Vegan Chocolate Lover’s gift guide

December 1st, 2014 · Lisa · Fun with Friends, Vegan · Comments

It’s here! December 1st has arrived, and with it the official beginning of the 2014 holiday season.

It doesn’t take long for me to transition from the cozy scenes of autumn into the spectacle of the festive season. Already the streets are lined with trees wrapped in sparkly lights, joyful and soulful tunes are streaming out of every store and sequins have made their annual reapperance.

I’m making lists, bookmarking new recipes to try and booking in time with all of my favourite people.

December, is the one month a year when time with friends and family trumps all other obligations. Regardless of why you’re celebrating…Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, life…, December offers opportunities to express gratitude, appreciation and love.

We all have our own treasured traditions. Many of mine involve baking: decorating gingerbread houses with my nieces and nephews, sharing biscotti and hot chocolate with friends and tying up packages of chocolates and brownies to deliver to all the most loved people on my list.

And since I can’t deliver special gifts to each and every one of you, I needed to come up with a plan to share the sweetness with all my favourite people online.

So, Nicole and I teamed up to create a special deal to get some more goodness out to all of you and hopefully help you with your gift lists too.

This special offer involves the two eBooks that Nicole and I have created: Tiny Treats and Edible Gifts. For the next two weeks (December 1st until December 15th) we are offering them at a 2-for-1 rate. For just $9.99 you get two beautiful eBooks full of treats perfect for gifting and a donation will be made to two amazing charities (Elephant Nature Park and the Toronto Vegetarian Association). How’s that for multi-tasking!

To whet your appetite for what Tiny Treats and Edible Gifts has to offer, I’ve curated this lovely Vegan Chocolate Lover’s gift guide from their recipes:
Lisa ebook postJust imagine the joy of wrapping up five tiny boxes of treats with a beautiful bow to deliver to that person who has made you smile all year. In case that special someone on your list is more into incredible nut butters, Nicole will be sharing another spectacular gift guide on Monday, December 8th.

If you already have copies of Tiny Treats and Edible Gifts, I hope this will inspire you to spend some time flipping through those pages again to find some delicious sweets to share this season. Or, you could give the 2-for-1 holiday eBook pack to a friend who loves to bake for others – my guess is you’ll reap the rewards either way.

Click here to place your eBook order.
Add to Cart

Happy Holidays!
Love, Lisa
xo

Yum Universe – Review and Giveaway

October 21st, 2014 · Lisa · book review, Vegan · Comments

YU_Healthy_Halloween_Banner_468x60_Green

I love October. Where I live October is vibrant and colourful and full of richer flavours, bold spices and the brilliance of harvesting the bounty of our local growing season.

So it seems the perfect time to be celebrating Heather Crosby’s beautiful book. Heather is the creator of Yum Universe the online destination for all things whole foods and plant-based. Just like the eBooks and the amazing community Heather created and supports online, her first book is a one-stop source for all the information, encouragement, joyful enthusiasm and practical tips anyone taking steps toward a healthier, more nourishing lifestyle could ask for.

Quite seriously, she’s thought of everything. And of course because this book comes from the Heather Crosby it is stunning, and organized, and accessible, and inspiring, and vibrant, and flavourful and…brilliant.

In the pages of Yum Universe, Heather does what’s she’s always done best, she breaks down the how-to into helpful, exciting, easy-to-manage steps. I can’t think of a single question I’ve been asked over the past 30 years that I’ve been vegan that Heather hasn’t tackled in the first 150 pages of her book. Making Yum Universe much more than a typical cookbook, it is your answer everything, find something delicious, and make it quick and fun, solution to life.

I know that sounds a bit unbelievable, so let me show you what I mean:

  • She talks from heart about her own journey from a salad avoider to a full embracer of a plant-powerful, whole-food lifestyle.
  • She answers all the “whys” with powerful details about how eating animals effects our wellbeing and that of the planet.
  • She highlights the information and insights that shifted her own perspective toward understanding the connection between disease and diet.
  • She not only lays out all of the facts but she creates a plan, a day-by-day strategy for success.
  • She gives you all the information you need to create a joyful, fulling, delicious plant-plentiful life. Plus she does it with this infections enthusiasm that makes her love for whole foods contagious. The photos in the book highlight how attracted we are to bright, colourful fruits and vegetables.

When you pick up your copy of Yum Universe, I’m sure you’ll find your own favourite pages but here are some of my personal picks. Since I’m a soul that love lists I found myself bookmarking pages like:

  • Build your own On-the-Go Salads (pg.90)
  • Build your own On-the-Go Breakfasts (pg 91)
  • Soaking times for nuts, seeds, and beans (pg.140)
  • Freezability of fruits and veggies
  • Yields and cook times for beans and grains

Oh and…it is also has over 130 pages full of recipes and meal ideas. I’ll show you what I’ve made so far, but first memorize this cover and either run to the store to pick up your copy, order it online, or scroll to the end to WIN ONE!

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This is how I know Heather and I are soul sisters because she writes lots of recipes for chickpeas (my very favourite bean). These Crispy Chickpeas make it easy to enjoy these protein-packed staples out-of-hand, on top of salads and as a crunchy boost to big bowls of soup. So simple and so good.

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Chickpea Flatbread with Greens and Avocado

Yup, see chickpeas again but this time as the main attraction. This accessible gluten-free flatbread take no special skills other than stirring and pouring but it comes out impressive enough for a dinner party or a fancy brunch. Heather provides lots of topping variations but I went with the one that called to me first – green and avocado. Delicious.

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Orange & Pepita Granola

Here we are at the sneak peek recipe I can’t wait to share, a fall-inspired breakfast treat. It is sweet and crunchy and delicately infused with orange essence.  A healthy way to start your day or a hearty snack to take with you on the go.

I combined it with persimmon and coconut yogurt for a wonderful weekend parfait.

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Orange & Pepita Granola

Ingredients

    Wet
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dry
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • Zest from 2 navel oranges
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together wet ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together dry ingredients.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold well.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or just one — you can split the batch, baking one half at a time).
  6. Bake the granola for 20 – 25 minutes. Granola should look slightly browned and toasted.
  7. Remove from oven and repeat if you are splitting your batch. Granola will harden as it cools.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2014/10/yum-universe/

Thanks to Heather and BenBella Books, I’m thrilled to offer all of my US and Canadian readers a chance to win a copy of Yum Universe. A random winner will be selected on October 28th, 2014. For your chance to win, leave a comment below letting me know one tip that has helped you to eat and enjoy more whole foods.

Congratulations to Corrine who won her very own copy of Yum Universe.

xo

A review of Salad Samurai

July 10th, 2014 · Lisa · book review, Review, Vegan · Comments

So far, this summer has been about snacking – on various leftovers from versions of hummus or salsa verde kept in an ever growing collection of jars in my fridge. After months of sustaining myself on the results of recipe testing I’m happy to report we’ve almost wrapped up that phase of writing this cookbook and have moved on to the writing prose, taking photos – and making meals.

Since my brain needed a chance to refresh its creative, culinary, juices, I turned to my pile of new cookbooks awaiting a review and without hesitation pulled Salad Samurai right to the top.

This book has everything I’ve been craving, interesting, healthful meals made from reliable recipes – that I don’t need to develop, and that won’t take hours to prepare. I’ve been seeing a bit too much of my kitchen lately.

Like many of you, I’ve been a fan of Terry’s work since the early PPK days, and even did some recipe testing for Viva Vegan! (which solidified my support), but this book is my new favourite – because I can see myself using it ALL THE TIME. The collection of recipes is incredibly accessible, I can actually see myself making these dishes every week.

I already like to eat a salad or two a day – but I get stuck in a routine, based on efficiency (bowl, add leaves, mash avocado, eat) which works but is not as enjoyable as it could be. Terry’s new book has reminded me that life is just too short to skimp on salads. Salad Samurai is a salad celebration, where all the most awesome ingredients show up to the party.

And it’s easy. I did have to remember to buy tomatoes at the grocery store – but that was the biggest change. That’s what it took to move from my predictable salad routine into something pretty spectacular.

I’m about to share with you all the incredible meals I’ve already enjoyed out of Salad Samurai, but first here are 5 more reasons why I love this book:
1. Potlucks and Picnics – I never know what to bring, but this book just gave me 100 ideas of fantastic options to bring to any event, especially outdoor summer parties where I don’t want anything I need to warm up.

2. Meal Planning Prep – Terry outlines what to make each week to have on hand all the hearty toppings that can be sprinkled or drizzled onto your salad to make it more fun and more flavourful.

3. Entertaining Ideas – I like to serve healthful meals to my friends and family, but my everyday eats have become really focused on “easy”, so much so that I’d be kind of embarrassed to share it with anyone else, but Salad Samurai is full of nourishing salads that are an impressive meal all on their own.

4. Interesting Dressings – Most days I add a quick lemon and tahini dressing to my salads, grains or veggies. I love it. But over the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing with Terry’s dressing recipes and remembering how awesome is to experiment with different flavours. Siracha and shallots and miso have just been too sparse in my routine. Plus a great dressing can enhance any meal – not just salads my friends.

5. Fun – Every time I made something in this book I remembered – I love salad AND I love to cook. Writing a cookbook is a lot of work. It is fun, and interesting, but also tiring sometimes. This book reminded why I wanted to do it in the first place. Terry has always been an inspiring ambassador of amazing vegan food. It was the perfect time for me to pick up her next book. (Maybe the perfect time for you too).

So far from Salad Samurai I’ve tried:

The Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils
lentil-salad
The Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘n’ Greens
chickpeas

The B.K.T (Bacon.Kale.Tomato) Bowl
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The Smoothie Granola Bowl with Guts ‘n’ Glory Granola
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Kinda makes you want to get in the kitchen, right?

I plan to live on food from this book (and a couple of others) for the next month. Made possible by the fact that I’ve already added copies of Salad Samurai to my Mom’s place, my boyfriend’s place and my brother’s place. I’m a girl with that plan – and spicy lentils.

I’ve been thinking about trying the Coconut Samosa Potato Salad next – and lucky for you the recipe is up on Terry’s site.

xo

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Toronto’s Best Vegan Restaurant Dishes

July 2nd, 2014 · Lisa · Fun with Friends, restaurant review, Vegan · Comments

Thinking of visiting Toronto? If you’re like me, you’ve been searching “Toronto’s best vegan restaurants” and scouring lists looking for reliable reviews, in order to make your must-eat itinerary. Lucky for you, I’ve curated a list of Toronto’s 100 most amazing vegan offerings.

If you live in Toronto – or the area, then let this be your go-to resource for answering the “what’s for dinner” question.

Although not often cited as the ultimate vegan destination (like San Francisco or New York), Toronto may surprise you. HappyCow  has a 127 Veg listings for Toronto and the Veg Directory lists 113 Veg restaurants in the area. Those numbers sound impressive – but they barely scratch the surface of the amazing vegan discoveries found on restaurant menus across the city. For that kind of true data you’d need a dedicated group of passionate plant-based eaters prepared to find the very best and tell the tale. Which is exactly what we’ve got here.

Hibiscus Salad Sampler

Toronto’s Vegan 100 is a curated list of unbelievable vegan dishes suggested by discerning local vegans who shared their favourite dishes, memorable meals and unforgettable finds.

Toronto’s Vegan 100
1. Apiecalypse Now’s Chili Mac n’ Cheese
2. Apiecalypse Now’s Dunkeroos
3. Apiecalypse Now’s Pulled Not Pork
4. The Atlantic Vegan Tasting Menu
5. Bahn Mi Boys’ Tofu Tacos
6. Bello Bio’s Tiramisu
7. Belmonte Raw’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Thimble
8. Belmonte Raw’s Strength Juice
9. The Beet’s Grilled Cheese with Apple Butter (with Daiya)
10. The Beet‘s Vegan Mac n’ Cheese
11. The Bickford Flexitarian’s Fried Vegg Sandwich (closed) new 11. Boreal Gelato‘s Vegan Salted Caramel
12. Boreal Gelato‘s Strawberry Sorbetto
13. Buddha’s Vegetarian‘s General Tao’s Chicken
14. Bunner’s Cinnamon Buns
15. Bunner’s Double Chocolate Brownie
16. Bunner’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
17. Canoe’s Vegan Tasting Menu
18. Café 668’s Vegetarian Pho
19. ChocoSol Traders’ bike blended Xocolatl
20. Cut the Cheese’s Harvest Grilled Cheese with Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions (with Diaya)
21. Disgraceland’s Vegan Butter Chicken Burrito
22. Earth and City’s Vanilla Bean Macaroon
23. Ethiopiques’ Vegetarian Platter
24. Fresh‘s Ace of Kales Salad
25. Fresh’s Panko Crusted Squash Tacos
26. Fresh‘s Picnic Burger
27. Fresh’s Quinoa Onion Rings
28. Grasshopper’s Chick-un Bahn Mi
29. Grasslands‘ Guacamole Grilled Cheese
30. Grasslands‘ Monster burger
31. Grasslands’ Snickerdoodle French Toast
32. Greenhouse Juice’s pink milk
33. Green Earth’s Authentic Hue Noodle Soup
34. Greens Vegetarian’s Lemon Chicken
35. Greens Vegetarian‘s Sweet and Sour Mock Chicken
36. Hawker Bar’s Vegan Laksa
37. Hello Darling‘s Chickpea Scramble
38. Hello Darling‘s Mushroom Wellington
39. Hibiscus’ Ice Cream (especially earl grey or black sesame or pistachio)
40. Hibiscus’ Salad Sampler
41. Hogtown Vegan‘s Fried Apple Pie
42. Hogtown Vegan‘s Fries Supremacy
43. Hogtown Vegan’s Philly “Cheesesteak”
44. Hogtown Vegan‘s Unchicken & Waffles
45. Hot Beans’ Big Bill’s Dick Burrito (secret menu)
46. Hot Beans’ Mac n’ Cheese Burrito
47. Ital Vital’s Bbq Gluten
48. Jean’s Vegetarian Kitchen‘s Malaysian Curry
49. Jerusalem’s Vegetarian Dinner
50. Just Falafel’s Indian Falafel Wrap
51. Khao San Road’s Vegan Three Flavours Pad Thai
52. King’s Cafe‘s Kung Po Soy-Fritters
53. Kingyo’s 9 Course Shojin Buddhist Monk Meal
54. Korean bi bim bap stone bowl riceteria’s Mushroom Bi Bim Bap
55. Kupfert and Kim’s Oaxaca bowl
56. Le Ti Colibri’s Le Nassau with Avocado
57. Live Organic Food Bar’s French Toast
58. Live Organic Food Bar’s Pulled Burdock Burrito
59. Live Organic Food Bar’s Raw Joe Louie
60. Live Organic Food Bar‘s Raw Tacos
61. Magic Oven’s Tropical Magic Pizza
62. Mela Cafe’s Eggplant Sandwich
63. Nazareth’s Vegetarian Platter
64. One Love Vegetarian’s Corn Soup
65. One Love Vegetarian‘s Pumpkin Chana Potato Roti
66. The Public Kitchen‘s Scramble Platter
67. The Public Kitchen’s Triple Decker Brunch Club
68. The Public Kitchen‘s Vegan Benedict
69. Pizza by the Slice‘s Gourmet Vegan Pizza and “Wings”  (closed) new 69. Disgraceland‘s Ribwich dinner
70. Rancho Relaxo’s Deep Fried Ice Cream
71. Rancho Relaxo’s Faux Chicken Chimichanga
72. Rancho Relaxo’s Faux Chicken Fajitas
73. Rancho Relaxo’s Vegan Enchiladas
74. Ryus Noodle Bar‘s Vegetable Miso Potage
75. Sneaky Dee’s Vegan Burro Favorito
76. The Steady‘s Vegan Eggs Benny
77. Superfood Eateries’ Granola Parfait
78. South Indian Dosa Mahal‘s Vegetable Masala Dosa
79. Sweets From the Earth‘s Chocolate Chewy Nut Bar
80. Sweets from the Earth’s Chocolate Pecan Caramel Bar
81. Sweets from the Earth‘s Cinnamon Apple Loaf
82. Sweets from the Earth‘s S’mores cupcakes
83. Tabule’s Fattush Salad
84. Tori’s Bakeshop’s Buttertart
85. Tori’s Bakeshop’s BLT sandwich with coconut bacon
86. Tori’s Bakeshop‘s Cake Doughnuts
87. Tori’s Bakeshop‘s Pizza Pockets
88. Through Being Cool‘s Boston Cream Doughnut
89. Through Being Cool‘s Breakfast Pockets
90. Through Being Cool’s Pizza Rolls
91. Through Being Cool‘s Scalloped Potatoes
92. Through Being Cool‘s TVP Pot Pie
93. Udupi Palace’s Masala Dosa
94. Urban Herbivore’s Bbq Tofu Sandwich
95. Ursa‘s Cashew/Walnut Foie
96. Ursa‘s Stinging Nettle Noodles
97. Vegetarian Haven’s Apple Fritters
98. Vegetarian Haven‘s Blueberry Pie Milkshake
99. Vegetarian Haven‘s Singapore Seitan
100. Vegetarian Haven’s Tofu Drumsticks

Tori's Bakeshop DSC_0027

Through Being Cool Doughnuts

In order to make a top 100 list from all the amazing suggestions, I followed the following criteria:

  • No chain restaurants (a few locations in the city is okay but not something available in every city around the world)
  • Restaurant must be located in Toronto
  • Must be interesting/different/unique – I removed the numerous suggestions for tofu scrambles and bean burritos because so many restaurants do it so well and I wanted this list to be about those amazing unpredictable finds.
  • Yes, there are a few things on the list that are products rather than restaurant dishes (e.g. Sweets from the Earth products) but they are available in lots of cafes and some restaurants around the city.

Must mentions:
Toronto just got its first vegan butcher shop – YamChops. Since it just barely opened its doors we don’t have specific suggestions, although the restaurant reviewers have been raving about the Carrot Lox.

If you’re planing a trip to Toronto, may I suggest early September? This year is the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival‘s 30th anniversary. It is North America’s biggest vegetarian festival. You can join 40,000 like minded friends for free food, free demos and free entrance to an incredible cornucopia of the best vegan products on the market.

If you’re a regular reader, I’m sorry my posts have been few and far between. I’ve missed you. But you may have guessed that I’m writing a cookbook. It’s true, and it is actually starting to feel like I’ll make the manuscript deadline. With most of the recipe development behind me I’ll be back soon with more information, fun summer recipes and whole stack of cookbook reviews very soon.

If you’d like to contribute to the next edition of Toronto’s Vegan 100, let me know what you’d add in the comments. And, I’d love to know your score – I’m only at 29. 

xo

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

February 27th, 2014 · Lisa · book review, Recipes, Review · Comments

I adore Angela Liddon, as so many of you do. She brought Green Monsters, Overnight Oats and breakfast parfaits into my life. She is the author of the vegan blog that all of my non vegan friends are obsessed with (without even noticing the lack of eggs, meat, dairy, etc.). Her incredible photos of bowls, salads, smoothies and parfaits always make those amazing “best of” lists, Pinterest pages, and on-line magazine slideshows. She is the vegan ambassador we all need, the one who just gets everyone so excited about eating plants, they kind of forget about those others foods.

Plus, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Angela, you know that all of these results come from a place of absolute generosity. She’s beautiful, smart, warm and fun. Basically, the internet adores Angela, because she’s everyone’s ideal best friend,

And now, our best friend has a book!

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(Isn’t the Canadian cover beautiful? There is a colourful carrot version in the U.S)

Not only has she filled its pages with incredible recipes, helpful hints and her regular friendly wit, but she’s also captured her incredible cuisine in stunning photographs throughout. I was thrilled when Angela asked me to review a copy of Oh She Glows, because it gave me the opportunity to openly rave about all the amazing eats I’ve been enjoying since the copy of her book landed in my very, happy hands.

So far, I’ve tried the Mighty Chia Pudding Parfait

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 Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Winter Citrus Salad

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Delicata Squash, Millet & Kale Salad with Lemong-Tahini Dressing
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and Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons
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Just like with every recipe I’ve attempted from her blog, the results are unbelievable; flavourful, healthful, and satisfying. Angela creates meals and menus that appeal to your palate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grandchild, a grandparent, a vegan or not, she just knows how to tempt your taste buds. I have a bookshelf full of vegan cookbook but I know I could be very content, just eating from Oh She Glows from here on out.

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So, up next I’m going to try the Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce. If you’ve got the book already (smart, very smart) then try it with me and let me know what you think. If you don’t have a copy, here’s the recipe. Give it a go, I have no doubt you’ll be convinced that you need to grab your own copy of Angela’s beautiful book.

Empowered Noodle Bowl

Ingredients

    Thai Peanut Sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp natural smooth peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus more if needed
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp low-sodium tamari
  • 1 to 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • Salad
  • 4 oz gluten-free soba noodles
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 16oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 seedless (English) cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 4 green onions, chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup, fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • sesame seeds, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the Thai peanut sauce: In a mini or regular food processor, combine the garlic, sesame oil, peanut butter, ginger, lime juice, tamari, sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Process until combined.
  2. Make the salad: Cook the soba noodles according to the instructions on the package. Be sure not to overcook them - they should only take 5 to 9 minutes, depending on the brand. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss them with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (this prevents them from sticking together).
  3. Add the edamame, bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, green onions and cilantro to the bowl with the noodles and toss until well combined.
  4. Pour your desired amount of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  5. Portion the salad into 4 bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and some green onions. Serve any leftover dressing on the side.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2014/02/the-oh-she-glows-cookbook/

Bon Appetit!

Comfortably Yum! Giveaway

February 11th, 2014 · Lisa · book review, Review, Vegan · Comments

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I hope you’re all having a terrific 2014 thus far. Any great surprises? New beginnings? Long overdue endings? Adventures on the horizon or just in the rearview mirror. I’m trying to keep my eyes on tomorrow as 2014 continues to bring an avalanche of awesome new opportunities my way. I am sorry I’m finding less time to write here – but if you’re patient I promise my time away will more than payoff for us all. I have many exciting announcements to share.

But today I’m checking in to tell you about something exciting someone else had created. Allison, of the incredible confection company, Allison’s Gourmet has released an amazing eBook full of hearty, healthful vegan recipes. The comfort-food focus of this collection is perfect for this time of year, when we’re all bundled up against the polar vortex, hoping for a second helping of something to warm us up from the inside out. And I admit, it was a bit of surprise to scroll through the pages of Allison’s ebook and find so many satisfying, savoury options. I did expect Allison to delight us all with her desserts…and she does, but this collection is clearly more about the comfort-food everyone is craving. The book contains 10 specially selected and absolutely perfected recipes. If you’ve been a fan of Allison’s award-winning articles in VegNews – then this recipe will deliver on all of your expectations.

The added brilliance of this book is that it delivers all the decadence we desire without relying on gluten, soy, cane sugar or, of course, any animal products. Instead it celebrates the incredible flavour and versatility of whole-foods.

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Here’s a list of the recipes to whet your appetite:
  • Magic Mac ‘n Cheese
  • Save the Tuna Melts
  • Meltable American-Style Cheese Slices
  • Home-style Chickpea Veggie Pot Pie
  • Clam-free Chowder
  • Vegan Egg Salad
  • Beet Burgers
  • Caesar Salad
  • Chocolate Salted-Caramel Pudding Parfaits
  • Chocolate-Glazed Fudge Cupcakes

And as a special treat, our favourite Nicole did all of the breathtaking photography. Pair enticing recipes with Nicole’s eye for making food look its best and you’ve got all the inspiration you need for an amazing menu of nourishing meals. I had heard great raves from Nicole about the delicious task of testing and styling Allison’s recipes. She encouraged me to give the beet burgers a go, once I got my copy of Comfortably Yum.

And I’m so glad she did. The toothsome texture of these burgers is unbelievable. They bake up well, and hold together like so few vegetable burgers can. I pan seared a few on the weekend and served them alongside some spicy sweet potato fries. It was so satisfying to bite into a big burger, full of flavour. I can’t wait to bring these out again during BBQ season – I have no doubt they’ll be a hit.

beet-burgers

These burgers are just an example of how well crafted these recipes are. Allison’s pastry and chocolate work may have made her a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to reliable, undeniably delicious recipes. I was really impressed by the different textures and ingredients Allison uses to get the ideal balance of flavour or just the right texture in the end. This book offers a very inventive approach to some of our most classic comfort foods.

beet-burger

As we get close to that day of love – I thought I could share a little sweetness with all of you. So, I have a copy of Comfortably Yum to share with one special reader. Just leave a message below before February 15th.

If you just can’t wait to win, you can pick up a copy of Comfortably Yum here – $3 from every purchase goes to Animal Place.

In case you’re looking for something sweet for your love, I strongly suggest you stop over at A Dash of Compassion to try Nicole’s recipe for Maca Mint Truffles. The recipes is part of our most recent eBook – Edible Gifts. You can pick up a copy, full of wonderful, homemade gift ideas for spreading your love to friends and family on days like February 14th and every other day that deserves a special moment (that’s all of them, people).

So, with that, xoxoxo to you all.

I will be back again next week with another exciting review – and perhaps some news. Stay turned my friends.

 Update – Lucky Sue is the winner of a copy of Comfortably Yum. 

Vegan Wishlist for 2013

December 10th, 2013 · Lisa · gluten-free, Recipes, Snacks, Sweet · Comments

I’ve always been a person with a penchant for lists. Although generally my lists are full of tasks and reminders, once and awhile I get to write a list that is an itinerary for adventures in Hawaii or an awesome list of gift ideas from my favourite vegan companies and ambassadors. I like to savour those lists and share them with you ( you can take my to-do lists too).

1. Gifts to make life easier

As much as I keep making my new years resolution – simplify life – by the time December rolls around I seem to be right back living in the eye of a hurricane. Swirling, swirling, swirling. So, this year I’m dreaming of some local options that bring great, healthful food to your door.

Donate Naturally is an amazing organization that will deliver organic produce to your door (plus they donate 15% of your purchase to a cause of your choice!). They delivered a huge bin of beautiful, fresh organic produce that kept me happy, healthy and well fed for a week.

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Green Zebra Kitchen – which I already swooned over in my review has been on my wishlist ever since I spent a week enjoying every bite of their pre-made meals.

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And, Belmonte Raw my number one choice for incredible juices in the city. Each jar will give you the energy you need to take on the daily task tornado (yes, I know that’s a whole new storm in one paragraph). Belmonte Raw delivers juices, raw meals and cleanses to your door. I just want some grapefruit and spirulina right now.

2. Gifts to make life more fun

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Surprises are fantastic. Little gifts, picked out by friends can make your day, or your month. My friends over at Vegan Cuts has us all covered (including any of your special friends, deserving of some extra attention this year). You can subscribe to their Snack Box and Beauty Box program and get a specially curated box of vegan awesomeness delivered to your door every month (yes, even in Canada).

3. Gifts to make life more enjoyable

This year I searched and searched for great vegan boots – because winter is tough, but it really sucks when you spend the whole five months with cold, wet feet. Finally with some helpful crowd-sourced advice, I discovered Bogs. They are amazing! Not high fashion, but my new pair keep me comfy and dry even after hours of strolling along Toronto’s snow-covered streets.

Also…Sir Richard’s condoms. (vegan-friendly fun! – between consenting adults, of course)

4. Gifts to make life healthier

Membership to Christy Morgan’s phenomenal on-line Wellness Reboot program would be a perfect gift for the active (or soon to be active) person in your life. Nicole did an amazing review here.

This year Vegan for Her, the quintessential book for being a healthy vegan wonder woman for life hit the shelves. Get it for yourself, the ladies you love or for your vegan nutrition reference library (I like to have sources for those “what if..on a desert island” type questions).

5. Gifts to make life more delicious

Every year there are more and more amazing vegan cookbooks to inspire impressive plant-based meals. This year, my top picks are Fran Costigan’s Vegan Chocolate (you can read Nicole’s review here) and Isa Does It (which I just reviewed last week).

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And as you may have heard, Nicole and I just released our second eBook called Edible Gifts. It is filled with 15 fabulous gift ideas that you can share with your friends and family this holiday season (or really anytime of year). You can pick up your copy right here and get gifting.

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There is a recipe for this chocolate maple pecan brittle – which has been in high demand with my friends. Mini Cherry Cheesecakes_2

Single-serve cherry cheesecakes – a lovely dessert to make ahead for a holiday dinner party. Chai Spiced Popcorn_2-550px

Unforgettable chai caramel corn. Seriously, unforgettable. Banana Bread Biscotti_1-550pxAnd so many more delightful treats like this banana bread biscotti, which would make a lovely afternoon surprise any time of year. In fact, I’d like to share it with you right now.

Banana Bread Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp flax meal
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the almonds into a fine flour.
  3. Add the flax, banana, dates, maple syrup, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract to the food processor. Blend until a thick dough forms.
  4. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pulse a couple of times to distribute throughout the dough.
  5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat, form the dough into a rectangular log about 6x4 inches. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until the top has browned.
  6. Cool until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack (about 8 to 10 minutes). Transfer to the cooling rack and continue to cool until firm enough to slice (another 10 minutes).
  7. Slice crosswise into 8 biscotti slices.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  9. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheet, cut-side up. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/12/vegan-wishlist-for-2013/

Happy Holidays! I hope yours are filled with love and laughter.

Isa Does It; Lisa tries it.

November 1st, 2013 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

At a time when everyone seems to be filled with feelings of gratitude and a penchant for gift giving, I’d like to tell you about a special present that made my year. The heightened sense of celebration may have been partly due to the months and months of growing anticipation. When Isa Does It arrived on my doorstep I knew the wait had been worth it. It is big, beautiful and full of the appetizing images of photographic genius, v. k. rees.

Just a quick flip through this gorgeous tome and you’ll remember why Isa has long been hailed the culinary guru of vegan cuisine. This book, unlike her recent subject specific ones, provides recipes designed to make your everyday delicious. The flavours are bold and globally-inspired, but the ingredients are available in your neighbourhood and the techniques are easy to master.

As I turn the pages and ponder the choices, I take to reminiscing about my first few recipe attempts from Vegnomicon – and how that book, and those meals have become a core of my own repertoire but also the steadfast favourites of my family and friends. I’m pretty sure everyone I know now has a copy. After a few weeks of playing with Isa’s newest book, I have no doubt it will become my a “must-have” recommendation for your vegan cookbook collection, and the book most often unwrapped by my loved ones.

As you would expect from the seemingly never-ending awesomeness of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, this book is filled with humour, inspired sections (e.g., vegan butchery) and new mantras for the movement (e.g.,”always be soaking”). And believe me, I would buy Isa’s book just for the headnotes, but the real gift of this collection of recipes is the delicious, nourishing meals it will bring to your table.

Here are some of the few recipes I picked out to try:

bowlJust like Isa (and a whole lot of other vegans) my favourite meal is a well composed bowl. When I saw her recipe for a Roasty Soba Bowl with Miso-Tahini Dressing, I knew it would become a frequent favourite. Simple and so satisfying.
bread Next up, a loaf of Marbled Banana Bread. I’ve already impressed a few new friends with the fantastic flavour and beautiful chocolate swirls of this twist on the tea-time classic. If you need a hostess gift or a favour…I suggest you bake up a few, and share the love.
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Snow has arrived in Toronto (we’re still just at the sprinkling stage) so settling in for the evening with a bowl of Red Lentil Thai Chili has felt like a perfect plan. This chili curbs the heartier appetite that seems to appear along with the colder weather and the incredible Thai flavours turns up the heat just enough to warm you up from the inside out.
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Then there was the day I started with the Muffin Pan Mini Omelets (topped here salsa and avocado). That was one glorious day. These are the perfect size to make into a breakfast sandwich, layered inside an english muffin with something saucy. Baking omelets in a muffin pan is the ideal answer for brunch menus everywhere! saladFinally, I tired the kale salad. Of course, I did. I don’t believe I can’t get a new cookbook that contains a kale salad and not give it a go. But once again, Isa takes my simple staple supper and makes it into something truly spectacular. Her recipe combines roasted butternut squash, lentils and a wonderful Dijon dressing that elevates this dish to something I would make for a dinner party, rather than the usual combo I stir together in my get-home-late-5-mins-to-kale routine.

So with that, all I can truly say is, if you or a vegan you know doesn’t have a copy of this book…that is a situation that needs to be rectified. Simply…buy this book for everyone you know. It is the best way to ensure you will have a delicious 2014. I plan to make every single recipe before this time next year. Let me know if you’d like to be on the tasting team.

Order your copy today and feed all your friends something awesome this holiday season.

Speaking of holiday gifting – don’t forget to check out the Edible Gift eBook!

xo

Announcing a new eBook & package offer!

October 28th, 2013 · Lisa · Fun with Friends · Comments

That’s right, folks! For the last several months, Nicole and I have been hard at work creating eBook #2, called Edible Gifts: Spread the Vegan Food Love at Every Occasion. (In case you missed the first eBook we launched last year, you can check it out here.)

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It’s that time of year when celebrations and gift-giving are on our minds, and so it seemed fitting to create an eBook especially for this tradition. Most celebrations centre around food, and so it is our hope that this new collection of recipes will help you share the love of delicious vegan food with the people you adore.
We’re not just talking about gingerbread cookies and jarred Chex party mix. We’re talking about 15 incredibly delicious food gift recipes like…

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Homemade Chai Spiced Popcorn that is a spiced-up twist on the classic caramel corn and will knock the socks off your chai-loving friends;

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Banana Bread Biscotti, a perfect gift to wrap up with your aunt’s favourite tea, or to enjoy at a gathering in your best friend’s backyard; and

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Mini Cherry Cheesecakes, a personal-sized sweet that delivers the true cheesecake experience (without the animal products!) and can be made ahead for last-minute gifts.

With many more simple and creative recipes, this exciting eBook will be your go-to guide for gift-giving. We’ll be launching the eBook in mid November and once again using this as an opportunity to put our baketivism beliefs into practice. We’ve decided that one-third of the ebook’s proceeds will go to the Toronto Vegetarian Association, a local non-profit organization that has given us the gift of community and support. With your help, we’d like to give back this charity that has done so much to inspire people to live a healthier, greener, more peaceful lifestyle.

In celebration of our upcoming ebook launch, we have an exciting package offer for those who live in Toronto, Ontario!

This offer is now closed as we’re busy making up awesome sample packs. We will let you all know when the eBook is ready for purchase world wide.

 

Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free

October 7th, 2013 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments
James Thomas

I’ve always thought that diversifying is good advice in both financial and relationship investments. As wonderful as it is to have friends who like all the same tv shows, restaurants and books as you do – when you meet someone who can introduce you to a band that lights up your heart, take you to a trail that feels like home or push you take that first big step on a new path – it is truly a gift.

I have friends I ask to update my iTunes library, friends who always know where to pick up the dress I need for a big date and those I expect to fill my life with delicious, healthful inspiration. Ricki Heller is one of those people who has created a whole community around her brilliant way of feeding and celebrating everyone. And I truly mean everyone. Her recipes make it possible for people who are following a anti-candida diet, a gluten-free diet, a vegan diet, and/or an allergen-free diet to have their dessert and enjoy it.

Ricki has mastered her craft over many years of dedicated experimentation, motivated by her own dietary restrictions. Luckily, we are now able to benefit from her time-tested techniques for making decadent desserts through her new book, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about this amazing, allergen-free recipe resource, my friends have been raving about it since it hit the shelves (check-out reviews by Angela, Allyson, JL, Gena, Nicole, Dreena and Hannah). And if you’re reading this blog, I have no doubt you’re familiar with RickHeller.com, an amazing on-line resource for delicious, healthful recipes.

I met Ricki soon after I moved to Toronto. She has been a great inspiration to me over the years, she has run a baking company, taught nutrition, wrote a blog (regularly!), self-published a book, and somehow found time to be a cornerstone in the blogging community. Ricki is one of the most generous, caring people I’ve ever met on the internet. But that’s not what you’re here to hear about…let’s get to the desserts.

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free is a stunning collection of recipes, the beautiful full-page photographs will make it nearly impossible to pick a place to start. And if you’re new to gluten-free flours, natural sweeteners and allergen-free ingredients, no need to fear, Ricki provides a comprehensive overview of tricks and techniques and guides you along with meticulous instructions to guarantee fantastic results for your time and investment.

I’ve been having a rather busy month, so I jumped right into playing with some of Ricki simplest sweets. Everything I made came together in mere minutes and provided for sensational snacking all month long. So far, I’ve tried:

The chewy, unctuous Coconut Macaroons that seem to be the talk of the blogosphere. They are so quick and easy to prepare, I think I could manage a batch to fill my lunchbox and keep me smiling.

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A batch of the Easiest Almond Cookies, with a tiny bit of chocolate sprinkled on top (that’s just how I roll). To me, these cookies are perfect. They would pair well with a cup of tea, provide a delightful snack to share with your little ones and provide a whole -food way to satisfy your sweet-tooth. I really love cookies made with almond meal!
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On a more decadent day, a pan of Raw Chocolate Fudge-Topped Brownies. I would proudly serve these spectacular sweets at a dinner party. The rich fudge layer really elevates the ubiquitous raw brownie to something truly special.
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And finally, one of my favourite uses of ripe avocado, Decadent Chocolate Paté! Simple, creamy, chocolate satisfaction.
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I still have so much to explore in this book. There are cupcakes, cheesecakes and pies to create. I encourage you to pick up a copy so that you can join in all the delicious fun.

Next up for me, and maybe for you is these Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies (thank you to Ricki and Sellers Publishing for allowing me to post the recipe).

Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 20 to 30 drops pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup natural smooth pumpkin seed butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, stevia, water, and vanilla until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the pumpkin seed butter, flax, flour, and salt and mix well to form a very thick sticky dough. Stir in the chips.
  4. Using a heaping teaspoon, scoop the dough and roll it into small balls, placing them about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with your palm (or a silicon spatula).
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until the cookies are light golden brown (the dough will lighten as the cookies bake). Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/10/naturally-sweet-gluten-free/

Summer Camp for Grown-Ups

Were you the kid that dreamed about going off to summer camp, singing camp songs at the top of your lungs, making lifelong friendships over friendship bracelets and writing postcards home about how much fun you were having?

Me either.

As a kid, I loved lazy summers, swimming in my best friend’s backyard, making up plays for all my brothers to act out and drawing pictures of unicorns until my pencil crayons were too dull to colour.

But around the time that I had to start paying my own bills, working each day at a computer and doing my own grocery shopping, the idea of the camp life became a fantasy. I was enamoured with the idea of a successful summer measured in teva tans and new friends.

So, when I saw that Danielle Goldfinger had come up with the brilliant idea of a grown-up summer camp weekend, I reorganized my priorities (can you believe I actually missed the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival) and reserved my bunk at Camp Timberlane.

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Since you probably weren’t there, I won’t bore you with the three-day play-by-play. Instead I’m going to give you 15 reasons why you want to be there in 2014.

1. Camp Timberlane: Danielle found the most fantastic of all the fantastic camps in Haliburton for the Two Islands Weekend. It is a big, beautiful, rustic retreat that will blow your camp fantasies right out of the water. This place has a race car track! Seriously. In the summer, the 500 Timberlane campers enjoy: the baseball diamond, basketball courts, shuffleboard (beachside), paddleboats, canoes, high ropes, sailboats, hiking trails, and movie marathons.

IMG_10722. Co-sleeping: Okay, so there were some late night shenanigans but despite that I still feel there is something to be said for the kind of conversations had as people fall asleep in sleeping bags or sit around in bunk beds as the sun comes up. Purely platonic sleepovers are still pretty awesome when you’re 34.
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3. Dock picnics: My weekend was extra special because I rode up to Haliburton with Carol Belmonte who brought juice and lunch from her extraordinary, Toronto restaurant. So on Friday, as my colleagues we tracking toward the afternoon deadlines, I was lying on the dock, with my toes in the lake, sharing salad, juice, sunshine and secrets with one of my favourite people. Totally worth the drive.
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4. Polar bear dips: Although my usual “cricket” alarm is a pretty easy way to start the day, there is nothing more refreshing or invigorating than greeting the dawn by plunging off the dock into the crystal clear waters of northern Ontario. It might involve some squealing but pretty soon you’re settled into treading water with a great big smile.

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5. Chefs: One of the things that made the weekend so incredibly special was the food. Each meal was carefully crafted by a team of chefs. They worked tirelessly in the kitchen to feed the 120 guests some of the most gourmet meals ever served in a mess hall. I won’t soon forget Trish Gill’s potato salad with caramelized onions, Kristina Groeger’s eggplant au poivre, Tom Brodi’s stewed peppers and tomatoes, Joshna Maharaj’s summer vegetable ceviche, Daniel Sander’s ribollita soup, or Rossy Earle’s tofu strata with hot sauce (which I’m still searching for in Toronto). Every single meal was spectacular (thanks to Joel and Carol for all the sous chef support).

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6. Campfires: I love campfires and Connor (one of our counsellors) built the best one I have ever seen on Friday night. It was constructed as a teepee inside an igloo (pretty darn Canadian) and it burned hot and long enough to keep us all engrossed in a singalong for hours by the beach on a cool September night.IMG_1089
7.Dance parties and hangover juice: Adult sleep away camp probably attracts a select crowd of enthusiastic fun lovers because Friday and Saturday night everyone danced for hours. Some of the revelry was helped along by the ample availability of McAuslan’s beers, Rosewood’s Wines and Black Fly beverages. In the morning, when Carol served up her hangover cure, coconut water concoction, there were a lot of happy campers.
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8. Canadiana: I spend a lot of time in February wondering why my family chose to immigrate to Canada, but being at Camp Timberlane, hiking in the forest and listening to the loons was a great reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to call this place my home. IMG_1104

9. Serenity: Camp Timberlane is big enough that despite sharing the grounds with over a hundred others, I could always find a quiet spot to sit and just be. I enjoyed some long hikes, boat trips out on the water and restful moments on the beach.
IMG_111310. Silent sunrise: Escaping the city meant I could wake up to sun streaming through my window, stroll down to the beach, past a family of deer, and snap a shot of the sparkles on the water before I saw another human being. But by the time the coffee was brewed there were lots of people up and ready for breakfast.

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11. Stories: Most of the people who came out for Two Islands Weekend arrived with just a friend or two, so there were lots of people to meet, life stories to hear and adventures to share. I really enjoyed spending time talking to people with different careers, lifestyles, interests and dreams. It is so good to get out of your own little circle sometimes.

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12. Arts and Crafts: Is there anything better than spending an afternoon sitting around making friendship bracelets, telling clever sex jokes and soaking in the sun?

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13. New friends: This is what camp is all about and Two Islands Weekend lived up to the expectation. My trivia team got perfect on birdcalls, I danced under the stars with awesome, energetic campers and toasted each meal with a tableful of new friends. 

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14. New memories: Too many to share, but sitting in Peterborough enjoying my ploughman’s picnic with Carol on Sunday will certainly stay with me.

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15. New inspiration: I became completely infatuated with Ontario corn. I bought six cobs on Monday and have been adding kernels to everything ever since.

Late Summer Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup cooked corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a big bowl. Serve on top of greens like kale, spinach or romaine.
  2. Makes 4 servings.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/09/summer-camp-for-grown-ups/

Hope you’ll all join me in Haliburton next summer. xo

Watermelon bubble gum ice cream (raw and awesome)

September 2nd, 2013 · Lisa · raw, Recipes, sugar-free, Sweet · Comments

Are you enjoying the onslaught of awesome? VeganMoFo 2013 has begun filling the internet with a hearty helping of incredible vegan dishes and vegans dishing on products, events and more. Unfortunately the shift to September means I won’t be participating this year (work…you do get in the way), but I am already enjoying rededicating to daily reading and commenting on the participating blogs. I will be tweeting out my favourite posts all month long.

I love the themes, the challenges, and how packed full of delicious posts my blogroll becomes during the 30 day extraveganza. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you must visit the Vegan MoFo headquarters.

Although I won’t be posting every day, I have no doubt my regular posts will be inspired by all the magic happening out in the blogosphere. Today’s recipe results from that very desire to try something new.

At the end of August I was playing with dehydrating watermelon. A strange hobby to some, but the result of reducing cubes of watermelon to a chewy candy makes me feel like I possess the power of transmogrification.

After 12 hours in the dehydrator the watermelon candy has a jujube texture and tastes just like watermelon hubba bubba. So of course, I had to see what would happen if I stirred these treats into a creamy soft-serve base.

icecreamAnd…it was unbelievable.

Watermelon bubble gum ice cream

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 frozen bananas

Instructions

  1. Dehydrate the watermelon cubes for 12 hours at 115 degrees.
  2. In a food processor blend the frozen bananas into a soft-serve consistency (it takes a couple of minutes).
  3. Distribute the soft serve between two bowls and garnish with 2-4 tablespoons of watermelon cubes.
  4. Store remaining watermelon cubes in an air-tight container in the fridge.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/09/watermelon-bubble-gum-ice-cream-raw-and-awesome/

I hope all of you will let VeganMoFo push you to try something new this month, taste a new ingredient or discover a new blog. If you’re not participating by posting…commit to commenting. I can’t tell you how nice it feels to get a little encouragement when you’re in the middle of the MoFo marathon.

Also, if you’re in Toronto (or the area) I hope you’re calendar is marked for a visit to the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival (Sept 6-8). I won’t be there this year (I’ll tell you all about my adventure when I get home) but you can spend time with some of my favourite people: Gene Bauer, Rich Roll, John Pierre, Michael Greger, Heather Nicholds, Ashley Wittig…and more (check out all the details here).

Frappuccino Friday: Pumpkin Spice

August 30th, 2013 · Lisa · gluten-free, Recipes, sugar-free, Sweet · Comments

The last Friday of August…

The days are getting shorter, the back-to-school buzz is building, and the farmer’s markets are filling up with the season’s harvest. Luckily today, as we celebrate the final instalment of the Frappuccino Friday fun, the city is a hot and humid 30 degrees (Celsius!). Soon (I’m sorry to say), we’ll be reaching for cardigans, comfy jeans and a creamy pumpkin latte.

It feels a little early to pop the first can of pumpkin puree and begin the blogger omnipresence of this fixedly fall ingredient. But this creamy, cooling frappuccino perfectly bridges that transition period between summer and fall when the city is still hot and steamy at midday but cool and breezy by sunset.

FrappWith today’s final flavour, we bid adieu to these frothy, frappuccino Fridays of summer. It has been a lot of fun to play through the menu with Nicole and concoct, healthy, vegan versions of Java ChipHazelnutPeppermint MochaCaramel Brulée, Green Tea Cream, Chai Crème, Double Chocolate ChipCinnamon DolceToffee Coffee and Vanilla Bean. If you ever find yourself needing some frappuccino inspiration, I suggest you follow the Pinterest board to bookmark all these delicious creations.

Frappuccino

 

Frappuccino Fridays: Pumpkin Spice

Ingredients

    For the coconut whipped cream:
  • 1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • For the frappuccino:
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee, chilled
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 TBSP pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • pinch ground clove

Instructions

  1. To make the coconut whipped cream, scoop the cream from the top of the can of coconut milk, reserving the water at the bottom of the can for other uses.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the coconut cream until smooth and fluffy. Add sweetener and vanilla seeds and continue to whip until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be made a day ahead, if desired.)
  3. To make the frappuccino, blend together all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and frothy. Pour into a tall glass, top with coconut whipped cream and serve!
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/08/frappuccino-friday-pumpkin-spice/

Cheers to summer. Cheers to Fridays. Cheers to you. xo

Frappuccino Fridays: Toffee Coffee

August 16th, 2013 · Lisa · gluten-free, Recipes, Sweet · Comments

“Some of the best memories are made in flip flops” ~ Kellie Elmore

If the above sounds like your summer mantra than I strongly suggest you whip up this incredible toffee coffee Frappuccino to sip as you indulge in the blissful, listless days of August.

Over the past couple of months I’ve enjoyed a frosty glass of everything from Java ChipHazelnutPeppermint Mocha,Caramel BruléeGreen Tea Cream, Double Chocolate ChipChai Creme to Cinnamon Dolce. But today’s concoction stole my prize for favourite summer frappuccino (at least thus far). The sweet caramel/toffee flavour from the medjool dates offsets coffee’s bitter notes. The first sip was so spectacular that I made a pact with myself to recreate this magic on a mid-winter evening to transport me back to this very moment of summer’s warm embrace.

So slip on your flip flops, blend up a beverage and savour the last month of this beautiful season.

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Frappuccino Fridays: Toffee Coffee

Ingredients

    For the coconut whipped cream:
  • 1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 2 to 3 tsp agave nectar or other sweetener
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • For the frappuccino:
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cashew butter
  • 1 TBSP water1 cup strong coffee, chilled
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 frozen bananas

Instructions

  1. Directions:
  2. To make the coconut whipped cream, scoop the cream from the top of the can of coconut milk, reserving the water at the bottom of the can for other uses.
  3. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the coconut cream until smooth and fluffy. Add sweetener and vanilla seeds and continue to whip until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be made a day ahead, if desired.)
  4. To make the frappuccino, in a food processor, combine the first five ingredients and blend a smooth paste forms.
  5. In a blender, blend together all the frappuccino ingredients (include the paste) in a high-speed blender until smooth and frothy. Pour into a tall glass, top with coconut whipped cream and a pinch of cinnamon and serve!
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/08/frappuccino-fridays-toffee-coffee/

Chickpea Tacos save the day.

August 13th, 2013 · Lisa · gluten-free, Recipes, Savory · Comments

The last four months have been BUSY. I wish I could say that after hours and hours in front of the computer I have written a book, designed a new online program or at least amassed an amazing collection of prolific pen pals. But no. Instead…I have danced the daily routine of swirling through memos, twirling through spreadsheets and spinning through hundreds of emails.

But if you know me, you know it isn’t the busy that bothers…I love a full calendar, a list of tasks and the need to prioritize. It keeps me feeling full and life feeling rich in abundance.

So, when my boss approved two days of vacation last week – I planned to squish a whole lot of summer into 96 hours. I took a ferry, had a picnic, rode a 2 person quadricycle, slept under a tree, walked across the city, wandered through boutiques, got tickets for movies under the stars, read on a patio, played on a trampoline (for an hour), practiced yoga in the park until the sun set, took an afternoon nap, worked on my handstand, ate bowls of berries, signed up for stand-up paddleboard classes, watched movies, read magazines, danced and danced and danced.

But with all that fun, I neglected the normal tasks like grocery shopping and blog writing. Yesterday, when I finally thought I should prepare something to eat and post about…the pantry was a little bare. Luckily, with a can of chickpeas and some corn tortillas you can create some spectacular to share. If I had planned ahead I would have made black bean tacos and added in some mango salsa or something especially summery, but these chickpea tacos were fantastic. And their simplicity spoke to what summer really is to me…having so much fun your forget to think about making lunch, making your bed, or making memories…it all just happens.

DSC_0376 (1)Really,  this is just my usual kale and chickpea combo but with a little cumin and cilantro the whole thing is transformed into a fantastic spread that could be served at a cantina by the beach with a frosty cerveza (or a kombucha with lime).
DSC_0380 (1)

Chickpea Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 leaves kale
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Guacamole
  • lime juice to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 6-8 corn tortillas

Instructions

  1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and minced red onion. Sauté until translucent and fragrant.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the pan and stir to combine. Add the cumin, salt and apple cider vinegar. Sauté 5-8 minutes.
  3. Destem and thinly slice the kale leaves. Set aside.
  4. For the guacamole, in a small bowl, mash together the avocado and garlic. Add the lime juice and salt and adjust to your taste.
  5. To assemble the tacos, on each tortilla portion a layer of kale, top with a few tablespoons of warm chickpeas, a dollop of guacamole, a few leaves of cilantro and slices of onion. Serve with salsa or hot sauce if desired.
http://veganculinarycrusade.com/2013/08/chickpea-tacos-save-the-day/

¡Buen apetito!

Blender Love