Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Chai Latte

One of my favourite captioned photos of all time is of this kid:

Seriously, he's the cutest. Doesn't he just look SO excited? If you look at that picture though, that's kind of how I feel about fall. I love fall. Really it's kind of insane. A few days ago, I was trying to explain that the feeling I get in my mind and body when fall comes along. The only real way to describe it was that fall actually turns me on. Now don't get me wrong, if you actually look up the definition of a "turn on" in the dictionary, it doesn't have to apply to something sexual. In fact, it just means "something or someone that causes excitement or pleasure," and Hello does fall do both for me!

Since fall started a few weeks ago, everything has been amazingly falling into place. Yesterday, Andrew and I met at Dow's Lake for a kayaking date, and this is just one shot of my beautiful walk from class through the Arboretum to meet him:
No crazy colours just yet, but they're coming! I may or may not have actually frolicked through the park. I may or may not have gotten a few weird looks from passersby. I definitely did not care.

As part of my fall awesomeness plan, pumpkin has definitely been making an increasing appearance in our household. That's mostly thanks to all the raw vegan pumpkin pies I've been making for my awesome new catering gig for one of my favourite local restaurants. Since it got a little bit chillier tonight, I decided to stick with the pumpkin theme and try my hand at making a vegan pumpkin chai latte. This one turned out to be a little heavier on the "latte" part of that name than the chai, but it was tasty either way!

Pumpkin Chai Latte
Yield: About 2 Cups

2 C non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon of teeccino or ground coffee (optional)
1 tea bag of chai of your choice
2 generous tablespoons of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices*
splash of vanilla
dash of cayenne
very small dash of salt
sweetened to taste with maple syrup (about 2-3 T)

*I went heavy on the cinnamon, but also had ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and cardamon

1. Over medium heat, warm milk with tea bag, spices, and teeccino/coffee as if making regular chai.
2. Add all the other ingredients, and stir well until uniform.
3. When it's as warm as you wish! Drink away! I can see this going very well with some kind of warming fall treat, like pumpkin bread or some candied nut loaf... yum.

For all you raw folk, I'll share a valuable trick with you. The secret to authentic tasting raw pumpkin anything is to dehydrate the pumpkin "flesh" first before making it into anything... it'll taste just like the real deal!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Raw on the Road: London and Toronto, take 2

Whether you're from there or just visiting, everyone knows that London is a pretty conservative town. Generally, conservative town = not super vegan friendly. Every time we go there, I tend to kind of forget about that, probably out of some sort of denial. However, if you know where to look, there are a fair number of organic and veg-friendly options. Especially if you choose to go the DIY route, their health food stores stock some very decent options: downtown London hosts the London Food Co-op, Wortley Village's Quarter Master Natural Foods, and the East End has Lyn-Dys (they are a bit pricier).

Even more exciting, we discovered Organic Works' new location, a mostly vegan and gluten-free bakery and cafe for all your yummy bread/baked good needs. We even got to meet the owner, Peter, who took us on a quick tour of the bakery! A foodie's dream come true! (If you're not in London, you can still find their stuff in most cities in the province and I would definitely recommend you try them!)

Restaurant-wise, you're pretty much limited to Veg Out, and while I'm grateful for the option, I'm honestly not crazy about the place. I always leave the place thinking "meh, that was nice" in the way I know I do when my options are slim and I'm making the best of it. Maybe I've been spoiled by the veg-friendliness of Ottawa and DC, maybe I just have a snobby palate, or maybe they're honestly simply not that great, who knows.

Despite that, we did manage to take a few friends and family members out there this week, so I'll leave it to pictures to tell you how it went:
The first night out, I had their raw collard roll appetizers "filled" with a date-nut mix, veggies and a really nice spicy cilantro chili lime sauce. While I know it was just a starter, the rolls had so little filling in them, that I was still pretty starved. To make up for it, I partook of a bit of Andrew's sweet potato corn soup featured in the background (then munched on more veggies when we went home).
Andrew raved about his chickpea-nut burger, which he got with sweet potato wedges. He also got me a side of raw coleslaw I loved so much that I scarfed it down before it was photographed. He also got it the second night we were there with some pretty fantastic sweet potato cornbread.
I wasn't willing to go hungry again that second night, so I opted for their tempeh BLT sans bread and over a bed of greens instead. I was really grateful they obliged but the tempeh was super salty (and remember, I like salt)!

Once again, were it not for Veg Out, we'd have nowhere to eat out in London, but meh. The one thing they do do really well are sides, their raw coleslaw, wedges and cornbread are amazing. So brownie points for effort and side dishes for sure!

The non-plussed feeling I got from London motivated us to add a couple extra hours to our return trip to go back to Toronto's Live on our way back home today. Just like the first time, it was soooo worth it. This time, we actually had the chance to eat there, and enjoyed some time on their back patio.

Andrew started with a pretty wicked protein smoothie with all sorts of superfoods (bee pollen, spirulina, maca, etc) and a kombucha.
Then I had the most fantastic curry noodle bowl, which included my beloved kelp noodles, peas, tomatoes, spicy almonds, green coconut curry and micro greens. I could seriously have eaten ten bowls of this... Actually, I did get another order to go for dinner tomorrow! I already can't wait...
Andrew had their raw tacos, which made for deliciously messy finger food. I was pretty impressed by them too!
I think Live is easily my favorite raw food restaurant in Canada as of yet. Obvious deliciousness aside, my top reason for loving them most is that their food has never left me feeling overfilled or draggy, like many other raw restaurants have. The latter often tend to be heavily nut-based or less optimally food-combined than Live. Plus, everything there is perfectly portioned, so fresh, and the staff is always really friendly. Truly a vibrant living food experience!

And of course, no epic restaurant outing is complete without desert. We tried their raw tiramisu, which may have actually been one of the best tiramisus in my life. It even beat many versions of the real deal. I'm not even usually a raw desert person:
On that note, we've been sitting on the bus for 8 hours now and just got to our final destination! We're home! Yay! Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

My 10 ways to make September stellar

I was recently inspired by Gina's How to Make September Stellar post and decided to go along with it in my own way. Her list was awesome because a) I was going to do most of the things listed anyway b) I LOVE making and sticking to lists... It's my inner A-type personality coming out I tell you. c) It clearly lines up a whole lot of awesome to look forward to the month ahead!

Once again blogging from an iPhone, I apologize for poor photo quality. So here's Gina's stellar September worked into my life:

1) Exercise your brain: So everyone knows that sudokus and crosswords help your brain stay young and active. Conveniently, Andrew and I already like to channel our inner grannies and we generally do a crossword every day. It's kind of our thing. We're cool like that!

2) Pick some seasonal fruit: I've totally got this one covered as I've been planning an apple picking party with friends at an organic farm near my birthday at the end month! I've been excited about this since about July I think... Can't wait!!!!

3) Fashion: Gina suggested a pair of leggings, but for me Fall is all about the jackets, which is why I just picked up this awesome little number at Smart Set to add to my jacket hoarding collection:
I've always wanted my own bomber jacket.

4) Host a Girls' Night: I've got a couple options on this one. I'll either be going to a lovely women's new moon ceremony this month with some girlfriends (went to one way back in January and regretted not making it more of a monthly thing) and/or my sister is visiting at the end of the month for some serious sibling shenanigans!

5) Sport some metallic nail polish: Sounds fun, but while I'm still in the market for some more eco- and body-friendly nail polish, I'll take this one as being more about pampering myself. This has long been in the works since I have a Groupon for an organic facial to use up ASAP! (it was originally suppose to be my present to me for passing my comps exams... which I did! So there!)

6) Get some regular outdoor exercise: Simple! I'm committing to only bike to school and not be lazy enough to just use my bus pass. Besides, it's a gorgeous ride to campus!

7) Make pizza from scratch: I loved seeing on the list only because that's exactly what was on the menu tonight:
Raw pizza that is! Sprouted buckwheat and flax crust, homemade nut cheese and tomato sauce with the produce from our very own garden, broccoli, red pepper and mushrooms on top. Oh yeah!
And yes, even raw has my man maintained his pizza vacuuming skills!

8) Volunteer 1 day at a place of your choice: Obviously an awesome thing to do though I haven't yet figured out what that might be... I have some ideas but nothing concrete just yet.

9) Master a yoga pose: Also super convenient seeing as how I have yet another Groupon to use up! This one is for one month of unlimited Bikram. I miss it so much from the days it was a regular practice of mine. I can't freakin' wait for this one to start in a week!

10) Download a power playlist: Yeah... That's kind of one of my to-dos given the whole stolen computer thing. I'd really love to make any playlist at this point really!

Hope you have a plan to rock this September too!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone