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.ย 

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So glad I remembered where I’d tucked away these snowflakes that my late Grandma made years ago! ๐Ÿ™‚

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, ย 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!

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Updates and My November Pantry Challenge

I can’t believe it is November already! The months areย flying by way too fast! I’m pretty sure it was only a few days ago that I signed up for Vegan MoFo 2012, having absolutely no clue how or if I was going to get anywhere near 20 posts in one month, and now it is already over. And I actually completed 20 posts!

During October, all of my posts were driven by the need to get to that magical number 20, and to work my way through my massive backlog of recipes I want to share with you. I know I will almost never post things the same day I make them, so I will always have a bit of a list, but it is definitely a lot shorter, thanks to Vegan MoFo. Just a reminder that you can check out all my Vegan MoFo 2012 posts by clicking on the category in my category list.ย 

Anyway, now that October is over I just wanted to share with you a few updates and plans for the next month or so.

November Pantry Challenge:
I’ve decided to do a pantry challenge for the month of November. This basically means that for the entire month I am going to limit myself to only buying fresh produce and milk (I’d say tofu and bread as well but I already have enough to last me the month), and rely on what I already have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry.

In terms of eating, this really shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve only had my own kitchen since January, but I feel like I’ve been stockpiling it ever since. I really like grocery shopping, trying new flavours and ingredients, and eat a pretty wide variety of things. I think I also have a fear of running out of my favourite things, so I tend to buy a lot of items in large quantities, or buy them when on sale, even if I don’t need them yet. For all those reasons, my somewhat limited cupboard space is looking very full these days, so I thought this would be a good way to make myself use more of what I already have, instead of buying more and more ingredients.

I think this challenge will also force me to rely less on some of the pre-packaged things I tend to fall back on for quick easy meals, and get back to the basics of great whole grains, beans, and legumes. It will also save me some money, which is perfect, because Christmas is coming up pretty fast. I love buying and making people gifts, so I tend to spend quite a lot on Christmas.

My challenge will only extend for the month of November, because I don’t want it to extend over the holiday season, but I with the way I shop, I should probably make it a pretty regular thing.

I didn’t even realize that the idea of a pantry challenge is actually quite common. If your interested in the idea, you might want to check out these other vegans doing pantry challenges: The RA Vegan, Veganatic, Hippy Vegan Mama’s Kitchen. These are just a few that I found. If you search ‘vegan pantry challenge’ you should find a lot more.

Dehydrator:
I recently acquired my first dehydrator, a Nesco FD-80. I’d say purchased, but I actually got it using Save-On points (a Western Canada grocery store chain). So far I’ve just experimented with a few basic dried fruits and vegetables, but my Fruit Roll Sheets and Clean-A-Screens just arrived (I did have to buy those) and I am excited to start trying out more things. First up probably, is granola. I also recently got a vegan raw cookbook Gorilla Food, which is pretty heavy on the dehydrator recipes so I will be trying things from there as well. I plan on sharing my dehydrator experiments, both hits and misses.

Also, if anyone has any great recipes they’ve tried with a dehydrator, or any tips for me, I’d love to hear from you!

Vegan Food Gifts
A couple of weeks ago while I was browsing cookbooks on Amazon, trying to decide which ones I want to put on my Christmas wish list, I stumbled upon Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman. I couldn’t resist! I haven’t tried any of the recipe yet, but they all sound amazing. There is a huge variety of things and I am having a really difficult time trying to decide what to make everyone for Christmas!

This is a really beautiful book, full of gorgeous full-page photos and cute little illustrations. The book is divided into sections for pre-baked gifts, gift mixes, themed gift baskets, jarred jams and sauces, and liqueurs and infusions. There is also a whole chapter of packaging ideas, each one with written and illustrated instructions. Newman has also provided a packaging tip for almost every recipe, and each mix has a pre-written recipe card, that can be copied and given along with the gift.

What I also really love about this book is that most of the recipes and gifts would appeal to everyone, not just vegetarians or vegans. There is such a huge variety of recipes and gifts that it would be difficult not to find something in this book for everyone.

Nutritional Info:
I also just wanted to let you know that I’ve been working on updating some of my past recipes with nutritional information. The past couple of months I’ve been keeping track of my diet, exercise, and water intake with ย My Fitness Pal. I figured since I have to input my recipes to be able to track them, I might as well share the information with you. Obviously, these cannot beย 100% accurate but I’ll do my best.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!