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Man I love stir fries.  They are a fast and easy way to get a whole lot of veggies in a single meal and makes for delicious left overs.

But now being a mostly raw girl, I don’t usually go for stir fries, they always felt a bit too greasy and cooked brown rice is sometimes too heavy for me.

When I found kelp noodles at my local health food store I knew I needed to try making a raw stir fry…a non fry?  Kelp noodles are pretty great, they have this really interestingly chewy, crunchy texture and are gluten-free and grain-free.

Veggie Stir Non-Fry with Kelp Noodles

Ingredients

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 carrots, silvered
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snap peas
2 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 package of kelp noodles

Directions

1. Slice shiitake mushrooms and onions.  Place in bowl with Bragg Liquid Aminos and let marinate for 15 mins.
2. Drain and rinse kelp noodles and set aside.
3. Cut up carrots, bell pepper and snap peas.  
4. Combine shiitake mushrooms and onion mix, mixed veggies, sesame oil, crushed red pepper flakes and kelp noodles into a bowl.
5. Mix and serve.

Generally the first question I’m asked when I tell people I am vegan is “where do you get your protein?”

I suppose this is a valid question but protein is available in foods other then meat such as leafy greens, quinoa, hemp seeds, almonds, legumes, sprouts and of course plant-based protein powders!

I was really excited to receive Sunwarrior Chocolate and Vanilla Protein Powder to sample.

Sunwarrior is a fermented brown rice protein powder.  Raw brown rice is germinated to increase its bioactivity and break down the carbohydrates leaving it at 83% protein.  It is cultured with probiotics so it is easy on the digestive system and therefore easily digestible.  Sunwarrior is also processed below 90F to ensure all enzymes are intact.

It contains all 9 essential amino acids and other non-essential amino acids and has the highest Net Protein Utilization score (the amount of amino acids converted to proteins to the amount of amino acids supplied) of any vegetable based protein and the highest ratio of amino acids converted to proteins (amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules.)

Sunwarrior is said to be allergen-free, as well as gluten-free and straight up vegan! While Sunwarrior is not Certified Organic, they use non-GMO foods and are in the process of obtaining organic certification.

What I love most about Sunwarrior is the taste.  Seriously this stuff tastes so smooth without leaving a chalky or unpleasant aftertaste that so many veg proteins have.  I know that it is of the highest quality and one bag lasts me awhile.

Price – approximately $60-65 a bag (lasts about 30-45 days if consuming 1 scoop per day)

Availability – in select health food stores and from RawNutrition.ca

My favourite ways to enjoy Sunwarrior is in a smoothie or protein pudding.

References

A vegan ragging on a vegan product? 

Truth.

When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet I had no idea what I was doing nutritionally speaking.  As a young, moderately hip twenty-something I wanted to prepare meals for friends while still abiding by my belief of compassion for animals.

Enter Yves Veggie Cuisine Original Veggie Ground Round.  It seemed perfect enough at first – it had protein, it was easy to make and it allowed me to cook veggie tacos that looked like real tacos for the non-vegetarians in my life.

The more I learned about nutrition the less Ground Round appealed to me.  And thankfully now, I have learned to be creative AND healthy when preparing meals.

The ingredients list is as follows:

Water, soy protein product, wheat protein product, onions, natural flavour, canola oil, salt, guar gum, evaporated cane juice, malt extract, caramel colour, spices, yeast extract, vitamins and minerals (thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, calcium pantothenate, reduced iron, zinc oxide, wheat starch). Contains soy and wheat. May contain eggs.

The breakdown…

Soy Protein Product – Soy is very controversial.  Many studies conducted have said soy is good, many have said the opposite.  That is for another post.  However, whether soy is good or bad what it should not be is genetically-modified.  While Ground Round is said to be GMO-free, it is not Certified Organic.  Soy is also a common allergen.  *As of the publication of this post, I have emailed Hain Celestial twice asking if they can confirm their soy is GMO-free, I have yet to hear back.

Wheat Protein Product – Wheat protein product is also known as gluten.  This is highly allergenic and can provoke sensitivities in some people.  This helps give the Ground Round its chewy texture.

Canola Oil – According to the Canola Council of Canada’s website, 80% of all canola grown in Western Canada has been genetically-modified to be herbicide-resistant.  I was unable to find information on Yves website discussing if their canola oil is fact GMO-free.

Caramel Colour – Is a food colouring agent made by heating a solution of various sugars, often together with ammonium compounds, acids or alkalis.The Centre For Science In The Public Interest also puts caramel colouring on their avoid list.  As stated by the USDA here, caramel colour is part of a class of exempted colour additives  as it is derived from naturals sources and therefore are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared as colourings or colour added.  However, because the natural source of where this caramel colouring is derived from is not mentioned, it could be anything and is not stated as being GMO-free.

Since giving up soy-based products a few years ago (with the exception of some desserts here and there) I have discovered a love to preparing health, whole food vegan meals that everyone can enjoy and be satisfied with.  And now if I make veggie tacos I skip the faux-meat filling in favour of ground walnuts and spices (which provide the same texture.)

References

1. “Chemical Cuisine: Learn About Food Additives.” Center For Science In The Public Interest. 2011. 17 Sep 11. <http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#caramel>

When the kind folks at Vega sent me a copy of Thrive Foods, the newest book by Brendan Brazier, I was beyond thrilled.  I mean, me and Brendan?  We could be BFF’s we have that much in common – we’re both vegan, we’re both Canadian, we’re both sporty and we both love making energy bars out of dates.

And more then anything we love our food whole and pure!

Having read and loved Brazier’s two other books, The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness I had high expectations of Thrive Foods.  Part informative book and part recipe book, it did not disappoint.

The opening chapters of the book discuss the basics of nutrition.  Information that everyone should, but does not necessarily know.  Filled with important facts and scientific back-up, Thrive Foods is informative without being preachy and is written in a way that everyone can understand.

There are a few sections dedicated to the environmental impact of our foods.  This sort of thing fascinates me, for example according to Thrive Foods, “if everyone in the US stopped eating beef for one year, that would be like not driving a distance equivalent to 9,007,489 to the moon.”  Um, way to blow my mind!

And the best part…200 plant-based, whole food recipes by Brazier and some of the best vegan restaurants and chefs in the world such as Tal Ronnen, Thrive Juice Bar and Candle 79!  I was beyond thrilled to see recipes from some of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, such as Live Organic Food Bar and Fresh.

One of the tastiest recipes I tested was the Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce.  The pasta sauce was fantastic and any opportunity I can get to use my spiralizer I will take.

Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce
recipe from Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp sea salt
20 sundried tomatoes, soak in warm water until soft (about 30 min)
1/2 cup tomato soak water
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium clove garlic
2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp hemp oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped Brazil nuts
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Trim the ends of the zucchini.  Using a hand-held vegetables peeler (or spiralizer), carefully strip the zucchini, layer by layer into noodle-like pieces and gather into a colander (for best results, discard the watery center section that holds the seeds)
2. Toss squash strips with 1 tsp of sea salt and place the colander over a large bowl to catch excess moisture.  Let rest of 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes, wash the squash thoroughly with warm water to remove any excess salt, and let drain for 5 more minutes.
4. In a food processor, blend together the sundried tomatoes, 1/2 cup soak water, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, raisins, hemp oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt into a chunky paste.
5. Add the nuts and pulse a few times to chop the nuts finely (but do not blend)
6. Toss the sauce with the zucchini strips and sauté over medium-low heat to 1-2 minutes to warm through. 

Variation – Skip the sauté step and serve room temperature as a delicious raw dish.

A fantastic meal from a fantastic book!  The addition of the raisins to the pasta sauce was my favourite part.  It gave the thick sauce just a hint of sweetness. 

You can order your copy here, I definitely recommend having this book in your collection!

To find out more about Brendan Brazier and Team Vega, check out their website and say in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note to Canadian readers – Thrive Foods is the same book as Whole Foods To Thrive

In business, the term “diversify” is often thrown around.  I understand it to be defined as varying a company’s products or when investing, to reduce risk by having a variety of assets.

If we take this idea of diversifying and apply it to our health, it makes total sense to me.  If we look at our bodies as companies and the food we put in them as our assets, we get either profit or loss depending on the choices we make.  When we add variety to our diet and lifestyle whether it be through new foods we consume or a new activity, we are essentially diversifying and thus reducing our risk of disease and increasing our livelihood.

Obviously there’s a reason I went into health and not finance…

While on a recent grocery shopping trip, I picked up a couple of guavas.  Having never tried guava before and feeling that I needed to diversify my life a lil’ I bought them.  Once I got home, I was totally stumped with what to do with these guavas, I did what I always do – stick ‘em in my Blendtec.  What came out was a gorgeous ice cream like treat.

Mango-Guava Soft Serve

Ingredients

1 cup mango, frozen
1 guava, small or medium, seeds removed
2 Medjool dates

Directions

1. Remove peel and seeds from guava
2. Combine all ingredients into high-powered blender, such as a Blendtec or into a food processor and blend until smooth
3. Pour mixture into bowl and freeze for 1 hour.  Once frozen, scoop out and top with fruit. 

Guava has a large amount of pectin, which are complex carbohydrates found in the cell walls of plants.  It helps to bind the gauva and mango together to form a creamy texture.  Guava is also a rich source of Vitamin C and fibre.

The area of Toronto I live in is referred to as the Entertainment District or Clubland.  Shudder.

On Friday and Saturday night packs of just legal kids from the Suburbs descend on my neighbourhood.  The truth is, only a few years ago I was one of them.

However now that I’m older, wiser and a lot more dull, I spend my Friday nights doing my favourite activity of all…grocery shopping.

I like to get dolled up in my cutest track pants and strut my fine self up to Whole Foods in Yorkville.  Sometimes, while descending down the escalator to the store, I wear my trendy Juicy Couture sunglasses that I bought at a discount store in NYC so that customers and employees will think I am a famous European movie star.  I am not even kidding you.

But I digress.

This particular Friday I found a gorgeous assortment of beans.  I choose the standard green and picked up a cool purple pod pole bean.  And you thought I didn’t know how to have a good time.

I transformed my beans into a gorgeous salad with a tangy honey-mustard vinaigrette dressing.

Bean Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

Salad

2 cups beans, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red kidney beans

Vinaigrette

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp prepared stone ground mustard (look for an organic, sugar-free kind)
2 tsp honey, raw and unpasteurized
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Chop beans and celery and assemble into a salad with red kidney beans

2. Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette into a bowl and whisk together until combined (makes about 1 cup)

3. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, refrigerate for a few hours to lets dressing absorb into beans.

Carrot cake is one of my most favourite desserts.  A tall, moist cake with lots of vegan cream cheese icing is like a dream. 

But I swear up and down that just dreaming about carrot cake makes my butt get bigger.  Trying to rationalize that because carrot cake is made with carrots it can count as healthy.  Right?

Nope, sorry.  Ain’t happening.

That’s why these carrot cake balls are just so freakin’ good.  All the deliciousness of a rich carrot cake without all the added and unnecessary crap.

Win!

Raw Carrot Cake Balls

Ingredients

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1 tsp coconut oil
2 large carrots, chopped or shredded
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp flax seed, ground

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.  Mixture can still be chunky.  Careful not to over-process nuts as these releases too much of the oil.

2. Shape into balls and roll in coconut or cinnamon.

3. Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy.

Note – If you want variety, try adding pineapple (fresh or dried) and grated ginger for some kick.  If your mixture is too moist, add additional ground flax seed.

This week Fresh launched their new menu and it did not disappoint.  My favourite new addition is the All-Star Salad – quinoa & adzuki bean tabouleh on shredded raw kale with goji berries, Toasted Nut & Seed Mix, parsley, cilantro,
sunflower sprouts, grilled sweet potato & tofu steaks.

It was so good I may have had it twice in the last 5 days.  But really, it’s a pretty simple meal and I knew I could recreate this.  And I am happy to say, I did successfully!

All-Star Salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup adzuki beans, cooked
1 sweet potato, baked
2 cups purple kale, chopped
1/4 cup goji berries
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
Sunflower sprouts, tofu cubes not shown

Directions

1. Cook quinoa and adzuki beans as directed and let cool
2. Cut up sweet potato into rounds and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes
3. Chop purple kale into very small pieces
4. Mix quinoa, adzuki beans, kale and goji berries
5. Top with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds
6. Add sunflower sprouts and tofu cubes if desired
7. Add you favourite salad dressing, a great one would be Lisa’s Lemon-Tahini dressing 

Note – try replacing tofu cubes with tempeh cubes or chickpeas. 

Quick facts about kale*…

1. Is a source of omega-3 fatty acids
2. A source of tryptophan, which helps balance appetite, improves sleep and mood
3. Dehydrate kale and make into chips, you will still keep the enzymatic activity

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods book by George Mateljan

Last night was a hot one here in Toronto.  The kind of night that had I not been a healthy-living vegan, I may have stopped and got a chocolate soft serve cone from one of the numerous ice cream trucks parked in my neighbourhood.

Ever wonder what’s actually used to make soft serve?  The National Post wrote a story on this a few years back.  Ingredients include – corn syrup, whey, calcium sulfate and more sugar then should ever be consumed by the human body.

I whipped up this delicious treat using some frozen Ontario-grown sour cherries I found at Whole Foods.  Try it and I swear you’ll like it better then that crap that’s served out of a truck.

You can even eat it for breakfast.  Not that I’m doing that…right now…

Chocolate-Cherry Soft Serve

Ingredients

1 banana, frozen or unfrozen your choice
1/2 cup frozen sour cherries
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 medjool date

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to high-powered blender or food processor
2. Blend until smooth and transfer to bowl or layer in parfait glass
3. Top with raw cacao nibs and whole cherries

I am so excited to return to my series My Favourite Vegan.  Please enjoy reading about one of the most vibrant bloggers out there, Kris from I Heart Wellness.  This beauty is full of joy and positivity as well as amazing recipes and advice.

When/how did you become vegan?

I started following more of a vegan lifestyle 2 years ago when I was embarked on a 30 day detox that had me eliminate all animal products out of my diet. Prior to this detox I was already steering clear of eggs and dairy because of my food allergies which meant I had to learn to bake vegan very quickly! While detoxing I realized that not having the meat in my life was actually providing me more energy, better sleeping patterns and a clearer mind.

I can’t say I am a full vegan as I do still enjoy a nice piece of salmon every now and then.

What is your favourite vegan meal?

Hmmm this is a tough question! My favourite vegan meal would have to be either Chana Masala {Indian is my fave!} or Vegan / Gluten Free Burritos that are stuffed with beans, salsa, veggies and spices and lightly sprinkled with Daiya Cheese and topped with a heaping amount of Guacamole 😉 Now I’m hungry!

What does "vegan" and being vegan mean to you?

Vegan means pure, clear, and clean. Those were the first words that came to me when I read this question. I can speak from experience that I feel lighter since eating a high vegan diet. I love the connection I have with my plant based foods. We have a serious relationship over here 😉

Your favourite kitchen staples (ie ingredients, tools and gadgets etc)

Coconut oil!!! omg, I can’t live without my coconut oil. It goes in everything and on everything in my day! I also love avocados and they are a staple in my diet because they are gorgeous, creamy and delightful!

Top 3-5 favourite resources (ie books, websites, blogs, people)

I find myself loving vegan bakers lately and have been following people such as Angela at ohsheglows.com, I also love the Purely Elizabeth, and found the Babycakes cookbook very helpful in a lot of bakery adventures!

Any advice to vegans or those thinking of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle?

Enjoy it, don’t fight it. once you bring in a negative feeling or thought around your food the acid from the stress causes more harm than good. Remember that trying something doesn’t mean you are set for life. It is important to be open-minded and use your body as an experiment. This is exactly what I have done to cure the food allergies, life a healthy and skinny life!

Kris23

You can follow Kris on Twitter, Facebook and her blog, I Heart Wellness.

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