Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here's the Scoop

So if you've been reading my blog the last couple of months you've noticed that we eat alot of the So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream products. 

Those little ice cream sandwiches (as well as the ice cream) are pretty low in sugar, soy-free, and are just darn tasty. But they are also pretty expensive ($7.69 for a pint of ice cream or a box of the sandwiches in my neck of the woods) and we really can't afford to keep buying these all the time. So for my birthday I decided to treat myself to something I've been wanting for awhile.



This ice cream machine was pretty reasonably priced and I figured with what we were spending on the coconut milk ice cream at the store it would pay for itself in no time. I also ordered myself The Vegan Scoop from amazon. When I first pre-ordered the book I emailed the authored and asked if the recipes were all soy-based. I didn't receive an answer but when the book arrived it was indeed mostly soy-based. However the author suggest you try different milk combinations and thats just what I did. 

First recipe up was the Basic Chocolate Ice Cream recipe. I pretty much followed the recipe but where it called for soy creamer I used a can of low fat coconut milk and where it called for soy milk I used Chocolate Almond milk. 


Here is a picture of it churning away in the ice cream maker.


 
And below is the finished product. 



So how did it taste? It was fabulous! Even my husband, who swore he would never give up his dairy ice cream, loved it! It was really simple to make, fast in the ice cream maker (only took 30 minutes) and much cheaper than buying it from the store. The consistency was closer to soft serve ice cream right out of the maker but I'm sure if you popped it into the freezer it would firm right up. We ate all of the ice cream that night (hey it was hot out!). 

So if you've been thinking about getting The Vegan Scoop I highly recommend it. I'm excited to try out alot more flavours.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vegveeta


When I first saw the vegveeta post over at Dreena's blog I was very excited. We ate fairly healthy growing up but we had some pretty bad stuff too and velveeta melted with salsa was a favourite of ours growing up. I know its disgusting when I think of it now but I loved it. So when it was time to vote for which recipe people wanted most I certainly knew which item I was voting for (although they all looking delicious). I was so excited when the vegveeta won! I went to the store immediately to buy all the stuff I needed (hand most of it one hand except the tahini) and of course life got crazy busy and all thoughts of vegveeta left my head. Until last night. We decided to have nacho nest and I thought what better time to try the vegveeta. 

I had very high expectations for this recipe. Even though I haven't had the velveeta/salsa thing in a long time I seem to remember vividly what it taste like. And I so wanted to like this recipe. After I blended everything and went to put it in a pot to heat and thicken I was worried because it didn't smell that great. But I waited until it was bubbly and hot and had another whiff. Still smelt pretty off. Then I added the salsa. Still not smelling that great. So I had a little taste. I was awesome! It actually tasted like velveeta/salsa! I couldn't believe it! I've heard many people say things like," have a veggie dog, it taste just like a hotdog but its much better for you." I applaud all efforts for getting people to cut back or stop eating meat but your not going to fool anyone with a veggie dog. I think its products like that that give vegetarian cuisine a bad rap. Better to eat foods that are naturally vegan. And thats why I was a little worried about the vegveeta but its incredible! I poured some over my chickpeas and topped it with tomatoes and green onions. Some black olives and avocado would have been perfect but I was out and didn't feel like going to the store in the snow to get some (thats right its snowing here!) 

If you haven't made this yet you have to put it on your list of must makes. I wouldn't hesitate to serve this to any omnivore it taste that authentic. I'm going to make this for the next family gathering that we have. I think it will really knock people's socks off! 

What are you waiting for...go make this asap!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birthday Eats

Some birthdays are a blowout and some are extra great. This birthday was an extra great one. This year my birthday coincided with my one day a week in the office which turned out great. The ladies I work with know that one of my favourite restaurants is the Blue Plate Diner so my boss took us all out there for lunch. I had the veg burger with the sweet potatoe fires (it was between that and the indian platter which they make vegan by taking off the chicken and adding in more curried chickpeas but it felt like a burger kind of day so veg burger it was) and we all shared an order of the vegan chocolate mousse. Everyone was blown away by how darn awesome it was...my boss loved it and he thinks he hates tofu. Then my husband and children took my out for supper that night and we had birthday cake at home. I don't usually eat out that much but it was nice to have a night off in the kitchen, even though I love to cook.

On Friday night my Husband took me out for a special birthday dinner - just the two of us , which rarely  happens! We went to one of our favourite italian restaurants. The chef was very accommodating and I had a great vegan dinner. We shared an order of bruschetta - best bruschetta ever! - and then the chef prepared an awesome salad with baby greens tomatoes, olives, artichokes and mixed peppers with a red wine vinaigrette. After so much eating out this week I felt like a lighter supper. The chef had a few vegan pasta dishes for me to choose from but the salad was perfect for that night. The meal was so great we didn't have room for dessert!

On Saturday my sister had a special birthday BBQ for me at her house. Everyone made an extra effort to be accommodating for this family dinner and it was much appreciated. That alone was a great gift. We started off with some guacamole, salsa and chips. 



And we also had some spicy hummus to dip the chips in. Everyone loves this particular hummus  - it never lasts too long at a family gathering. It has roasted jalapenos and coriander in it. The kids find it a little too spicy, probably because they don't dip so much as scoop it up by the heapfuls. Thats ok, more for us adults.



Below is my plate from the BBQ. I had a Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom burger with lettucce, tomatoe, red onion and avocado on it. The bread was a roasted garlic ciabatta. It was so good my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. I had also made Vcon's Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean Salad and my sister made an asian broccoli slaw salad. They was also some veggies and dip and a potatoe salad to round out the meal. It was delicious!



I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of my birthday cake! I made the Raspberry Blackout Cake with with Ganche-y Frosting from VwaV. It was really really good. Almost everyone had seconds, and a few had thirds! The only change I made in the recipe was I used almond milk everywhere it called for soy milk or creamer. If you haven't tried it yet I would definitely recommend it for any special occasion cake. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blue Plate Diner

As I mentioned in my last post part of my Mothers Day gift was supper out at a favourite restaurant of mine called the Blue Plate Diner. The Blue Plate Diner is a quaint little spot in downtown Edmonton that serves a little bit of everything. For every meat dish there is a vegetarian or vegan counterpart and that is a good because my whole family is not vegan...in fact they are not even vegetarian! As I read back through some of my past post I realized that it sounds like all 4 of us are vegan but that is not the case at all and I wanted to clear that up. I am the only true vegan of the family. My children are mostly vegetarian, especially the youngest, she hates meat but they both like the odd bit of fish. Both children follow a dairy free diet for heath reasons and neither likes eggs and I do all my baking vegan style so they eat no eggs at all. My husband is not a vegetarian and I serious doubt he ever will be. Thats ok with me. He has always been respectful and support of my choice to be vegan and so I support his right to make his own choice as well. As for our children we too will let them make their own choice and so far they are leaning towards vegan. My youngest hates meat and loves legumes while oldest is starting to get very passionate about animals and is starting to understand where meat comes from and she is not alright with that. My Husband encourages them to choose the vegan options most of the time because he knows it healthier for them.Not matter what they choose, all 3 of them are extraordinary and I love them very much! 

Back to the Blue Plate Diner it doesn't matter if your all vegan or vegetarian or omnivores...go check it out, you will not be disappointed. The menu is clearly marked if a item is vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. Most Vegetarian options can be made vegan is you ask them to. Many of the ingredients are local and the service is awesome, very friendly and helpful staff. Portions are hearty, in fact I can't finish a meal most of the time and I'm a pretty good eater. Prices are reasonable, you won't have to wash dishes afterwards.

My personal favourite is the chickpea curry. Its served with saffron rice and grilled vegetables. But for my Mother's Day meal I decided to go for the Famous Veg Burger (made vegan by leaving off the cheese and mayo) with the sweet potatoe fries (best ever) and grilled vegetables. For dessert we all shared the Vegan Chocolate Mousse....hands down the best Vegan Chocolate Mousse I have ever had! 

So if you live in the Edmonton area go give the Blue Plate Diner a try, you won't be disappointed!

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms

Calling all mushroom lovers!

If you love mushrooms and balsamic vinegar (and who doesn't?!) you'll love these grilled balsamic portobello mushrooms. 



Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms
4 portobello mushroom caps
 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 teaspoon dried oregano
 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  salt and pepper to taste

  • Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, turning twice. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Brush grate with oil. Place mushrooms on the grill, reserving marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade frequently. 

I paired these mushrooms with some potatoes with olive oil and herbs, steamed green beans and a salad with mixed baby greens, strawberries, pumpkin seeds and a pear guava vinaigrette. Theses mushrooms also make awesome burgers! I top mine with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, vegenaise and sometimes avocado.


Of course you can't forget dessert! I indulged in a bowl of So Delicious Coconut Milk Coconut Ice Cream (say that really fast 3 times!) with fresh chopped mango over top. It was very tropical tasting! I am looking forward to trying to make my own coconut milk ice cream. I love this stuff but its really expensive. 

Udon Noodle Stirfry

Happy Mothers Day too all the moms out there. So far my Mothers Day has been pretty darn great. I got to sleep in (well I was still awake at he normal time but I stayed in bed a read for awhile, a real treat!) enjoyed a breakfast of toast with peanut butter made by my 5 year old and now I'm sipping a cup of tropical green tea and doing a post that I've been meaning to get up for a few days now.

Spring is such a busy time of the year and this year has been particularly busy. My niece on my husband's side of the family (he is the youngest by quite a bit so my nieces and nephews on my husband's side are quite a bit older than my children which works because we have lots of babysitters...not that we ever go out anywhere! ) is getting married at the end of the month and my oldest is a flower girl. So there's all the showers and dress fittings and rehearsals, etc. Plus I had to register my oldest for KINDERGARTEN this week! I can't believe she is going to kindergarten already. Its cliche but true...time goes by so quickly. And in addition to all of that there is all the outside work that needs to happen for the spring. I leave most of that to my husband (he fancies himself somewhat of an expert in lawn maintenance) but the flowers are all mine and I am so excited that I got all my pots planted this week. They are growing so fast already except for one that looks like he needs a little extra tlc. 

Needless to say we have needed some quick meals this week. I can honestly say that I love vegetables. So do my kids, there are very few that they don't like. My husband on the other hand is not a vegetable lover. Its his upbringing. To this day my mother in law still only makes microwaved peas or corn for vegetables or a tossed salad consisting of  iceberg lettuce, green onions and maybe a tomato slice or two. So I have a challenge when it comes to him and vegetables. But I have two surefire ways to get him to eat almost any veg. If I marinate them and grill them on the bbq or a stir fry. For this meal I opted for a stir fry. 



I had to clean out the fridge so we had a little bit of everything in here. In sesame oil I stir fried broccoli, finely chopped kale, red peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, onions and shredded cabbage. Just throw in some udon noodles and some ginger teriyaki sauce and you have a great supper. The everyone, including my husband, had seconds of this one. Normally I throw in some chickpeas too but we were all out. It was still filling and delicious. 

Part of my Mothers Day gift this year is dinner out at one of my favourite restaurants. I'll take pics tonight and report back tomorrow.

Have a great Sunday!


Monday, May 4, 2009

No Soy?

When I went to college I made many good friends that I have kept in contact with over the years. One friend in particular became very close to me and my husband. This friend has two young children the same age as my two little ones. This past weekend we were invited to a BBQ at their house for lunch. My friend was making hotdogs and hamburgers. So I supplied the veggie dogs and some vegetables and vegan brownies (I didn't tell them they were vegan and everyone loved them). My friend's wife was a vegetarian for many years and vegan for 2 of those years. At the BBQ she told the story of how she stopped being a vegetarian. Her naturopath told her she needed to cut out dairy and soy. Two weeks after she did that she started eating meat again. She said to me at the BBQ, " I mean if you can have dairy or soy what are you suppose to eat as a vegetarian?!" I have to admit, I was a little shocked! Is eating tofu or soy products a prerequisite of a vegetarian or vegan diet? I sure don't think so!

When I first went vegetarian about 10 years ago I ate alot of soy products - soy yogurts, soy "meats", etc and I felt terrible. I made the mistake that so many people make when first going vegetarian...I simply replaced all meats with soy substitutes. The only "whole grains" we had in the house was the occasional whole wheat bread, which I'm sure wasn't whole grain at all. No quinoa, no barley, no brown rice, no millet, no nothing. The only beans we had were canned brown beans and the odd kidney bean in a chili. No white beans, no black beans, no lentils, nada. So after being on a diet of refined carbs and soy products for awhile my health took a turn for the worst. I had no energy, I gained weight, my face broke out terribly, and my attitude left much to be desired. I was rather irritable and grumpy most of the time. And so my parents convinced me that I had to start eating meat again. Truthfully, feeling the way I did, it didn't take much convincing. But my desire to be vegetarian never really waivered and so on and off the veggie bandwagon I went, always with the same results. It was frustrating to me because I always felt like a vegetarian diet was optimal for your health but my health felt anything but optimal on a vegetarian diet. And so for a few years I was very disenchanted with vegetarianism.  Unitl 18 months ago. Thats when a health scare with my oldest child had me  on the internet doing research and re-evaulating my position on vegetarianism. As I was doing research on the internet I came across all these vegetarian blogs and 90% of them were vegan blogs. And I saw what most of the people were cooking. And most of it was/is soy free! Yes many vegans eat a soy free or very low soy diet. I decided to give vegetarianism another shot but this time I decided to go vegan and follow a very low soy diet. I eat mostly fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes and the very occasional soy product. I have never felt better, infact I honestly didn't know I could feel this good. 

Everyone I know says to me that they could never be a vegan because they love meat/dairy/eggs too much. I always tell them that I too thought I could never be vegan until I tried it. Feeling the way I do I could never go back to my old ways. 

So what do you eat when you can't eat soy and dairy.....so many things come to mind I don't know which to list first. How about Sweet Potatoe and Lentil Chili, a hummus wrap and a salad, Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean salad or Chickpea Tacos. The possibilities are endless. 

If anyone reading this blog is a new vegetarian/vegan or thinking of giving it a try and is worried about eating too much soy keep this this in mind - a healthy vegan diet is one that is based on whole foods like fruits, veg, whole grainds, legumes. It may also include soy but vegan and tofu are not synonymous.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Whats with the lack of posting?!

I really admire all you bloggers out there who post so frequently, some of you even daily. You guys truly are an inspiration to me! I don't have any friends who are vegans or even vegetarians for that matter so I love to read all my vegan blogs daily, it really gives me a feeling of community. All the times I tried to veg in the past failed largely because I had no support network. Thanks to all by blogger "friends" out there I have been vegetarian/vegan for 18 months and counting! You all have made a big difference in my life, weather you blog about your meals or your kids or just your lives in general. I wanted to take the time to say that because sometimes I think people don't always realize the impact the little things they do have on others. I'm trying to commit more time to blogging myself but it seems that lately life is just too busy to sit down and compose my thoughts for a blog posting (never mind food pictures!). However my birthday is coming up very soon and as a present to myself I have decided to carve out some much need blog time, hopefully daily. I think its the perfect gift for myself and I'm looking forward to spending more time here.

Thanks to anyone who actually reads my blog...I promise to post more frequently very soon!