Make Eating Vegan Cheap, Fast and Fun

September 10th, 2012 · Lisa · gluten-free, raw, Recipes, Sweet, Uncategorized · Comments

Friday I found myself singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” as I was sitting on the subway on my way to work. Luckily everyone around me had headphones on 🙂

Culturally that tune is most commonly associated with the busy December holiday season but for me, it fits much better with the weekend after Labour Day when Toronto turns into a vegan Mecca.

If you’ve never attended the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival (the world’s biggest vegfest) then this fantastic video created by the Toronto Vegetarian Association is a great sneak peak.

I look forward to this event all year. It is a great opportunity to catch up with friends in the vegan community, sample all the fantastic new vegan products and hear inspiring speakers from around the world.

Just like last year, Nicole and I collaborated on a food demo. Instead of begging my food processor to make banana soft serve for 200 again, we thought we’d focus on sharing some tips and tricks that make eating vegan easier for us. Since I’ve been following a vegan diet for 28 years and Nicole has been for 12, we’ve learned a few shortcuts along the way to save time and money, without sacrificing flavour and fun.

Just in case you weren’t able to make it down to join the enthusiastic crowd that filled the Lakeside Terrace, we’d thought we post our recipes and tips here too.

10 Super Secrets

  1. Get down with DIY– Celebrate your pioneer spirit and learn to make your own milks, flours, and nut butters.
  2. Value Versatility – Unleash your creativity with versatile pantry staples like almonds, cashews, oats, avocados and bananas.
  3. Pass Over Packages– Don’t waste money on plastic or cardboard–seek out farmers markets, CSAs and bulk bins. Save your dollars for those awesome ingredients.
  4. Trust Technology – Invest in good quality appliances like a food processor and/or blender. The one time investment will save you time and money every day.
  5. Buy in Bulk – Use your negotiation skills to get great deals on produce, dry ingredients, and hard-to-find favourites.
  6. Grown Your Own – Make a hobby out of growing your own vegetables, sprouts or potted herbs. Use them in delicious recipes like tahini herb dressing. We shared a fabulous Tahini Dressing recipe that highlights the beautiful herb, dill. We’ll post that one very soon.
  7. Embrace Cultural Cuisine– The kitchen is an excellent platform to unleash your creativity. Try vegetarian Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, Mediterranean or South East Asian recipes to keep your meals diverse and delicious.
  8. Stock Snacks – Be prepared. Stop worrying about finding fantastic food while on the go–travel with treats!
  9. Double the Fun– Make big batches of beans, grains, dressings and dips to save time all week.
  10. Feed Your Friends – Nourish your friends and your soul with delicious, health-promoting fare. Nothing says love like feeding people.
We shared a number of easy recipes for staples that will make it much easier to save money and time.

Instant Almond Milk

Instant Almond Milk


  • 1 TBSP almond butter
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups water
  • Optional: pinch of salt, dash of vanilla extract, a pitted medjool date,


  1. In a blender, add 1 tablespoon of almond butter to 2 1/2-3 cups of water. Blend until smooth. Add the optional ingredients for a perfect, sweet beverage.
  2. Makes approximately 3 cups

Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar


  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips


  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using a food processor, process the dates into a thick paste. Add the almonds and walnuts and pulse until well combined. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt and process to combine.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand and then press the mixture into the prepared pan. Frost with chocolate avocado frosting, if desired. Freeze until firm enough to cut into squares, about 1 hour.
  4. Makes 16 to 20 bars

(We had tested out this recipe a few weeks ago and shared the delicious results with our Treat of the Month Club)

Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting


  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Using a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Makes about 1 cup

Thank you to everyone who attended. We had such a fantastic time! We’ve already heard from a few of you that you’ll be making nut butters and milks at home (awesome!). We’ve also had a few emails about plans to purchase Blendtec blenders after watching my machine make tahini in seconds. We know this is a big investment but if you have some available funds – you’ll save a lot over the years by making so many staples at home.

Now that this epic event has passed for another year we’re left reflecting on all the people who work tirelessly all year to make something so special. We’d like to thank all of the volunteers who donned their green t-shirts to help make the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival a amazing experience for the thousands of attendees and speakers. The TVA team: Luke, David and Barbi deserve a great deal of gratitude for filling every waking second over the past few weeks with festival logistics and creative solutions. 

Thanks also to the amazing speakers who bring their stories and experiences to share with the enthusiastic crowds. It was a special treat to spend time with Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz this weekend. I found a quick second to squeeze Michael Gregor, Jo-Anne McArthur and Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Rich Roll, Mike Zigomanis and John Pierre all participated on a vegan athlete’s panel I moderated Saturday night which left everyone incredible inspired. It was a whirlwind Saturday for me, a gloriously fantastic storm of awesome.

Sunday I was at my brother’s wedding but I heard that the vivacious Victoria Moran and the Cupcake Thrown Down were just two of the highlights.

If you were able to attend, what were your fest favourites?

p.s. The Blendtec link above is an affiliate link. I do get credit on the site if you use it to purchase a blender.

Since I missed seeing the lovely Ricki this weekend I thought I’d add this recipe to her Wellness Weekend Event.


  1. Val
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I’d love to see a post about making nut butters. I have a Blendtec, but the only way I’ve ever managed to make nut or seed butters has taken a lot of effort – it seems like I must be missing something!

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 7:16 am

      done and done 🙂

  2. Posted September 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Such a fabulous recipe, and you both look radiant in that photo–you are clearly as happy as can be! So glad your demo was a hit and so sorry I didn’t make it down this year!! But at least I can get a tiny taste via this amazing recipe. Thanks for linking up to WW this week, Lisa! 😀

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 7:16 am

      I can’t believe it took me so long to participate in WW. I’m glad I finally got on the ball 🙂

  3. Danielle
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I never thought to use almond butter instead of almonds to make almond milk! Brilliant. Sorry I wasn’t in Toronto this weekend to see the festival!

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 7:15 am

      You were there in spirit 🙂

  4. Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:47 am

    If I had been able to attend, I know that your smile would have been the happiest part of my day. Just another month or so now. xoxo

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Can’t wait to see you my sweet.

  5. Mom
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

    The session was great! I loved the enthusiasm of the audience. You make it easy to be vegan.

  6. vibrantwellnessjournal
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    love it Lisa- I can’t wait to share this post!

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 7:15 am


  7. Heathypace
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I’d love to make it to the fest one of these years – had I been more on the ball I would have come this year. The bars look delish Lisa!

  8. Posted September 16, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Instant almond milk, I love it. I had been making almond milk using raw whole almonds but this looks a lot easier!

  9. Elizabeth
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Beautiful! I love your tips! Eating right is so easy and can be quick. One just has to have the desire to be healthy and everything else will fall into place.
    Peace and Raw Health,

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