.

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Almond milk latte and a fruit/seed/coconut ball (I can’t remember what they called it but it was tasty) from Solstice Cafe. Honestly, I would have preferred the latte to taste more like coffee and less like almond milk, but I’d still go here again. The place is huge and beautiful; definitely the kind of coffee shop you’d want to hang out in for hours. I was here in the early morning, but they have more vegan light meal and snack options later in the day.

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Brunch at Mo:Lé for me was tofu scramble, avocado, and pesto hash browns from the list of separate items. So good! That tofu scramble looks plain but it had great flavour and I’m still swooning over those pesto hash browns. Love this place!

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Jem’s vegetarian brunch was the Mo:Lé Benny with avocado and grilled tomato.

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A soy latte and a vegetable samosa from the BC Royal Museum Cafe. I was surprised how great both of these were! And I was happy to notice the soy milk was even organic!

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Personal pizza from The Joint, with vegan sundried tomato pesto, artichoke hearts, spinach, black olives, jalapenos, and Daiya mozza shreds. The pizzas were amazing, but the place was so warm that we couldn’t stand to stay and eat there. Like it felt like walking into a pizza oven warm. So we sat and watched the lights in the inner harbour as we scarfed down our pizzas. Oh well. 🙂 The Joint is very vegan (and gluten-free friendly). When we were there I was surprised to see that half of the flavours of pre-made cold pizza by the slice was vegan, and all of their made-to-order pizzas, calzones etc can be made vegan! Plus, they had vegan brownies!

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Another amazing breakfast, this time from Lady Marmalade. This Organic Tofu Scramble had scallions, spinach, bok choy, and shitake mushrooms, in a sesame soy sauce. Plus toast, potatoes and salad (or you can choose barley or brown rice). This was the only vegan breakfast option but it was packed with delicious flavour! Love seeing a different spin on a tofu scramble!

This was dinner (and lunch the next day) from Lotus Pond, a 100% vegan Chinese restaurant. The place was packed, with a line out the door and its easy to see why. There are a ridiculous number of dishes and they all sound great. It was so hard to choose what to get, but we finally narrowed it down to three. This was some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had, and my sister Jem (who isn’t vegetarian or vegan) commented that it was better than most Chinese food she’d ever had!
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#47 Diced vegetables and mushrooms with cashew nuts. It also had some sort of faux-meat in there that tasted good, but we weren’t huge fans of the texture.

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#56 MaPo Tofu (soft tofu in spicy sauce)

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#80 Shredded vegetable and bean sprouts chow fun.

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Evening almond milk lattes from Wild Coffee, and a shared vegan gluten-free cinnamon roll. At least half of the treats and stuff in the showcase was gluten-free, and this was the sole vegan option. But it was a great treat!

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Last but not least, another Karina’s Brunch from Shine Cafe. This time I choose fruit instead of toast. Just as good as the first time.

You May Also Enjoy:
What I Ate Wednesday #134
What I Ate Wednesday #130
My Birthday Part 1: Veg Fest Vancouver
My Birthday Part 2: Wild Rice

My Birthday Part 2: Wild Rice

Check out My Birthday Part 1: Vancouver Veg Fest 2013.

After our day at Veg Fest and downtown Vancouver, Jem and I headed to the New Westminster Quay for a family dinner at my current favourite restaurant, Wild Rice. Wild Rice has two locations in the lower mainland, in New West and downtown Vancouver, serving what they call modern Chinese cuisine with “ingredients that are local, seasonal, and sustainable” (from the website). While the restaurants are not completely vegan, about half of the lunch and dinner menus are vegan, or can easily be made vegan, and these items are clearly marked with a ‘V’ on both the online and in-restaurant menus. There is also always at least one vegan dessert at each location.

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My Mom and Gramma. Love those high ceilings and open concept!

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My beautiful sister Ally. Love all that natural light coming through!

Both locations are really nice, but have quite different feels. The downtown location is a long skinny room with dark furnishings. It feels more fancy than the New West location. The New West location feels much more open and roomy, lots of natural elements, and best of all, one whole wall is made of glass doors looking out across the Fraser River (which are sometimes completely open to the outdoor patio seating). Also, this location is right on the boardwalk of the New West Quay, so its perfect for taking a post-dinner stroll along the water. The downtown location is open for dinner and the New West location is open for both lunch and dinner. The menus at both locations share some items, but are mostly unique.

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I’ve been to Wild Rice twice before, once to each location, and I knew it would be the perfect place to have a birthday dinner with my omnivore family. As much as I love supporting all-vegan businesses, a place with non-vegan food and clearly marked vegan options is much better suited to dining with a bunch of omnivores (including a few that are very unadventurous eaters). Most of the dishes are made for sharing so the portion sizes are quite large. If you aren’t sharing a dish you will most likely end up with leftovers. For example, this time around I had the Spicy Green Beans and Mushroom Risotto with Chili Tofu and I got three small meals out of it. Although if I hadn’t eaten so much food all day at VegFest, that probably would have been down to two good size meals.

Now lets talk food! I only took photos of the vegan food that we ordered, but I’m told that the other dishes were all thoroughly enjoyed as well.

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Seasonal Vegetable Spring Rolls. They were arranged much nicer than this but my 3-year-old nephew had already rearranged them. I love these spring rolls! I’ve tried them once at each location and they were fantastic both times. Very fresh tasting and not at all greasy like some spring rolls can be.

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Spicy Green Beans. I’ve also tried these twice and love them! They are crunchy and fresh, with a delicious spicy, sweet, sesame sauce. Totally addictive!

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Mixed Mushroom and Truffle Risotto with added Chili Tofu. I actually think this was the first time I’ve ever had risotto at a restaurant and it was great! Not my favourite entree that I’ve had, but I did really enjoy it and am glad I tried it. Definitely vegan comfort food.

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Thai Green Curry with added Chili Tofu. You can’t tell but there is rice and a lot of vegetables hidden under there. Jem and Dan ordered this and really enjoyed it. I’m a little sad that I didn’t get a taste. I’ll probably be trying this dish next time.

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As I said, this was the third time I’ve been to Wild Rice and all the food I’ve tried has been awesome. The Chinese influence is very evident, but the heavy greasy food that can be prominent in Chinese restaurants is nowhere to be found. Instead the freshness and flavours of the ingredients really stand out. Last time I was at the New West location I had the Spicy Tofu Kung Po (it’s on the menu as Spicy Chicken Kung Po but as it says, you can easily substitute the chicken with tofu) and it was amazing! Rice noodles, vegetables, and tofu in a creamy peanut sauce with just the right amount of heat.

Jem and I have eaten once at the downtown location and, along with the spring rolls mentioned earlier, shared the Mapo Doufu, Chinatown Sweep, and the Chocolate and Taro Spring Rolls. The Mapo Doufo (smoked tofu, eggplant, and other vegetables served with rice and chili jam) was fantastic and we’ve tried multiple times to replicate the flavours of the dish at home. The Chinatown Sweep is a basic mixed vegetable chow main, that was also very delicious. The Chocolate and Taro Spring Rolls were insanely good! Crunchy outsidehe Chinatown Sweep was a basic mixed vegetable chow main, that was also very delicious.

My Birthday Part 1: Veg Fest Vancouver

My birthday was last weekend and it was a lovely day full of friends, family, and a tonne of awesome vegan food! The 3rd annual Veg Fest Vancouver just happened to fall on my birthday this year, so of course Jem and I had to check it out! I took the opportunity to try a bunch of food from companies and places I’ve never tried before. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot to share with you!

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First up, we shared a plate of vegetable pakoras from the food truck Varinicey Pakoras (pronounced ‘very nice ee’). We got the Original which included carrots, yams, kale, and swiss chard. These were delicious, and the sweet mango chutney and spicy pickles were really nice additions. They also serve a few different varieties of pakoras, a mango coconut smoothie, and fresh chai tea with almond milk. Except for the yogurt-based raita, everything is vegan and gluten-free.

Next, we couldn’t resist buying a couple caramels from In The Oven. We choose the coconut and the dark chocolate coffee flavours. We shared the coconut one right away and I had the dark chocolate coffee one for dessert that night. They were both pretty amazing! Very sweet, so not something I would eat often, but a really nice treat.

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After meeting up with some friends, we headed to the Loving Hut Express food truck for lunch. I was looking forward to trying the Crispy Chick’n Burger I’ve heard raves about, but it was all sold out by the time our turn came. Instead, Jem and I both got the Bacon Cheese Burger (all vegan, like everything on the truck), piled high with crispy bacon, cheese sauce, mayo, tomato, red onion, and lettuce. We waited about 30 minutes for our burgers and it was well worth it! The burgers were so big we could barely finish them, but I can honestly say it was one of the best (and messiest) veggie burgers I’ve ever had! And I’m pretty sure everyone in our group, even the non-vegans, enjoyed theirs just as much.

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Later on, after some more exploring of Veg Fest, Jem bought me a birthday cupcake from Fairy Cakes, since I wouldn’t be having a birthday cake later on. I choose the chocolate lime cupcake. Jem had a chocolate raspberry one, and our friend David also had the lime one. I’m not usually big on bought cake or cupcakes, because normally find them too sweet for my tastes, but these weren’t overly sweet. The lime flavour wasn’t really prominent but the cupcake was very moist and delicious!

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All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Veg Fest Vancouver! It is a free outdoor festival, which took over three blocks of Vancouver’s Granville Street on July 27th. In addition to vegan food vendors, there were also tables for many animal protection organizations and other vegan-friendly local businesses, many with free samples and items for sale. This was my first time at the festival and I would definitely go again. It was really nice to see so many great vegan and local vendors in the same place, giving us a chance to easily try a variety of things from many different places. I also really liked that the set-up of the festival along Granville street, and the fact that it was free, left us free to wander in and out of the festival area throughout the day.

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Check out My Birthday Part 2: Wild Rice.
After our day at Veg Fest and exploring downtown Vancouver a bit, we headed to the New Westminster Quay for a family dinner at the amazing and vegan-friendly Wild Rice. It’s a good thing we were walking around the whole day, otherwise I don’t think we would’ve had any room to enjoy dinner!

Gorilla Food Review

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #4

A couple of days ago Jem and I ventured into downtown Vancouver for some wandering and a bit of shopping. I knew we would be having lunch out so before we left home I wrote down the addresses of a few vegan and vegan friendly places in the area I’ve been wanting to try (I may have a bookmark category on my computer for keeping track of such places). Except for Japanese food, I don’t eat out often, so it isn’t really a big deal going somewhere that only has a couple of choices for me. However, it is awesome having a sister/friend who while an omnivore, is very open to trying new things and perfectly willing to eat vegan while she’s with me.

We ended up going to Gorilla Food for lunch, and I loved everything about it. Everything there is organic, vegan, and raw, and I was really impressed by the size of their menu. The large menu includes lots of wraps, sandwiches, salads, veggie burgers, pizza, a couple zucchini noodle dishes, and lots of sides. They also have a big selection of fresh juices, smoothies, milkshakes, and desserts. You can find the full menu here. It would take a lot of trips to work through everything I’d like to try.

It is a cozy little place on Richards Street, between West Hastings Street and West Pender Street; right in between Vancouver’s downtown shopping district, Gastown, SFU Harbour Centre, and the Vancouver Convention Centre. The decor was a great mix of bricks, stone, and different woods and I really like the open concept kitchen where you could see everything being put together. The space felt a little small and awkward when there was a line up, but you can take everything to go, and I think that’s how they probably do a lot of their business. Jem and I took our lunch down to the waterfront.

So, what did we eat?

I chose the Main St. Monkey Sandwich on veggie-flax bread. It was stuffed full of olive tapenade, avocado mash-up, zucchini hummus, cucumbers, and sprouts (and is also supposed to have tomatoes on it). And I had the Choco-Berry Gorilla Mylk Shake, which has blueberries, almonds, cacao, bananas, hemp seeds, date, and coconut oil.

I swear there is other stuff under all those sprouts!

This was the first time I’ve ever had raw bread, and it was really good! Totally satisfied my carb craving at the time! This was a really tasty sandwich and I would absolutely order it again. The smoothie was also really good; chocolate, nut, and blueberry goodness!

Jem got a slice of the Pesto Pizza, which had sun-dried tomato sauce, hempseed basil pesto, walnut ‘cheez’ crumble, and a fresh tomato slice. She also got the same smoothie as I did, only hers had strawberries instead of blueberries (you can choose).

Loved the recycled and recyclable containers that everything came in!

We both really enjoyed our lunch, and will definitely be keeping Gorilla Food in mind for when we are in the area and in need of a meal, smoothie, or vegan treat!

I should also mention that Gorilla Food sells a bunch of different raw crackers, granola, and flavoured nuts and seeds, as well as brown paper packages of raw food staples like raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I may have picked up a couple of things to send in the next couple Vegan Food Swaps! I also bought the Gorilla Food cookbook, which should come in handy, as in a couple of days I will have a dehydrator for the first time. I haven’t tried anything from the book yet but it looks really great and I’ve noticed that it includes recipes for a tonne of items on their menu.

What I Ate Wednesday #80 & New Daiya Wedges

Breakfast:
2 Mini Tofu Frittatas*
1 slice Silver Hills toast w/ Crofters Raspberry Jam
Chilled chai tea w/ unsweetened soy milk & liquid stevia

Lunch:
4 Veggie Patch Falafel Chickpea Balls in a whole wheat wrap w/ Vegenaise, Sriracha, cucumber, romaine lettuce, & a sprinkle of lemon juice
Lemon water

Snacks:
1 slice Chai Spiced Zucchini Bread w/ Vegan Becel
Grande soy latte

Dinner:
Vegan Mac & Cheese* (from the Peas and Thank You cookbook) & steamed green beans w/ black pepper & Almesan
Orange juice

I’ve tried quite a few different recipes for vegan mac & cheese, trying to stick with ones that don’t use bought vegan cheese (like this one does), but this was honestly the best vegan mac & cheese I’ve ever had!

I think the main reason this was so incredibly good was  that I used the new Daiya Cheddar Style Wedge which I happened to stumble across for the first time while I was craving mac & cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Daiya shreds, but I would never eat them when not melted. The wedge style cheese is much richer and creamier than the shreds, and definitely worth eating as is! I will definitely be trying the other flavours soon!

The next day I topped the leftover macaroni with a breadcrumb topping and heated it in the oven. So good even my cheese-loving omnivore sister devoured hers!

Snack:
Hot cocoa
Almonds & walnuts

And a few other things I’ve been eating in the past 2 weeks:

From top left to right:
1) McCain Xtra Crispy Spicy Fries. Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Fingers, cucumbers w/ black pepper, roasted red pepper dip (Vegenaise, Casa Terra Smokey Pepper Spread, lemon juice)
2) Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Soup w/ a slice of Silver Hills Bread, toasted w/ Earth Balance
3) A whole wheat wrap w/ rice/bean/vegetable mixture (left over from when I made burritos for the freezer), cucumber, lettuce, and Chipotle Lime Cashew Cream
4 & 5) Lunch & dessert from Organic Connections Cafe in White Rock, BC. Spicy Nut and Seed Burger, signature salad, and an Alive Onion Cracker. Lemon Cheesecake.
6) Spicy Peanut Vegetable Soup and a slice of Chai Spiced Zucchini Bread.

*Sorry I’m a little (or a lot) behind in my posting. More info, recipes, and photos on these are coming soon.

Well, wraps and chilled tea are definitely summer staples but the rest is really just using up whatever supplies I have in my freezer and pantry along with slim amounts of produce. Things have been way too crazy around here to even go grocery shopping.

Questions
Have you tried the Daiya wedges yet? What did you think?

Do you have a favourite recipe using Daiya or a different vegan cheese product?

What I Ate Wednesday #79 & Everybody Loves Veggies

Or rather, what I ate Monday July 23.

Breakfast:
2 blueberry almond waffles (home-made ones I had in the freezer) with Earth Balance and agave syrup (because I couldn’t get my maple syrup bottle to open).
Tetley Bold Orange Pekoe Tea with So Nice For Coffee creamer.

Lunch:
Millet Lentil Salad with added cucumbers.
1/2 an apple.

Snack:
2 mugs of Organic Green Mate tea
2 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. (I finally baked the dough I had from our For the Freezer Day.

Dinner:
Vegetable stir fry (carrots, orange pepper, broccoli, sui choy, peanuts) with sauce (hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, Bragg’s, Siracha hot sauce) and roasted sesame seeds over green tea noodles (I had to try them, but they were only okay. I don’t think I’d buy them again).

Snacks:
2 squares Giddy Yoyo Raw Organic Ginger Dark Chocolate (I got this in my package from this month’s Vegan Food Swap. More on this in a few days).
Nature’s Path flake cereal (I mix a few different kinds in my cereal keeper) with hemp hearts, cinnamon, and unsweetened soy milk.

Here are some other things I’ve been eating over the past week:

From left:
1) Salad: green leaf lettuce, spinach, orange peppers, cooked buckwheat, cucumber, dried cranberries, hemp hearts, chia seeds, pickled chopped banana peppers with balsamic vinaigrette. Chipotle Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries
2) Yves Veggie Chicken Burger on a whole wheat bun with Veganaise, Siracha hot sauce, spinach, and dill pickles.
3) Whole wheat rotini with Creamy Avocado Sauce, Almesan, and steamed broccoli.

Also, yesterday I ate at a little vegetarian/vegan place called Everybody Loves Veggies for the first time. It is located in the food court at City Square 555 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver. (I stumbled upon this place because it is just down the street from Vancouver General Hospital, where I’ve been spending a lot of time lately.) They had a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, stews (with rice), and a daily soup. You can buy things individually or make combos with 2 different things. Everything looked really good!
For lunch I had an Avocado Cucumber Sandwich and Couscous Salad. The sandwich was just avocado, cucumber, and Veganaise on some really fresh light rye bread (I think) but it was very good. The salad seemed to be just couscous, roasted eggplant, fresh parsley, and some sort of dressing. It was also really tasty. I also got a Double Chocolate (vegan!) cookie for later. It was super soft, chewy, and very chocolatey! Yum!
From what I tried, and how everything else looked, this is like eating someones simple home cooking. Simple, but very well done. I really enjoyed my lunch and will definitely be eating here some more. Definitely better than the food court at VGH!
Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera to take photos, and they don’t have a website but for more information and to get a closer look at some of the food you can check out these two videos: One Two