Wednesday, October 02, 2013

WIAW #30 Round Up

Hi Friends!

It's been so long since I've done a What I Ate Wednesday post. I mean I'm always sharing my yummy eats but I miss joining the party and linking it up over at Peas and Crayons. Time to change that! I've got lot's of yummy photos to show you so let's get started!
I took a week off of work while my mom was in town so that we could spend more time together.  My mom spent the weekdays at my brother and sister-in-law's house watching my niece and nephew.  So, during that time, I would come over every day with some yummy food for us to enjoy over lunch.  Once or twice we would take my niece in the stroller (when my nephew was at school) and walk over to the store to pick up some veggie ingredients. Here's a look at the delicious food we enjoyed over that week (or rather, the food I remembered to take pictures of!):


Salad, salad, salad!  Clockwise from top left: We used yummy greens, made croutons from a baguette, and added a veggie burger to make a fab Salad Plate.  By the way, you can never use to much sriracha!;  Seven grain salad medley on top of arugula, cherry tomatoes, avocado and topped with homemade dressing;  Leftover pakoras and samosos added some yummy texture and flavor to the arugula, cherry tomatoes, sprouts and pepperoncini's;  Dessert from Sweets From the Earth!  Peppermint nanaimo bar and a brownie.  So yummy!;  My mom's famous Bread Salad.  I love it!  Chopped baguette with multicolored tomatoes, parsley, green onions and dressing.  Delish!

Dinner when my mom stayed over at my place...

Clockwise from top left:  Tacos!  Veggie ground round with lot's of spices added,  Daiya shreds, sprouts, avocado, green salsa, sriracha and of course, nutritional yeast; Portobella Burger... read all about it here; Veggie Burger, sweet potato fries and a green salad from a pub we ate at during a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake; Bruschetta appetizer from the same pub, no cheese; Farmer's Market Dinner!  Kale salad, sweet potato English muffins, mixed greens salad and a sweet potato salad.  All from the farmers market.

Food Truck Food!
We went to Holy Food Truck Tuesday again while my mom was here and brought along my sister, sister-in-law and the little ones.  My mom and I split the meals you see above from the vegan food truck karma chaMEALeon. From the top: Jackfruit Tacos with a mango salsa (I added sriracha after I took the photo); Philly Cheeze Steak with fried onions and a side of coleslaw.  Both were pretty tasty but my mom preferred the Philly Cheeze Steak.

I hope you guys enjoyed the food porn.  I'm drooling over the photos and can hardly wait to publish this so I can go and make dinner!  This will certainly teach me to write a post on an empty stomach. Ha!

Happy WIAW everyone!
Ves xx

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vegan MoFo #10: The Ultimate Vegan Cheese Sauce!

Hi Friends!

I have an amazing Cheese Sauce recipe to share with you today.  Let me tell you that I have tried so many different "cheese sauce" recipes and none have come close to this one.  It's thick, creamy, and oh so yummy.  I've adapted this recipe from one that I found on the interweb.  I was so intrigued with the use of potatoes and carrots that I had to investigate but, the rest of the recipe seemed a little too plain for my taste so I jazzed it up a bit.  The result was nothing short of amazing.

Remember, there is no actual cheese in this sauce so don't expect it to taste exactly like cheese.  But, do expect to add this to everything you eat!  You may even find yourself licking the blender.  Don't worry, you're not alone.

Ultimate Vegan Cheeze Sauce
2 cups peeled, boiled, and mashed potatoes (I used 3 medium potatoes)
1 cup peeled, chopped, and boiled carrots (I used 3 medium-large peeled carrots cut in 1 inch pieces)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup vegetable stock (water will work, too)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare
1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp Sriracha (optional, but adds amazing flavor)

Boil your potatoes and carrots until they are fork tender, measure them in their mashed form (that step is more important for the potatoes than it is for the carrots) and add them to your blender.
Place the rest of your ingredients in your blender and process until smooth.  You may have to scrape down your blender a couple of times.
You can serve this immediately or store it in an air tight container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  The sauce can be reheated on the stove or in a microwave.  Just  make sure you stir it really well.

I chose to try out the sauce on a Tofu 'Egg' Sandwich.  It was amazing!  I can't wait to smother this sauce onto a plate of vegan nachos!  Yum, yum!

TGIF and have a great weekend y'all!

Ves xx

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegan MoFo #9: Cheezy Kale Salad

   Well my friends, you are super lucky today because I am posting twice!  That's right, two posts in one day and this one is a recipe post.
  I'm really doing this for my mom at her request.  She loves this kale salad that I make, and asks for it anytime that I buy kale.  So, here's the recipe... I hope you guys love it as much as she does.  Oh, and if you've ever read Kim Snyder's Beauty Detox Solution you'll notice that this salad is similar to one that she makes.  It's the bomb.

"Cheezy" Kale Salad
Serves 2-4
1 head kale
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 - 2 tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Wash the kale thoroughly and tear it away from the stems.  Add it to a salad bowl along with the lemon juice and sea salt.  (You can save the stems and juice them later.) Using your hands, massage the kale while simultaneously tearing it into bite size pieces.  Continue massaging until the kale is soft and slightly wilted (about a minute or two). Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the hemp seeds) and continue to mix until everything is incorporated.  Garnish with the hemp seeds, serve and enjoy!
The best part about this salad?  You can save the leftovers for the next day without worrying about wilted lettuce!

Stay tuned tomorrow for an amazing cheese sauce recipe.  You won't believe how amazing it is until you see it and try it for yourself!

And last but not least, I leave you with a video that my brother sent me a few days ago.  It's actually a haunting preview of a game called Chipotle Scarecrow.  I really hope this game (or even just the preview) reaches millions of people.  Check it out:

By the way, I may have cried while watching this video... and it may be because I watched it at 6am OR it could be Fiona Apple's rendition of "Pure Imagination" OR it could just be that I am Miss Sensitive... either way... you have been warned.

Ves xx

Vegan MoFo #8: I'll Try Anything Once!

Hi Friends!

   I hope you are all having a wonderful Thursday! It's a little dreary over here by me although it's supposed to be a scorcher today. We'll see about that. For now, I want to share with you something that I recently tried. If you know me personally, and if you've been following my blog for a while, you know how much I dislike mushrooms. And by "dislike" I mean hate. With a passion. I can't stand them. The smell, the taste, the texture. Eeew. You'll also know how much my dislike for mushrooms bugs me.  I mean, what kind of a vegan hates mushrooms?

   Aren't they usually the star ingredient in "meat-based" dishes? It's annoying seeing all of these delicious looking recipes and then realizing that they have tons of mushrooms in them. I automatically turn the page or click on something else if I see a picture of a mushroom. You can't pull one over on me either. I can smell them from a mile away. So unless you've chopped them up into a marinara sauce, I know that they're there. That being said, lately I've been trying to be tolerant towards mushrooms. Before ultimately picking them out of my food, I'll try them first to see if by some miracle my palate has changed.  It hasn't.

   That being said, for some reason I've had this crazy urge to try a portobello burger.  I have no clue why except that I've been seeing them everywhere and I'm super curious.  I had to try them at least once in my life, right?!  So... I convinced my mom (who's still in town, by the way!) to try one with me.  She loves mushrooms but isn't a huge fan of portobello's so this was going to be a first for both of us.  We decided to marinate them in a Thai dressing that my mom makes and is super delish.  My mom whipped up the dressing while I prepped some tomatoes and onions for roasting. 

   We added the leftover dressing on top of the veggies before placing them in the oven.  Since I don't have a grill, we cooked the burgers on the stove.

   When the veggies were done I added some Daiya shreds on our buns and set them under the broiler for a couple of minutes.  I also whipped up a quick guac for the burgers.  I was terrified that the burgers would have an overwhelming mushroom flavor so I was basically trying to mask it with all the other ingredients.

   We assembled the burgers by layering the tomatoes and onions and then the portobellos on top.  Guacamole and sriracha (so obsessed with sriracha) were added to round out the flavor and then it was time to taste it.  I loved the flavors in this burger so much and I actually ate a few bites of the whole thing before removing the mushroom.  I was so proud of myself for that.  And although I will probably never have another portobello burger again, at least I can say that I tried it!

When was the last time you tried something you didn't like?

Ves xx

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vegan MoFo #7 Sunshine in a Glass

Hi Friends!

I have a super awesome quickie recipe for you today.  Over the weekend my mom made this amazing papaya juice for us and I absolutely have to share it with you.  I'm not a huge fan of papaya's on their own but I loved it in this juice.

Papaya, grapefruit, carrot.
   Papaya's are actually really good for you (as practically all fruits and veg are) and contain a lot of healing properties.  As everyone probably knows, it's high in vitamin C and B vitamins which is great for the immune system.  But, papaya is also said to help protect against free radicals and possibly prevent cancer because it is a rich source of antioxidants.  Which, by the way, also helps with skin issues, too, such as acne and premature aging.  Woohoo!

Here's the recipe:

Good Morning Sunshine
Serves 2
1/2 papaya, peeled
2 grapefruit, peeled
4-6 medium to large carrots (peeled if not organic)

Add all of the ingredients to your juicer in the order listed above.  Pour in a glass and drink immediately.

Til next time...

Ves xx

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan MoFo #6 Spirulina All in My Shake

Hi Friends!

   I hope you had a wonderful and germ-free weekend!  I've noticed that many people around me are coming down with colds or viruses and so I'm doing my part to strengthen my immune system.  Although I find it super fun to make the sign of the cross with my fingers while simultaneously backing away slowly from a germy person, there are other more effective ways to ensure that you stay as healthy as possible during cold and flu season.

   My all-time favorite go-to immune booster is Oil of Oregano.  I love that stuff and use it almost all the time.  It's so effective in warding off illnesses that sometimes I swear it works even when I'm just thinking about taking it.  If you haven't tried it yet please pick some up the next time you are near a natural food store.  You will be glad you did when everyone around you is coughing and sneezing, I promise!  Oh, and it tastes exactly how it sounds... like oregano.  In fact, once you've taken it you'll swear you just ate a plate of pasta.  No joke.

   My other favorite go-to is Spirulina.  I love it in my smoothies and tend to overdose on it sometimes.  Last week I was sprinkling it on my salads as well!  If you are new to Spirulina, start off slow as it can play havoc with your stomach.  Not in a bad way, you would just be uncomfortable for a while until your body gets used to it.  So start with a 1/4 tsp for a week or more and then increase the amount.  I usually have between 2-3 teaspoons a day and sometimes up to 2 tablespoons depending on if I feel I need an extra immune boost.
  Spirulina is extremely high in chlorophyll and calcium, and contains B vitamins, as well as Vitamins A, C, D, and E.  Plus, it's a great source of potassium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.  And if that's not enough, it's also super high in protein.  If any food deserved the word super in front of it, spirulina would be it!

     My absolute favorite way of using spirulina is in a green smoothie.  Here is my current smoothie mix obsession (actually I think it's been my obsession for over a year):

Liquid Sunshine!
Tropical Citrus Mango
Serves 1
1/2 - 1 cup coconut water
2-3 cups greens (spinach, kale, romaine, etc)
1 cup mango, frozen
1 banana, frozen
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp spirulina
handful of sprouts (optional)
vanilla protein powder (optional)

Add all of the ingredients in the order listed to your high speed blender and process until smooth.  Pour in a glass and drink with a straw!

Happy Monday everyone!

Ves xx

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vegan MoFo #5 Healthy Brownies to LIVE For

   Hi Friends!

   So this weekend my nephew played a championship soccer game and won a trophy... then again, so did all of the other players! Ha.  Did I mention that my nephew is not quite 3 years old yet?  It was a riveting game, nonetheless.  And my nephew was a scoring machine.  I'd post some videos to show you what I mean, but I don't want to be too obnoxious...
My Godson with his soccer trophy.
   I also got to spend a lot of time with my mom this weekend, too.  She likes to divide her time between us "kids" and her grand-kids... the grand-kids get her more though, of course.  Us kids have to fight over the leftover time!  That's okay, I don't mind sharing.  This weekend was pretty low key.  We went for walks, did a little bit of shopping (she wanted to go to Target... I mean, who doesn't want to go to Target?), watched some movies with my sis and munched on yummy food while sipping on some yummy wine.  It was really quite the relaxing weekend.
An assortment of veggies, crackers, hummus, pickles, cheese, and Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausages.
   We also went to visit my Aunt who had stopped by Kelly's Bake Shoppe in Burlington and picked up an assortment of vegan cupcakes.  It was really nice to try vegan cupcakes made by someone other than myself and they were actually pretty good.  My favorite was the Lime Mojito one.  I'm not sure if that's the actual name of it but it's the bottom one in the photo. 
Vegan Cupcakes from Kelly's Bake Shoppe
   I also happened to do a bit of baking myself this weekend.  My sis-in-law requested that I make a batch of Black Bean Brownies for us to have after my nephew's game.  I seem to be making them a lot lately so I thought I would share the recipe here.  This recipe comes from Chocolate Covered Katie.  I usually play around with it to suit my taste but I'm posting the original recipe here.  I love it and I know you will too!

Black Bean Brownies
Makes 9 - 12 Brownies
1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
2 tbsp cocoa powder- dutch or regular
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips
optional: more chips, for presentation

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (I did this in my Vitamix because I do not have a food processor) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Ves xx

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegan MoFo #4 Holy Food Trucks Batman!

Hi Friends!

So I finally got my butt in gear this evening and headed out to Ancaster for Holy Food Truck Tuesday.  I'm so glad I did!  I really only made it out there to try the food from the karma chaMEALeon food truck (Ontario's first vegan food truck) but, it was so amazing to see 15 different food trucks lined up!

It was really hard to get a picture of all the trucks in one shot so I focused on the ones that were on my side.  My mom, however, took a picture of every single food truck with her camera.  I can't wait to go through those pictures later.  
When we were done gawking at all of the food trucks and the people, we were finally ready to make our way to karma chaMEALeon to check out the menu and place our order.

Thankfully the menu was short so we were able to decide quickly! (The menu items are rotated so the same items may not be available every time.) We decided to share the Sunshine Burger as well as the Bueno Burrito.  
Sunshine Burger with Rosemary Fries
Bueno Burrito
Both the Burger and the Burrito were super delicious!  I don't think I could pick a favorite... okay, well maybe I'm leaning towards the burrito but only just slightly!

This was my very first food truck AND karma chaMEALeon experience and I have to say that I wasn't disappointed.  In fact I loved it!  I can't wait to go back and order something else off their menu. Have you had the pleasure of trying karma chaMEALeon's food?  What did you think?

Ves xx

Friday, September 06, 2013

Vegan MoFo #3 Hello Jackfruit!

Hi Friends!

   TGIF, right?!  I'm thinking the same thing.  What a busy week it's been.  The first week of school is over and everyone is starting to establish somewhat of a routine.  Unfortunately (fortunately?), I'm back in vacation mode because my mom is in town visiting.  Although I'm not technically on vacation for another week, it kind of feels like it now.  I LOVE having my mom here.  It's my turn to spoil her!  So... if you're wondering why I didn't blog on Wednesday or Thursday, now you know.  Well, that and I've been staying late at work.  I don't often blog ahead of time so when things get busy in my life, it shows on the blog.  Today's post will be a quick one but I'm sharing a recipe so it's also a good one! ;-)

   I've been experimenting with Jackfruit lately and I'm absolutely loving it!  I've been meaning to try it for a while but it's a little hard to find around here.  I finally found it a few weeks ago at an international market and have been having fun with it ever since.

   If you are unfamiliar with jackfruit, this South Asian fruit is sweet when eaten fresh and ripe, with a prickly exterior.  However, in this recipe I'm using the young green jackfruit found in a can.  It's best to purchase the kind in water or brine, rather than syrup because although it doesn't have much flavor, it will be more meaty in texture.  Don't worry, it's kind of like tofu, in that it takes on any flavor that you give it.

Jackfruit Tacos
Serves 2
1 can of young green jackfruit , in brine or water, not syrup
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons chile powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces salsa sauce*
1 tbsp coconut oil
juice from one lime
*(I strained my salsa to use for another dish and saved the sauce to use here.  You can use regular salsa if you don't feel like going through the trouble of straining it.)

Drain and rinse the jackfruit thoroughly. Squeeze the moisture out of each piece and set aside.  Meanwhile in a sauce pan over medium heat add a touch of coconut oil and saute the onions for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for a minute more until fragrant. Add the jackfruit and then add the chile powder, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper, stirring to coat each piece.  Cover the seasoned jackfruit with the salsa sauce and lime juice, making sure to cover everything.  Bring everything to a boil, then simmer on low, covered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture sticks, add a little more salsa sauce or water.  When finished, most of the liquid will be cooked out and the jackfruit will be soft and slightly shredded, giving it a meaty appearance and texture.

 I served the jackfruit taco meat on top of sauteed peppers, stuffed in corn tortillas, and garnished with some chopped green onions.

By the way, I'm in the middle of reading an awesome series called the Mortal Instruments.  I'm on the third book and I love it!  If you're not familiar with it you can check out the first book in the series: City of Bones.  The movie just came out last month but I've been hesitant to see it.  I've heard that it doesn't do the book any justice.  Have you seen it?  Thoughts?

Have a wonderful weekend!
Ves xx

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Vegan MoFo #2 Summer Obsessions

Hi Friends!

   Today I was thinking about passion in the workplace and for a while there I felt like I had lost a little bit of the love I had for my job.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like some day's it's just hard to remember what you loved about it in the first place?  Well, at my 9-5 I get to work with children so I don't necessarily forget... but, at the same time, the spark I once felt has been slowly fizzling away.  I have so many other things that I am passionate about that I stopped putting extra effort into my day job.  Thankfully, I was able to take a nice break from work this summer and just focus on relaxing.  And not only did I take a vacation from work, but I also took a vacation from thinking about the million other things that I'd like to accomplish.  It's such a relief to just be able to press pause on everything and to focus only on yourself.  I really feel like this summer helped to refresh and rejuvenate me and my brain (ha!).  My coworker and I have been dreaming up big plans for our classrooms and we finally get to start implementing them this week.  I can't wait to get started.  In fact, we stayed late at work just to draw up the plans, and I'm happy to say that the passion I once had for my job is coming back. Woohoo!

But enough about that... let's get to the fun stuff... or as I like to call it:  My Summer Obsessions!

Veggie Burger Bliss! 
    One of my favorite things to make this summer has been veggie burgers.  Homemade or store-bought I have to have them on hand at all times!  I love knowing that there are veggie burgers in my freezer for those nights that I'm too exhausted to cook or I've come home late and want something quick.  I rarely use a bun but I found these delicious sprouted buns at my natural food store and so it's fun to use them once in a while.  The brand that I have is from Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery.  You can click on the link to check them out.

Field Roast Heaven!
    My other food obsession has been hotdogs of all things!  I am so not a hotdog person but my natural foods store finally starting carrying Field Roast Sausages.  I have been dying to try them since becoming vegan over two and a half years ago and I have to say that they were worth the wait.  Have you guys tried them?  They are so good!  Nothing like the soy alternative that was my only option.  These are made using grains and all natural ingredients.  So far I've had the Smoked Apple Sage sausage and the frankfurters.  Next up I plan on trying the Mexican Chipotle sausages.  If you haven't experienced Field Roast you really should.  However, stay away from them if you have a gluten intolerance because they are made using wheat gluten.

My other summer obsessions include:

   Sissiboo Coffee!  I love this coffee and the philosophy behind the company.  They are a small-batch roaster offering fair trade and organic beans.  You can purchase their freshly ground or whole beans at local Farmer's Markets and shops in Halifax, Annapolis Royal, Yarmouth and Weymouth.  Yup, only in Nova Scotia.  But, I think I saw that you can order online and they will ship to you.  This coffee is so worth it!

   Spending time with my sis!  Well, it's not really an obsession, but we have been spending a lot of time together so I though it was worth adding!

   And finally, here are just a few songs that I've been obsessively repeating on my iPod during the past couple of months:

Awolnation - Thiskidsnotalright

New Politics - Harlem

Kings of Leon - Super Soaker

Lorde - Royals

The Neighborhood - Afraid

Bastille - Pompeii

Grouplove - Ways to Go

   There are so many songs that I could have added to this list but these are the ones that get the most play right now.  And, I just realized that I didn't list any fun "upbeat" songs.  Ha!  Believe it or not all of the songs on this list make me dance around while I'm cooking, cleaning, or getting ready to go somewhere.  No joke.  Well, all of them except Royals and Afraid. 

By the way, recipes are coming very soon.  I promise!

Til next time....

Ves xx

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