Monday, June 30, 2014

Raw Pad Thai

Hi Friends!

I hope you're keeping cool! I think the temperature in my neck of the woods reached 39C or something crazy like that. I'm definitely thankful that I have central air conditioning in my home. Especially for Patchie, I don't think that old girl can take too much heat and humidity!

See what I mean? She's too used to living in the lap of luxury. But, enough about her, let's get on with my super easy recipe!

Since summer is in full swing and the temperature will only continue to rise, who actually feels like turning on the oven? Or even the stove for that matter? Not me, that's for sure! My summer menu is always filled with an abundance of raw food; from smoothies in the morning, to salads in the afternoon, to some sort of veggie dish at night, and fruit in between. I love to eat the rainbow and it's so much easier in the summer! Which brings me to my super yummy recipe. I know there are many different Raw Pad Thai recipes on the interweb and I encourage you to have fun and experiment. I've been making this one on and off for a couple of years and I make it slightly different each time. Usually I use some sort of nut butter in the dressing, but not this time. I think this was my favorite way which is why I wanted to share it with you guys.

Raw Pad Thai
1/2 cucumber or 1 zucchini cut into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled & julienned
1/2 bell pepper (orange, red or yellow), julienned 
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped or sliced into thin strips
handful of parsley, chopped
small handful sprouts 
1 tbsp hemp seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons coconut aminos

Pad Thai Dressing
1/2 - 1 avocado (I used 1)
1 clove garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoon coconut aminos 
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar

I used my mandoline to help everything come together quickly but you can use a vegetable peeler if you don't have one. Cut away the top and bottom of the zucchini and then slice it on the mandoline or with your peeler. Stack the strips together and slice them lengthwise 2 or 3 times depending on how wide your zucchini is. *Hint* This is also how you make "zucchini linguine". :-) Place the zuchini and the rest of the veggies in a bowl. Add the parsley, lime juice, and tamari to the veggies and give it a toss with your hands. Let this marinade anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. I let mine hang out in the fridge for about an hour because I like the carrots to get a bit soft. While the veggies are marinating, make the Pad Thai Dressing.

For the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Take your veggies out, drain the marinade and squeeze some of the excess liquid from the veggies. Place them in a new bowl, or use the same one (and save yourself from washing more dishes!) and take about 2 tablespoons of the dressing and mix it in with your hands, ensuring that all the veggies are coated. Garnish with sprouts and hemp/sesame seeds, serve and enjoy!

** The extra Pad Thai Dressing will last in the fridge for a couple of days. Use it as a dip for veggies!

If you do feel like turning the oven on, feel free to add some baked tofu...


Happy Monday everyone! Stay cool!

Ves xx

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIAW #33 & Roasted Golden Beet & Citrus Salad

   Hi Friends!

   Welcome to another edition of WIAW. This post was actually all set to go for last Wednesday but because I'm so brilliant I totally forgot to schedule the post Tuesday night. And Wednesday was a bit of a write off because I had a late night at work. So, I didn't even really look at a computer. That being said, the only thing the same about this post is the food pictures. It's funny when I reread some of my past posts that I've started but never finished, I can never manage to put myself back in the same frame of mind or mood that I was in when I started writing it. Does that ever happen to you guys? So, I scrapped the post, kept the photos and added a recipe. Enjoy!

Let's get started with the food...

First things first: Water! Not pictured, but you know the drill... water + lemon = a happy Vesna in the morning; Coffee! You can't see inside the mug but it's always organic and always black... I don't mess around. Breakfast: Another Strawberry Mango Smoothie... I'm obsessed! Snack: 1/2 a Grapefruit... this was quite possibly the size of my head and super juicy! After I was done eating the wedges I totally squeezed all the juices into my mouth. I know, I'm so lady-like... Lunch: Way later I had a simple Open-faced Sandwich on sprouted grain bread with, tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, dijon mustard and a bit of hummus. Dinner: A Giant Salad with sweet potatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, sprouts and a citrus vinaigrette. Yum! Snack: I had a gorgeous bowl of organic cherries before heading off to bed. Oh man were these good and the perfect thing for my sweet tooth!

So, I promised you a recipe...

This salad was the bomb-diggity (do people say that anymore?) but it almost didn't happen. Thank goodness I decided to root around in my veggie crisper or I wouldn't have found the golden beets that I had bought the previous week. Hooray for small miracles!

Onto the recipe...

Roasted Golden Beet & Citrus Salad
Serves 1 as a meal
Serves 2 as a side salad


2 medium golden beets, tops and bottoms trimmed
1/2 grapefruit, sectioned, juices reserved
1/2 - 1 small head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 small red onion, chopped
handful parsley, finely chopped
small handful alfalfa sprouts

(feel free to double, triple, or even quadruple 
this recipe. I only made enough for the salad)
1 tbsp grapefruit juice
1-2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp agave nectar

Preheat oven to 415F. Wash the beets and trim the tops and bottoms but don't peel. Wrap them together in foil and place them directly in the center oven rack or on a shallow baking pan. Bake for about an hour or until fork tender. When the beets are ready, remove them from the oven and allow to cool before handling them. Once cooled, carefully peel the skin and slice them into wedges. Layer the romaine, beets, grapefruit, onion, sprouts and parsley on a plate. In a small bowl whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and drizzle on top of the salad. Serve with a fork and a smile.

Happy Middle-of-the-Week Day!
Ves xx

And of course, I can't forget a photo of this little trouble maker!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sprouting 101

   Hi Friends!

   For the past few months I've become quite the sprouting machine! I'm obsessed. Sprouts are so good for you, super yummy, and extremely easy to make at home. I make them on a weekly basis and usually have two jars on the go at a time plus a container in the fridge for eating. They don't really last long in my house because I sprinkle them on everything and sometimes just eat them on their own. If you haven't tried sprouting yet, what are you waiting for? In this post I'm going to simplify sprouting for you and you'll wonder why you haven't tried it sooner. I promise.

Day 1...
   First, choose your sprouts. I like to have two different ones on the go at a time. Lately it's been Alfalfa and Super Spicy Lentil Crunch, which is my current favorite. For this post I'm using alfalfa.

   Place 1-2tbsp of sprouting seeds into a mason jar (I used a 1L sized jar) and add water. Swirl it around and then drain the water, taking care not to lose any seeds. Add the seeds back to the jar with about a cup or so of filtered water. Soak for 2-6 hours, preferably in a darker corner of the kitchen or in the cupboard. I like to soak mine for at least six hours because I find that the longer the seeds soak, the better the sprouts. That's just my opinion.

After the seeds have finished soaking, drain them and rinse them one more time. Place them back in the jar, cover it and place the jar on an incline to allow it to drain. You can do this in a dish rack, or a bowl like I do. If you don't have a sprouting lid for your jar, just use a clean j-cloth or even a cheese cloth would probably work too. Keep the sprouting jar out of direct sunlight or in a cupboard if possible.

Day 2...
Rinse the seeds twice a day to keep them from drying out. I do this in the morning and again in the early evening. If you are using a cloth to cover the jar, take the cloth off when you rinse the seeds and use a mesh sieve to help you drain the water.

Day 3...
By day three you should start to see little sprouts at the end of the seeds. Success! Keep rinsing the seeds out twice a day.

Day 4...
More sprouts! Don't forget to keep rinsing the seeds morning and night.

Day 5...
The jar will almost be bursting with sprouts, but that's okay! You may need to take the lid off when you rinse the sprouts and use the handle of a spoon or fork to stir them around a bit so that the water works it's way in between the sprouts.

Day 6...
The sprouts are ready! I did the final rinse the night before so that they would be ready in the morning. Two tablespoons of sprouting seeds will produce about 6-8 cups of sprouts. How amazing is that?

   You've just seen how super easy it is to sprout at home. Considering you would probably pay between 2-4 dollars for a cup of sprouts at the market, it's worth it to grow your own. If you start on Sunday, you can enjoy fresh sprouts by Thursday or Friday, depending on how long you like the sprouts to be. I like mine long! Store them in an air tight container and keep them in the fridge. They should stay fresh for about a week or so. Sprinkle them on everything. Salads, smoothies, tacos, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, etc. Yum!

Why should you eat sprouts?
  1. Excellent source of enzymes
  2. High in protein
  3. Rich in essential nutrients (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin K; as well as these minerals: Iron, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, and Calcium)
  4. Aid in weight loss (because of it's fiber content, plus they are low in calories)
  5. Easy to digest
  6. May help to regulate blood pressure
What are you waiting for? Get sprouting!

Happy Monday!
Ves xx

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hamilton Veggie Fest: Recap

Hi Friends!

I went to the Veggie Fest in Hamilton this weekend and it always makes me happy to share fun vegan products, food, etc with you guys. Here is a recap of Saturday:


Clockwise from top left: 1. NingXia Red If you're anything like me you'll want to pronounce the 'X'. Don't. It's pronounced Ninja, which I guess is obvious, but I just really want to say it phonetically. Ha! The woman at the booth was very passionate about this antioxidant drink and mentioned many benefits to consuming it daily, one of them being improved vision. I found it very fascinating, not that I have any kind of issue with vision or eye health, but I'm always interested in improving health through nutrition rather than medicine. 2. Young Living Essential Oils. She was also very passionate about the essential oils. I learned the benefits of some of them but the one that stuck was Lemon. I'm a huge fan of having lemon water in the morning and go through lemons like crazy. Using a few drops of lemon oil in your water has the same benefits multiplied by a thousand. Oh, and it also purifies your water. Crazy, huh? 3. 3 Teas This was a gorgeous display of tea. I tried the Organic Strawberry Green Tea. I'm not a fan of most green teas but this was really good. 4. Nature's Roots Wheatgrass! Wheatgrass just always makes me happy. They were offering shots for $3 but I had my eye on something else so I didn't get one.

Oh how I love vegan treats, especially when there's samples! Giddy YoYo is probably one of my favorite raw vegan companies. I LOVE their chocolate and can honestly say that every one of the flavors are delicious. I've also purchased their cacao powder and am currently using their spirulina powder - love them both. At the festival I purchased their sea salt and I can't wait to start using it as well. Live On Chocolate power puddings! Have you had these before? They are the ultimate healthy treat! You feel like you are indulging but there is absolutely nothing bad in them, only good REAL ingredients. My favorite is the coconut lime flavor which they turned into frozen pops for the festival. It's also what I chose to buy instead of the wheatgrass shot. Oh man, it was SO good and totally the right choice! Everything Nice (bottom right corner and the photo above it) is what I like to call a healthy "fast food" company. They package a variety of meal kits that take most of the prep work out of cooking. You may have to chop an onion but that's as far as your prep goes. Just add water and simmer for about an hour. I love this idea for families who are too busy with extra-curricular's to get a healthy meal on the table during the week. We got to sample the Canadian Pea Soup which was really yummy.

Clockwise from top left: Fun "bean" spaghetti's from Upaya Naturals made from black beans, adzuki beans, and mung beans. Raw Pumpkin Seed oil from Styrian Gold. They made a quick 2-ingredient salad dressing using the pumpkin seed oil and a few squirts of an ice wine syrup. I swear it tasted like peanut butter and jam, in a good way. Richardo’s Ontario Hemp Hearts - Locally grown hemp seeds... yes, that's right, LOCAL as in Ontario! The Mustard Seed Co-op had a table full of products that they offer in-store. I had no idea they were already open for business so I'm excited to visit their store in the very near future. Rallis Ice Pressed Olive oil and Soap in the Raw. The lavender soap smelled like heaven but was too pricey for me.

Just a few of the products, samples and brochures that I brought home from the festival. Vegan dog food from V-Dog. I can't wait to send this sample to my parent's so they can give it to their dog Lexi. New Moon Kitchen's Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, Ultimate Kale Chips pink salt flavor, and Giddy Yoyo's Mountain salt. I also finally bought my first glass straw from the Upaya Naturals table - you can't really tell in the photo, but it's pink, obviously. I bought my vegan key chain from the Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary table, and I got buttons from the Oliver's Garden Project table and the Fur Bearer Defenders table.

It was a great festival and I wish I had remembered to take more pictures of all the wonderful offerings. But, I was too busy sampling goodies and chatting with some pretty amazing people! My highlight was chatting with Victoria Moran, who I was first "introduced" to through IIN as one of our speakers. She was so inspirational that I googled her as soon as the lecture was over. I'm so happy that I was able to connect with her in person even if it was only for a few minutes.

Last but not least...

You can't have a Veggie Fest without a vegan food truck! There were many different vegan food offerings at the festival but I was holding out for Karma Chamealeon. I love their food. We split the Bourbon BBQ Burger and the Philly "Cheeze" Steak. Both were delish but the bourbon bbq burger was my favourite. Next time I absolutely have to try the coconut onion rings!

I hope you enjoyed my Veggie Fest recap! I had so much fun and can't wait for next year's festival!

Happy Monday!

Ves xx

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WIAW #32 OR Weekend Eats

   Hi Friends!

   It's Wednesday and you know what that means! I'm linking up again with Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for more WIAW shenanigans. Oh, and if it's all right with you I'm going to keep this post light and breezy after Monday's slightly heavier post.

Let's get to it!
Tofu scramble with steamed kale, leftover tomato and cucumber salad, and sprouts by yours truly. I'm obsessed with sprouting and always have some in the fridge plus some seeds in a jar sprouting away on the counter.

Since breakfast was kind of huge, I went with a strawberry mango smoothie for lunch. It may not sound like much but this baby was jam-packed with fruit and then thinned out with some coconut water and a splash of lemon juice. De-lish!

One super delicious organic apple with dijon mustard for dipping. Wait, you don't eat apples dipped in mustard? Ha! Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. The children at my work are obsessed with apples and mustard thanks to my influence. You'll love it too, I promise!

Homemade Black Bean Burgers with Boston lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, peppers and homemade polenta fries. I've made this burger plate like three days in a row. I love open-faced burgers with no bun. It's so much more fun!

Water! I drink water all day long and I absolutely love to infuse my water with lemons, limes, cucumbers, etc. But my absolute obsession is mixing coconut water with filtered water and adding a ton of lemon wedges plus lemon juice to it. It's so hydrating, refreshing and tasty.

I told you I was obsessed with coconut water. I can't get enough of this stuff!

And of course, there's always time for a glass of wine at the end of the day. I never really understood how people unwind without a glass or two... Or maybe that's just me?
And obviously I drink a lot of coffee... it just doesn't always last long enough for me to actually remember to take a photo!

And last but not least...
I think it should be a kind of tradition, finishing off a WIAW post with a photo of Patchie. Here she is sitting pretty and looking like the princess she is! FYI she never sits in those chairs unless I was sitting there first. Go figure, she always has to take my spot!

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Ves xx

Monday, June 09, 2014

I Choose Kindness

   Hi Friends,

   I LOVE  my vegan life. Ask anyone who knows me well and I bet they'll tell you the same thing. I absolutely love everything about being vegan. Even when I first started out as a newbie vegan, not knowing anyone else who was also vegan, or even what the heck to eat or buy, I never found it hard. It never felt like it was a sacrifice, a chore, or an impossible way of life. It just felt absolutely right. And it still does. So, while I love every single thing about my vegan life, there is one thing that I absolutely loathe: the argument against veganism. You know what I'm talking about, and more than likely you've been on one end or the other of this argument. It's the most ridiculous argument to have with someone which is why I never start them. And I do mean NEVER.

   Okay, obviously I'm not going to start an argument against veganism, but I'm also not going to start any kind of argument that has to do with being vegan because I know where it will lead. Let's face it, a meat-eaters famous argument, and strongest (in their opinion) is, "Well you kill plants so what's the difference?" I mean, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said this to me (with a serious face) I'd be very rich... like, Bill Gates rich. But honestly, when I go to parties or gatherings or anywhere there is food, I'm there to have a good time, not to defend my choices. I also always bring food. Always. Sometimes it's because I want to make it easier for the host; the last thing I want is for someone to stress over what I'm going to eat. But usually, it's because I love to cook and feed people. Especially when I get to show off how delicious vegan food can be. But, I do not go to these functions to be judged by my lifestyle. And that's exactly what's happening. I'm being judged. I do not judge people who eat meat. I simply understand that 1. they have not yet made the connection between animal and food, or 2. they have made the connection, and it doesn't affect them (the latter is slightly more difficult for me to accept, but I do.) If I am able to understand that in this day and age, with everything that we know about good health, people are still willing to consume meat, dairy and eggs, than they should be able to accept the fact that I won't.

   No too long ago, while I was driving to work, I merged onto the freeway and was cut-off by a transport truck. I was about to honk my horn when I looked to my left and noticed that this was no ordinary transport truck, it was a slaughter truck. I literally looked straight into the eyes of a pig. Immediately I started to cry. I couldn't concentrate on anything but these beautiful beings in the truck next to me. I'm not entirely sure how I manged to drive properly that morning, because all of my energy was spent on sending these beautiful pigs my love. All I could think was that I hope they can feel it. I hope they know that someone cared about them in their life before they were so senselessly taken to slaughter. This was the first time I had ever witnessed a slaughter truck, and at the time I didn't think that I'd ever be able to get over it. I'm still not "over it" but this experience has shown me that I definitely want to attend a vigil and bear witness when these trucks arrive at the "meat plants". My other thought, while driving next to this "death truck", was how other drivers were reacting to it. Did anyone else notice that a transport truck full of pigs headed to slaughter was next to them? Did they care? Did they cry or feel any emotion at all?

   So what does that story have to do with the ignorant "plant-killing" argument? I guess it's my way of showing how strongly I believe in being vegan. I'm not vegan for my health, although it is extremely beneficial to include plenty of plant-based foods into our diet. I am totally and completely, 100% vegan for the animals. The side effect of my lifestyle is that it's also wonderful for the planet and my health. This is why many vegans refer to it as the "kind diet" or the "kind lifestyle". Kind to the animals, kind to the planet, and kind to ourselves.

   The point of this very long and very serious blog post is to say: please stop judging. Do not judge people for their choices. I do not want to be judged for living a vegan lifestyle and I do my best not to judge anyone for the way they choose to live. And I don't take joking at the expense of animals lightly. I can't speak for all vegans, but I can say with certainty that if someone is laughing and joking to me about how yummy a certain animal would taste, the first thought going through my mind is "poor baby"and visions of a dead animal. I don't think there is anything funny about that. I choose kindness and I hope you do, too.

   Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I apologize for it's 'heaviness' but I feel that it's necessary, once in a while. I hope that it helps you understand me a little bit better. Feel free to leave any questions or comments in the space below.

Ves xx

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

WIAW #31 and An Obsessed Cat

   Hi Friends!

   I'm so excited to be linking up with Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for another WIAW post. I'd say, "it's been a long time" but you can just scroll down through past posts and see that for yourselves. Ha! Anyway, funny story: as I was uploading the pictures for this post I couldn't help but chuckle- my meals never seem to change! I'm a creature of habit and if you follow me on Instagram you'll see that there is a certain theme to all of my food. What can I say? I know what I like.

**Warning: awful cell phone pics below.**

Green Smoothie!

   Like I said, some things never change, and my smoothie-for-breakfast habit is one of them. If it's not a smoothie, it's a juice, but either way I seem to love to drink my breakfast. That bad boy up there has coconut water, spinach, mango, frozen banana, lemon, spirulina, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. After I took that photo, and tried to take a sip, I scooped it into a bowl and ate it with a spoon. I may have made it a tad too thick! That's okay, I like eating my smoothies with a spoon.

   What else? Salad! I love my salads and sometimes I like them to be uncomplicated. Especially when we have days where it feels like it's 100 degrees outside and I have zero appetite. This salad was exactly what I was craving: crisp, fresh and light! I mixed together some spinach and arugula, added chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and 1/2 an avocado, and dressed it with some fresh squeezed lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Simple and delicious.


   Mmm... Tacos! I.Love.Tacos. I can throw just about anything into a corn tortilla and call it a taco. I'm obsessed. These particular corn tortillas are layered with greens, salsa, tomatoes, avocado slices, sriracha, and for the "meat" I used TVP. I'm sure you've heard of TVP before and may have even tried it, but if you haven't, I'll tell you a little bit about it. TVP (textured vegetable protein OR textured soy protein) is made from soy flour after the soy bean oil has been extracted. It's dry and flavorless in the package but once it's been reconstituted and spices have been added it's super yummy and has the same texture as other soy crumbles. That being said, it's still a highly processed food so I would definitely not eat it all the time. For this meal, I mixed cumin, chili powder, spanish paprika, and garlic powder in a bowl with the dried TVP and then added some boiling water to it. After stirring, I let it sit for about 5 minutes or so. Once all of the liquid was absorbed, the crumbles were ready to party with the rest of the taco toppings. Yum!

I didn't remember to take pictures of my beverages or snacks... oops. I'll do better next time, I promise! Instead, I leave you with this (slightly blurry) photo:
Give me paw...

   What's Patchie doing, you ask? Well, she's begging me for some coconut oil, of course. She is absolutely obsessed with it and knows exactly when I'm about to use it. She follows me into the bathroom first thing in the morning and again at night and demands that I give her some after I've used it. Who am I to say no? After all, it's good for her for the same reasons it's good for me. I don't mind sharing! Side note: I have no idea why Patchie always looks so angry in photos? I swear, she's actually a very sweet cat!

Happy middle-of-the-work-week day!

Ves xx

Monday, June 02, 2014

Are you there, Blog? It's me, Vesna.

   Hi Friends!
   It's been so long since I've been on this blog. I've missed it, and you, SO MUCH. I always say there's a reason for everything, even if you don't know what it is on a conscious level. And I think that's true for me and why I've been away for so long. Even though I can't pinpoint any real reason why I've avoided my blog, I know deep down there's probably a good explanation. And yes, I do mean to use the word avoid because that's exactly what I was doing.

   Instead of dwelling on the fact that I've been away since last October(!), I thought I would just keep this post short and sweet. Just know that I'll be working super hard to win back your love, I promise! ;-) It feels great to be writing again and I can't wait to start sharing some recipes and healthful tips with you guys. Stay tuned!

A little something to brighten your Monday...

   On a side note... it's also been a super long time since I've listened to an episode of This American Life. I thought it would be a good idea to listen while I write... um... bad idea! It's so distracting. Especially this particular episode that I'm listening to. The prologue is about a little boy who is vegetarian and is trying to convince his parents and little brother to go vegetarian as well. He's 7. Talk about 'wow'. If you want to listen to it, the episode is called Stuck In the Middle.

Happy June!

Ves xx

ps: I just want to thank those of you who've been asking about my blog and when I'd be writing again. To hear that you miss it and enjoy reading it makes me feel amazing and lets me know that you love it as much as I do. Thank you. xx
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