Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eat: Best Meal Ever, Kelp Noodle Bowl

As Fall comes along and the weather gets colder, I tend to follow the "raw until dinner" rule pretty often. When I go for that option, the day is made up of fruit, green smoothies, and a few dehydrated goodies, and dinners tend to be any kind simple cooked veggies with the occasional tempeh.

I've mentioned before that I tend to get a little bit obsessed with certain foods and eat them every day for a month until I move on to something new. This month, I figured why limit myself? So I took all of my favourite meals from over the past few months and put them into one. The result was this amazing kelp noodle bowl that I created a couple days ago. It pieces together all my favourite cooked and raw foods all into one giant bowl of yummy.

On top of a flavour and texture extravaganza, it's nutrition-packed, warming, and can be made in under 20 minutes. Pure deliciousness. Given its components, I'm also sure it contains all the minerals, vitamins, healthy fats, proteins, and anything else you might ever possibly need.

Healthy Kelp Noodle Bowl
(this picture represents this messy pile of deliciousness perfectly)

The bowl layers are as following:

1. Kelp noodles, rinsed quickly in hot water and mixed 
with a splash of Bragg's (or tamari) and apple cider vinegar.
2. Steamed Broccoli and Stir Fried Chinese Eggplant, stir fried in olive oil, Bragg's, 
and organic ketchup (yes, ketchup! It gives it a really delicious sweet and sour-y flavour).
3. Sea Sprinkles (aka. my mermaid food!), the most delicious way to eat seaweed!
4. Other Toppings, like chopped raw almonds, sesame seeds, sauerkraut, etc.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eat: Post-Yoga Smoothie

How many times have I gone on and on about my on-and-off again relationship with yoga? From an ode to discovering the beauty of a Yin practice, to endless praises for the benefits of a daily 20 minute yoga practice, to my 3 month love affair with Bikram, I always wanted to commit... and finally, I've made the leap! I can now say that yoga and I have been in a steady relationship for about two and a half months. I don't know what came over me when we got back from our trip to France in mid-June, but I got home and knew it was time to nurture that relationship again. As usual, the first month or so was super emotionally taxing, releasing (or starting to release) all sorts of bizarre hang ups. Now, as much as yoga is always about clearing the mind, I know it's become more about the physical practice as well, learning to push and test my limits just that much more, and grow physically as well as mentally.
So far, I've been doing a minimum of two and a half hours of hot yoga classes a week at Rama Lotus and it has brought me such mental peace. Even if it might just be for those three hours and even when they aren't always perfect, I cherish that time for my mind to truly attempt to be blank and free. 

Physically though, it's hot yoga, so you sweat buckets, like buckets of buckets. And I love it. I embrace it. Dare I say, I even crave it now. However, that does mean that once that practice is done, restocking on lost electrolytes is a definite priority. So if you're regularly doing hot yoga or any other super sweaty activity (no judgements on what that might be!), here's a pretty delicious smoothie I came up with that you can blend to make sure you refuel on all the necessaries:
Post-Sweaty Workout Creamsicle Smoothie
2 frozen bananas, chopped
1 orange, peeled
2 big handfuls of spinach
1/2 C coconut water

Blend in your favourite high speed blender!
(Feel free to add a dash of almond extract, 
orange zest, or a nice vegan protein powder)

(and yes, your bananas should be as ripe as on the photo before you eat them!)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Live: A Weekend in Food

I celebrated two stages of matrimonial bliss this weekend, all of them involving mountains of happiness and buckets of tears. Needless, to say it was an emotionally packed weekend, but I'll share its joys with you in the way I know best... through food.

The first tearjerker was the beautiful wedding of two very dear friends. They both just  looked so beautiful and so happy. If I haven't cried already at some point during the day, all you have to do is push the "first-time-the-couple-hears-the-terms-husband-and-wife" button that just really gets me going. Call me old fashion but there's something so beautifully transitional (and traditional) about that moment that's just... timeless.

But back to the food. The reception was a pot luck, and given that the bride has been a vegetarian/raw foodist/vegan, it was right up my alley. Everything I made was of course 100% organic, 100% vegan, and 100% made with love. For a main dish, I went for something that would feed the masses:

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash
w/ Candied Pecans and Cranberries

Ingredients: Squash the length of my torso
Filling: Wild Rice, red onion, olive oil, sea salt, raw candied pecans, cranberries
juice of 2 oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, maple syrup

For dessert, I opted for something a little more fancy. I thought my dessert would be perfect for the bride, who always reminds me of all things delicate, airy and sunshine-y. (Okay, I know that last one isn't really a word.) So I made a:

High Raw Vegan Blueberry Lavender Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients: coconut flour and dates
Filling: cashews, homemade coconut cream, maple syrup, 
sea salt, lemon, blueberries, vanilla powder, lavender

The second event was time for another potential stage of womanhood, the baby shower of another lovely friend of mine. There's something about getting a bunch of women in one room to support a common friend through a new stage in her life that makes it impossible not to get emotional. Because I had spend two days in the kitchen already, I went for the easy, baby-shower pleasing option:

 Mini Organic Vegan Cupcakes from Thimblecakes
(photo courtesy of here)

Gotta say, Thimblecakes turned me into a cupcake person. Actually, I should rephrase that as Thimblecakes turned me into a cupcake-from-Thimblecakes person. Big difference. I love that bakery, it's organic, they can do gluten-free cupcakes, they don't use artificial colouring, and they make a mean vegan coconut-based ice cream! Of course, they were a sure hit, though I did manage to snag one in each flavour throughout the day without making it too obvious... hehe.

Hope your weekends were as food-gasmic! Have a great week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Eat: Sinful September Treat: Vegan "Rice Crispy" Squares

Luckily, I never really had time since I went vegan to become a "junk food vegan" before choosing to go mostly raw. However, that didn't stop me from eating my share of junk food in my pre-vegan years. Thus, like most children, I remember the very specials days when we got to make Rice Crispy Squares with my babysitter. Though the occasions were rare since we didn't eat that kind of stuff too often, it was always wonderful. The smell of melting butter, the joy of making a gooey sticky mess when I added the marshmallows in and then tried to stir in the Rice Crispies, flattening the whole thing out with the white spatula I still have in our kitchen today... pure high fructose corn syrup deliciousness.

Fast-forward about fifteen years: Here I am in the natural foods store before my dance class in front of the discount shelf. And there, shining brightly in the centre of the display is Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme, a fancy vegan and gluten-free name for Marshmallow Fluff. At this point, my personal angel and devil figureheads appear on each of my shoulders, and have a conversation that goes something like this:
Angel: ... Um, you were only here to pick up bananas and a sandwich for Andrew. How is it you always end up buying more stuff?
Devil: But, come ooooon, VEGAN marshmallow fluff? You love rice crispy squares! Remember how much fun they were to make? You even saw some in the display case at the Umi Cafe just last Friday. Remember how disappointed you were to find out they weren't made vegan that day! This is destiny!
Angel: Hey, remember that this is your last month to get crazy fit before your birthday! You have 26 days left! I believe in you, you don't need this.
Devil: But you dooooo need this... Your readers need it! Do it for the blog! You haven't posted recipes in ages, and people respond well to recipes like this! Rice... crispy... squares...

(Chantal starts texting Andrew to talk her out of temptation.)

Angel: You know you'll just regret this!
(Chantal agrees and starts to walk away.)

Devil: Hey, wait, look at the label! It says it's GMO-free, and gluten-free, and artificial flavour an colouring free, and vegan, and has no refined sugars, and only has four ingredients, and fat-free, and cholesterol, free! It's practically just spun brown rice syrup! It's even a small, organically-minded company supported by the Women's Business Enterprise, you're a woman! Support your rights, and your beliefs!
Angel: Hmm... well that does sound pretty good, and you do support companies that clearly label their products and support your food ethics!

(Chantal nods approvingly, and adding up all the very legitimate reasons this is a good idea. She then runs into a a fellow foodie friend down the aisle, who just happened to make a referential joke about marshmallow fluff they heard in a movie yesterday. This is the final sign that destiny is one her side, the fluff must be purchased!)

Without further ado, I give you the world's easiest recipe for:

Easiest Vegan, Gluten-Free* Rice Crispy Squares

Yield: 10 squares
Prep time: No time at all!

2.5-3 Cups of Brown Rice Crispies (Erewhon's are best!)
1 C of Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme
1 tsp of flax meal
dash of salt

1. Mix in a big bowl while remembering your wonderful childhood.

*and non-GMO, not artificial, not evil, full of sunshine and rainbows...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Live: Oh where, oh where has my soap box gone...

Okay, Stanford. *rolls up sleeves* I wasn't even suppose to post today, but I couldn't wait til tomorrow to say I have three letters for you: W.T.F.

So, there's been some buzz in the blog/"news"/facebook world about Stanford's latest study nutritionally comparing organic and conventional produce. To give you a really quick summary on what the deal is, the big claim is that:

“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods 
are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” 

Based on that sentence, newspapers have found a new way to restate that we are wasting our precious dollars "buying in" to some organic fantasy. Well, this girl doesn't think it's a fantasy if you don't mind, and here's why:

(Note: Though these thoughts are my own, I've also done some background research. A lot of these points are motivated by the more scientifically legit opinion of Charles Benbrook.)

1. For starters, another major claim that the Stanford study makes is that “consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-­resistant bacteria.” Okay. Does anyone want to increase their exposure to pesticides/chemicals/and antibiotic-resistant bacteria? I sure don't. I prefer my food un-seasoned with toxins, thanks. Doesn't it also concern people that you legally have to put up signs like this in conventional agricultural fields:

So we can't touch it, but we'll eat it...

2. The main idea behind the organic food movement was that organic food is better for the environment. Obviously, healthy environment = healthy us. If the air is fresher to breathe, if the water is better to drink, if the soil is richer to grow food in (because  of less pesticide/insecticide run-off, etc.), we're probably going to be healthier as a planet and thus as a species from the get go. Organic food impacts human health in so many ways beyond "eating more nutrients." (like all these reasons)

3. The people monitored by the Stanford study didn't eat organic food long enough to legitimately be able to test for a difference. However, "the one exception in the literature—studies spanning the duration of a woman’s pregnancy and the first few years of a child’s life—provide encouraging evidence that organic food can reduce the odds of some adverse health impacts, including birth defects, neuro-­behavioral and learning problems, autism, and eczema." (Benbrook) Reading more carefully into it, you'll actually find lots of examples of kids growing up on organic diets who didn't suffer from some of the things we now see as "normal" problems in most kids. (allergies, etc.) 

4. What do they call "significant" anyway? The Stanford study claimed there wasn't a "meaningful" or "significant" difference between organic and conventional but what does that mean? Other "non-biased" studies have proven that when comparing organic and conventional fruits, milk, carrots, grains, and several other raw foods, organic farming leads to increases of 10% to 30% in the levels of several nutrients, but not all. Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phenolic acids tend to be higher in organic food about 60% to 80% of the time. (check out this study if you need the proof!) 

5. To all the media out there using this study as an excuse to a) justify your continuous purchasing of foods that generally harm the environment, or b) that you want to rant (yet again) about how "expensive" organic produce is (I started debunking that myth through some work for the OCA a few years back),  you would have found some other excuse to poopoo organic food anyway.

(Update: For another great article, check out this response in Mother Jones.)

End of rant. To lighten up the mood, here's a more visual, less angry, explanation:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

EAT: WIAW Same old, same old...

Time for another What I Ate Wednesday post! I've only done one other before... The problem with any WIAW post of mine is that they'd all probably end up looking pretty much the same, changing up maybe only every season... conveniently, my constance means when I forget to take pictures, I can just recycle some old ones.
Breakfast: My favourite Green Smoothie
(note the obvious photo recycling thanks to the
dead giveaway of the Christmas table runner)

At this point, I've probably had this smoothie over 500 times in my life considering it's been my go-to breakfast for a few years now. I would do something different, but I don't, because it's just so yummy.

Mid-Day Snack: Raw Granola Crunchies
These crunchies have also become my replacement cereal option since I went raw. I now cut the liquid sweetener all together from the recipe and just used pureed dates (dates and little bit of water to make it mixable). The batch I had today were the same as the recipe I just linked above, but without the spirulina and sunflower seeds.

For my daily dark chocolate fix, I also had a Cocoa Camino Dark Chocolate mini.

Dinner: Collard Wraps with Thai Peanut Sauce
Guess what? I ate collard wraps... again... This time I filled them with carrots, celery, beets, cukes, and my most recent favourite sauce. It's a peanut sauce made up of duh, peanut butter (or raw almond butter), lime, salt (or tamari) and apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar). Sooooo delicious...

Late Night Snack: These babies...

along with a small bowl of massaged kale salad! I don't know if it's the adrenaline, but I'm always super hungry when I come back from rehearsals!!!

So there you have it folk, another WIAW post from Eat Dance Live! Hope you had a food fabulous day too :) To end off, here's a picture of our kitty acting like a jungle king (the beauty of this pic is that I've had that necklace since I was a little kid and it was one of my favourites for dress up... think warrior princess?)

Monday, May 21, 2012

High Raw Pumpkin Ice Cream

I actually find it really bizarre to eat certain foods out of season. I think it's my body recalling the ancestral days when we could only eat what was only readily available given the time of the year. Eating watermelon and strawberries in the winter? As much as I love them, that's just plain wrong... so is eating pumpkin in the late spring/summer.

Okay, so I know lots of you out there love pumpkin, so you might disagree and want to eat it at all hours of the day and all seasons of the year. That's totally cool, and also exactly why I busted out this high raw pumpkin ice cream recipe yesterday to make Andrew happy:

High Raw Pumpkin Ice Cream
Yield: About 4 servings.

2 C cashews, soaked
2 C water
1 T of coconut oil, melted
2 T maple syrup
1 inch chunk of ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend til smooth.
2. Place in an ice cream maker and follow directions!
3. Once it's done, top with "candied nuts"*.

*pecans or walnuts mix with salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup (if you have time, they're better dehydrated)!

For those who might be wondering if it's necessary, xanthan gum is apparently used in a lot of low-fat ice cream recipes to keep the creamy factor in, while leaving all the actual fatness out... 

This recipe was a little higher in fat than I would personally prefer (I wouldn't mix cashews AND coconut oil), but it was modelled after the world's best raw ice cream by Cashewtopia. We tried a bunch of their flavours in DC a couple weeks ago and it changed my raw ice cream world forever. They both used gums and multiple sources of vegan fats, so I thought it was time to up my creaminess game and imitate them. It worked!

Have a great week and Happy Victoria day to all you Commonwealth folk!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pesto Kale Salad

I had a sudden urge for pesto when I saw some at the Wild Oat Bakery yesterday. I've made vegan pesto a few times before, but the way I make it, it never tastes as good nor is ever worth the hassle so I usually just buy it. Immediately after I did, I figured out that I could concoct the best thing to do with kale since I discovered the joys of my kelp noodle kale salad! Creaminess, oh yeah...

Pesto Kale Salad
Yield: Serves 1 or 2.

1 head of massaged kale
1/2 to 3/4 C pesto
veggies of choice
(I used peppers, celery, carrots, and tomatoes)

1. Once you've massaged your kale (click here for a how-to), stir in pesto.
2. Add in chopped veggies.
3. Eat! 
Yep, it's that simple!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Best Raw Cookies Ever Recipe

I don't know what to call these cookies, but they are by far my favourite raw cookie of all time. When it comes to my sweet tooth preferences, I've always been fairly vanilla. I'll choose the fruit pie over the decadent chocolate ganache cake any day. I'll choose the ginger snap over the chocolate chip butter pecan cookie. So for those who prefer those latter choices, this is definitely a fairly understated cookie. However, in its simplicity and elegance lies deliciousness.

My Favourite Raw Cookie
Yields: 12 cookies

3 C shredded coconut
1 C fresh dates, blended into a paste
3 tablespoons of raw almond butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup)

1. In a food processor or Vitamix dry blender, blend coconut first 
until its powdered and clumping together.
(for those who know, the point when it's about turning to coconut butter)
2. Scrape down the sides, and add in all the other ingredients.
3. Blend until it makes a uniform dough.
4. Flatten out into 12 cookies and place in the dehydrator overnight (or 8-12 hours).
5. Devour.
(6. I really love to put these in the freezer so they're extra crunchy!)

An interesting read for the day: The Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness) 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ottawa Eats: Simply Raw Express

FINALLY! A place to get some raw eats in Ottawa! On Saturday, Natasha Kyssa's Simply Raw Express opened its doors in the Hintonburg neighbourhood (989 Wellington West to be exact). It's a welcome change from the pubs and meat joints lining up the rest of the street, except the Table Vegetarian Restaurant which was our Hintonburg haunt until now.

Whenever I check out a new place making the "healthy" claim, I'm always curious to see how far they take their ethic and Simply Raw Express definitely goes the whole mile. Aside from offering fresh and organic raw vegan foods to go, the restaurant really lives up to its claim: reclaimed wood tables and service counter, compostable to-go containers, cork lamps, eco-friendly washroom products, and more.

If you're not a raw vegan, don't be frightened! To bring health and veggies to the Ottawa area, Simply Raw also offers some cooked vegan options including a daily soup or a quinoa bowl. If you have any questions, Natasha is a wonderful woman who I'm sure will guide you through the novelties. If you're looking to incorporate more raw foods into your diet though, you have lots of choice, juices, smoothies, kale salads, and I can't wait to try their raw cauliflower rice sushi. Oh, and a whole display of raw desserts of course.

What I love most about raw (or almost nearly mostly raw) restaurants is how fresh and light they feel. One could more mundanely say it's probably because of the lack of heat coming off from the cooking process, but I think it also has something to more metaphysically do with the energy of a place that serves happy living foods.

We were pretty stoked to see that by the time we got there, about half an hour until closing, the restaurant was practically wiped out aka. we knew it meant they had a fantastic first day! I opted for one of their green smoothies, a delicious blend of cucumber, romaine, banana, and other yummy things (I omitted the agave). Andrew had their Strawberry Fields (strawberries, dates, coconut oil, and agave) and picked up a pack of his favourite dark chocolate almonds. Both of them were deeeelicious.
However, the piece de resistance was definitely the dessert. We first shared their Raspberry Linzer Square. It was really yummy, as is anything that's raspberry flavoured, but that's not where it ends. For anyone who knows me, saying dessert was best, especially if it's raw, is a huge thing for me to say. As much as I love making raw desserts for others, I don't usually enjoy them that much myself. I'm not generally a fan of the sweetener/dried fruit and nut/fat food combination, but these were aaaamazing.

Now everyone under the sun whose been on a raw diet long enough has either bought or tried their hand at making raw macaroons. Ladies and gentlemen, Simply Raw's macaroons are the Platonic axiomatic ideal of raw macaroons*. I kid you not. If you live in Ottawa, you must try them now. Well, not now, they're closed on Mondays, but tomorrow... or sometime very soon. (I recommend the vanilla flavour.)

*for political theory and philosophy dorks buffs, this is what I'm talking about.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Current LFRV Obsession: Bananas, Apples, and Date Bowl

One month, I'll eat collard wraps for dinner every single night. Another, I'll just eat banana soft serves all day long. This week it's cinnamon sprinkled bananas, apples, dates, and granola crunchies every night. Even though I probably have bananas in some form in most of my meals, sometimes the slightest change can make the biggest difference. It's like eating starchy carbs as bread vs. pasta, same thing but big difference. The secret to this recipe? Cutting your bananas laterally instead of in slices... ooOoOOoo, wild and crazy, I know.

In my continuous pursuit to remain as LFRV as possible, this dinner combination definitely fits the mold. The granola crunchies are probably LFRV sub-par, but I need crunchy texture in my food, especially when I mostly eat blended fruits and greens... So yep, this has been my dinner for about a week now. I tend not to question what my body feels it wants to eat at this point, so I just go with it.

Banana Apple Date Bowl
Yield: Serves 1.

2 bananas
1 apple
3-4 medjool dates
cinnamon, to taste
raw buckwheat/granola crunchies of your choice, to taste

1. Halve bananas and thinly slice them laterally (aka. length-wise).
2. Thinly slice apples however you wish.
3. Either blend dates into a paste or chop them really fine.
4. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with cinnamon.
5. Top with granola crunchies, and enjoy a texture and shape extravaganza.

(For non-LFRVers, on some nights, I've also been enjoying putting 1 teaspoon of my peanut butter powder on top or one teaspoon of vegan protein powder... weird maybe, but tasty!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weekly Stuff I love

Just wanted to share some recent finds from our trip to DC last weekend! Our favourite health food store in Rockville, MOM's, moved to a bigger location down the road. The bonus (aside from a gorgeous new store) is that everything at their old location was 50% off. This was a serious score because MOM's is really conscious about vetting all their products to make sure they are all super healthy to both us and the environment. Essentially, you can really trust anything you buy there!

Here are some of my favourite goods:

1. Just Great Stuff's Peanut Butter Powder

With supposedly 85% less fat than peanut butter, this organic peanut butter powder just needs to be mixed with a couple tablespoons of water to turn back in its creamy original state.

That being said, this stuff is so tasty, I actually prefer to eat it by the spoonful and have been making ridiculously delicious banana soft serves with it.

It only has a few ingredients: organic peanut butter powder, organic coconut sugar, and sea salt. What's not too love (or get addicted to)?

2. Better than Roasted's Sprouted Almonds

These are by far the tastiest almonds ever... Organic, unpasturized, sprouted and dehydrated nuts (so they're raw), they are crunchy and fantastic. Obviously, the process of sprouting and dehydrating unpasteurized almonds increases the bioavailability of a food's vitamins and minerals.

They're from Italy, where they are sane enough to allow for non-pasteurized foods to be on the market. They are also hard-shelled almonds from Sicily, which are suppose to be extra special and extra almond-y flavoured. As far as I know, they definitely are!

I'd never heard of this brand before, but they apparently carry other nuts and seeds, butter, and other goodies too! With this first taste of what they can do, I'd love to try them all!

3. Kookie Karma's Goji Lime Krunchies
For me, it can be easy to go fairly blah when it comes to raw granolas on the market... These granola crunchies were fantastic though! Goji lime gives just as much kick to your taste buds as you might expect in the best of ways.

It also has your usual organic raw granola suspects: sprouted buckwheat, coconut, pistachio, goji berries, agave, lime, and sea salt... but blended at the perfect ratio!

I love short and trustworthy ingredient lists... especially when they taste this good!

4. Salazon's Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper

We fell in love with this version of Salazon's chocolate when we first moved to DC, and have bought some every time we gone back since.

Salazon's goods are always organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified (which also includes elements of Fair Trade) and give some of their proceeds go to environmental organizations. If you check out their website, I love how conscious they even are of the chocolate making process!

There is something divine about the sea salt, dark chocolate, black pepper combination. Enough said.

5. Andalou Natural's Enzyme Masks

Not edible per say, but the ingredients are edible enough that I'm sure it wouldn't hurt if you tried. I've alway said that I want to be able to eat anything I put on my skin... seems a fair thing to say, doesn't it?

I've been seeing Andalou Natural products in all the health food stores over the last little while, and a 50% discount at MOM's gave me the push I needed to try them out. I also have the bias that I tend to trust natural products from Europe more...

I'm trying out their BioActive 8 Berry Enzyme Mask and their Avocado Cocoa Skin Food Mask. The berry mask smells like my morning smoothie. It has CO Q10 and fruit stem cells to make it high in anti-oxidants, to repair cellular damage, and stimulate collagen and elastin.

The avocado one smells like the chocolate pudding I always make for Andrew... yum! Avocado is rich in Vitamin E, the cacao has lots of antioxidants as well leaving your skin moisturized and smooth.

Andalou Natural is based on Stem Cell research that renews your skin at the cellular level. I'm not familiar with all the science behind it, but all I know is that it leaves my skin feeling fantastic. So far so good!

Yay, for new natural product finds!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats

Yay!!! They're finally carrying organic mixed berries at the Loblaws now. We celebrated last week with this recipe. The base of these overnight oats are very similar to the chocolate-chip cookie dough flavoured ones I made a couple weeks ago, but cherry-fied and delicious:

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats
Yields: 1 serving

For oats:
3/4 C rolled oats
2 tablespoons of chia
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1/2 C frozen cherries, halved
1/2 teaspoon of raw honey/maple syrup (optional)
1 and 1/4 C non-dairy chocolate milk (almond, soy, it's your pick!) 
+ 1/4 C of milk in the morning (depends on consistency)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Cover and leave overnight. It might look like there's a lot of liquid,
but the chia seeds will soak it right up by morning.
3. In the morning, if it's too clumpy, add another 1/4 C of your "milk."
4. Top with more cherries, bananas, candied walnuts, and more!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jokes, Creepers, and "Apple Nachos"

Just a couple funnies before the weekend, and I'll be back with some "real" content on Monday: 
So... this is what my cat does when I'm on the computer.
He'll hear clicking sounds and randomly pounce, claws fully drawn,
or will slowly creep his paw around the screen like so.
He makes a slow grating sound against the metal... and it really creeps me out.

Hehehe... saw this on campus.

And because there has to be a food-related something, 
here's the recipe to try for this weekend: Apple Nachos!
(photo from Manifest Vegan)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ottawa Eats: Colour, Taste and Texture at La Belle Verte

Aside from feeling energetic, happy, and awesome, there's something about raw food that really just makes me smile. I've often talked about the Chinese cooking elements of taste, texture, colour, smell, and flavour. The ideal dish has all five, along with being nutritionally maximizing. Raw food is often able to hit all of those things to perfection, but I have to say, our trip to la Belle Verte across the bridge in Gatineau took that concept to a whole new level.
We've been wanting to try this place since we moved here, mostly because it's kind of the only raw vegan restaurant in the area right now. On the downside, because it's in Gatineau and we're car-free, it's a little hard to get to. However, since we had to rent a car this weekend to go help out some friends anyway, a trip to la Belle Verte became a top priority.

The food there is just so beautiful. I already love my veggies to begin with, but their platage actually made me giggle and do my little yummy food dance with delight whenever something was brought to the table. The portions were really generous, but given that it's mostly all veggies you don't get stuffed, just happily full. Everything was so flavourful and just so bright! There's no way you can't be put into a good mood eating this kind of food. If my life could be a never ending bowl of Belle Verte salad, I would be quite content. We kept thinking that if everyone could have veggies this way, the world would be such a healthier place.

Knowing Andrew and I, we couldn't just go there once. We ended up going with a friend on Friday night before another one of our theatre performances and again on Sunday for lunch. Here were our eats on Friday:
Our starter: La Belle Verte Platter
(heaps of veggies with their flax crackers, and a sample of their pesto and "nacho" sauce)
See, you've got your colour, your different textures, tastes, etc. Beautiful!

Andrew's Plate: The Greek Pizza
(Tomato olive tapenade, raw Zorba cheese, pesto, veggies, olives, 
kale bits, caramelized onions on a flax bread crust)

My Plate: The "Well-Dressed" Pizza

(Tomato olive tapenade, pesto, veggies, 
"bacon" and kale bits, caramelized onions on a flax bread crust)

While it was undeniably delicious, it was the kind of raw that was just a tad 
too heavy of me because of the amount of nut cheeses and sauces 
+ flax bread... Even though I knew that, I did eat the whole 
thing, so I'm probably also responsible for that...

Kristen's Plate: The Raw Sushi
(A beautiful rainbow wheel of veggies wrapped in nori with a ginger tamari dressing)

Andrew's Dessert: Raw Chocolate Pie w/ Raspberry Sauce
(FYI: Anything with raspberry sauce is delicious)

As you can probably see, the one thing I would mention is that all the menu items are essentially similar versions of the same combination of ingredients. The platters, salads, and pizzas are essentially a reshuffling of the same sauces, flax breads/crackers, and veggies in different ratios. That being said, they are so good that I really didn't care.

And then for our Sunday brunch date excursion, we had:

My Plate: "Le Grand Cru" Platter
(Platter of heaped veggies, flax crackers, the best sauerkraut EVER,
and a sample of tapenade and cashew cheese)

It was easily my favourite because it was mostly veggies, had sauerkraut,
and the right amount of everything else.

Andrew's Plate: The Raw Quiche
(Their 3 raw spreads over an almond bread with veggies)

 Andrew's Dessert: The Raw Cheesecake
(I had a bite, and it had an excellent texture)

If you're in town, go have a healthy meal! You can find them at 166 Rue Eddy in Gatineau. Given the abundance of the food, La Belle Verte is actually very very affordable. They're not open every day but do check their hours before hand because they do have a tendency to change up a bit.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mental Juicing Madness (and a recipe!)

Over the past few weeks, wednesday has become juicing day. Surprisingly, I'm still not a huge fan of juicing... it does something weird to my digestion. However, if I had to pick the most positive thing I always get out of juicing, it's always the fun mental trip it takes me on. I can't speak to what will happen this Wednesday yet, but last week, I think I might have experienced minor juicing dementia.

As I was walking to the gym after time at the dance studio, I started to physically crash. I had no energy. Half of me was ready to call it quits, go to bed, or just fall asleep on the sidewalk until Thursday. I was so lethargic, I just wanted to go home. The other half of me was a crazy hungry monkey who just needed to have a salad. Now, I cannot express how crazy this monkey was. I think it could have been willing to hurt a small child for this salad. The whole way to the gym, it kept repeating, "I want a salad. Just have a salad. It's just a salad. What's wrong with a salad? I thought you liked salad. I want a salad. Do you want a salad? I'd like a salad. Heyyy, we should have a salad." It was literally non-stop salad obsessiveness.

Then I started making up excuses. I kept thinking I should listen to my body if it was telling me it was tired. Maybe just skip the gym for today. After all, I was juicing and I should be "gentle" with my body, bla bla bla. When I was about a block away from the gym, it was time for a pep talk with myself. I told myself to suck it up and just do it. And I did. Sure, it was hard at first, but it's really true when they say "you're only one workout away from a good mood." I was better than in a good mood when I was done. I was alive! I was full of energy! I wanted to keep going! I was buzzed... and I didn't even crave my salad anymore. Instead, happy and full of energy, I went home to a giant and delicious glass of homemade OJ.

For those of you who have asked via Facebook or otherwise, here is the classic Wednesday green juice I've been making for myself since I started this. It usually does the trick for breakfast and lunch. I find orange juice a great way to end the day, but here are the goods:

Yummy Juice
2 apples
2 celery sticks
2-3 carrots
big handful of spinach
3-4 romaine leaves
good chunk of ginger

Directions: Juice! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Green Cleaning: IGOZEN All-Purpose Cleaner

A few weeks ago, the lovely people from iGOZEN asked me if I wanted to try out a couple samples of some of their new products. After doing my homework, I thought their cleaning products seemed like a neat idea and definitely something I could support. That and I like supporting small green startups! Since it's Earth Day in a few days, I thought why not let you guys in on some ways you can make your home a little cleaner... why increase the toxicity in your home, in the very air you breathe, when you can use non-toxic and earth-friendly products like those made by iGOZEN!

Within just a week or so of being contacted by them, I received a sample envelope of their three latest products: their Everyday Cleaner, their Fruit/Vegetable wash, and their Meat/Fish wash, along with a spray bottle and a micro-fibre cloth. Obviously, the Everyday Cleaner will be of most use to me since I don't eat meat or fish, and since I buy organic fruits and veggies, I don't see a huge need to rinse my produce (blame me for cooties, I can take it.) Of all things, I like the look of the spray bottle because it actually looks cute. Rather than a regular toxic cleaning spray bottle, it was clear plastic, and also short and stubby :) The micro-fibre cloth is fantastic for cleaning glass surfaces or mirrors without leaving scratches. These ones came in happy, bright colours!

So yep, all you need is a cloth, a spray bottle in which you dilute the solution and your bare little hands. Once you mix a packet with water, just mix, and it's ready to go like any other household cleaner. It's as easy as that, and my counters are all clean and shiny!

iGOZEN products come in powder form, and are said to be 100% organic, derived from seashells and sea salts. Because of their alkalinity and high calcium, the cleaners can easily cut through harmful acidic toxins, pesticides, and bacteria by neutralizing them. Icing on the cake: they even package their products sustainably! I love it when companies are conscious of every stage their product's process.

Aside from the sustainability of it all, other benefits include not having to use gloves to clean anything from your counter-tops to your bathtub because nothing is toxic. Because their few ingredients and their process, iGOZEN cleaners are also hypoallergenic. For those with sensitive kiddies or pets, this also makes a great way to clean play areas or pet cages, beds, and litters.

Their products are super affordable, with refill packages costing only about $1.49 for a whole new supply. Because the cleaners come in powder form, they come in packets so shipping is can be made free! Of course, that's also a bonus for the environment since you don't need to keep re-using new bottles but can just re-use the same spray bottle.

If this seems like something that you might, do check out their website (they also have some pretty cute how to videos!) Happy cleaning! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

There have been a lot of delicious looking cookie dough-flavoured Overnight Oats over the last little while (like this one or this one) that were just too tempting to not try. I don't eat oats myself, but you know you're a foodie when you still want to try a recipe for something you don't necessarily partake in. Conveniently, Andrew loves them!

Looking through some existing recipes, I was wondering how it was possible that so few ingredients would turn into something cookie dough tasting, but they were pretty on the ball! I used them as an inspiration and here's what I came up with. Who says you can't have cookies for breakfast?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats
Yields: 1 man-sized portion

For oats:
3/4 C rolled oats
2 tablespoons of chia
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of raw honey/maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 C non-dairy milk (almond, soy, it's your pick!) + 1/4 C in the morning (optional)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Cover and leave overnight. It might look like there's a lot of liquid,
but the chia seeds will soak it right up by morning.
3. In the morning, if it's too clumpy, add another 1/4 C of your "milk."
4. Top with "chocolate chip cookie dough," bananas, walnuts, and more!

For "cookie dough":
1/4 C nuts, ground into flour (I used Brazil nuts)
1/4 C oats, ground into flour (or another flour of choice)
dash of salt
dash of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of coconut butter
maple syrup (see directions)
chocolate chips, to taste

1. Mix the first three dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Stir in the next two wet ingredients, and add as much maple syrup 
as needed to form a cookie dough (about a tablespoon or so).
3. Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkle over your Oats!

Enjoy :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Epic Raw Middle Eastern Plate

Given that I've posted about falafels more than once on this blog, whether they're raw or they're cooked, you might be able to safely say that I kinda sorta like them a lot... That, and I recently admitted to my secret falafel digestion pocket located somewhere in the deep confines of my stomach.

Because I've been juicing and doing green smoothies so much over the past week, my dinner-for-my-other-half creativity has been somewhat limited and perhaps less than enthusiastic, even though I love being in the kitchen (and aside from the killer vegan shepherd's pie I invented for him earlier last week, if I do say so myself). A couple days ago, I decided to go big or go home, and create for him: the epic raw Middle Eastern plate.

It started off with the classic centrepiece: Matt Amsden's Raw Falafels wrapped in romaine lettuce, and surrounded it with my raw hemp seed tabbouleh, a garden salad, and some black olives and sprouts. Speaking of which, this has just given me the bright idea of making different themed raw "ethnic" plates over the course of the next little while. New blog project?

Either way, if I can do one thing right, at least I know I can culinarily satisfy my man.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Love Hate Relationship with Yoga

Today I wanted to talk about those things in life that we know we should do but for some reason never actually end up following through with. Whether we use the "I'll start tomorrow" excuse or something similar, we always come up with all sorts of justifications as to why we shouldn't start now (none of them ever that valid). For example, how many times have I said that I should get back into yoga? Probably more than I've actually started up the practice again. Still, it's on been on my mind a lot lately. The yoga world has become such a huge thing these days (both for better and worse I'd say), but still there is such an appeal. For starters, when we think yoga, we always get inundated with these kinds of images:


Well, you often get these pictures too, but you get my point:

Pictures like those first ones show that there's suppose to be a magic to yoga, a je ne said quoi about it that will do everything from make you a better person to give you Mr. Fantastic-type flexibility. (Oh no, Significant Other-based comic book references have officially entered my vocabulary... he'd be so proud.) When yoga is done properly, with the right mindset and intention, I actually don't deny any of those things, that's probably the biggest reason why I want to get back into it so much.

When I started my day by doing only 20 minute yoga routines every morning thanks to Yoga Download, I felt so much better. It cleared my mind, deepened my breath, helped with my strength and flexibility, created length... it was fantastic. Just 20 minutes, so why can't I get back into it? I can take about an hour to get to the gym every day but not 20 minutes to do yoga. I'm sure it would be easy to take just a fraction of the time I spent every day bumming around on Facebook or Pinterest or something to dedicate back to my yoga. And yet...

So many people have lots of different tricks to get back into things, whether its challenges, resolutions, etc. Sometimes, you just have to do it. Yesterday, I've rolled out my mat first thing in the morning and got it done. I want to start small. I just want to commit to doing this for a week. If it sticks, that's great, but I want to do at least that. I know all good habits start that way. It's like working out; you do it once, remember how good you feel and then it fuels of cycle of good feeling where you just can't stop. I'm just hoping I'll rebuild the habit with yoga. Starting now. 

I have to admit the first day on the mat was hard. It doesn't matter how much I stretch, how much I run, how much I lift, how much I dance. Yoga just works differently with your body. I thought I'd take it easy by starting by a simple Hatha routine, and ha, was I wrong about the "easy" part. I guess not following through with my practice has made me weak and tight in all the wrong places, but I'm fine with that. I'm accepting where I have to start, because of my own choices, and looking forward to getting back to where I was before and better!

Do you have have that thing you keep wanting to do but just can't seem to? If so, why not just give it a shot once, and then see if it sticks. And hey, it's the weekend! That's a great time to try something new!