Monthly Archives: March 2015

Things I’m loving lately: March edition

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And just like that, March is over. Crazy how February is the shortest month and yet March zoomed by like nothing compared to cold, sad February.

Must be something about the weather. You know, it’s funny, everyone around me is complaining about how spring “came and went” and how we’re “back to winter.” I say, have some perspective, people! Is it not so much warmer than it was a month ago? And is it not like we’re down at -20 or even -10. A few degrees below the zero won’t kill us. And look beyond the number on the thermometer. We have sunnier days, earlier sunrises and later sunsets. Lots to be glad about, if ask me.

And I have a lot of things to be glad about, too! Here’s my list of things I’m loving lately.

  1. Jackfruit. I tried the jackfruit sandwich at Porter House recently and I was in heaven. I’d heard a lot about jacfruit, but I never imagined it could be so savoury and amazing! I’ll definitely be picking up a few chunks of jackfruit (did you know that a full jackfruit weighs about 30 lbs and costs around $120 to buy in Toronto, if you can even find one? And opening it is basically surgery). But expect some jackfruit recipes up here soon.
  2. Arkells’ new music video, “Hey Kids!” I was a big fan of “Leather Jacket” but hoped they would follow it up with something a bit more fun and lively. The kids in this music video are adorable, and “Hey Kids” is also really fun to play on the piano.
  3. My old haircut. That’s right, I’ve been a pixie for a month and I miss the mohawk. GIMME SOME CLIPPERS!
  4. The Piston on Friday nights, aka Motown nights. I love a good funk, retro or Motown night. If you live in Toronto and feel like getting down without all that sweaty grinding, check out the Bloor and Ossington area.
  5. Lemonade. I was just saying to my partner that when the weather warms up and we get into “patio weather,” I actually don’t really like drinking alcohol outside that much. I get really bad heat stroke, and alcohol only makes me more tired and nauseated. But I’m one of those people who has just as much fun (probably more) without any booze in my drink, and lemonade is by far my favourite non-alcoholic drink. I’m looking at experimenting with some lemonade recipes this spring, and I’ll definitely be sharing my more successful ones!
  6. I like things that are low-maintenance, so this yeast-free thin-crust pizza dough recipe is really turning my crank. I can just imagine my perfect pizza. Tomato sauce, broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple and onion. What, that’s totally normal, right?
  7. Disclaimer: I don’t work for, hold stock in or have sponsorship by Old Navy. Just clarifying because I do realize that this is the second time in two months I took to my blog to brag about an Old Navy purchase. But this jersey “fit and flare” dress is hands down the most comfortable yet elegant things I’ve ever worn. I can honestly fool anyone into thinking I’m sophisticated!
  8. Pacifica’s Purify coconut water cleansing wipes are always with me in my backpack or purse. I almost never wear makeup, which helps my skin stay really youthful and healthy, but when I do — or even when I don’t — these wipes are a great pick-me-up throughout the day, especially now that it’s getting sunnier.
  9. Death Cab for Cutie’s Kintsugi is being streamed online. Go. Go now.
  10. I’ve finally been able to make the vow to commit to a new show (wow, Bree, what a mature, adult commitment there!) and I’ve chosen — Broad City. Expect me to get into my comfy jammies tonight and watch the first season or so.

Thoughts on ethical veganism, OhSheGlows and why I’m a vegan — not a plant-based dieter

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I recently had a rather shocking experience involving a blogger and award-winning recipe author I’ve always admired, Angela Liddon of OhSheGlows fame.

For those who do not follow Angela as religiously as I do, here’s a basic summary: Angela Liddon, healthy vegan recipe blogger, recently had an adorable daughter named Adrianna. She decided recently to tackle the much-asked question of would she raise her daughter vegan by discussing in a blog post. In that post, she mentioned a few things, none of which were particularly novel (I knew her husband was not vegan but had greatly reduced his animal consumption over the years as she’s mentioned in her book and numerous personal posts; she’d even said on Instagram during her pregnancy that they would not be raising their daughter 100% vegan at first). However, some (and really, only some) of the more impassioned replies, many of which I have read, were critical of this, believing Angela’s commitment to ethical veganism to be fleeting, waning and all-around weak.

It’s since prompted Angela to publish this post, in which she hashed out some thoughts about being seen as too mainstream and “not a real vegan,” and in a rather lengthy paragraph I almost managed to miss a part in which she said that she no longer chooses to label her diet.

This is a big thing for a lot of ethical vegans. For many, including myself, Angela has been a god-send. Her recipes alone are one thing; her sharing of her recovery story and positive vibes have helped so many feel empowered enough to make such a drastic move as going vegan. So for her to leave behind the big “V” label has left me sad and very, very confused. Will I continue to support her? Will I buy her next cookbook? I’m really not sure. To be honest, it has very little to do with her husband eating meat or her raising her daughter non-vegan — but it has a lot to do with this “I don’t like diet labels,” new-age mommy blogger philosophy.

It’s made me think a lot about my own position on various matters and wanted to set out a few things right here:

“Plant-based diet,” “vegan diet” or “vegan?”

I use the term “plant-based” very little. I use it when referring to food specifically (because I think the term “vegan food” is absurd). But I am not on a “plant-based diet” or a “vegan diet.” Now, granted, my blog occasionally may lead to some confusion, because like Angela, I have a love of healthy foods — low on processed foods, gluten, overly heavy things, artificial flavours, etc. Hell, chalk that up to a few things. One, I’m an athlete. Two, I love fresh foods and veggies. Three, I choose to blog about my green smoothies and avocado brownies — not about the Toffuti American Cheese slices I make a mean grilled cheese with (mmmmm…) because those aren’t really innovative recipes.

I am a vegan. I do not buy animal products — not in the grocery aisles and not in the drugstore or clothing stores. I even ordered vegan tattoo ink to bring to my tattoo artist so that I can say my new tattoos are vegan.

I don’t believe in “toxins” that I have to ring out of my body like it’s a wet cloth. I don’t believe in juicing the entire contents of my fridge into one mason jar and choking down a disgusting “juice” to give myself a “glow.” I don’t believe in “cleanses.” I do not believe that, as a non-celiac person, a slice of bread will shorten my life. I do not believe that by never cooking a piece of food again, I will become some sort of immortal ubermensch. I am a vegan because I believe that animals were not put on this earth for me. Not for me to eat, not to make me pretty, not to clothe me.

Is the food industry messed up? Yes. Are a lot of commercial food products like breads full of crap we probably shouldn’t be eating? Yes. But I would think that was true whether or not I ate meat. My feelings on nutrition and those on veganism are separate things, and too many bloggers combine the two.

How do I feel about people using the term “plant-based diet” instead of “vegan?” Quite frankly, I hate it — though I guess I’d rather people be honest about not being real vegans. But what I dislike is this urge for people to distance themselves from the title of “vegan” because us vegans are just “too angry” or “too intense” or “too radical.” It’s hard to not feel intense about something that is such a long and strongly-held personal belief. And it’s funny, because I’ve been quite laid-back about “respecting” (i.e. not saying anything because I don’t have the energy to start an argument) about my friends’ lifestyles. But it’s not lost on me that my friends will look at me posting a vegan recipe on Facebook, offering them a vegan muffin or even saying the word “vegan” in front of them will take that as me “pushing my lifestyle” or “not respecting their lifestyle.” “I respect your lifestyle, you have to respect mine.” Actually, I don’t have to respect someone’s decision to eat meat (I’m not going to kick it out of their hand, but I have no obligation to like it), and I’d venture to bet that these people don’t respect my lifestyle very much either.

If you’re not a vegan in 100% of what you do and buy — not just what you eat — don’t call yourself a vegan. And if you have issues with me being a vegan, that is your problem with my label, not my problem.

Too commercial or too mainstream?

There’s been some accusations of Angela embracing veganism for profit. This makes me feel a little sad on a few different levels. Having followed Angela’s journey, I have no doubt that her reasons for going vegan began out of ethics. She’s also toted other vegan products including personal care products, and doesn’t eat honey. So I always held onto my belief that Angela’s choice to identify as a vegan was for ethical reasons, not diet reasons.

But if you really look at her website and the evolution of her posts as she became more popular and surrounding the release of her book, yes, there is a bit of an evolution which occurs over time. Whether or not that’s the intention, her blog is helped out by the number of people going goo-goo for goji berries and crazy for kale because they believe it’ll turn them into dewy-skinned waifs. You can’t help who your blog is embraced by, but I believe that when your blog becomes the bible of an unintended group, it’s important to stand your ground and make it clear from time to time which side you are on.

But I’d be an ass to criticize Angela Liddon simply for wanting to make money. There’s a reason I bought my own domain and plan to lease it to advertisers. There’s a reason I’m planning on releasing an e-book and maybe even one day a print book. We put a lot of work into these things, and making money is a nice way for all of it to pay off. For some people, blogging is a full-time job. For me, it isn’t. But if I could make extra money off it, I’d be happy.

That said, I don’t think it’s right to lose sight if your vegan values and then continue to throw the vegan label around for, well, profit reasons. I call it hash-tag-veganism, and it puts vegans in a very difficult position. It’s like we don’t know who to trust. It makes us feel suspicious, on the lookout for potential impostors, not wanting to give our money to someone who’s going to take that money and put it into something we don’t agree with.

In the end, I don’t feel right saying that Angela “used” veganism for profit because that’s her business and only she knows what her true feelings and intentions are. I don’t want to go around playing “j’accuse” on someone else. All I can do is be strong in my own beliefs and reflect that through my blog and my work.

Veganism and my loved ones

I’m happy that I will never have to deal with the issue of raising a child vegan because I don’t plan on having children. It’s hard for me to even think “if I did have a child” because, well, I’m not having children. I’m just not. But when it comes to my partner, I realize that this is a somewhat divisive issue in the vegan community. I have no shame in admitting that my partner is not a vegan. He has been gravitating more and more toward this since we started dating and cooks vegan around me, but still has a few carnivorous affectations (namely his morning creamer in his coffee, literally the only non-vegan thing he ever even consumes in my presence). Do I like it? No. Do I like him? Yes. In the end, I’m not interested in offering an “It’s meat or me” ultimatum. What I am interested in is allowing people the chance to come to the conclusion themselves. When I met him years ago, I was still eating meat. Full-blown meat. Everything takes time, even if we think it’s the right decision. If he never goes vegan, it’s his deal. Not mine.

As a vegetarian, I resisted veganism for a long time, not because I disagreed with the ethical position to not consume animals. I resisted veganism because I did not yet feel right making the leap and felt like I needed time to sort out all the various difficulties — living with my parents, being able to afford to transition my diet, getting my weight under control (I started losing really fast when I first went vegetarian). I always assured my friends, “Give me time. I hear you, I understand you, I agree with you. Know that when I do go vegan, I will be doing so because I feel 100% sure about the decision and believe in it myself, and I’m not just doing it to fit in or make people happy.”

Honestly, people understood (so much for the stereotype of big, bad, angry vegans). I always feel that in any cause, it’s better to have people on your side because they’ve done their research and have taken the time to come to an educated decision rather than simply jumping on board because they felt pressured. Why? Because the latter are usually the people you lose, because they were never strong in their beliefs in the first place.

What does this all mean in the end?

For me, this means that it has made me think long and hard about my position as a vegan and why I choose to wear the label that I wear. I have never once questioned why I do the things I do, but I’ve also never felt so motivated to put it into words.

To me, there is no distinction between “ethical veganism” and “diet veganism.” To me, veganism is (or at least, should be) synonymous with “ethical veganism.” Everything else is a diet. Obviously, others do not see it the same way. Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, it’s time to return to the other things I fill my day with. I just wanted to express this while it was brewing about in my mind.


Cinnamon mocha swirl soft serve

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Is anyone really surprised that despite all of my pep on Friday, I did not end up eating pancakes? In fact, I hardly ate anything all weekend. Turns out, even when norovirus passes through you, eating, drinking and doing much of anything is about as appealing as a root canal for a few days afterward. I managed to have one meal yesterday, but other than that, it’s been a series of small, sweet and cold snacks.

Bananas, though, bananas are like a gentle, loving hug from nature. And banana soft serve? Oh my.

Banana soft serve is not a new concept, nor am I claiming to have invented banana soft serve. But I’m still amazed at the number of people — usually non-vegans — who aren’t aware of it. The best thing about banana soft serve is that it honestly doesn’t need a flavour. You can just do pure bananas and it’s still amazing! But now that I’m no stranger to the banana soft serve life, I like to experiment with flavours, and I wanted to share with you this concoction I whipped up on the weekend.

Cinnamon mocha swirl banana soft serve, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas, chopped and frozen for 1-2 hrs beforehand
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener, but maple gives it a really distinct flavour)
  • 3/4 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch fine grain sea salt
  • Water, as needed
  • Nuts, cacao nips, chocolate chips or any other toppings you desire

Instructions

  1. Peel, chop and freeze bananas for about 1-2 hours
  2. In a large food processor, begin processing the bananas, nut butter, cinnamon, espresso, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt until the chunks begin to disappear. You’ll probably have to scrape off the sides quite a bit, especially at first.
  3. Gradually add water 1 tbsp at a time until you’ve reached the consistency you desire. Just under 2 tbsp got me a consistency that was like soft serve without being too liquid.
  4. Divide into two bowls and add your toppings.
  5. Embrace your inner child!!

What’s your favourite food when you’re sick? When I was a kid, it was banana popsicles.


“Buttermilk” pancakes with tangy blackberry compote

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Well, this post came a little bit late. Want to know why? Well, I got a little sick this week and things took a turn for the yucky. And at first, yesterday, I thought, “Hey, if I’m gonna be in bed all day, I can at least blog, right?” Yeah, turns out even staring at my computer screen and typing was exhausting. Sigh. But now that I’m at about 50% and I can eat again (seriously, not being able to eat is the WORST), I’m back to thinking food.

Pancakes are such a great go-to. I’ll never understand the Mitch Hedberg joke in which he says pancakes are “All exciting at first, then by the end, you’re sick of ’em.” Sorry, Mitch (RIP) but maybe you just haven’t been eating the right pancakes. I’ve already done a pancake recipe on this blog, but these are a little more flavourful and fluffy, and without the chocolate chips. Here’s my “buttermilk” pancake recipe, which made enough for two — but we were hella hungry.

To go along with it I included the recipe for this blackberry compote I threw together. I’ve always thought pancakes were so much bigger than syrup. I’ve always been a fan of peanut butter on my pancakes, or even bananas or jam. So now that I’m a big kid, I guess a berry compote is a step up from that, right?

Buttermilk Pancakes, makes about 6 medium pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xantan gum
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup non-dairy milk + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seed meal, 3 tbsp water)

Instructions

  1. Prep your flax egg in a small bowl or mug
  2. Make your “buttermilk” — pour your milk into a bowl and add the apple cider vinegar. Mix a little, then let sit for a few minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients and whisk to mix.
  4. Add your wet ingredients, including the flax egg. You may have to add some extra milk if the batter doesn’t mix smoothly enough.
  5. Cook the pancakes in a nonstick skillet with just a bit of light-tasting oil on medium heat.

Tangy blackberry compote

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash of rum (optional — I used Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum)

Instructions

  1. Simply combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and cook until the berries become saucy and the sugar is absorbed.

Damn, that looks good. In fact, I just might test our my digestive system and have some right now. What do you think? Am I crazy?


Chocolate berry super shake

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First of all, a quick but important announcement: as of this weekend, you can officially find me and all my content at urban-garlic.com. I will be setting up my domain on Friday or Saturday, so when the time comes, keep me in your feed at my new home!

Smoothies, amirite? Like, do I want a green smoothie, a veggie smoothie, a fruity smoothie, or a chocolate smoothie?

I’m sorry, but that is the most first-world hipster problem I’ve ever encountered.

Nevertheless, I’m a total brat and I face this “dilemma” every day that I make myself a smoothie. But I’m an adventurous girl. So I have no fear in mixing things up. Fruits and veggies! Fruits and greens! Fruits and chocolate! … veggies and chocolate?

Well, maybe one day. But in the meantime, here’s a fruity chocolate creation. This is my first time using Macca powder, which I’ll admit can be a bit pricey. My recommendation for anyone who wants to try Macca is to buy it at a bulk store. Don’t bother with health food stores where so-called superfoods are super-friggin’-expensive and It’s great for giving a smoothie a great smooth, chocolatey taste (and bonus, you can cut down on cocoa powder).

This smoothie tasted like dessert, but because I put fruit in it I fooled myself into thinking I was eating something fresh and fruity. Hah!

Chocolate berry super-shake, serves one

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond (or other non-dairy) milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1-2 tbsp ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 tsp macca root powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cacao powder
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (optional — for protein/brotein!)

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
  2. High-five yourself for drinking your fruits and your chocolate all at once.

I’ve been on a real sweets kick lately. Just wait until you see what I post later this week. Let’s just say, much like this shake, you’ll technically be getting your fruits in, but it’s still basically candy.


Vegan brownies — no flour, no oil

Processed with VSCOcamCan you feel it, garlic lovers? In approximately 9.5 hours, spring will be upon us. I will be happily doing yoga as the sun sets over Toronto for the final time this winter. And then, so long, sucka! And by tomorrow night, I will be a cat mother again (and hopefully, if I have time tonight — blonde)! I can just feel the winds of change blowing. Okay, that’s the winds of Toronto (brr! Is it weird that I actually find Toronto colder than “up North?”), but still. Spring is rebirth, second chances, all that stuff. New veggies will be coming into season. I’m excited to have a few raw pasta dishes to celebrate, and to get out on my longboard once again.

There was really no other reason to make brownies other than I wanted f-in’ brownies. But really, does anyone need a reason to eat brownies? You’re a grown-up — you don’t have to justify your brownie cravings to anyone.

Especially these delicious brownies, made free from dairy, oil, flour or eggs.

When I described my avocado black bean brownies to my co-workers, one responded with, “That’s not a brownie, that’s a Mexican dip!” I guess I’ll just have to whip up another batch to show them what it’s all about. The good thing is, they’re really, REALLY easy to make. I especially love the way the avocado whips up to be like a luxurious butter.

No oil, no flour vegan brownies, makes about one dozen brownies

(Bonus: this is a one-bowl recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ripe avocado flesh (I used almost one whole small avocado)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup coconut sugar, sucanat or organic brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup crushed walnuts
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
  • Pinch of espresso powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Prep your flax egg (1 tbsp flax seed meal+3 tbsp water) in a mug and set aside to let thicken for a few minutes
  3. Process the avocado until it has the texture of whipped butter and set in a large bowl
  4. Place your rinsed beans and peanut butter in a food processor together and process until pureed. Mix in with the avocado.
  5. Once all of the fruits and veggies (what what?) are mixed together, add the rest of the ingredients (including the flax egg) and mix thoroughly. Lay the batter out in an 8×8 baking dish.
  6. Bake for about 27-30 minutes (I needed 29, but my oven is a bit of a weakling).
  7. Let cool for about 30 minutes

And that’s that! Seven steps to brownies that are moist (I know everyone hates that word, but how else can you describe a brownie?!) with no flour or oil, and more importantly, no animal ingredients!

Now, enjoy my favourite song of the moment (oh, who am I kidding — of the past year).


Festive burrito lunch wrap with raw zesty taco “meat”

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Guys, all my wistful blogging was right! Spring is finally here! Well, technically it won’t be here until Saturday. But as I walked through Toronto in just my sweater and a military jacket yesterday, I really felt it. “It.” Spring! There was sunshine beating down on my face through the window of La Hacienda on Queen (near Bathurst) and dogs walking out without booties on. I mean, that’s the true sign of spring, isn’t it?

Okay, so, two major developments in my life to share. One — I finally own a DSLR camera. Thanks to my amazing friend Lance, I am the new proud owner of a Cannon Rebel XSi. I’m still experimenting with it and will likely take a long time to figure out all my settings, not to mention how to compose photographs so elegantly like all my favourite food bloggers. But learning is a process and I’m a proud lifelong learner, so there you have it.

Second, and one I’ve been bursting at the seams to share, in five days time I will be reunited with my darling cat, Benny!

For those who don’t know me personally, Benny was my cat last year. He is a five-year-old black and white Norwegian forest cat with large paws, a love for brushings and a dislike for being told what to do. Benny came into my life in an amazing way. My roommate last year got him from the Toronto Humane Society rather impulsively. She had never owned a cat before, so I was worried about how she’d handle him. Now, without getting too into the drama that was my old roommate and I, I can safely say that her ownership of Benny didn’t work out very well. After she lost her fascination with him, she basically stopped taking care of him, which included emptying his litter, brushing him and even feeding him. Benny is very affectionate and he quickly became “my” cat, which I didn’t mind at all. Then in March my roommate took a two month trip to Europe and did not pay her rent, nor did she tell our landlord she was leaving the country. I was pretty eager to get out, so I took the eviction notice as a sign. However, I couldn’t leave poor Benny alone, so he came along with me to my parents’ place.

Months later when the time came to move out again, Benny had become well-acquainted with a) my Mom, b) her cat and dog, Maggie and Tessie and c) the back yard. My Mom thought it would be cruel of me to take that all away from him, so I moved back to Toronto without him. I have Lucy (Chris’s cat), but I miss Benny every day.

Well, now that my Mom is selling her house, she’s eager to get Mister Fluffy Pants out of her hair (more specifically, to get his hair out of her hair). It’s time to transition Benny back to living with me… and living with Lucy. How will this go? Only time can tell!

Spring is all about rebirth, that first breath of a renewed life and energy. And that’s what Benny will be bringing to our home.

In the meantime, I’ve been switching up my eats lately. Not so warm and hearty — more cool and light. I’ve been looking at recipes for a raw zucchini lasagna lately, and in general look forward to having to use my oven less as the months warm up (especially because our place isn’t air-conditioned, and our windows get the direct sunset light).

This raw taco “meat” that I made for my burrito is a nice change from just beans in my burrito (although as you can see, there’s beans as well — I tossed on some of my festive fresh bean salad). There’s a crunch and crumble, but the vegan mayo also adds a creamy texture that goes against type.

Raw zesty taco “meat,” makes three servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw unsalted walnut halves/pieces
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (about 5-6 tomatoes), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (I used Wildwood Aioli for a garlic zing, but if you want a soy-free variety, Earth Island makes soy-free Veganaise)
  • 2 green onions, copped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely copped (use less or none if using aioli)
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds removed if that’s not your thing)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until they are crumbly without being dusty (like regular ground taco meat) and set in a medium-sized bowl
  2. Once your tomatoes, green onions, garlic and jalapeno are chopped, add to the bowl
  3. Add the mayo and the spices and mix thoroughly until everything is coated and even.

In case you’re wondering what I had on my burrito, it wasn’t a 100% raw or GF wrap — but you could totally go that route if you’re trying to be conscious of both (or if you’re just looking for a good cooking challenge). Maybe try a lettuce wrap (way more fun and tasty than a gluten-free wrap).

My wrap consisted of:

  • A whole wheat burrito wrap
  • Roasted garlic hummus
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Roma tomatoes
  • My bean salad (yum!)
  • Raw taco “meat”
  • Avocado!

Even though today is dreary and cloudy, I’m still just really feeling this spring weather. However, now that I’m no longer wearing tall boots all day, this was a terrible way to realize that ALL MY PANTS ARE TOO SHORT. I love skinny jeans, but I’m a long-legged lady, and this simply will not do. Time for shorts/skirts weather to come back into style. QUICK.


Homemade salted caramel Clif Bars (no bake!)

Processed with VSCOcam I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — give a climber a Clif Bar and we’ll be your friend for life. So when I show up to the gym or crag with these bad boys, I’ll have a million friends for life. Unless I haven’t eaten them all by then. There are a million different ways you can make homemade Clif Bars (or any snack bar, really). But the salted caramel flavour of this makes it unique, something you can’t buy in the store. I’ve actually had a hard time finding a vegan caramel that’s not date-based, since dates are not exactly a fructose-friendly food. But this mix of 1/2 brown rice syrup and 1/2 peanut butter with just a small bit of virgin coconut oil makes a pretty convincing dupe.

Salted caramel Clif Bars (makes 8 large bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crispy puffed rice cereal (I used 365 Organic)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if celiac)
  • 1 cup crushed nuts (I recommend a mix of nuts; all I had was walnuts, but almonds, peanuts, cashews, macadamia, whatever, man, they all sound great!)
  • 1/2 cup seeds (I used a mix of sunflower and pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, which are vegan, gluten-free and nut-free)
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup (or coconut nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, softened
  • A dash of fine grain sea salt

Instructions

  1. If not already crushed, run the nuts through a food processor quickly to get them into crumbs.
  2. Mix the oats, rice puffs, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, chocolate chips, coconut and cacao nibs in a bowl. Shake around to get it nice and even.
  3. Meanwhile, soften the coconut oil. To make this a truly “raw” recipe and avoid zapping your food, simply fill a medium-sized saucepan with hot water and sit the jar of oil in it to soften.
  4. Fill another large-sized saucepan with hot water from the kettle and sit a large pyrex measuring cup (at least 3 cups) in the hot water. Add your peanut butter, brown rice syrup, soft coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt.
  5. Mix the liquit thoroughly, as quickly as possible — that’s the only way you can get it nice and soft without having to zap it.
  6. Line a deep rimmed baking dish with parchment paper. Once your “caramel” mixture is soft enough, pour it into the dish.
  7. Add your dry mix and use a fork to move it around, incorporating everything.
  8. Put in the freezer for about an hour to really solidify, then transfer to the fridge. And try not to eat it too quickly!

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I Love My City: Freedom Clothing Collective

You know what’s funny? I’ve been perpetually going over the East/West debate in my mind in Toronto. While most of the time my tastes swing East (I’m an in-bed-by-10-up-by-6-even-on-a-Saturday kind of girl), every time I find myself in Kensington Market, Parkdale, Dufferin Grover or on the Ossington strip, I find myself saying, “West is best.”

Magenta from Grassroots recommended I check out Freedom Clothing Collective, a local co-op shop near Bloor and Ossington showcasing local Toronto fashion and accessory designers. I’ve never been much of a fashion girl (she says draped in a too-large hoodie and generic Old Navy jeans) but I’ve always looked at locally-made clothes differently. It feels like I’m not just buying/wearing clothes — I’m buying/wearing art! I’m showcasing creations made by individuals working hard to make this world a funkier place, and who wouldn’t want that?

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOwners and curators Karen and Jelena are both designers in their own right and, much like their store, have equally funky and dreamy creations for body and home.

Here’s a bit about my experience at Freedom Clothing Collective: First of all, I was pleased as punch that Freedom is not just about clothes — in fact, I was far more enthralled with the accessories and sweet home accents. With sweet earrings, nifty printed cards and big ticket items like tables and lamps, I was legitimately close to outfitting my life with items from this shop.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetBut alas, here’s what I walked away with: A locally-made (vegan!) glossy botanical lip balm, two pairs of earrings (they have a two-for-one sale, so I picked up some sweet black rose earrings and some great green button earrings, as seen on me here) and, of course, a chocolate bar. I’m sorry, but I can only walk by those things so many times before I cave.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetMuch like my time at Grassroots, I felt really relaxed in the store. Jelena was not only really friendly (to be expected in a place like this) but she didn’t do the whole retail-pressure thing. We mostly talked about vegan cheese, socks, and why Bloor and Ossington rocks.

I may or may not have taken a foray into Bloomer’s a block away for some vegan muffins and even a coffee with a shot of vegan Bailey’s. Yep, I’m shameless.

You can find Freedom Clothing Collectige online, on Facebook or on Instagram to check out all the latest pieces of amazing fashion and accessories they carry. If you’re looking to get into local and want to showcase some real art through your clothing, this is the place!


Fresh bean salad with creamy sriracha dressing

Processed with VSCOcamWow, it really has been awhile. Or at least, it feels like it has. I did post on Thursday! But I can’t lie, I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump the last little bit. I’ve got smoothie after smoothie after smoothie, but haven’t come up with a cool main in awhile.

I can safely say that that’s about to change. I am starting to feel very inspired by the world around me again. We just pushed the clocks forward, meaning there is more sunshine in my life — and that’s good for anyone’s soul. I’m also still holding out for some good news with regards to a major change in my life, but I don’t want to jinx that, and I’ll only post more if I hear more. I’m starting to become inspired to create some more summer-y recipes that make me feel light and cool, and this bean salad is one of those things.

Now, this is the kind of salad that can be a simple side or it can be mixed in with some greens and grains to pack a protein punch as part of a bowl. Either way, you’re getting well-fed without feeling like lying on your back afterward. The creamy sriracha dressing might not seem appropriate for this salad at first (it seems like more of a vinaigrette kind of salad, I’ll admit), but it actually goes surprisingly well — coats everything without seeming so heavy and saucy.

Fresh bean salad, serves… a whole lot (seriously, I’ll be eating this all week)

Ingredients

  • One 19 oz can black beans
  • One 19 oz can mixed beans (ours was a six-bean medley of chickpeas, black-eyed peas, white beans and a few different kinds of kidney beans… feel free to put in whatever kind of beans you want, save for squishy lentils)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn (we used canned)
  • One small to medium red onion, diced
  • One English cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro!)

Instructions

  1. Drain the beans and corn if using canned (or prepare if using dried/cob corn) and mix in a large bowl
  2. Add the diced onion, cucumber, garlic and parsley
  3. Mix together and let sit for at least 1/2 hour to let the flavours develop

Creamy sriracha dressing, makes about one cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Pulse all ingredients in a small blender and shake before serving. This is a very viscous dressing, so it’s best spooned onto your salad (or burrito! This would be AMAZING on a burrito).

Woah, what a simple recipe, right? And yet, it was so damn good, I could eat it as a main. I’m not kidding when I say I will be eating this for a week. That’s the great thing about “summer” recipes — rarely are they complicated, but they’re so, so good and satisfying. What are you doing to celebrate these longer sunshine hours? More popsicles? More patio drinks? It’s going to be above zero almost all week — so someone is going to be looking at cleaning up her balcony (hint: it’s me!)