Monthly Archives: June 2015

Cocktail time: whisky sour 2.0

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Do you spell whisky “whiskey” or “whisky?” Apparently, my spelling is the Canadian version. What can I say? I’m a good Canadian girl.

You know what makes me a terrible Canadian girl? I’ve never been a fan of beer. I can sometimes stomach it if it’s a really light-tasting beer, but overall the taste is not my favourite and the carbonation doesn’t sit well in my stomach. I can guarantee I’ll never get drunk off of beer, because more than one is not going into my stomach.

I used to feel really  ashamed for not liking beer, because I think a lot of people feel that those who don’t like beer are prissy, overly feminine or high-maintenance. You’re seen as “chill” for liking beer, you’re seen as “cool.”

Meh. You know what I realized? I really don’t care.

I’m actually quite picky with alcohol. I’m not into wine, but I’m not into overly sugary alcoholic drinks. I don’t drink a lot of lard liquor straight. In fact, I don’t drink very much. When I do, I don’t really like to get drunk because I hate feeling drunk. I’m a huge lightweight. And that’s another thing people like to make fun of me for — really, you can’t win.

Anyway, I have a few old faithfuls I’ll always go to on the odd occasion I feel like having a drink in my hand. One of them is a whisky ginger, the other is a whisky sour (to be honest, whisky makes everything taste better to me).

This is somewhat of an enhanced version of a whisky sour — and yes, it has beer! But it’s a bit more refreshing than your average beer, so it has that perfect “summer day on a patio” feel.

Whisky Sour 2.0, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 oz whisky
  • 1 cup lager (I used Mill Street, which is brewed locally)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 2-3 tbsp simple syrup (make sure to make with non bone-char filtered sugar)
  • A few shakes lime bitters (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients besides the bitters in a shaker
  2. Pour into two glasses over ice and shake on the bitters (optional)

10 smoothies with four ingredients or less

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Smoothies are a fun and fresh way to switch up your morning (or afternoon, or evening) routine. Every day, I’m totally wowed by the unique smoothie recipes I see online. There are so many cool ways to sneak in fruits and veggies for people on the go, or for people like me who merely want to see just how crazy they can get.

But it’s also important to remember, especially if you’re new to smoothies, that they don’t have to be complicated. They don’t need 10+ ingredients. You should be able to make an easy, cheap grocery trip and not blow your entire budget on something that’s just going to get liquified into a mason jar.

Here are some of my favourite, easy smoothie recipes that all contain four ingredients for less. I have some suggested extras, but even just the base alone should be enough to satisfy.

  1. Basic morning glory smoothie
    One banana, 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1 cup orange juice
    Suggested extras: vanilla extract, protein powder or chia seeds
  2. Creamy blueberry smoothie
    1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogourt, 1/4 cup non-dairy milk, 1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup or other honey substitute
    Suggested extras: hemp hearts or nut butter for protein
  3. Basic green smoothie
    1 cup spinach or kale, one banana, 1 cup non-dairy milk (or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water depending on your preference), 1 tbsp nut butter
    Suggested extras: ground flax or chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla
  4. Chai spice smoothie
    One banana, 1 cup non-dairy milk, 1 tbsp rolled oats, 1/2 tbsp chai spice blend*
    Suggested extras: nut butter, liquid sweetener like maple syrup
  5. Tropical blend
    One banana, 1/2 cup pineapple chunks, 1 cup mango chunks (frozen ideal), 1 cup non-dairy milk (or half milk, half water)
    Suggested extras: coconut water instead of regular water, vanilla extract
  6. Creamy mocha smoothie
    One banana, 1 cup non-dairy milk, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of espresso
    Suggested extras: protein powder, rolled oats or nut butter
  7. Super green smoothie
    1 cup spinach or kale, 2 tbsp ripe avocado flesh, 1 cucumber (peeled), 1/2 cup water
    Suggested extras: coconut water instead of regular water, a splash of non-dairy milk, protein powder, fresh parsley
  8. “Buggs Bunny” carrot orange smoothie
    Two seedless naval oranges, 1/2 cup chopped and peeled carrots, 2 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1 cup water
    Suggested extras: add in a bit of milk or a banana to make a more filling “meal” smoothie
  9. Purple power smoothie
    1/2 cup blueberries or blackberries, 1 cup strawberries or rasperries, 1 tbsp ground flax, 1 cup non-dairy milk
    Suggested extras: a banana for thickness
  10. Classic vanilla protein smoothie
    1 banana, 1 cup vanilla-flavoured non-dairy milk, 2tbsp hemp hearts, 1 tbsp nut butter
    Suggested extras: flax seed meal, chia seeds, protein powder, cinnamon

* Chai spice blend: Three parts ground cinnamon, three parts ground allspice, one part nutmeg, one part cardamom, one part garam masala, pinch of ground cloves

What are some of your own classic, minimalist smoothie combos? I’d love to hear all of them!


10 positive changes you can make with food without letting it control you

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One thing I find people in recovery or people teetering on the edges of an ED have a really difficult time with is associating food with positivity without then letting food control them.

It’s way too easy to think that you’re developing a positive relationship with food when really you’re still obsessing over it, whether that’s through an obsession with clean eating or sticking to a very strict regime.

One thing I find common among people recovering from EDs, whether or not they’re classifiable, is that food becomes a source of tension, and we tend to place so much emphasis on these “rules” that when we finally start recovering, we avoid the topic of food all together for fear of relapsing.

These are a few positive changes I’ve made with food that actually have allowed me to let go of my control issues with food over the years, and I want to invite everyone to try some of these. Whether you’re in recovery or not, whether you’re a vegan or not, these are all really, really positive decisions to make.

  1. Cook with a friend. If there was one thing I loved doing starting in my third year of school, it was involving a friend in the kitchen — even just one. I would usually have my friend Claire come over, or sometimes when my sister would visit she would help me out. There’s something really nice about just asking someone, “Hey, can you chop this onion for me?” or using food prep to drift into anecdotes and jokes. My partner and I cook together all the time and it makes the prep experience way less stressful and far more pleasant. There’s no pressure, it’s just two buds in the kitchen! 
  2. Buy local when you can. While there is a lot of debate and conflicting information about the benefits of buying 100% organic produce, one thing that I know to be true is that buying local does make a difference. Buying produce or goods made and sold locally whenever you can provides a huge help to the merchants and farmers of those items. The big chain grocer you shop at will probably not miss your business next Saturday, but your business will be fondly appreciated by the “little guy” selling at a farmer’s market. Plus, the experience of going out to a farmer’s market is so awesome (it’s not like you run into dozens of adorable doges at a supermarket)!
  3. Set goals to try new foods. I was an embarrassingly picky eater probably until I was about 16 or so. I don’t know what compelled me to start trying new foods, but my will to try new things seemed to go up exponentially from them on. For about three years I dated someone who was not quite at that level yet (the closest thing to a vegetable he ate was tomato sauce) and I found meals always became incredibly tense. It’s tough to be a picky eater. You feel so much pressure on you to like everything put in front of you, and you can always feel eyes on you when you’re eating. So set goals to try new foods, preferably not in crowd situations if you’re worried you won’t like it. Try a free sample of something when you’re out shopping, try working a different food into a recipe, even if you just puree it. The frequency doesn’t always have to be the same — maybe once a month if you’re not ready to go out shopping too often, or once a week if you’re feeling really adventurous. It can really unlock your creativity and help you feel accomplished. Every time you discover a new food you like, you’re limiting yourself even less.
  4. Take the stress out of food by prepping beforehand. Honestly, food prep for me is one of the biggest pains in the butt. When I feel rushed about cooking, I often end up chopping my food really sloppily or getting mega-stressed about it. One thing I’ve started doing recently that’s helped a lot is that I’ve invested in more plastic and glass containers to store my food in and I chop it right away when I get home from the store. Onions, carrots and lettuce are probably the biggest things that I love having handy and ready to go when it’s time to start cooking (I’d probably feel that way about bell peppers too, if I ate ’em). It also makes for an easy snack — hungry? Holy shit, there’s some carrot sticks! Brought home fresh herbs? Fill a mason jar with some water and plop them in, with a plastic bag on top, to keep them fresh. It makes your fridge so much more organized.
  5. Snack on simple fruits and veggies. I find a lot of vegan food sites convince us that our “snacks” need to be these big elaborate things like “Raw-reos” and homemade gluten-free cookies and flax crackers. Okay, I do make a pretty sick gluten-free cookie and flax cracker. But one thing that I think is important is just snacking on food straight as it came from the Earth (okay, and washed off and stuff). Carrot sticks. Celery sticks. Cubes of melon. Sliced apples if you’re not like me and you can actually digest an apple. Enjoying food that’s just pure and simple can really help you gain an appreciation for how great it is (and how you definitely deserve to feed yourself with it).
  6. Eat outside in the sunlight (while you still can)! Sometimes, even if you don’t struggle with an ED, eating can bring about a real sense of shame. Whether it’s because you’re ashamed of the fact that you feel like you haven’t done anything that day and are eating in bed watching Netflix, or maybe you’re ashamed that you’re eating at all. Now that it’s nice weather (and I always feel this fleeting sense in the summer, like “Hurry up or it’ll be gone soon!”), try to fashion yourself the nicest possible environment to eat in to remind yourself that you’re not a failure, life can be beautiful, and eating is a part of that beautiful life. If you have a balcony, step out on it. If you live near a park, go eat some carrot sticks and take a book to the park. Associate eating with beautiful imagery and positive vibes. Your mental health will thank you!
  7. Find the “zen” in food prep and clean-up. This is something I got from my partner. I always ask him if he needs help with dishes (I actually love doing dishes. I would do them when I worked fast food because that meant I didn’t have to deal with customers) and he’ll say no. For one thing, his kitchen is crowded, but we don’t mind getting shoulder-to-shoulder. Mostly, he says, he finds a certain calmness in cleaning the dishes. I can totally get that. Sometimes things like prepping food or washing your dishes can seem so daunting it makes you want to not even start. Just remember that this is your opportunity to slow down and be mindful. A monotonous activity such as this can help you to work on slowing down your breathing, conjuring up a daydream or two or laughing about something that happened earlier. It’s just washing dishes, it doesn’t entirely need your full attention (unless, of course, you’re washing sharp things).
  8. Play with your food. Okay, I’m not crazy. Sometimes, you just have to let your inner five-year-old come out and give your food a bit of personality. Sometimes I like arranging things on my plate to try and create nice pictures (or even crazy abstract images). Or (and get ready to feel some total secondhand embarrassment for me) I’ll picture my burritos yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DON’T EAT ME!” as I’m eating them. I’m not saying you’ve gotta go full toddler, but just bring yourself to a place of joy and silliness when eating. Move away from the heavy stuff.
  9. Find new recipes online (and support up-and-coming food bloggers when you can)! I had zero interest in cooking for any purpose other than keeping myself alive until I started consulting online recipes. My first online recipe bible was Kraft’s web site (believe it or not) and I was surprised at how many resources there were for different kinds of people cooking different kinds of food. Here I was, a poor student, cooking things that were delicious, in my budget and not totally terrible for me! But beyond sites owned by big companies like Kraft, there’s also little guys, like NourishNotPunish or, ahem, me? Supporting the little guy here is no different than supporting the little guy in how you buy your food. And you know what would be an incredible gesture of support? Donating to my Tilt campaign to create my very first e-book!
  10. Put on music while you cook/eat (even if you’re alone). Turning something into a dance party? Guaranteed fun. But also, if you’re like me and you’re the type of person who lets nasty, pessimistic thoughts get into your head, sometimes all it takes is some music to distract you from problems that aren’t really problems. Music can help transport you into another world free of worries. Also? Eating with music on is classy as hellll.

What are some ways you’ve made positive changes surrounding your eating/cooking/food buying habits? Share in the comments below!


Butternut squash gnocchi

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Gnocchi is a modern miracle. Are they potatoes? Are they pasta? Are they fluffy? Are they tender? WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT MISCHIEF?

It’s gnocchi, man.

I’ve expressed my fondness for gnocchi before, but I’ve finally gotten around to making my own. Of course, I’d be totally boring to simply do up a potato or even sweet potato gnocchi, right? So of course, I went with butternut squash.

Lemme tell you an anecdote about butternut squash. When I was in my first year of uni, I lived in a four-person unit with five other girls (bunk beds made two single rooms into doubles, yay!) and witnessed a wide array of eating habits that were, needless to say, strange. What was perhaps the strangest of all was that the two girls who were varsity athletes seemingly had the worst habits. One girl, a varsity soccer player, was still pretty new to the whole fending-for-herself thing, and didn’t really have the time to learn to cook. At the same time, she wanted to get her veggies in, so often her dinner would simply be a whole butternut squash, sliced into medallions and microwaved for about a half hour or so.

I mean… it could be worse, right? Butternut squash is totally nutritious and tasty. It’s good enough to eat on its own, I guess, which is why I kept this pasta very minimal. Of course, you could go nuts if you wanted with some colourful veg showing up the gnocchi, or you could make it sweet with some maple and nuts and some sprouts.

But here are a few things I learned from making gnocchi:

  • The act of making it isn’t really hard or high-maintenance.
  • It’s best to mash the potatoes or squash and let it cool first, even dry out a little. The more warm/moist it is, the harder your dough will be to work with and the more flour you will need. I’d recommend leaving it uncovered (or loosely covered with a clean dish towel or something) in the fridge for a little while. Seriously.
  • Literally all you need is three ingredients (plus any spice you want). Don’t let anyone tell you you need an egg for binding.
  • Best balance to strike for gnocchi that’s not too sticky to work with but not so dry that you don’t need an egg (or, obviously, flax egg): mash it, mix in most of your flour, let cool/dry a bit, THEN see if you need any extra flour before you start rolling it out.

The good news about gnocchi is you can do a lot of your steps ahead of time — like cooking/mashing your squash — so that the actual making of the little “nubbins” (a scientific unit of measurement according to my partner) is fairly quick.

Butternut squash gnocchi, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a large butternut squash or 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (whatever kind of flour you like, a GF flour will hold just fine)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and/or any spices you like, to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice your butternut squash in two or into medallions. Lightly dab with EVOO and cook at 375 for 60-80 minutes (should be fork tender and skin should peel off easily)
  2. Once squash is cooked, remove from heat and scoop the insides out into a bowl.
  3. Mash the insides until there are no chunks at all (that’s totally easy, you can even do it with a fork).
  4. Add about 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix in evenly.
  5. Let your squash cool/dry for 30 minutes or so, unless you’re in a hurry in which case you may have to add more flour.
  6. Once your squash is cooler/dryer and not so sticky, dust a clean surface with flour. Shape the mixture into a dough ball and pull apart into smaller, fist-sized balls. If these balls feel too sticky in your hands right off the bat, just add a bit more flour.
  7. Roll your smaller dough balls in your hands until there are no little pieces splitting off. Then begin to roll back and forth on the surface until a cylindrical tube forms.
  8. Gently cut off pieces of the tube, about 1″ long. You may have to do some extra shaping if necessary (or if you just want to make them look fancy). Set the pieces aside.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi pieces to the water (if you have a lot, you may have to do this in two batches).
  10. Once the water comes back to a boil,  let the gnocchi boil for no longer than two minutes. Remove, drain and strain!
  11. Fry up your gnocchi with whatever veg you like. This is a simple mix of tomatoes and spinach (my partner also added extra nooch and green onions to his. He’s a total nooch hound — and he isn’t even a vegan!)

Vegan shamrock shake two ways — green smoothie and dessert shake

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I actually was never into the whole shamrock shake thing as a kid. Call me a heartless little thing, but I was never into milkshakes (even while working my first job at McDonalds). I liked soft serve ice cream enough, but was never too into straight-up bowls of ice cream or any of its sweet spawns — no shakes or floats for me. Those are verbs, not foods.

But there’s one thing I do enjoy, and that’s mob mentality. Okay, I’m totally kidding, but seriously, when my old boss would have his yearly tradition of bringing shamrock shakes in for everyone at the magazine I used to work at, I’ll admit I felt left out.

I’ve also been looking at a way to add some zing with mint to a green smoothie lately, so I figured this was the perfect time to do it. I’ll admit my first take at the recipe had a few kinks to work out, but after a few experimentations it turned out alright. Oh, and of course, I had to go and make a dessert version, too, because I’ve had a tub of soy ice cream sitting in my freezer since, oh, Thanksgiving.

One thing’s for sure about both, it’ll leave your breath ridiculously fresh.

Vegan shamrock smoothie, serves one

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water or coconut water
  • 1 1/4 cup spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup young coconut meat
  • A few springs of mint
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used coconut nectar)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa butter (if you can’t find cocoa butter, use a smooth peanut or almond butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Simply blend all ingredients on high until smooth and green!

Vegan shamrock shake, serves one

Ingredients

  • 2 small scoops vanilla non-dairy ice cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • A few sprigs of mint
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Again, simply blend all of the ingredients on high until you reach a consistency you like. This one doesn’t need any sweetening, trust me!

How’s that for bridging the gap between your inner child and your total grown-up.


Fluffy chickpea “eggs” (soy free!)

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Tofu scramble is and always will be my favourite vegan breakfast. Aside from pancakes. And French toast. And smoothies. And toast with berries and PB and cacao nibs.

Okay, much like parents and their children, I can’t actually pick a favourite (except every parent secretly does have a favourite, the favourite is ME in the case of my parents, and in the case of my favourite vegan breakfast it’s PROBABLY still tofu scramble).

But for those who aren’t a big fan of tofu or eating a ton of soy, or just those who want to try something different, chickpea flour is a great, easy and even CHEAP way to get yourself fluffy, yellow eggieweggs in the morning.

No soy tofu scramble – “I am not tofu scramble.” GET IT?! IT’S A JOKE EN ESPANOL.

Ugh, I need to stop using this blog as a platform for my amateur comedy hour.

Anyway, chickpea flour will result in a slightly different texture than tofu. There are a few pros and cons here, so I’ll outline the both of them:

  • PRO: You can actually cook your veggies right IN to the “eggs” instead of having them just kinda THERE.
  • PRO: The “pancake” texture of the chickpea eggs makes them way easier to work with in the pan.
  • CON: It will probably end up tasting a little cake-like no matter how well you cook it.
  • CON: It can have a pretty plain taste if you don’t add in some good spices.

Nevertheless, I think I’ve successfully cracked the code re: chickpea flour eggs. Here’s my recipe for a nice scramble to share with a loved one or just yourself, because you love yourself enough to eat two servings of chickpea eggs today.

Chickpea scramble, serves two

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
  • 1 tbsp EVOO, plus more for frying
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos (coconut aminos will make this recipe 100% soy free, and you can also easily find a gluten-free tamari or soy sauce to suit any dietary restrictions)
  • Two small handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp packed sundried tomatoes in oil (about 2-3 tomatoes), julienned
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Pinch of tumeric
  • Pinch of nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (use Indian black salt* if you can find it)

*Black salt, or kala namak, is not actually black but a pinkish grey, fine (almost powdery) salt. It’s difficult to find and is probably best found in Indian or south Asian marketplaces. While it’s not essential to the recipe it will lend a very unique, sulfur-like taste to the eggs and make them truly taste more “eggy.”

Instructions

  1. Heat a small amount of EVOO in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Prep your veggies — chop your garlic and tomaotes, and slice your green onions. Save a few of the ends of your onions for garnish.
  3. Combine the chickpea flour, water, milk, oil and tamari, whisking thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.
  4. Add in your spices and veggies, reserving one handful of the spinach.
  5. Pour the mixture into the warm pan. Let the mixture cook like a pancake until it is semi-hard, then begin to scramble it.
  6. Once you’ve broken up the mixture, add in the rest of your spinach and any extra oil if the skillet is too dry. Reduce the heat to 1-2, cover the pan and let cook until the spinach is wilted.
  7. I served this yummy delicious meal with some avocado toast. You can add in some potatoes if you REALLY want to make this a big, filling breakfast. It might also be nice to add in some TVP bits to act like bacon bits, or some sliced mushrooms for protein.

Nutella flax pudding (for breakfast!)

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I admit I got a little salty about something (while I was in California, working out and well-hydrated if you can believe it).

I received a comment from someone about how one of my recipes was “too complicated,” and I couldn’t quite articulate why it pissed me off. For one thing, I’ve never found my recipes to be very complicated, because I’m not that great of a cook and I can still manage. But more than anything, the reason I got a little salty is because this isn’t the first time I’ve felt the pull of people wanting me to change my website to suit THEIR needs.

My mandate ISN’T to be a minimalist and so-simple-your-cat-could-do-it recipe site. Now, I do believe in making food with ingredients you can buy at your average market. That said, my shtick is vegan food, not vegan food that can  be made in one bowl or in five minutes. You know what can be made in (less than, I hope) five minutes? A sandwich. You know what I’m not going to tell you how to make? A sandwich. Because you know how to make a sandwich. It’s bread, or bread-type-things, and then it’s other things encased between those bread-type things.

Now, I realize I’m a little overly salty about this. I’m McDonalds Fries salty about it. But like I said, this isn’t the first time others have tried to tell me what I should do with my website, and most of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

“You should focus on meals that can be made for under $X.”

“You should put stuff that picky eaters will like!”

“You should make stuff that’s good for transitioning vegans!”

“You should make your recipes more allergen-friendly!”

You know what I hear whenever I hear those “suggestions?” “You should change your site to suit me.”

Now, I know that most people don’t think that that’s what they’re saying. They’re happy that Urban Garlic has potentially provided them with a good resource but wish it were just a little bit more tailored to them. I can respect that, and the fact is, I am here to be a resource to other people. If I was totally ignoring my potential audience, I’d be a real shithead, wouldn’t I?

But, well, I do have an audience. Sometimes when you know a blogger personally, you’re convinced that the people they know offline are their only readers. But I know my stats — I know that most of my views come from the States (and a few from Europe!), that most of my clicks come from Instagram, and that very few of my friends, even if they actively support my blog, actually make my food (shout out to the ones who have shared pics with me!! Eeeeee)!

I’m not even saying this is a bad thing. I think it’s incredible that my friends who have no interest in vegan food have been so engaged and supportive of my blog. Hey, let’s all celebrate that fact!

But that’s besides the point. I have an audience and they like what I post. And while anyone could tell you that they key to failure is trying to please everyone else, I feel pretty confident in saying that a lot of them would also want you to please them.

Anyway, I feel like I had to get that off my chest, and the reason I’m putting it out there on my blog is because I want people to know that while suggestions have a time and a place (“Hey Bree, you should do a cake recipe!”) there comes a point when your “helpful suggestion” is like going into a Canadian History class and going “When are we going to get to Canadian contemporary studies?”

So… pudding?

I’m sorry, I just kept talking myself in a circle and still found no way to get to pudding.

Everyone loves a good chia pudding/parfait. The thing is, chia seeds are expensive as hell and not all that different, nutritionally, from flax seeds. This is a way cheaper option that has just as much goodness for you — and yes, it’s chocolate. Hey, Nutella got away with trying to claim it was healthy for years (mothers across the world were shocked — a creamy, chocolate spread wasn’t as healthy as eight bowls of spinach? Zut alors!) so I’m pretty sure I’m one step ahead.

Speaking of one step ahead, you also don’t have to prepare this overnight (aside from making your milk ice cubes). Freeze about those suckers overnight and you should be good to enjoy yourself some yummy pudding!

Nutella flax pudding for breakfast, serves two

Ingredients

  • 5 frozen cubes of non-dairy milk (standard ice cube size — it’s a tough conversion if you’re me and your ice cube molds are little porcupines and squirrels)
  • 1 1/2 cup unflavoured, unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 5 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut or almond butter
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 tbsp macca powder (if you don’t have macca on hand, add the third tbsp of cocoa)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • A small handfull of hazelnuts, plus more for topping

Instructions

  1. Sit the flax seeds in the milk and allow to plump for a few minutes while you prep and chop everything else.
  2. Add all of the ingredients besides the milk cubes into the blender and blend on high until all is pureed and there are no chunks (watch out for those tricky hazelnut bastards)
  3. Add the milk cubes and blend once again!
  4. Serve garnished with hazelnuts and, if you’re feeling really wild, some coconut whipped cream.

I hope you all enjoyed my rather neurotic post. I hope no one starts tugging at their collar and going, “Wow, that Bree’s a real Squidward in the morning, isn’t she?” And if they do, well, not much I can do to change that. Except eat more pudding.


Pretty-much-instant mozzarella cheeze sauce (and a neat pizza idea)

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I only realized once I gave up cheese how little of it I ate to begin with. You know how I realized this? I tried pretty much every vegan cheese out there. I was, at one point, a fan of rice cheese slices, but those seem to have been discontinued at my supermarkets. Aside from Toffuti American cheese slices (which do admittedly make a pretty boss grilled cheese) I’d rather just take my food without cheese than put a non-dairy cheese I’m honestly not a huge fan of on my food.

(And yes, I am hereby going on the record saying I don’t understand the big deal about Daiya. I will use Daiya shreds when I have to and I don’t mind the cream cheese spread, but I’d rather punch myself in the face than eat a whole pizza of Daiya, or eat a Daiya wedge or slice. Really, can someone PLEASE explain to me why everyone pretends Daiya isn’t made of chalk and my childhood nightmares? “Melts and stretches” my ass. No, it does not literally melt or stretch my ass.)

Okay, sorry about that. Have I just been unfollowed by half of the vegan community? Is someone going to put a hit out on me?If OSG could be like, “I’m not calling myself a vegan anymore,” surely I can be like “Daiya secretly sucks,” right?

Anyway, I’m not totally stone-cold on cheeze in general. Comfort food is comfort food, and sometimes you just need something warm and rich and, well, cheesy (and apparently, my humour isn’t enough for you people)! So I know a few good cheeze sauce recipes, but this recent one I developed with Jarrod is by far the

  • easiest
  • cheapest
  • fastest
  • tastiest
  • It also happens to be nut-free (unless you use a nut milk for the milk, obviously).

Most cheeze recipes are cashew or macadamia-based. So, here’s the problem I have with that. Or problems. Plural.

  • I’d like to pretend this isn’t the case, but I usually end up deciding what I want for dinner at dinnertime, or at the most a few hours before dinnertime. No time to soak cashews.
  • Cashews and macadamia nuts aren’t the most fructose-friendly nuts for bubble gut gals like me.
  • Cashews also have this one problem, in the words of the late great Mitch Hedberg: “Theyyyyy’re fuckin’ expensive!”
  • I don’t own a blender that will simply pulverize my cashews into a liquid. Unfortunately, my Ninja still can’t break down nuts that well (now accepting donations on a new blender, seriously)!
  • I just find the taste kind of… blah. Unless you add carrots, I find there’s such a mild taste to it and I’m always fully aware that I’m eating nuts.

So I started looking around for a few other foods to make a nice thick cheese sauce I could top my pizzas with, make a casserole with, etc. I’d previously worked a little bit with potatoes and turnips, but those are, well, just mashed potatoes. But cauliflower is just dense enough to make a good base without becoming too heavy. Folks? I think we’re onto something.

Pretty-much-instant mozzarella cheeze sauce, makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cauliflower, chopped (recommended to steam before)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavoured non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (YOU HEARD ME)
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or other oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of tumeric
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch, more if needed

Instructions

  1. I’d recommend starting by chopping and steaming your cauliflower for a few minutes to make it easier on your blender to blend. Unless you’re one of those fancy Vitamixers. Then just toss ’em in. Throw in a rock, a Nokia cell phone, your mom’s favourite coffee mug and a ski helmet while you’re at it.
  2. Add all ingredients except the corn starch to a blender and blend on high until all is liquified.
  3. Empty the liquid into a medium saucepan and heat on medium, whisking at a medium pace for several minutes. Add your corn starch gradually — you may need more or less than 1 tbsp, depending on how thick your sauce gets just from the heat alone.
  4. Stir for 5-10 minutes and remove from heat. Once cooled, store in a jar for up to a week.

This is the pizza we topped with the mozzarella. We wanted it thick and slabby, like little medallions of buffalo mozzarella. It’s a peach caprese pizza. Peaches aren’t the most fructose-friendly, but they’re not the worst, and I find when they’re less ripe (these were still quite firm), they don’t give off as much syrupy sweetness that gives me the grumbles. We made it using pesto (my zesty pesto recipe goes great with pizza), peaches, caramelized onions (Jarrod made them and literally all that was used to make them was onions and oil — no added sweetener at all) and our cheeze sauce.

Jealous?


“Gimme a Beet!” burgers

I was originally going to call these my “Red Rody” burgers. For those of you who don’t know, my biological grandfather’s real name was Aneas, but he had a nice head of strawberry blonde hair (he was Irish) and his friends all called him Red Rody. My Grandpa Bill is my mother’s stepdad, and he’s the sweetest, kindest man I know, but I’ve always been curious about my biological grandfather. I’ve heard he was a great dancer and a real funny man.

But naming a burger after your long-passed grandfather seems kinda dark.

So now let me awkwardly segue into how I’ve been in a huge Janet Jackson phase as of late — late 80’s Janet all the way to current Janet. I think Janet is the most talented, beautiful tropical fish. And one of my favourite songs by her is “Nasty,” which of course is defined by its spunky opening like, “Gimme a beat!” Thus, “Gimme a Beet” burgers, far less weird than naming a burger after a person.

Oh my gosh, can you tell this is my most scattered intro ever? What can I say, I’ve been a bit scattered this week (I’m actually in Santa Monica, CA, as you’re reading this — probably running between keynotes and desperately re-applying my sunscreen).

Now, if you recall, I’m not too hip on beets. I’ve been trying to get myself used to the taste because they seem to be the root veggie du jour and, you know, I wanna be a cool kid. Also, they’re good for you and whatnot. Plus, my partner loves them, and food is best enjoyed together, you know?

So here’s the “Gimme a Beet!” burgers, yummy enough to leave your stomach full and your teeth pink. My partner loved the taste and texture of the walnuts, and the unique flavouring from the thyme!

“Gimme a Beet!” burgers, makes 6 jumbo patties or 10 sliders

Ingredients

  • One 19-oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (toasted, if desired)
  • 1 cup rolled oats, processed into a flour
  • 1 cup sprouted grain breadcrumbs (well, any breadcrumb, really. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life).
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cups grated beets
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots (you can mess around with the balance of carrots and beets)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce (Wizard Brand makes a GF version if you need it). If you can’t find vegan Worcester, balsamic vinegar makes a decent sub
  • 1/2 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos (use CA for a gluten-free alternative, or find a gluten-free tamari if you need)
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped (about one ounce)
  • 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A liberal sprinkle of nutritional yeast (optional)
  • One triple flax egg: 3 tbsp ground flax seed meal and 1/4 cup lukewarm water, thickened for about 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 35 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Drain and rinse your beans and pour into a large bowl. Mash them up, leaving a few chunks for texture (you can use a masher, or, if you’re gross like me, wash your hands first and just get in there and squeeze ’em).
  3. Add in your onions, beets, garlic and carrots. Work those in.
  4. Work in the liquid ingredients now (Worcester, tamari and oil) and the flax egg.
  5. Now fold in the oat flour, bread crumbs, thyme, spices and nooch (if using).
  6. Shape into six jumbo patties (or 10 sliders) and space out on the parchment.
  7. Cook for about 15 minutes on each side, until the burgers are crispy on each side maintaining enough integrity to not crumble on your flipper).

As you can see, I topped mine with some veggies and Toffuti slices on a thin bun, but I’m not here to tell you how to enjoy your burger. Now, beet it! My Irish ass is getting a tan (or burnt, probably. Yeah, burnt).


Things I’m Loving Lately: May Edition

May is finished! Woah! And that brings us to my favourite month: (wait for it) JUNE! (Weren’t expecting that, were you)?

Now, I could tell you that June is my favourite month because it’s the month of my birthday and you’d probably believe me, right? Well, as a matter of fact, even if I were born in, say, November (the WORST month) I bet June would be my favourite month. Why? C’mon, it’s obvious. Long days, warm weather (without that awful, pervasive heat-wave feel), sunshine, and the end of school!

Wait, it’s been about ten years since June meant “the end of school.” Oy, I feel old.

But still, I’m making a strong case for June, right?

Here are a few favourites I discovered or simply used a lot of in May. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

  1. Lush U.K.’s SunblockI was shocked to know that you can’t actually buy vegan sunscreen in Canada. Why? Because sunscreen sold in Canada MUST be tested on animals. How silly! I’m in California right now (like, RIGHT NOW!) and this little bar is saving my Irish ass.
  2. I actually bought a romper. I love myself for that.
  3. Kat Von D makeup has been one of those up-in-the-air brands that had murmurs and rumours about that it was vegan/cruelty-free, but there was no confirmation. Recently, Logical Harmony certified Kat Von D makeup as cruelty-free and listed their vegan products — almost all of them! I now own a KVD lipstick, concealer AND eyeliner, and I can’t wait to show off some of the interesting looks I’ve been creating.
  4. I’m not just loving my cat Benny “lately,” I’ve loved him forever, but lately I’ve been loving posting pictures and videos of him on Instagram. My cat is just so funny-looking I have to share him with the world (you should follow me! You’ll see some of my sister’s jerk cats there too).
  5. I want to give a special shout-out to my favourite climbing gym in the GTA, Climber’s Rock. I mean, that’s aside from my home gym (I will always love you, TCA). But Climber’s Rock, located in Burlington, is a fantastic gym to travel to from time to time! There are some great beginner routes and a few auto-belays, so you can work without a partner, two large boulder areas, plenty of high, challenging lead walls, and even a great yoga studio and fitness area.
  6. Another great space to shout out to is Hub 14, a creative arts space for local creators to rehearse, create content and even perform in. I’ve been rehearsing at Hub 14 lately. It’s located in the Queen and Bathurst area and feels so wonderfully private.
  7. How did I find Hub 14? Actually, that’s another thing I’m loving lately: Space Finder Toronto. This is a great, easy way to find a space to rehearse in — or have a meeting, or teach a lesson, or record a song. It’s easy to find and book space and sort by price too!
  8. I recently bought these jeans from GAP and they make my legs look fantastic.
  9. A few great articles I’ve read recently about the politics of food: A Plea for Culinary Modernism, which is critical of the way we romanticize the “old-fashioned” food and cooking styles, and The new religion: how an emphasis on “clean eating” has created a moral hierarchy for food. I will say that I disagree (or am just plain confused by) the latter’s views on veganism to an extent (it seems to believe that the only reason people are vegan is to feel “pure” themselves and leaves animal liberation out of the conversation entirely), but that said I think it is astute (and yes, harsh) and a strong point to compare food and the emphasis on “clean eating” to religion.
  10. One of my favourite vegans in the world, Evelyn aka NourishNotPunish (a fellow fructmal) has recently published a raw vegan cheesecake made. without. cashews. or. dates. I actually haven’t made this cheesecake yet, but I WILL! Because, uh, it’s summer time, and my birthday is coming up!

That’s it for this month’s link love and ravings! June will surely be full of a lot of adventures. I’ll make sure to post pics from California (if they even turn out alright) so you can see how this pale Irish-Canadian loser deals with the city of dreams.