Monthly Archives: December 2014

Things I’m Loving Lately: December 2014 edition

December was a big and great month for me, I’m not going to lie. I fell into a good groove at my current job. I made some great food. I got back to dance class. I got better at waking up before 6:00 a.m. I found new foods I liked around every corner. I discovered the potential root of my digestive issues (fructose malabsorbtion). I started snipping away at my hair and have decided on the next step for this funky little haircut of mine.

Pretty grand way to end 2014, eh?

Anyway, here’s my Top 10 list. I also want to include a list of things I’m proud of for 2014, and goals for next year. I’m not a New Years Resolution kind of girl because, well, I always live my life with a sense of resolve. But I do enjoy looking forward and making specific goals.

But anyway. The Love List! (As per usual, none of this is sponsored).

  1. Aeropress Coffee. I’ve never been much of a coffee girl, and I usually only have 1-2 cups a day, still. But my partner starts every day with a cup, and I have to say, I love the very even, full flavour you get from an Aeropress. This is especially good if you’re a solo coffee drinker.
  2. Coconut Nectar — it’s replaced Agave in my diet ever since I’ve started cutting back on high-fructose foods.
  3. This sweater, to go with the coffee.
  4. LUSH’s Dirty hair wax. Not a new discovery in my life, but an oldie which I left at my ex’s (he returned everything except the hair wax! Think he’s using it? Haha!) and finally bought again. Hair looks amazing.
  5. Instagram’s NothingButPixies has been a great inspiration tool for my new cut.
  6. The Ace Diner in Roncesvalles, Toronto. Their quinoa fusili is a vegan, gluten-free piece of heaven.
  7. Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts. BRUSSELS SPROUTS.
  8. Not wearing a bra. Can I just throw that out there?
  9. Lippy Girl Vegocentric Organic Vegan Lipstick in Boss Lady. I’m terrified of it. So that’s a good thing, right?
  10. This is one I just have to mention — and while it’s a great thing, I’m not so sure I’m happy that it has to exist to begin with. The Leelah Project is a fundraising effort in memory of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager who committed suicide on December 29 after her parents attempted to suppress her gender expression. Leelah wished for all that she owned to go toward helping trans people, but because she was a minor and her parents continue to misgender her after her death, that probably will no happen, which is why people have been amazing enough to set up The Leelah Project. This amazing effort will go toward providing personal care items and support for transgender women who are having difficulty obtaining “feminine” care items (whether it’s restrictive parents/guardians, homelessness, low funds, etc.). This will help them obtain clothing, makeup, just little things to help affirm their gender and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin. Please do all you can to help trans people, especially those who are young — they are so vulnerable and need a world they can feel safe in.

Anyway, here’s what I’m proud of for 2014:

  • Teaching some of the best choreography I’ve ever done;
  • Started teaching at a new dance school and met new students;
  • Got the best haircut of my life;
  • Stood up to my old boss (on multiple occasions);
  • Got a new job;
  • Found a great apartment in Scarborough;
  • Left behind a toxic relationship;
  • Started a great relationship with someone I like very much;
  • Learned to lead climb;
  • Became a more articulate, strong and happy woman.

A few goals for 2015:

  • Commit to my ballet training in order to be in great “dance” shape for Camp Kate;
  • More outdoor climbing! And maybe learn to trad climb;
  • Get a new job;
  • Get out to gymnastics at least once a month to work on aerials and hansprings;
  • Continue to get used to this low-fructose diet;
  • Dye my hair something wacky!

That’s it! Have a great day and night, bloggies — and heed my NYE warnings from the previous post.


“Green P” Veggie Burger

Pea-Burger

In Toronto, we call municipal pay parking lots “Green P.” So naturally I wanted to name this a “Parking Lot Burger.” But I think that’s the part of my sense of humour that gets a little too subversive, a little too, “Yeah, people will get this, right? They’ll think it’s quirky?”

Not so much.

So I’ve settled on “Green P” Burger. Because it’s green, and it’s made of peas.

Yes, peas. I’ve always thought peas were dreadfully boring. It’s one of the few foods I didn’t hate as a child, which is probably why I think they’re boring. I had such a tame pallet as a child. Anyway, I was actually going for a varied, veganized version of A Beautiful Mess’s Spicy Edamame Burger. And then, tragedy struck (read: Bree did something stupid).

I bought a bag of frozen green peas instead of frozen edamame.

The horror! You can’t make peas into a damn burger. What is this, Bizzarro World?

We decided against going out again and toughed it out — we made burgers out of peas.

I varied on A Beautiful Mess’s recipe quite a bit to make it not only vegan but gluten-free, so this is a great burger for all sorts of dietary restrictions (of course, I didn’t have it on a GF bun, because I’ve been good about gluten lately and rewarded myself with a big, giant hunk o’ bread). Terroni peppers, by the way, are these Italian hot peppers sold in jars in an Italian restaurant in Midtown Toronto. You can use any hot pepper your little heart desires but make sure that they are 1) cut into chunks and 2) softened in some way, like soaked in an oil, brine, or maybe even roasted.

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams frozen green peas, cooked
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup (certified gluten-free for y’all celiac friends) rolled oats, pulsed in a food processor to a coarse flour
  • 1 Tbsp Terroni peppers or other finely diced, soft hot pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • One flax egg (1 tbsp flax/3 tbsp lukewarm water, mixed and sat for no more than 30 seconds)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the peas according to the package instructions. Drain thoroughly;
  2. Grind up the rolled oats;
  3. Put about half of the coarse oat flour and 2/3 of the peas into a food processor together. Grind until a mushy paste forms. You may have to do a bit of scraping off the sides and re-pulsing (it’s repulsive!) Set aside in a bowl;
  4. Process the garlic, onion and cilantro;
  5. Place everything into a large bowl, including the Terroni peppers, the unprocessed peas and remaining oat flour. Mix thoroughly with your hands;
  6. Add the flax egg (it’s imperative that you don’t let this plump up like you would for baking. If you do, it will be jelly-like and not spread out into the mixture as easily);
  7. Shape into about five burgers;
  8. Brush with a small amount of oil (I liked this effect more than the flour) and cook either in a stovetop skillet or a countertop grill (which we did)!

Well, that’s my last food post of 2014. I’ll be following up immediately with a “Things I’m Loving” post. Happy 2014, WordPress. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know so many of you. Happy New Year — be safe, do not drink and drive (or get high and drive), do not call or text your ex, do not over-drink, and always help those in need!


Chocolate strawberry smoothie bowl

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I have a weird New Years Resolution: to quit the gym.

Health freak Bree is quitting the gym.

Why? Well, for starters, it’s expensive considering I’m already paying the same amount for my climbing gym membership. Secondly, I am starting to feel a culture of misogyny at my gym which I find distressing. Third of all, I feel like I like my body better (and feel more personally accomplished) when I get my exercise from multiple avenues. And as a bonus fourth, I feel that the gym environment can still be a bit counterproductive to my recovery and seeing my body in a positive light. LA Fitness in general (by contrast to GoodLife, which is by no means perfect) has a culture of “achieve achieve achieve!” and is pretty ignorant of the problems of over-exertion and compulsive exercising.

So here’s the plan: I’m going back to dance full-time. Not competitive-dance full-time, but one to two classes a week focusing on advanced ballet and jazz. I’m going to be doing my pilates and leg routine at home every morning. I’m going to stretch every. Single. Day. And I’m going to continue climbing.

Sounds ambitious, right?

But I can do it!

I’ve actually been meaning to go back to dance for awhile. But with the money I was spending on the gym, it just didn’t make sense. So now I’m all about dance once again. I miss ballet. I’m quite good when I’m going often, practicing regularly and taking it seriously. So I’d love to get back to that level.

Yesterday was all about climbing, though. I took my partner to the gym where I first learned to climb, Grand River Rocks in Kitchener. We had some fun climbing on the high walls, checking out new routes and using auto-belays (though I’m not personally a fan, and I learned that neither is my partner).

For this I wanted a nice light but powerful breakfast, so I came up with a little creation of my own — tell me what you think!

Chocolate Strawberry Protein Smoothie Bowl for one

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 Tbsp raw nut butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener*

Blend all on high speed (don’t use ice! You want this smoothie nice and thick!) and then top with:

  • Granola (I used gluten-free berry flavour)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Goji berries
  • Cacao nibs

Or just enjoy as a drink, use whatever toppings you please!

* I’ve been using coconut nectar lately where I used to use agave because reducing the amount of fructose I consume has been working wonders on my IBS symptoms. I’m also living a low-gluten, but not gluten-free lifestyle which is helping greatly. In general, FODMAPs are really screwing with my system, but I’ve found a great way around it.


F*%^@ing COOKIE spread (vegan, gluten-free)!

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Hello, folks! Just a quick post today before I escape my parents’ house. The holidays can be a bit of a funny time for me. Sometimes being surrounded by my immediate family sets off a bit of my anxious tendencies. I love them, but I sometimes feel like I don’t belong with them.

A bit heavy?

Okay, let’s lighten up a bit.

My partner and I have always found this video really, really funny. Sometimes he’d randomly send me texts saying, “IT’S MADE OUT OF F*%#IN’ COOKIES!”

Biscoff Spread actually IS vegan, and I was totally prepared to buy some for him for Christmas (it’s not readily available in Canada, but you can buy it online). Instead, what I did was one step beyond: I made my own.

(Of course I made my own).

And, I mean, this is chocolate chip. So, it’s basically cookie spread on the “next level,” as they say.

Here’s what I used — yeah, I didn’t make my own cookies. But you have to understand: how could I make my own cookies and then not eat them?! Plus, I don’t know how to make a good, crispy cookie, and you definitely need a crispy one for this.

  • Two boxes Mary’s gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (makes about two cups crushed)
  • One can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 stick Earth Balance butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pour the coconut milk into a medium-sized saucepan and set on medium-high. Stir with a whisk to combine the thick, fatty part with the milk.
  2. As it heats, in a food processor, process the cookies a handful at a time and set into a bowl.
  3. Add the coconut sugar and stir thoroughly.
  4. (Keep grindin’ those f&@(%in’ cookies!)
  5. Add the half-stick of EB. Stir to combine.
  6. Keep stirring until the milk has a more syrupy consistency, like caramel spread.
  7. When the liquid has reached the desired consistency, pour in the bowl gradually to combine with your cookie crumbs. I initially doubled the recipe for the liquid and ended up wasting a great deal of it, but you might still have too much. Only use as much as will bind the crumbs together. Stir to combine with a fork. Lick the fork.
  8. Cover bowl and let cool for 1 hr.
  9. Remove from fridge. There may be a bit of liquid settled at the bottom. Drain said liquid. It wasn’t going to do you much good anyway.
  10. Transfer to a mason jar. Give to someone or keep it to yourself. Enjoy it on toast. Or just eat the whole damn thing.

I’m not here to tell you what to do.

Anyway, we enjoyed that a great deal on Christmas Eve morning before going to our respective parents’ houses. Let’s just say it brought out the jerky little kids in us.

Merry Christmas, bloggies!


Festive breakfast partfait with chocolate tofu mousse

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Y’all ready for this?

Are you?

I don’t think you’re ready for this, because in the next few days, I’m going to be posting a disgusting amount of food. Let’s just say my partner and I had an astoundingly fun weekend of kitchen experiments and all were successful. And what a better way to celebrate than to share on the ol’ blog?

So, there are three things in this world that, while not on the same level as air, water and food are pretty much essential to my survival. Those three things are:

  • Sweatpants
  • The music of Drake
  • Chocolate

My mother just texted me yesterday panicking because she was packing my stocking and had no idea what to give a vegan in the way of snackies. Oh, mother. If you only knew. If you only knew the possibilities that existed.

I don’t work a lot with silken tofu, but I was at an Asian supermarket on Friday and decided to pick some up. I thought, “There has to be a way to make a nice, sweet breakfast out of this.” My partner doesn’t really like “big” breakfasts, but he is a yogourt guy. So I thought, maybe I can meet him halfway. And then it came to me.

  • Chocolate
  • tofu
  • mousse.

I mean, come on, right?!

So here’s how you do it:

  • One brick silken tofu, drained but not pressed, cut into cubes for easy blending
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter (optional)

Blend together until mixture becomes smooth. I added the agave gradually, but it all depends on how fast your blender can go.

Let sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to thicken up.

To assemble this parfait, I layered mousse, berry granola, strawberries, goji berries, cacao nibs and an extra drizzle of agave.

Christmas, amirite?

Anyway, the recipe for mousse yields about four parfaits worth, so go. nuts.


My vegan beauty routine part 1

I’ve gone through a lot of phases with my skin and beauty. I used to be a maximalist — from Grade 9 on (the first year I was allowed to wear makeup), I developed a daily routine of cleanser, toner, moisturizer, foundation, two types of concealer, loose powder, blush, highlighter, eyeshadow, eyeliner, primer, mascara, lip liner, lip gloss, remove makeup at night, cleanse, tone, moisturize, repeat.

My skin was horrid.

As a former product junkie, minimalizing my routine was key to helping my budget, my skin and, honestly, my sanity. While vegan toiletry products can be expensive, I actually find myself not going through them as quickly as I used to because I’ve developed better habits around them. This includes:

  • I don’t wear makeup every day, and I have three kind of different “levels” of makeup (four if you count level 1, which is “none at all,” which I often wear for days when I know I’m just going to the office, not meeting with anyone, climbing, etc).
    • Concealer, powder, lip balm — usually if I’m going to be in a place where I’ll be seeing a lot of people and want to feel comfortable, but don’t want to bother piling it on.
    • Tinted moisturizer, concealer, powder, eyeliner, tinted lip balm, brows — lunches, meetings, chilling with my friends or my Mom.
    • Primer, tinted moisturizer, concealer, powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara, tinted lip balm, brows — dates, going out, job interviews, etc.
  • Because of this, I only wash my face with soap on days when I actually do wear makeup beyond just the concealer/powder/lip balm level. On those days, I use a cleansing wipe at the end of the day. When I wear makeup, I only wash my face at night to get the makeup off, then moisturize to go to bed.
  • Now, that’s not to say I don’t wash my face every day. I wash my face with water and a facecloth, scrubbing my problem areas (forehead and chin) thoroughly and then patting dry. Seriously, try cutting out facial soaps to just days when you’ve worn makeup and days when you are having serious problems with your skin. I have had combo/oily skin most of my life (and am now developing dry patches) and this method works so much better than soap, soap, soap.
  • I only wash my hair every three days or so (again, naturally oily hair — that’s the plus side of having positively no hair, I guess).
  • I also don’t use any hair products besides the occasional wax. No treatments, no leave-ins, nothing. In fact, the reason I cut my hair was because I was standing in Sephora looking for something to treat my breakage-prone hair with, and I thought to myself, “I am literally contemplating spending $75 on a product for my hair when I could cut it all off for half that price.” So I did.
  • While I haven’t sworn completely off blow-drying or straightening my hair, I only do it on special occasions. For my hair, there’s no substitute for a good brushing and regular trims.

But now, for my actual list of favourite products — I’ll post makeup next week, since I’m planning on looking totally fly for our work Christmas lunch (disclaimer: none of these selections are sponsored in any way).

  • Body wash: If I’m going to wash with something every single day, yeah, I’m going to invest in it. I love LUSH’s Grass. I never saw myself paying so much money for soap, but… okay, I’m not even going to try justifying it. Also, I never thought that my least favourite smell growing up would turn into my favourite smell as an adult.
  • Shampoo: Alba Botanica has been a go-to brand of mine for years now, and they are actually affordable and you can buy them in any Shopper’s Drug Mart or Target. I use their Body Builder Mango shampoo, because it not only lifts my hair off my scalp, but smells so nice and fresh! (If you can’t tell, I’m big on scents).
  • Shave cream: Kiss My Face 4-in-1 Lavender & Shea Moisture Shave is an awesome pick because it acts as a moisturizer for my skin as well as a shave cream. My leg skin is very dry, so any chance I can get to give it some extra TLC, I take.
  • Moisture balm: LUSH’s Ultrabalm is the only balm I will use — and I go through this stuff like mad. I use it on my elbows and knees, my cuticles, my calluses (you’d be surprised how quickly I can transform my hands from climber hands to normal person hands!) and, of course, my tattoos.
  • Body moisturizer: Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil body lotion — I’d be lost without this stuff.
  • Deodorant: Lafe’s Natural Deodorant Stick in Powder. I never thought I’d find a natural deodorant that actually stopped me from stinking up my clothes. This stuff is no joke. It goes on thick and stays on all day.
  • Toothpaste: I like toothpaste. I can’t lie, I actually have had a bad habit for swallowing toothpaste on occasion since I was a little kid. But hey, I’m still here, right? Oh my gosh, did I just admit that on the Internet? Anyway, Kiss My Face makes a vegan, fluoride-free whitening gel which I’ve been using for months now and my teeth are legitimately sparkly from it (okay, maybe there’s no actual sparkles, but still)…
  • Mouthwash: I don’t use mouthwash every day because, honestly, when you’re hydrated with well-brushed teeth, you don’t need it that badly. But sometimes, the occasion calls for it. You never know, you might meet a close-talker. Tom’s of Maine’s Cleansing Mouthwash has had a featured spot in my bathroom for two years now.
  • Face wash: Have I gone this long without mentioning Desert Essence? Well, it’s about to get a lot of love from me. I love Desert Essence. I’ve used their shampoos, body washes, lotions, etc., for years now. Their Thoroughly Clean Face Wash is the one product I always come back to. The face wash is great for combo or oily skin, and doesn’t ever leave my skin feeling like there’s a yucky residue left on it.
  • Facial moisturizer: Yet another shout-out to LUSH for this — I’ve been using Imperialis since 2012 (before I was even a vegetarian) and it works wonders. I bought it specifically because I’m in a strange in-between phase with my skin where I still have the oiliness of my youth combined with the dryness of my 20s. I legitimately did not believe that I could find a moisturizer which managed to serve both needs, but this one takes the cake.
  • Lip balm: Another Desert Essence superstar here. It’s legitimately difficult to find an actual vegan lip balm, but their Lip Rescue Moisturizing balm is not only vegan and non-GMO, it’s an amazing, neutral scent that is neither too waxy nor too heavy on the moisture. Seriously, who needs colour on their lips when they’re this soft?

Well, there you have it — me at my girliest.

You just wait until I start with the makeup!


Surviving the holidays with your non-vegan family/friends.

Enjoying a traditional Christmas game of Cards Against Humanity with my sister, brother-in-law and father... back when I had long hair!

Enjoying a traditional Christmas game of Cards Against Humanity with my sister, brother-in-law and father… back when I had long hair!

This has turned into a bit of a recipe blog, hasn’t it?

Truth be told I’m hoping to be known for more than just recipes. But of course, recipes are one of the few things I’m really, really good at. Oh, I can dance and climb, but you don’t really care about those things, do you?

(Okay, I’m sure you do, but they don’t help you is what I’m trying to say).

But I am pretty good at giving advice, just general life advice. And a lot of people lately have been coming to me for cooking, nutrition and exercise advice. I preface everything by saying that I’m only one woman with an English degree and am not a licensed nutritionist or personal trainer, but I can always speak from experience and come from a place of compassion.

This year is going to be my first year not spending a huge amount of time at home for the holidays. I was only planning on doing two nights at home last year, but the 2013 ice storm kept me in Durham Region for longer than expected. Anyway, this year it’s gonna be a speedy trip. Go to B-ville Christmas Eve, leave Boxing Day in the morning. I’ll be spending my time off with my partner, cooking and playing games and going tobogganing and just enjoying this time off (I am seriously so happy that I get two weeks off at Christmas)!

Whatever you celebrate, most people end up with their families, their partners’ families, or in large groups at this time of year. And for a lot of vegans, sometimes it feels like you have a giant neon sign above your head reading “VEGAN!” I know that’s the case with my family. My parents have come a long way from full-on detesting my veganism to merely making the occasional remark about it. My sister likes to tease me, though she also is amazing for getting me vegan-friendly gifts and telling me the ingredients in things. So it’s a mixed bag. For the most part, they’re dealing well. But I also knew that they weren’t going to take me by the hand at 25 and do a single thing to accommodate. They’re a real meat-and-potatoes family, and picky eaters. Pretty much the furthest extent they’ll go for me is to keep the cheese on the side of their salad. So I’m on my own.

Never fear for me! I ordered a large holiday bowl from Bunner’s which I’ll be picking up on Christmas Eve (Torontonians, they’re taking orders all the way up to Christmas Eve, so I’d highly recommend grabbing one!) and am going to grab some desserts too. I’ll have with me a brick of tofu, some avocado and some almond milk for a nice Christmas brunch with the fam.

My family is very personally closed off to veganism, so I’ve always had to tiptoe around the issue at the holidays. That’s why I wanted to give some advice to people who will be in similar situations.

  1. Let your host know before hand and offer to come with food (and enough to share) if possible. You shouldn’t let your veganism be the elephant in the room when the time comes to serve. Offer to show up with food and apps for yourself, and don’t forget the little things, like non-dairy milk for coffee. Try not to impose on the host’s kitchen and bring something already prepared. Yes, it’s a bit of extra work for you, but the good news is, if you bring stuff for sharing, you’ll surely make some friends.
  2. Don’t feel a need to over-explain. I find you can tell the difference between someone who is asking you a question because they’re genuinely curious about veganism (“So, do you eat butter?”) and someone who is looking to start an argument or challenge you (“Okay, but what about freerange chickens?”). If you don’t feel like talking about it, you don’t have to. You don’t have to be hostile, but here’s what I usually say: “If you’re curious about veganism, I’d be happy to answer questions you might have another time, but you have to realize that I get asked these questions a lot, and they’re really exhausting. I’d rather just eat dinner for now and not discuss my lifestyle.” And change the subject. Simple as that.
  3. Offer to share, but don’t force. My family is always quick to accuse me of trying to “force” veganism on them because I offer them a vegan cookie or something. Some people feel easily threatened or feel like we’re making them feel guilty, when really we just see it as trying to share. Regardless, just put the offer on the table and let people do what they please with it. You can’t force anyone over to your side. Accept that and just have fun (and hey, if you have stuff to take home after… awesome)!
  4. Try to laugh it off. To this day, my parents still don’t believe that I will date non-vegans, or they quote the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa becomes a vegetarian and the kids ask her if she’s going to marry a carrot. Remember that there are way worse of things people could make fun of you for. If you are really, truly hurt by it, simply turn around and tell them, “Hey, this is a pretty sensitive topic for me, could we cut down on the jokes?” Try not to be on the defensive or get too angry right away. Believe it or not, most family members don’t realize when they’re hurting your feelings.
  5. Focus on the aspects of the holiday not involving food. Visits can be stressful when thinking about dinner and dessert and everything. Remember, it’s perhaps an hour or two out of your day. Focus on the gifts, the music, the time spent together, the games, etc.

Apple-Cranberry Pie Larabars

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Howdy, Internet! What’s that big, scary thing you see there?

Why, that’s my face!

You’ll have to forgive the shameless display of my big ol’ face. Sometimes I just get really flirty with the camera and don’t feel like hiding anymore. Admittedly I was on a bit of a camera high yesterday. My friend Jenna and I had another great session of photos downtown (in the St. Lawrence Market area) that I’ll be preparing for my Mom for Christmas. Of course, getting up super early to dance in my sock feet in a snowy alleyway downtown wasn’t exactly my idea of a comfortable morning, so I just had to have some comfort food when I got back home.

Remember when I made my raw brownies and I said that having a tiny food processor is a real pain in the ass when you’re making raw desserts? Well, fortunately, my partner has an industrial-sized food processor. So I can safely say I’ll be doing a lot of raw cooking at his place.

Now, there are a few things you need to know about climbers, if you don’t know a lot of us. This is for your own good, you know, so you know exactly how to approach or make friends with one of us.

  • Seasoned climbers prefer climbing in their ratty jeans to “athletic” clothes.
  • No matter what our gender or sexual orientation, we all have crushes on Hazel Findlay and Alex Honnold.
  • If we catch the rope when we pull it down, someone (we’re not sure who) owes us a beer.
  • If you give us a Clif Bar or a Larabar, we’ll be your friend forever.

I happen to love both and have a decent handle on making them homemade, but Larabars are admittedly a bit lower maintenance to make (AND eat — so soft and gooey).

Making Larabars at home is really easy if you have a food processor. Here’s your basic formula:

  • One-third of the mix should be soft, pitted dates
  • One-third of the mix should be nuts (preferably large, binding nuts like walnuts or cashews)
  • One-third should be your flavour buddies (i.e. dried fruit, chocolate, berries).
  • Added flavour enhancers, like cinnamon, vanilla, a pinch of sea salt, etc.

I’m a chocolate hound and everyone knows this, but as the holiday season approaches us, who could pass up a good apple pie?

No one, that’s who. That’s why this was our Larabar recipe:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) pitted soft Medjool dates (you can also use honey dates)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dried apple chips
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A few generous shakes apple bitters (these are optional, but highly recommended as it gives the bars a far more fragrant taste. This is the brand we use).

So toss this all into your food processor at once, pulse, scrape, pulse, scrape, until it’s good and mixed. Spread it out onto a lined pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and slice up into bars. Keep covered and refrigerated.

This recipe yields about eight large bars.

Maybe I’ll come back at you guys with my Clif Bar recipe soon. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my balance and strength lately to try to get myself back to when I was at my peak of acro training (which is about 10 years ago now). I’m hoping to get out to some open gymnastics sessions in the new year so I can hopefully get my aerial and back handspring back. In the meantime, here’s a forearm stand from the other night where I hed good form for about 20-30 seconds. Not bad for an old lady!

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Tofu-less breakfast scramble

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I never thought tofu scramble would come to replace my beloved scrambled egg breakfasts. But oh boy, has tofu scramble ever become a big part of my life over the past two years. So versatile. So fun to prepare. I learned that something doesn’t have to taste just like eggs for me to see them as a worthy substitute.

But I think I might have over-killed it on the whole tofu scramble thing this year — I’ve just found it a little high-maintenance recently, or maybe I’m just a bit bored. Anyway, it’s hard to find an alternative savoury breakfast that isn’t tofu-based.

Except, consider this: potatoes.

I. Love. Potatoes. I grew up in a French-Canadian family in Northeastern Ontario where nothing really grows, so we didn’t always have access to the best vegetables, but we did have potatoes. When I moved to Toronto I found I was using potatoes as a comfort food and started to integrate them into almost every meal. So easy. So fluffy. Po-freaking-tatoes. Love ’em.

I was already integrating potatoes into my tofu scramble most days. But this dish made potatoes the main event. No pressing required, no soy, and it’s just something nice and different. This would be really good in a wrap, but we enjoyed it mashed over naan.

This recipe is soy-free and gluten-free (you don’t HAVE to mash it over naan like we did, or you can get gluten-free bread).

Here’s what you’ll need to get what we got:

  • 400 grams potatoes (we used all yellow, but a mix of yellow and sweet could be could, as long as it’s more yellow than sweet), cubed
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato (or halved grape tomatoes)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • Bread or naan, optional
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil or virgin coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Cube your potatoes (you can peel ’em too, but I like skin) and put them in a medium-sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, reduce to medium heat and cover for about 20 minutes.
  2. As the potatoes are cooking, chop your veggies.
  3. Warm the oil over medium-high heat. When oil has started to spread, add the garlic and onions.
  4. When the onions have softened and the garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes.
  5. Drain the potatoes and add them to the mixture.
  6. Toss in the Brussels sprouts and add your spices.
  7. Let the mixture cook until the potatoes become fork-tender but also slightly crispy on the outside, and the spices have begun to fill your kitchen with a totally delectable smell.
  8. Chop your avocado and toss into a bowl with the rest of the mixture. Divide it up and spoon onto plates. Serve over bread slices, naan, wraps or nothing at all! A healthy dose of Sriracha also helps!

And that’s that — my favourite (so far) soy-free savoury breakfast. I’m trying my hand at chickpea flour eggs tonight — wish me luck! What’s your favourite alternative to tofu at breakfast?


Okay, but consider this: sandwich (plus, buffalo hummus and a garlic tip)!

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWhen I was younger I always had something against sandwiches. Perhaps it was the bitterness I felt from years of my mother insistently making me a sandwich every day of my school career even when I would flat-out cry to her that I was damn well old enough to make my own (even though I would have never made one as nicely as she did). But to me, sandwiches were boring, they were a sign of not trying hard enough. They were so bland and basic. Why have a sandwich when you can wow everyone with last night’s leftovers?

You know, last night’s cold, lumpy leftovers?

Anyway, once I started working full-time and having the luxury of a big, spacious fridge at work, I started enjoying the convenience that came with sandwiches. But I made myself one vow: I would always keep my sandwiches interesting.

Fortunately, when you’re a vegan, you really have no choice but to make your sandwiches interesting.

I change it up all the time — it all depends what veggies I feel like bringing with me. I can guarantee that my sandwiches will always have sliced tomato on them. In a perfect world, I’d have avocado every day, but we just can’t guarantee the right texture, now, can we?

The other most consistent thing is hummus. I mean, what isn’t to love about hummus? It’s inexpensive, versatile, easy to make on your own, and there are a million different ways to make hummus.There are a few types of hummus I don’t like — I’m not a big fan of roasted red pepper hummus. This blog may eventually go into detail about my aversion to red peppers and my attempts to like them, but trust me, it’ll be a long time before I’m eating red pepper-flavoured hummus. No way, sir.

But this is my recipe for buffalo hummus — which, during the winter, is a must for any sandwich (or nachos —  more on that tomorrow)!

Buffalo hummus

  • One 29-oz can of chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup chopped red chilli peppers
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Pour all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse. As the mixture liquifies, add the bean juice to allow it to further liquify. This stops you from using too much oil and making the dip more fatty than necessary. It also binds the beans together more smoothly.

For this sandwich I just layered on some hummus, half an avocado mashed with chimichurri, tomato slices and romaine lettuce. I actually have it on a sweet bread — cranberry and pumpkin. The older I get, the more I love mixing sweet and savoury.

I also thought I’d share a little trick my partner taught me several weeks ago re: garlic. I LOVE garlic. But I’ve gotten so sick of the process of peeling the cloves that for a long time I actually bought jars of pre-chopped garlic to avoid having to deal with it. So then he showed me this trick that totally blew my mind. It’s best for when you have a lot of garlic to cook with at once.

You’ll need two small to medium-sized metal mixing bowls for this. And warning, it will be noisy.

  1. Pull your cloves off the buds
  2. Chop both ends of each of the cloves
  3. Place the cloves in one bowl
  4. Place the other bowl on top of the bowl, making a cool bowl-sphere
  5. Hold the bowls together and shake! Shake really thoroughly for 30 seconds, then stop, check out your garlic, and then give it another 30 seconds of shaking
  6. The skin should be papery and hanging off the garlic and should now just come off with a quick tug

Happy garlic days!