31 August 2012

august vegan food swap

i love getting snail mail.  i think this stems from spending many of my summers working at summer camp where there was nothing quite like getting something in the mail from friends or family at home.  {keep in mind this was before the days of facebook & everyone and their mother having cell phones!}  and carepackages stuffed with goodies?  those were such a treat. 

so after much procrastinating, i finally signed up for the vegan food swap and i recently received such a lovely parcel from kelly of three and a half vegans.  just look at all that yumminess!

it included wicked ingredients such as sprouted organic flour, ume plum vinegar and after picking up on some recent cravings i mentioned on the blog, kelly was so thoughtful to include some chocolate too!  i have never had vegan white chocolate chips and i can't wait to dig into them and bake something amazing.  and as you know, i love me some mexican cuisine and was really excited to try out this marinade from rick bayless.  it was really quite good made with chickpeas!

but the pièce de résistance was the justin's peanut butter cups.  oh mah gawd.  i'd heard so many good things but never tried them, and oh my they are amazing!  these were just the perfect little sweet treat to enjoy in mid air on our way to new york and we totally stocked up on more of them while we were there.  {and promptly finished them before arriving home.}

i packed up a little parcel for sarina of earthgiven, so be sure to look for her swap post too.

big high five to meshell for organizing things & if you want to get involved in next months swap just contact her here!

30 August 2012

raw ribbon salad & almond-lime dressing

it's official: root vegetables season has begun.  last week i found some beautiful carrots and beets in my csa box.  don`t get me wrong, i love my root veggies {and i most definitely love them roasted}, but i am certainly not ready to embrace the looming season change on the horizon.  i am a summer gal through and through and never want it to end.  so when it's still 30+ degrees and sunny and i wanna eat some root veggies, what's a girl to do?

spiralize 'em.

here's my new favourite salad i've been enjoying for lunch and dinner.  it's awesome as is or can be turned into the main event with addition of some grilled tofu, chickpeas or by really bulking up on the seeds & nuts. 

raw ribbon salad
serves 2
1 carrot
1 beet
1/2 a zucchini
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
pepitas, sunflower seeds, or any crunchy seed or nut topper

wash and trim the veggies to fit your spiralizer if you have one - if not, get out your trusty vegetable peeler and you can turn them into long, thin noodles by hand.  layer them up, top with pepitas & fresh cilantro and douse in your favourite dressing.  my current dressing of choice is this almond butter & lime deliciousness.
almond butter & lime dressing
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari
juice of half a lime
sriracha to taste

whisk together all the ingredients and thin the dressing out to suit your taste with water.  i tend to like this dressing a bit on the thick side so that it really clings to the veggie ribbons instead of filtering through to the bottom of the bowl.  and if almond butter isn't your thing, tahini is a great nut-free stand in.

{obviously veggies come in all shapes and sizes - especially when we're talking about local farm-grown varieties, so by all means, use your judgment on how many you want to spiralize.  the dressing can also be multiplied to feed a backyard army.}

i'd been delaying purchasing this spiralizer online {i'm so lazy when it comes to online shopping}, but came across a different model locally.  it's a whole lotta plastic bits which i would normally avoid but peeling zucchini noodles one by one was starting to wear on me.  the verdict?  it's not the most durable gadget, and i don't see it surviving more than a couple years, but veggie noodles sure are fun and it'll make do!

eat up and stand with me in solidarity as you refuse to let go of summer.  {but i am letting this salad is go on over to ricki's wellness weekend.}

are you with me?  how are you holding summer in your grips?

22 August 2012

new york, new york

it's always so nice to return to a place you love...  new york has held a special place in my heart since we spent our honeymoon there 3 years ago.  this little trip was part anniversary celebration and also possibly the last getaway before we grow to a family of 3!  we kept things simple and aside from one little guided tour of the tenement museum {totally reccomend it} we mostly just walked and explored on foot, visiting a few spots we had missed in previous trips.  and of course we ate and ate and ate. 

without spending too much time rehashing every single meal, here are some of our highlights.

as soon as we arrived at our favourite little hotel we dropped our bags and set out to wander around  the lower east side, making our first stop at babycakes to fuel up on a yummy salted caramel doughnut and a biscuit with jam & cream.  then we made our way around the corner to moo shoes.  sadly neither m nor i were successful in the footwear department but we did treat ourselves to new herbivore t's and i'm in love with my new kale tank!!


we took some time later that first evening to make a plan of attack to get in as much vegan eating as possible.  between restaurants i've been wanting to visit, recommendations from a few blog pals {thanks ladies!}, the east village guide from vegnews & the wicked compilation farm sanctuary put together that we picked up at moo shoes, we had our work cut out for us.  thankfully some cheese & crackers helped think things through.

shopping our way through the east village to work up an appetite for brunch at sacred chow where we feasted on almond milk cappuccinos, apple-carrot-beet juice, breakfast sammie on biscuit with tofu scramble, tempeh & daiya for m and for me the kale caesar with tofu 'croutons'.  we both decided another visit is a must so that we can try more from the awesome menu!  {thanks x100 to jl & megan for the recommendation!}

walking to brooklyn via the williamsburg bridge was great but a long haul from greenwich!  it was worth it though to check out the williamsburg flea - lots of fun jewlery, thrifting and more to be seen & great people watching too.

onward to dun-well doughnuts!  for the record, totally not in williamsburg - more like a good 30 minute walk from the heart of it, but totally totally worth seeking it out!  by the time we got there it was close to 6pm so the pickings were slim but we managed to select some winners with the vanilla glazzed with sprinkles and the cinnamon sugar.  frankly i'm not sure we could have chosen wrong, because holy mother they were amazing.  3 cheers for the vegan doughnut boys from brooklyn!

a super awesome slice for lunch at viva herbal pizza, followed by a walk along the high line and more shopping {i'm totally shopped out but completely stoked on the obsessive compulsive cosmetics stop i squeezed in and i can't wait to try out my new vegan nail polishes that are big 3 free!}

our final dinner plans were foiled when we arrived at our beloved casa a fox to find out it was closed for a private party, but after a walk around alphabet city we happened upon a sweet little taco joint {i had avocado on the brain and nothing else would do} called five tacos.  they've got meat on the menu but have some great vegan options - i've no pics for you, but you'll have to take my word & seek it out.  unless you're taking you food to go you've got to squeeze in at one of the several bar stools or around a single communal table, but for under $30 we gorged on soft corn tacos suffed with rice and a butternut squash & red pepper filling, massive sides of homemade salsa and their black bean & cucumber salad, and a bowl of guacamole the size of my head.  ginger beer for her and a negro modelo on tap for him.  wicked homemade hot sauces too!

we also enjoyed a romantic late dinner at angelica kitchen sharing plate upon plate of wholesome food. {heads up - it's byob here!  we didn't know so m dashed around the corner to pick up a couple local beers for himself.}  i loved the cozy vibe here and that guests are politely asked on the menu to not use their cell phones within the restaurant.  we also tried out teany this trip - i found the menu was really confusing because they list ingredients such as chicken, turkey, ham etc and only some menu items are listed as being vegan.  turns out that the cafe isn't completely vegan and does serve dairy and eggs but all the 'meats' on the menu are vegan.  our lovely server did apoligize for the confusion and said they were planning on a menu much needed re-write soon.  meal highlight was the awesome pb chocolate cheesecake.

sadly we missed out on a few stops.  i had the best of intentions of a big fat sundae at lula's but lost track of the days of the week and unfortunately they're closed on mondays.  i also missed gus's pickles because apparently they moved to brooklyn & silly me, i thought they were still on orchard street in the lower east side. 

sigh.  oh well, guess i'll have to return sometime... 


all in all a perfect little romantic getaway with my sweetheart.

18 August 2012

weekend links: nyc edition

happy weekend from new york!  we're enjoying a few days away in the big apple and i plan on eating enough for all of us.  {and by all of us i don't just mean myself & m, but all of you too.  i'm 'a hungry.}  will report back soon.
but in the mean time....

this post from gena about salads couldn't have come at a more appropriate time.

riding bikes while wearing skirts through the streets of new york?  i'm swooning...

what do you think, too predictable of a pregnant gal?  it's in our neighbourhood & was closed last time we were in the city...

an amazing post on all of the endless, bright, colourful, nutritious things vegans eat!

and i couldn't agree more.

happy, happy weekend y'all.

photo source.

17 August 2012

vegan pregnancy: 25 weeks & some of my eats

when i talked about our choice to go with midwifery care for our pregnancy, i mentioned that my midwives told me my meal plan was one of the best they'd seen - and then i got all self conscious because i was afraid i'd come off as being miss braggy-pants or claiming to be some kind of expert.  those of you who know me know that's totally not my style, but it is something that i'm proud of and i wanted to share, especially for anyone reading who might doubt the practicality or that a vegan pregnancy can be healthy.  {not that i've encountered many nay-sayers questioning my veganism lately, but it's just nice to be able to share that my health care providers stand by my choice, you know?}

in any event, i want to preface this post by saying that i'm not a dietitian or a nutritionist - i am simply a passionate, food-loving gal who tries to do right by her body {and the little body i'm growing inside}, and since many of you asked for me to share what i've been eating, that's what i'm doing today.  this is just what worked for me - and allow me to also say that it's not perfect, because i'm not perfect.

because did i mention i'm pregnant?  which means sometimes i get cravings, and i'm pretty okay with honouring them.  for the most part it's been fruit cravings, but umm, the past couple of weeks? it's been chocolate.  in the form of cookies.  and i can't get enough. {although i do limit myself to a couple a day}.

this whole food journaling thing came about as an exercise asked of my by my midwives - they ask all their clients to do this too - they examine it and then help to fill in any nutritional gaps if need be.  it's not that i'm super awesome or anything, but i think i do have a foot up already because of my vegan diet.  anyways, here's a little snippet of what i ate/am eating.  it's only a few days at a time but they're a realistic representation of what i eat on any given day.

3 day sample at 12 weeks:

Green smoothie
(pear, mango, spinach, juice, water, avocado, ice)
1 cup coffee + stevia & silk
1 bagel + EB
Chocolate smoothie (banana, almond milk, pb, raw cacao, sunwarrior)
1 cup coffee + stevia & silk
1 bagel + EB
Green smoothie (banana, pineapple, strawberry, spinach, almond milk)
raw almonds
½ cup leftover kale salad
1 cup pineapple
½ cup green smoothie
1 cup coffee + stevia & silk
Sandwich on multi (vegan mayo, tofurky slices, tomato, pickle, romaine)
½ cup lentil hummus + ww pita
1 cup pineapple
2 cups slaw (red cabbage, carrot, romaine, sesame oil, rice vinegar, braggs)
½ cup chickpea hummus + raw veggies & apple slices
2 tbsp pb + raw almonds & chocolate chips
1 cup pineapple
Deconstructed sushi: brown rice with sweet potato, broccoli, cucumber & tamari
Baked sweet potato fries + daiya & miso gravy
Sautéed kale + tofu  with braggs & nooch
Raw mannicoti (zucchini, tomato marinara, cashew cheese, kale pesto)
Quinoa & winter lettuce
1 cup pineapple
Pb-banana+ sunwarrior softserve
½ bagel + EB
Que pasa chips + salsa, olives

3 day sample at 23 weeks:

Green smoothie (banana, strawberry, celery, spirulina, almond milk, sunwarrior)
1 cup coffee + stevia & silk

 Green smoothie (banana, mango, kale, celery, spirulina, almond milk)
1 cup coffee + agave & silk
1 bagel + EB
Green smoothie (banana, strawberry, celery, spirulina, almond milk, hemp protein powder)
1 bagel + EB
1 cup coffee + agave & silk
1 sprouted wrap toasted w daiya

1 apple
Olives & rice crackers
Silken tofu ceasar dip with carrots, organic blue tortilla chips
Lunch out: baguette w avocado, white beans, olives, arugula
Ww quesadilla w daiya & black beans
Fresh tomato salad
1 cookie
White bean hummus & raw veggies
Sausage, bbq grilled veggies (beans, pepper, broccoli, zucchini w sesame oil, ginger, garlic)
Green salad w avocado, hemp & sunflower seeds
Edemame & arame salad with sesame/hemp seeds, tamari, agave
Sauteed broccoli leaves & new potatoes with evoo, lemon & nooch
Jackfruit carnitas w corn tortillas, guacamole, fresh tomato salsa, corn on the cob
2 cookies + almond milk
Homemade larabar
Ruffles w silken tofu ceasar dip

another thing that helped is that i am one of those rare women you read about who didn't struggle with morning sickness or crazy aversions that kept me from my usual diet.  to be honest this was a bit of a worry for me at first because i wasn't sick at all during my first pregnancy and after miscarrying with some complications i desperately wanted to feel sick this time around, thinking it would give me some reassurance that everything was progressing normally.  after finding out early on that everything was a-okay with our little one i thanked my lucky stars that i hadn't suffered the nausea i had wished for.  {and yes, i'm still thanking them and knocking on wood too that i don't pay the price with labour nausea!}  what i'm trying to say though is that many women suffer terrible sickness early in their pregnancies that keeps them from eating an "ideal" diet - but our bodies are awesome things and can still provide a little wee babe with all it needs - so in my unprofessional opinion, there should be no guilt in a cracker & pretzel first trimester if that's all you can keep down! 

a few other things:
  • i try to drink a lot of water, sipping throughout the day and i've also been known to polish off a bottle of san pellegrino in the evenings too.  and occasionally a root beer.
  • i also have been enjoying a cup of coffee daily.  this is almost always at home, fair-trade organic and i brew 1/2 regular and 1/2 decaf.  it often gives me a bit of indigestion, but yet i find myself back in the same spot the next morning.  i really do enjoy the taste of a good cup of coffee.
  • the daily bagels are a new thing since becoming pregnant - i've really been loving them toasted with earth balance!  {that's the "EB"}
  • food journaling takes a lot of time & effort!  being that i'm a grazer it's also likely that there are mouthfuls and spoonfuls here and there that didn't get recorded.  {for example, my friend krista left a carton of rice dream in my freezer after a weekend visit, and spoonful by spoonful it has somehow disappeared.  ahem.}
  • aforementioned ice cream eating might have something to do with the solid 10lbs i've now put on :)
  • i take prenatal supplements daily & b12 once a week. 

there are some great resources out there and i can't stop reading about and searching for more information.  in terms of nutrition so far i've really enjoyed sayward's vegan pregnancy survival guide, a plethora of online resources including this ongoing series from dreena burton & also keeping up with other vegan mamas to be who are blogging their experiences too.

if you have any questions about my eats, let me know!  in the mean time i'm going to pack a bag & my passport and psych myself up for a weekend of lugging this belly of mine around one of my favourite cities this weekend...

14 August 2012

double chocolate walnut cookies

these cookies might just be my latest obsession.  actually, scratch that - - after having made them at least 5 times now over the past two weeks, i think they definitely qualify as such.  thank goodness i'm good at sharing because it means i haven't been responsible for eating them all.

i do believe there is room for the occasional cookie in a balanced diet.  i must admit these "occasions" are seemingly more frequent lately, but i'm okay with that.  oh, and on the topic of balanced diets, after many requests i will touch on what i've been eating through my pregnancy so far later this week.  stay tuned.  for now though, i leave you with these....

i spotted these double chocolate cookies on noelle's blog earlier this month and after tweaking them somewhat i have fallen in double chocolate love.  i've made them without nuts, with pecans & with walnuts - the latter is definitely my favourite spin. 

double chocolate walnut cookies based on this recipe
makes about 16 cookies

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil or similar oil
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
4 tsp ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup + 1 - 2  tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup  chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

preheat oven to 375f.  mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  in a second bowl mix together the oil, sugar, flax, milk & vanilla.  add the wet to the dry and stir to combine.  fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.  refrigerate dough for 15-20 minutes.  roll cookie dough into balls {about 2 tablespoons worth} and space evenly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet giving them room to spread out.  flatten gently with your fingers and then bake for 10-11 minutes.

they've got an awesome little crust to them but are nice and soft in the middle - almost brownie-esque.


also, i didn't get around to a pregnancy update last week, but the only exciting thing you missed is that my 24 week pregnant self got all gussied up {after finally finding a dress to wear!} to attend the wedding of my dear friend jessica {is she stunning, or what?!}.  it was a fabulous time and a lot of fun to catch up with good friends that have been part of my life since grade 9!

on another note, thanks for all of your great feedback on my jackfruit carnitas!  they made an appearance this weekend again at a big family dinner and were gobbled up quickly - many in disbelief that they weren't actually meat.  they also made it into the national post which was a kick to see in print over my morning coffee! 

09 August 2012

jackfruit carnitas

jackfruit has been on my radar for quite some time now - i'd seen photos of it prepared and frankly couldn't get over how much it looked like meat.  i am really not the kind of vegan who misses meat - there is nothing about it i miss in fact.  not it's look, not it's taste, not it's texture & certainly not the amount of pain another must suffer to make it possible.  but that said, if these traits help someone make a vegan choice for dinner occasionally i'm totally down with it.

and do you know what i am into?  trying new things & utter yumminess.  and these jackfruit tacos totally fit the bill.

i picked up a can of jackfruit in april when in toronto's chinatown and finally tired it out on family friends a few weeks ago - some serious meat-loving friends - and it got 2 big thumbs up.  since then i've been searching high & low for more but it doesn't seem to be found 'round these parts.  so big thanks go out to my girl susie for seeking out the elusive jackfruit in her new hometown of toronto to make this meal possible.  {by the way, jackfruit is actually quite easy to find in any big city - just look at your neighbourhood asian grocer - but make sure you choose the young jackfruit packed in water - not the one packed in syrup!}

jackfruit carnitas
serves 4
1 can young jackfruit packed in water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 tbsp achiote sauce
2 tbsp salsa verde
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water

to serve:
corn tortillas
salsa fresca
guacamole or avocado slices
refried beans (optional but will help fill hungry bellies!)
lime wedges

heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion with a few pinches of sea salt until softened.  open the can of jackfruit, drain & rinse well.  squeeze any excess liquid from each piece of fruit and add to the onions, breaking it up gently with your fingers as you do.  stir to coat with oil.  add in the achiote, salsa & broth and stir well.  bring mixture to a simmer and cover, letting it cook over low heat for 30 - 40  minutes stopping to stir it here and there helping to further break up the jackfruit.

pile into soft corn tortillas and top with salsa fresca & avocado slices and whatever else suits your fancy.  after finding sweet corn in my csa last night i couldn't help but throw in some raw kernels, sliced straight from the cob.  {and for those of you who follow on facebook too you'll know that i was so overcome by the first round of sweet corn last night that i didn't stop there and ate another two cobs!  no shame, no shame...}


also helping with inspiration for this challenge is the latest gastropost mission, a fun weekly foodie play-along from the national post - so if you're reading the paper sunday morning you might just see mention of these too!

06 August 2012

vegan pregnancy: 23 week update & midwifery care

23 weeks and growing strong!  at the end of last week m & i went for another appointment with our midwives.  i love these visits for many reasons, but my favourite is that we get to hear our baby's heartbeat, and that my friends... well nothing really compares to that.

we are very happy to be working with midwives and we have an awesome team of 2 at one of the midwifery clinics in town.  and actually, at this most recent visit we just found out that our team is growing to 3 -- turns out that one of our midwives is also pregnant and so another amazing woman is coming on to the practice!  i'm really looking forward to welcoming yet another support person in our care team.

for me i have always felt that midwives were going to be the right fit when the time came to choosing a care provider.  there are so many reasons why i love them but here are a few...

time....  during our appointments i feel like i have all the time in the world to ask questions and talk things through.  i've never been made to feel as though any question i've asked has been trivial and they are always met with thoughtful, caring answers.

comfort.... the offices are warm and comfortable and like home really.  they feel anything but clinical and i feel so much more at ease that i have ever felt in a doctor's office.

continuity of care... our midwifery clinic even works to ensure that you can be matched with the same pair of midwives with subsequent pregnancies.  it's not something i've ever mentioned on the blog before {mainly because it happened before i even started cupcakes and kale}, but we were actually pregnant once before and suffered a miscarriage.  our midwives were incredibly supportive through what was an extremely difficult experience and through my follow up care.  when we found out the happy news in march that we were pregnant again i was so happy to be placed with the same team who know me and my history.  we are now continuing to form trusting, nurturing relationships with our midwives.  we see them on alternating visits, allowing us a chance to get to know them each well {& likewise they each get to know us well}, and we can trust in the fact that one of them {whomever happens to be on call when the time comes} will be there to catch our baby.  i also love that we continue to have 6 weeks of postpartum care too.  and did i mention these postpartum visits take place in your home?  amazing. 

support of our vegan lifestyle... our midwives have been incredibly supportive of our vegan lifestyle from day one - but especially after seeing a 2-week sample of my diet journal and then my blood test results which were awesome and all in healthy ranges.  {and ahem, not to brag but i was told mine was likely the best meal plan they've ever seen!}

oh yeah, and about our little one's heartbeat?  i wish i could have photographed it for you - it's that awesome.  and i've been able to feel the little one moving around a bit more lately which is so amazing.  i've been feeling the little flutters for the past 2 or 3 weeks but just in the last few days there have been little kicks here and there too!  i continue to be blown away by the creation of life every day.

in other news, move over fruit, there's another favourite in town and her name is chocolate.

04 August 2012

weekend links: s'mores addition

here's to a relaxing long weekend everyone.

the fire ban is finally lifted and all i want to do is sit around a fire with friends and make s'mores!  if only i could buy vegan marshmallows anywhere in this city.  oh well, i must remember to stock up next time i'm down south.  for now i'll just have to dream of these s'more-a-licious concoctions....

these s'mores cupcakes from picklesnhoney look ah-mazing!

normally i'd say don't mess with something that's so perfect, but peanut butter smores?  hello lovah.

and i don't even really like milkshakes, and it might be the little vegan i'm growing, but i need this one stat.

but if i decide to ever bite the bullet and make my own graham crackers (not likely, hah!) i'll use this recipe from manifest vegan and then i'll make the bite-sized bars too.  hello portable s'mores!

photo credit: david wiewel - taken at river & sky 2011 on a clear night 'round the fire with friends...

02 August 2012

grilled radishes with herbed mayo

i think i've mentioned before that my love of food has greatly come from my parents.  they too love to cook, eat, dine out and then talk about it at length.  this generally means that after a holiday, when you ask them how their trip was you get a lot of stories about food.  usually there are one or two inclusions specifically geared towards things that their kids can eat {we're all veg}.  earlier this spring my parents spent some time in new mexico and came home to regale us with tales of their trip.  one of their favourite meals this time was at a small farm to table restaurant & the highlight was a simple but amazing appetizer.  there were raves and there were photos.  and the subject of this fawning?  grilled radishes served with an herbed butter.

yes, you heard me, radishes.  they raved about this appetizer, one you kids could eat

so when radishes were abundant in my csa box a couple weeks ago i decided to try grilling radishes myself and i kind of fell in love.  i totally get what all the fuss is about.  since then the radishes have wound down, but that hasn't stopped me and instead i've been throwing baby beets & turnips on the grill in their place.  this really isn't much of a recipe, but here's how it's been going down in case you're keen to try this out too.  i like mine with an herbed mayo, but you could certainly melt up some vegan butter and herb it up.

grilled radishes with herbed mayo
serves 2-3 as a side
1 large bunch of radishes or other small root veggies {beets, turnips, etc}
extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt & fresh pepper

for the herbed mayo
1/4 cup veganaise
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
sea salt & pepper
a little minced garlic optional

remove the greens from your radishes leaving about an inch on them, and set aside for another use {they're great sauteed or even spice up a smoothie!}.  wash them up to remove any dirt and pat dry.  toss in a small dish with a bit of olive oil and set aside while you mix up the mayo.  just combine all the ingredients, season to taste and set it in the fridge until you're ready to eat.  then fire up the bbq & grill the radishes {tip: use a grill basket so you don't lose them all through the grill!} for about 5-7 minutes.  they should be lightly charred.  remove them, sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and a couple good 'ol grinds of the pepper mill & serve with herbed mayo.

you'll see what i'm talking about.

sometimes simple really is best, isn't it?