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 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.

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5

Have you read about our Green Smoothie Challenge: Preparation?

Rather than fully start the Green Smoothie Challenge yesterday, we used the day to ease into it a bit. When choosing a start day, we didn’t realize that we would both end up with (non-challenge-approved) leftovers from a pre-planned dinner out on Saturday night, and Jem didn’t know that she had an impromptu late Thanksgiving dinner to go to on Sunday night.

So, yesterday, Jem had the Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie for breakfast, and then ate regularly for the rest of the day. She did include 30 minutes of elliptical in her day. I ended up having one and a half smoothies, a serving of soup, and some hummus and raw vegetables, and rounding it out with some non-challenge-approved foods. The photos below show what I ate for the day.

I started the day at 6:30am with a Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie. I choose to start with this one because it is very similar to my favourite smoothie of frozen blueberries, Chocolate Vega One, greens, and almond milk. I used only half a banana (because I really don’t like them), choose 1 tbsp of hemp protein powder for the flax/hemp/chia option, used 1/2 cup of my Greens Puree in place of the spinach, and didn’t add the water. The smoothie turned out the perfect texture for me, and I really enjoyed it, even though I was freezing!

Jem had the same smoothie for breakfast, except she used a full banana as the recipe states.

To help warm me up, I had a hot cup of orange pekoe tea with vanilla creme stevia right after I finished my smoothie. Yes, this tea has caffeine in it, but a lot less than the coffee I usually have every morning. I figured it would be a good stepping stone to the next week without any caffeine. And I didn’t have any coffee for the whole day!

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After a 30 minute walk to work, I had a few almonds and one piece of the fig date bread pictured below.

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At noon I had 1 1/2 cups of the Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup and a piece of toast. I really love the taste of this soup, but just like last time I made it, I’m not really a fan of the texture. Right now it is about half pureed, but I may try fully pureeing it before I have any today.

We did make some changes to the soup, so I’m going to write our version below.

Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Black Bean Soup 
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely diced and seeds removed
2 carrots, diced
1/2 large zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp liquid smoke
4 cups water
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup nutritional yeast

In a large pot over medium heat, water sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, chipotle pepper, and spices and cooking stirring for a couple of minutes. Add black beans, liquid smoke, and water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 10 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast and tahini. Pulse a few times with a stick blender to desired consistency.

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Around 4pm, I had another small meal of hummus with raw cucumber, carrot, and yellow bell pepper. I also had the other piece of my fig date bread and some green tea.

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At 5pm, I had another 30 minute walk from work.

For dinner, around 6:30pm, I had a small bowl of leftover pasta from the night before.

Around 7:30pm I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes of yoga stretches.

After my workout, I made an Apple Pie Green Smoothie, and drank about half of it. Then I had some lemon ginger herbal tea with stevia to warm me up. I liked the taste of the Apple Pie Smoothie, but didn’t like the texture. My blender probably just isn’t powerful enough to blend the apples smoothly. It was drinkable, once I blended it with ice, but next time I think I’d use applesauce in place of the full apples.

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I was also drinking water throughout the day, and made it to a grand total of 11 cups! This includes herbal tea, but doesn’t include the water in the smoothies and other food I ate.

Looking forward to starting the challenge off for real today!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

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Vegan Mofo 2013 – Post #8 – Now only 2 posts behind, and almost halfway through. I may actually make it!

I don’t know if you remember, but awhile back I posted about the amazing Lower-fat Banana Bread recipe from Veganomicon. Well, I recently stumbled upon this variation on that recipe, and it was a definite must-try! I usually add chocolate chips to my banana bread, but Herbivore Triathlete had the genius thought of also adding raspberries!

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Banana bread + dark chocolate + tart berry goodness = love!

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When making this Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread, I made the same minor changes that I mentioned in my previous post, except that this time I replaced the all purpose flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup brown rice flour, and 1/4 cup chickpea flour.

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You should give this a try!

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What I Ate Wednesday #138

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Vegan MoFo 2013 #6 & What I Ate Wednesday #138

IMG_3558Falafel Salad – Green leaf lettuce, broccoli sprouts, yellow pepper, cucumber, lemon juice, Sriracha, falafel burger, and hummus.

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A baked potato with hummus, Sriracha, yellow pepper, broccoli sprouts, and Daiya cheddar. With a Field Roast Frankfurter.

IMG_3595Quinoa, lime juice, Vega Antioxidant Oil, pickled jalapeños, cucumber, and yellow pepper.

IMG_3596Part of a raspberry lime mini-loaf with almonds and walnuts.

IMG_3605Chocolate Blueberry Oats – I made these as overnight oats, but really didn’t like them cold, so I warmed them up a bit. Just oats, chia seeds, blueberries, cocoa powder, and unsweetened almond milk.

IMG_3607Toasted Silver Hills Squirelly Bread with avocado, lemon dill hummus, Sriracha, broccoli sprouts, and spinach.

You May Also Enjoy:
What I Ate Wednesday #137
What I Ate Wednesday #109: Salad Love 
What I Ate Wednesday #136: Vegan In Victoria
What I Ate Wednesday #130

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

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°F 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