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! 🙂

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!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 7!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 6

My Day 7 Eats: 
For breakfast I made a smoothie very similar to the day before. One thing I’ve learned from this challenge is how to make a good green smoothie that tastes good and is the exact right texture. This one had ½ cup blueberries, ½ cup water, ½ cup almond milk, 4 drops orange stevia, ½ a banana, ½ cup frozen pineapple, ½ cup greens puree, and 1 tbsp hemp protein powder.

I had half of the smoothie followed by some ginger mint tea, then had the other half after my 30 minute walk to work.

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At 11:30 I had a salad of lettuce, cucumber, orange pepper, and balsamic vinegar. I also had some warm taco-spiced lentils and quinoa and some herbal tea with vanilla stevia.

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At 2:30 I had a jar full of steamed baby bok choy with Bragg’s and red pepper flakes.

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Later, I walked another 30 minutes home.

Jem’s Eats:
For breakfast she had the same smoothie as Day 6, except with greens puree instead of greens cubes.
For lunch she had Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.

Confession time. After a long day (I’d already been up over 12 hours) we decided to stop the challenge at 6:30pm, and celebrate by going out for some Japanese food!

Stay tuned for a recap of our experience with the Vedged Out Green Smoothie Challenge!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 6

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 5

My Day 6 Eats:
For breakfast I made a mixed fruit green smoothie consisting of 5 Frozen Greens Cubes, ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks, ½ a banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 tbsp hemp protein powder, 1 cup almond milk, and ½ cup water. This was followed by some hot rooibos tea.

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About an hour later I had a snack of steamed baby bok choy with Bragg’s and red pepper flakes. I felt weird about having this so early in the morning, but it was really good. I love bok choy!

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Around 1:30 I had a salad of cabbage, romaine lettuce, cucumber, orange pepper, and Balsamic Vinaigrette, along with some warm Lentil Taco Filling. Afterwards I had some orange ginger herbal chai tea with vanilla stevia.

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A few hours later I had a bowl of Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.

Around 7pm I walked 30 minutes home and drank some vanilla rooibos tea and munched on a few almonds along the way. The Challenge doesn’t include any nuts, but I really needed a little something to tide me over until I got home and this was all that I had.

At 8:30pm I had a Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie.

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My water for the day: 14 cups!

Jem’s Eats:
For breakfast she had a smoothie consisting of 1 banana, 3 greens cubes, 4 frozen strawberries, 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1 tbsp ground flax, 4 drops of orange stevia, and 1 cup almond milk.
For lunch she had a green salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and mint tea.
For dinner she had cooked chickpeas and kale and a green salad with red peppers, pomegranate, and lemon juice.
Later on she had some ginger mint tea.

I’ve shared this post with Healthy Vegan Friday #67.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 5

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4

My Day 5 Eats:
For breakfast I made a Blueberry Peach Smoothie. I drank about half of it right away, followed by a cup of hot herbal chai tea with vanilla stevia.

After a 30 minute walk to work I had the other half of my smoothie.

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At 11:30 I had a salad of Lemon Pepper Coleslaw, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and Balsamic Vinaigrette, alongside some warm Lentil Taco Filling. I also had a cup of herbal tea.

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Around 3pm I had some hummus with cucumber and orange pepper, as well as some steamed green beans with Bragg’s and black pepper.

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At 5pm I walked for another 30 minutes.

Once I was home, I enjoyed a big bowl of Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.

Around 9pm I tried my hand at making a pumpkin pie smoothie. I didn’t quite get it right, but I drank it anyway.

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My water intake for the day: 9 cups.

Jem’s Day 5 Eats:
For breakfast Jem had a smoothie made of 1 cup frozen mixed berries, ½ cup greens puree, ½ cup frozen peaches, ½ a banana, 1 tbsp hemp protein powder, 4 drops vanilla stevia, 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk, and ½ cup water.
At 12 she had 1 cup of Lentil Taco Filling.
At 2 she had some Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.
For dinner she had a stir fry of cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.
In the evening she had a Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3

On Day 4 I had a full day of school, which means I was away from the house for 11 hours. I was a little scared of being stuck without enough food so I made sure to take some time the day before to make coleslaw, soup, and taco lentils. It’s a good thing I do well at thinking of planning ahead when it comes to having food on hand to take to school and work, otherwise this definitely would have ended up as a cheat day!

Day 4 Eats:

Breakfast at 6:30am was a Pineapple Peach Smoothie. It had 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks, ½ cup frozen peach chunks, ½ a banana, ½ cup Greens Puree, 1 tbsp hemp protein powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, and 5 drops of orange stevia. This was quickly followed by a cup of hot rooibos tea.

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Later in the morning, once I arrived at school, I had some ginger rooibos tea (which unfortunately did not live up to expectations) and some hummus and raw vegetables.

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At 1pm I enjoyed some Butternut Squash Lentil Soup on my lunch break. I knew I wouldn’t be exercising this day, so I also snuck in a 15 minute walk in the sunshine before class started again.

I made this Butternut Squash Lentil Soup by adapting my Golden Lentil Barley Soup to the Challenge rules, basically by using butternut squash in place of root vegetables and omitting the barley. I was really pleased with how this one turned out!

Butternut Squash Lentil Soup
1 clove garlic, minced
½ an onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and diced
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
⅛-½ tsp cayenne (to taste)
1 cup red lentils (I used 1/2c split and 1/2c whole), rinsed
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth OR 5 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I like Harvest Sun)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, water sauté the garlic and onion until translucent.
Add in all other ingredients, cover, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and squash are tender.
Enjoy!

I forgot to take photos of the soup once it was done, but this is what it looked like while cooking:

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At 4pm I had a salad of Lentil Taco Filling, Lemon Pepper Coleslaw, romaine and red leaf lettuce. This had enough flavour that I didn’t end up using the pictured Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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I made the Lentil Taco Filling without any onion, tomato paste, cilantro, or bell pepper, and added an extra diced carrot.

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Around 7:30pm, when I finally got home I had the rest of my hummus and vegetables.

Later on I enjoyed another Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie. This ones a winner!

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My water intake today: 11.5 cups!

Jem and I weren’t together most of the day, so except for the morning Pineapple Peach Smoothie we actually ate differently today. For lunch, Jem had a salad of 1 cup of red leaf and romaine lettuce, 1 cup of Lemon Pepper Coleslaw, artichoke hearts, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and ½ cup Lentil Taco Filling. In the afternoon she had a large vanilla rooibos tea with soy milk and a Naked Fruit Smoothie. For dinner she had Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 5

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2

Today is actually Day 5 of our Challenge, but my full school day (which means I’m gone for almost 12 hours) didn’t leave any time for posting.

Things are going pretty good. I’m feeling less hungry and have more energy than I thought I would. I am enjoying the food once I’m eating it, but am having to talk myself into making it.  Still daydreaming about all the other things I’d like to be eating. Like bread and avocado and Granny Smith Apples and coffee and dark chocolate and peanut butter… Only three more days to go!

All recipes below without a link can be found at the Vedged Out Green Smoothie Challenge page.

Day 3 Eats:

Breakfast was a Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie. As usual, I used ½ cup Greens Puree in place of the greens, only ½ a banana, and left out the ice. I also used ½ of a lemon (segmented and some peel). I’ve had this smoothie before, and I love how different it is. The sour berry lemon flavour sure wakes up the tastebuds!

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Once again, I forgot part of my smoothie in the freezer for a little bit and ended up with some lemonade slush. Yum!

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After my smoothie, I had some warm ginger mint herbal tea.

I put together a big salad plate for lunch. It tasted just as good as it looks! It had romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, Balsamic Vinaigrette, artichoke hearts, cucumber, orange pepper, Italian White Beans, and some Lemon Pepper Coleslaw.

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The Lemon Pepper Coleslaw was something I had just come up with. Basically, I was thinking of making my Basic No-Mayo Coleslaw challenge-worthy, and this is what I ended up with. Without any sugar or oil for balance, it is quite sour, but has made a great addition to salads and other things.

Lemon Pepper Coleslaw
3-4 cups shredded cabbage
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp ground black pepper

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Mid-afternoon Jem and I met for a study date at a coffee shop. It was very difficult to talk ourselves into having herbal tea and nothing else! We both ended up with vanilla rooibos tea with steamed soy milk. The milk isn’t really challenge-approved (though it doesn’t actually say anything about it other than it is in some smoothies), but I’m pretty sure it was the only thing coming between us and a sweet caffeinated drink and/or a treat.

When we got home, we each had a plate of mini lettuce wraps (because we had already torn the lettuce). Our lettuce wraps were just red leaf and romaine lettuce with hummus and Lemon Pepper Coleslaw.

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A couple hours later, dinner was leftover Hot & Sour Soup. Still just as good as the day before!

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I made a Berry Vanilla Smoothie (based on the Blueberry Vanilla Smoothie) for an evening snack with ½ cup Greens Puree, 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), ½ cup blueberries, ½ a banana, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp ground flax, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, and 5 drops of vanilla stevia.

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My water today: 7 cups. 

Jem and I ate the same Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie for breakfast, except that she used a whole banana and hemp protein powder instead of flax. During the morning she had ginger mint tea and some hummus with orange pepper, carrot, and cucumber. She didn’t actually have a salad or a second smoothie on this day, but had the same vanilla rooibos tea, lettuce wraps, and Hot & Sour Soup with me.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4

I’ve shared this post with Healthy Vegan Friday #66 and Gluten Free Friday #62.

Green Smoothie Challenge Day 2 & WIAW

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1

Yesterday was Day 2 of the our Green Smoothie Challenge it was full of lots of good food! Check out what I ate, including two new smoothie recipes!

For breakfast I made a Blueberry Peach Green Smoothie, which is sort of a combination of the Blueberry Vanilla and the Spotted Peach.

My smoothie was followed by a cup of rooibos tea, and later on by some more vanilla rooibos tea.

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Blueberry Peach Green Smoothie
1/2 cup greens puree (or 2 cups packed greens)
1/2 a banana
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup water
6 drops liquid vanilla stevia

Just put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

After being out in the damp foggy air without a proper jacket (my own fault) I was way too cold to have something cold for lunch, so I made a quick stir-fry. It included broccoli, bok choy, orange pepper, edamame, garlic, red pepper flakes, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and a spoonful of leftover Gomae sauce on top.

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Around 2:30, after Jem got home from school and had finished lunch, we went for a 1 hour walk through some trails by our house. I’m loving the cool & sunny fall weather!

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After our walk I had another little portion of Gomae, and some more vanilla rooibos tea.

For dinner we made Hot & Sour Soup. We were really looking forward to trying this one and it definitely lived up to our expectations. I actually said while we were having it that it was the best thing I had eaten in at least 3 days. I’m looking forward to leftovers today!

We did make a few little changes to the soup.
– We used cremini mushrooms instead of shitake mushrooms.
– We used red pepper flakes instead of cayenne powder.
– We used medium-firm tofu instead of extra-firm. It falls apart a little in soup, but we like the softer texture.
– We also left out the scallions but added one diced carrot and a bunch of bok choy. (We added the stalks in with everything else and added the greens in with 4 minutes remaining.)

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It was also really nice how easy this soup was to make. Just throw everything in a pot, bring to a boil, turn down and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Easy peasy.

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After dinner I made some more Greens Puree, this time with one large package of baby spinach, one huge head of romaine lettuce, and 1 1/2 cups water. All set for another few days of smoothies! I’m finding it really handy having this in the fridge for green smoothies. My blender likes it better than the Frozen Greens Cubes, and it does make for a smoother texture.

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Jem and I were craving some sweet snackage so we came up with this minty chocolate smoothie, based on the Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie, to help us get to bedtime. It definitely did the trick. This makes 4 cups, but is a thicker smoothie (more stuff and less liquid) so we split it between us.

Minty Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie (Yields 2 servings)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 handful fresh mint leaves
1/2 a banana
2/3 cup greens puree (or 2 cups spinach)
2 tbsp hemp protein powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp carob powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup water
Vanilla stevia to taste

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I also had a cup of ginger mint tea to warm me up a bit after the smoothie.

Water Intake Today: 12 cups!

As you can tell from today’s log, Jem ate the same thing as me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening snack. She had her Gomae in the mid-morning, rather than the afternoon, along with some citrus mint tea.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3

I’ve also shared this post with What I Ate Wednesday #144.