Saturday, February 25, 2012

In 29 hours...

There is so much to update from this week but here is the latest thought in my mind in three images:
So psyched!
This trip with my sister has been the best!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ottawa Eats: Vegan Pizza at Bread and Sons

Once upon a time, there was a modest little bakery at the corner of Bank and Gloucester Street, named Bread and Sons. When they moved into town, the two heroes of our story learned that at 195 Bank Street, they would likely find one of the best vegan pizzas in town.

Now, everyone knows that excellent vegan pizza is a rare thing to behold. Fake cheeses and processed soy meats abound, masking the health and deliciousness of what vegan food can be. Few are the vegan pizzas our heroes have truly considered delicious and consumable. Only once before, at Bread & Brew in Washington DC, had they had vegan pizza worthy of raising their four united thumbs to. The quest for a better vegan pizza was theirs to make. 

However, life's trials and tribulations kept them from the little Ottawan bakery, and it quickly faded from their memory. Many moons passed... Papers were written, tears were shed, laughter rang within the halls of their home, walks were taken, meals were eaten, but life's mysterious ways brought two awesome friends to our heroes, who once again whispered the name of the infamous bakery: Bread and Sons. It was time.

Now, Bread and Sons is no ordinary bakery. All their breads are made daily with 100% organic ingredients. They are familiar with the ancient mysteries of the kamut, rye, and spelt grains and use them alongside the deliciousness of whole wheat. They appeal to everyone in the land: vegans, omnivores, vegetarians... Call in advance and you can get a pizza on a spelt crust, for those with gluten sensitivities. Their ingredients are local, hailing from nearby lands to minimize environmental damage.
(a map of their local ingredients)
Everyone knows that the greatest difficulty in selecting the right pizza is the topping choice. Like the riddle of the sphinx, it's a matter of life or death, but Bread and Sons, oh wise ones that they are, takes the dilemma away from you as their vegan pizza pretty much has every healthy topping under the sun, except cheese. Now imagine, dear readers, the pizza, large, and light and crisp of crust, topped with a rainbow of local vegetables, kale, sweet potatoes, mushroom, peppers, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, olives, oh my... Sated and satisfied, our heroes, full of pizza, raised their thumbs, to the newly crowned kings of vegan pizza!
Thank you, Bread and Sons, for the best and healthiest vegan pizza option ever!

I recognize that this post could have been seven words long: "We had pizza for dinner last night." But who wants to do that, when they can write epic poetry... This is what happens when I write posts late on Sunday nights (or maybe I'm in fairytale mode because I'm stupid excited to be going to Disney World in two days for my sister-and-sister HALF MARATHON!!!)... 

Have a great week! 

(because of my sub-par iPhone camera, all images except the one of our pizza was pulled from their Facebook page)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stinky Deliciousness: The Durian Soft Serve

Oh, stinky stinky deliciousness... A fruit so smelly it's banned from many airports and other forms of public transportations in Asia, and yet, there's lots of great reasons to eat durian:
(sure it kind of looks like a liver... or half a brain... but it's delicious I promise!)
  • it's rich in fiber, so helps with digestion and appetite.
  • durian is rich in folate, so can help combat anemia, which women are particularly prone to have
  • High in vitamin C, it promotes collagen production, so healthy skin, bones, tendons and ligaments (which is probably a really good idea for me right before I run my 1/2 marathon next week!!!)
  • Rich in potassium, it's great for bone health too!
  • With high levels of manganese, it also helps regulate blood sugar.
  • For thyroid health, durian is a good source of copper, which plays a role in maintaining your metabolism.
  • B6, one of the nutrients needed to produce seratonin, a mood enhancer, is quite high in durian... so eating durian might help fight depression!
  • Durian has lots of tryptophan, so it also been used to treat anxiety, insomnia, aggression, regulating appetite (by curbing it), PMS, eating disorders, nightmares, and stress!
  • Durian also has quite a bit of phosphorus, which promotes healthy teeth and gums, and helps calcium do its job.
  • Durian contains very high levels of Organosulfur compounds, which decrease the synthesis of cholesterol, reduce the formation of blood clots, reduce inflammation, are antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, and also reverses arthritic conditions by helping with joint flexibility, stiffness, and breaking up scar tissue.
I can't say I was ever a huge fan of durian. I remember eating it as a kid and only remember the stink. My mom had a whole bunch of durian candies that my sister and I really didn't like so we tried to give them to Santa Claus along with milk and cookies... not surprisingly, Santa doesn't particularly care for Asian fare, so he didn't eat the durian candies. My dad didn't like durian either... Somehow, I never made the connection...

So why try to eat it again? Well, my BFF has been raving about her durian soft serves for weeks now and made it sound tempting enough that I had to try one. I also knew she would be the only one who could make me fall in love with them (probably because anything she has ever made for me is a Godsend). With the right toppings, durian soft serve is actually amazing. It's has a delicious custard meets banana ice cream kind of consistency. Since it's her secret recipe, I don't want to give away her two secret ingredients, but we topped them with cacao nibs, bananas, mulberries, and raw chocolate cereal crunches... YUM. Seriously, this girl could feed me anything and make me love it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Can't Get Enough: Toronto's Live Organic Food Bar

Time to pass through Toronto = Time to go eat at Live Organic Food Bar

We're in London (Ontario) this weekend to spend some quality time with my partner's fam. With a bus stopover in Toronto, we couldn't help ourselves but stop over at our favourite raw restaurant. Here were some of the eats:

1) The Raw Poutine: Andrew saw this on the menu and couldn't get over the fact that someone had actually made raw poutine. Despite my now six years of living in Canada, I've never actually had poutine (even when I wasn't vegan). I know that probably makes me a bad immigrant. Why would I pass up this Canadian culinary wonder you ask? There are three things my taste buds have never taken to: a) potatoes; b) gravy; c) greasy cheesy things... so why in God's name would I try a combination of them? I hear poutine is fantastic if that's your thing, and that's wonderful, but it's just not mine. However, this raw version, made with marinated jicama fries, a miso gravy, and a macadamia cheese, was fantastic.
2) Chickpea Fries: I've always wanted to try these! Ever since I heard that a lot of vegan restaurants serve chickpea fries, I've been wanting to find them like mad. I figured they would probably kind of taste like fry-shaped socca... they did, and they were deliciously amazing.
3)  Kale Caesar: This was my main meal (unfortunately, the hubby's raw tostadas were no photographed, but they were delicious. Their raw sour cream was just. like. sour cream.) Now that Live has nixed my favourite kelp noodle dish, I think I may have found a new favourite: kale, raw garlicky croutons, eggplant bacon, dulse, and so much other delicious it was delightful. And if those weren't all my favourite things in one plate, they added tempeh bacon too because they secretly love me.
I can't rave about this place enough. If you live in Ontario, go there! (Hey, we're from Ottawa and we've still made the time to go there three times already!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easiest Vegan French Toast

Nothing says lazy Sunday morning like brunch, especially making French toast for the one you love. (I know it's Tuesday, but this will give you something to look forward to.) With a fairly empty fridge, here was the most no-frills vegan french toast recipe I came come up with:
Easiest Vegan French Toast
Yield: 2 servings

4-6 slices of toast*
3/4C non-dairy milk
1 bananas
1T vanilla protein powder (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1-2T oil (or margarine) for frying

1. Blend all ingredients except toast, and place in deep dish.
2. Dip each slice of toast in the mix until it's well soaked, coat each side.
3. In a medium hot pan, fry each slice with 1t of oil until golden brown on each side.
4. Serve with bananas, berries, maple syrup, and some extra cinnamon! 

*I used thick slices of sourdough so they soaked up more.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vegan Blueberry Protein Muffins

I've been saying over the last week that of all the comfort foods out there, there's nothing quite like the blueberry muffin. I never actually ever got to eat that many growing up, but there's something about them that embodies warmth and loveliness to me. With that in mind, I've pretty much been obsessing about finding a vegan blueberry muffin recipe over the last little while. On top of that, because I'm picky, I was out to find something wheat-free, preferably low sugar (or avoiding cane sugar altogether), and low fat. Yep, I've become one of those people, so sue me.

After scouring the internet, the heavens opened and line shone in when I found this recipe on the Tone it Up girls' blog in preparation for Valentine's Day. The bonus? They're healthy and high in protein. Low fat? Only 3T of oil per batch. Low sugar? Only about 1/3C (which I knew I would cut down on anyway). Wheat-free? That's always easy to tweak with. Vegan? Blueberries? Hah, no, but now I'm up for a challenge.

When I look at it now, I pretty much changed half the recipe and turned it into vegan blueberry muffin recipe rather than one for vanilla cupcakes. Haha.. I also doubled it to make it muffin-size friendly. Apparently, if you want me to follow a recipe, you have to tie me down and tell me you'll hurt a kitten or something... Even in that case, I would probably just change one thing instead of ten.

Veganized (and Blueberry-fied)
Healthy Tone it Up Valentine's Day Cupcakes Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl...
1/2 C oat flour
1/2 C spelt flour*
1 C unflavoured vegan protein**
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 C sugar

Add into the dry mix one and at time, and well, mix...
2 "flax eggs" (1T ground flax + 3T water = 1 egg)***
6T olive oil
1/4 C vegan yogurt (soy, almond, coconut yogurts are great!)
1 banana mashed 
1/2C non-dairy milk
3T vanilla extract

Fold in...
3/4-1C fresh blueberries

* I know spelt is technically a wheat...
** I used Progressive's Harmonized Vegan Protein, because it's a mix of brown rice, hemp, and pea protein. I thought straight up brown rice would be too pasty. (And pea protein is delicious!)
*** "flax eggs" are a perfect baking substitute for real eggs. Just mix 1T ground flax with 3T water and let it sit for a few minutes to make 1 "egg." It should look runny (and snotty for lack of a better term) just like a real egg, plus they're full of fiber and healthy Omegas.

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine dry ingredients, progressively add in wet ingredients, and stir with a whisk 'til uniform.
3. Fold in blueberries.
4. Oil muffin tray (or use liners) and pour mix until it's about 1/2 to 3/4 full.
5. Bake for about 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

The new challenge? Not sitting down to a whole batch. These turned out so well I actually had to segregate a box for me and a box for the hubby just so I wouldn't go crazy if I woke up to an empty muffin tray (good thing too, since his is already half empty).

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tortilla Pizzas and Roasted Peppers

This week's culinary creation was inspired by trying to finish the frozen Ezekiel sprouted corn tortillas that have been sitting forgotten in the freezer for too long. It's also kind of like these no cheese pizzas, but baked a bit for warmth. Problem is, I like these enough that now I just want to buy more tortillas to make more even though the point was to get rid of them...
"No Cheese" Tortilla Pizzas Take 3
Yield: 4 "pizzas"

4 Ezekiel sprouted corn tortillas
tomato sauce*
nut cheese (optional)**
toppings (broccoli florets, mushroom slices, roasted peppers, spinach, zucchini)

*1/2C soaked sundried tomatoes + 1 date + 1/2 tomato, blended all together
 ** 1:1 ratio of cashews and macadamia nuts (about 1/3 to 1/2C each), juice of 1/2 lemon, salt to taste, water (added slowly for consistency), blended slowly adding in water until it makes a thick cheese spread

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Layer tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings onto the tortilla
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Quick Roasted Peppers
Peppers, halved and seeded

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Roast peppers for 20-25 minutes until the skin looks like it peeled off the peppers.
3. Important step (this trick captures the moisture in the peppers and make them easier to skin, so don't skip it!): Right after you've taken the peppers out of the oven, place them in a container and cover it with a plate or aluminium foil. Let cool down for 10-15 minutes.
4. Peel the skin off the peppers, and enjoy!
5. You can always add a little olive oil, pepper, and salt to them too.

Happy Hump Day!