Tag Archives: homemade

Recipe: The Big Stuffed Squash

I’ll admit I was a big worried when we went up to my cousin’s wedding in Wawa, ON. Of course, my cousin assured me that Jarrod and I would get a vegan meal, but when our plane landed in Sault Ste. Marie and we prepared for a two-hour drive up a beautiful but very remote highway without even half a dozen truck stops, I realized that the weekend was not going to be easy.

When we got to Wawa, the first thing we did was go to the grocery store (yep, the one). Jarrod and I found some cereal and soy milk for the mornings and some healthy snacks (and some not-so-healthy because duh, it’s a party weekend). I gnawed on potato chips and Bark Thins while my cousins ate pulled pork at the Friday night party and ate Tim Horton’s oatmeal for lunch. Then, finally, when we sat for the reception, we were greeted with the most beautiful creation.


Nut-free cookie dough bites

I was definitely a cookie-dough eater as a kid. And as an adult. In university, my roommate Jenn and I would make cookies and usually end up eating about half the dough ourselves. Let’s just say one of my favourite unexpected benefits of going vegan is being able to eat the raw cookie dough with pretty much no consequences (I say “pretty much” because I have been known to become quite miserable when I eat too many sweet things, much as I don’t want to admit it).


DIY post-workout toner


I always feel uncomfortable when I see posts titled “how to get great skin” or “seven tips to amazing skin!” The fact is, while some of our dietary and lifestyle choices can have some effects on our skin’s habits, you can’t up and change your skin type. You have genetics, hormones and outside factors like the weather to thank for that.


No-banana berry soft serve

no banana soft serve

Don’t hate on me: I’m not the biggest fan of banana ice cream.

Which might seem crazy coming from a girl who has a banana in every smoothie, who was addicted to banana Popsicles growing up, who would fake sick just to get banana penicillin and whose nickname was — surprise — Breanna Banana. Yes, I do sing the high praises of bananas.


Taqueria-style seitan tacos with cilantro-lime aioli


In Toronto, taquerias became “the” thing in late 2013. So I assume, since food trends move pretty quickly in Toronto, that taquerias are officially “out.” But that’s in Toronto. Go to a place like Waterloo or Hamilton (two of my favourite cities, probably more-favourite than Toronto!) and taquerias are still totally fresh and cool there.

Recently, I went to Hamilton’s Supercrawl art crawl for the first time (yep, I missed last year when my favourite band, Arkells, played) and we met up with a friend of Jar’s at a new taqueria in Hamilton. See, I like when a city moves more at my pace. New taqueria in late 2015? Just fine by me. And, because it’s not Toronto, the tacos seemed downright cheap.

The most popular vegan option at most places appears to be fried/crispy cauliflower tacos. At the Hamilton place, I had a crispy cauliflower taco with a garnish of mint, which was a very interesting combo. I’ve gone back and forth, considering re-creating this, or trying my hand at a fried Brussels sprouts version, but deep-frying is a real pain in the ass (we don’t have a deep fryer, so we rely on our giant pot).

So I went with something totally original I haven’t seen at any taquerias yet: seitan.

Hail seitan.

I mentioned in my recent post about fall projects that one of my goals is to better develop our home seitan recipe. This is the first time we used the simmering method (adapted slightly from Amy’s recipe at No Whey No Cow), which gave us seitan that’s a little more tender than chewy. Jar still prefers the steamed loaves, I think, but I like the simmering method. Could this be the wedge that drives us apart?

Probably not.

Anyway, this seitan, combined with the aioli, is a bit of a “dedicate an afternoon to this” kind of recipe. You can’t just decide you’re going to make it and it’s done in 15 minutes. That said, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Remember, lots of steps and ingredients don’t necessarily mean something is complicated. I find a lot of seitan recipes are written in ways that overcomplicate the process and make it seem too intimidating to try, so I’m going to try and make it seem as simple as possible!

I’d like to note for seitan newbies that while I normally try to offer alternatives for people with nut or gluten allergies, seitan is basically pure gluten and is not at all safe for someone avoiding gluten. There is no gluten-free alternative for seitan. Sorry, friends!

Seitan tacos and cilantro lime aioli

Simmered seitan

Yield: three batches of cutlets
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour


  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten (can be found at any bulk store or health food store; Bob’s Red Mill sells a pack)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (we use the McCormick’s roasted variety, which is even more flavourful)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or faux-meat broth (you can use water, but it makes it really plain)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • For broth:
    • 6 cups water
    • 1 tbsp Vegemite, Marmite or Bovril (most Canadian/US versions use yeast extract and not meat, but always check to make sure)
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
    • 1 large clove garlic, crushed


  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients for the seitan and whisk to combine
  2. Add in the vegetable broth and the olive oil
  3. Begin kneading the dough. Kneading is key — you must knead for about three minutes in order to really get that nice, doughy texture. I cannot emphasize how important it is to not blow this part off or half-ass it.
  4. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Create your broth and bring it to a controlled simmer.
  6. Knead again for about one minute, really flattening it out. Go ahead and punch the dough. Punch it!
  7. Cut into medium-sized chunks and add to the broth.
  8. Simmer the seitan for at least one hour.
  9. Remove from the broth and let cool. If storing, store in a little bit of the broth so the seitan does not dry out and become bread-like.

Cilantro-lime buckwheat ailoi

Yield: One cup
Soak time: 1-8 hrs
Prep time: Less than five minutes


  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked
  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (as needed)
  • Juice and zest from 3 limes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Soak the cashews and the buckwheat in water. If you’re using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec, you shouldn’t need more than an hour of soaking.
  2. Add the lime zest and squeeze in the juice (note: I’ve found a citrus juicer to be the best teeny-tiny investment I’ve ever made)
  3. Add your salt, pepper, cilantro and just one tbsp apple cider vinegar — only add the second if you’re having trouble blending.
  4. Blend until smooth. This requires a lot of patience, and may require you to scrape down your blender every now and then.

To assemble tacos


  • Six small corn taco tortillas
  • One batch of seitan cutlets
  • Dollop of aioli (or squeeze from a plastic bag like I did for the illusion of fanciness)
  • Purple cabbage, tomatoes, red onions and fresh cilantro


  1. Slice the seitan into slightly smaller pieces (about 1″)
  2. Warm some olive oil in a pan
  3. Toss on medium for about 7-8 minutes or until crisping
  4. In an oven or on a stovetop in a skillet, warm your tortillas for no more than 2 minutes on each side
  5. Assemble your tacos.
  6. Eat the tacos!
  7. As for leftovers, the seitan will keep for awhile if sealed in moisture (close to a week) and, if dried, can be frozen. You can also freeze or refrigerate any dough you don’t end up cooking. The aoili will only last for about three days in the fridge, and should be kept airtight.

Did that seem complicated? I swear, it’s actually not an incredibly frustrating process. Involved? Yes. But it’s not going to drive you crazy in the kitchen. In fact, I’d highly recommend this for one of those chilly Saturdays when you come right home after your mid-day adventures and want to have a fancy night in instead of a night-out.

What are some of your favourite trendy restaurant foods that you’d like to try veganizing or doing an at-home version? What are your favourite restaurant styles to go to? Comment below — let’s talk about food (seriously)!

Perfect kale and lemon pesto


Nobody’s perfect. Nothing is perfect. Perfection is an unattainable ideal designed to keep our self-esteem low and our personas malleable.

Except that this pesto is actually perfect.

Jarrod and I attended the Toronto Garlic Festival this weekend and we tried a wonderful kale pesto. We instantly fell in love, but because the festival didn’t have an ATM on site, we weren’t able to buy it. Rather than let that get us down, we took a trip to our local market, went home and made our own.

It gave me the chills.

Now that things are cooling down a bit, it’s more fun to get a little saucy in cooking — but still keeping it on the light-medium side. No creamy sauces yet, but not that barely-blushing kind of “sauce.” Pesto is the perfect medium. And this switches up kale for typically sweet basil, and adds in lemon juice and nooch for tang.

Perfect kale and lemon pesto, makes about 1 1/2 cups


  • 10 leaves black lakitano (dinosaur) kale
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Four large cloves of garlic
  • One green onion
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed


  1. Remove the stems from your dinosaur kale and add it to a colander or fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Boil a kettle of water and douse your kale in hot water, blanching it and making it easier to shred.
  3. Add the kale, garlic, green onion and lemon to a large food processor. Pulse several times until everything breaks down to a manageable size.
  4. Add in your seeds, nooch and salt and pepper. Pulse again to let everything break down.
  5. Now start drizzling your olive oil in as you need in order to make everything flow easier. We didn’t take specific measurements for this, you should just be able to tell by the texture. If the pesto is flowing nicely and doesn’t just seem like a lump of nuts of vegetables, then you know it’s enough!
  6. The Pesto will keep for about a week in an airtight container. Pour a bit of extra olive oil on top to preserve.

Serve with pasta, like we did,  or on fancy burgers, with crackers or in a grain bowl!

Fresh pineapple salsa (or guacamole!)

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If there’s one reason I wish summer would last just a little bit longer, it’s that summer is officially guacamole season. Okay, you can get guacamole any time of the year on a store (or make it yourself), but can you really honestly tell me that guacamole is best enjoyed indoors in a dimly-lit living room as you watch snow fall against a pitch-black, 6 p.m. sky?

Nah, it’s not for me.

I started making my own pico the summer I lived with my cousin, Ryan. I’d just turned 20, and was working for the federal government. By far my favourite part of living with him for the summer was his big, bright kitchen with light that shone through from the front to the back of the house. He let me have free reign over the kitchen, and so I was able to let this growing bug of creativity inside me grow. My first few attempts at salsa and guacamole were laughable (I didn’t even know what cilantro was, nor did I know how ripe an avocado was supposed to be, so I literally grated a rock-hard avocado with a cheese grater) but nevertheless, I had a great canvas to work with.

Last weekend on Instagram I posted a picture of guacamole with strawberries in it, which got a few people intrigued. I will admit, mixing fruit into guacamole was something I wasn’t sure of at first, until I put some strawberries and avocado on my toast one morning. Damn, son.

Then enter Whole Foods. Whole Foods, the giant monolith where so much of my paycheque goes every week. Damn you, Whole Foods. Damn you. I don’t actually buy that much food from Whole Foods, it’s just their lunches. Wow. The stir fries! I can say the one thing I’m not excited about re: starting my new job is leaving behind Whole Foods lunches. Actually, that’ll probably motivate me to make more lunches.

But anyway, I was at Whole Foods and I encountered a great little pineapple salsa on display for samples. I gladly helped myself (free ANYTHING?! HELLO!) and was hooked. Even though it had my much-loathed, longtime enemy: red bell peppers.

So this is my second attempt in a few weeks to make something containing red peppers that I’m totally stoked about eating. I’m happy to say that it worked! Turns out, surrounding something you dislike with something you do like is a good philosophy — in food, and in life. Heyooo!

The salsa is great on its own, but you can mix it into a guacamole with two ripe avocados if you want to take your leftovers in a different direction.

Fresh pineapple salsa (makes one large, shareable bowl)


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, chipped and seeds removed (optional)
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • A small pinch of sea salt


  1. Chop all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly before squirting on the lime juice. Store covered in a fridge for up to four days.
  2. If you’re looking for something different, mix this in with 2-3 large ripe avocados for an interesting twist on guac!

Citrus zinger popsicles

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Last night, work ended, but I lingered around and chilled out with some of the guys for about twenty minutes. Then I drove home in snot-sticky traffic, had to stop at the grocery store on the way home, and finally got home at almost eight o’clock.

Amazing fact: it was still sunny. Sunny enough to enjoy a few moments chatting with Chris, watching the sun set through our gorgeous, West-facing window. Oh, and if you can’t tell, Lucy was there too.

(Side-note: I really want to get a small grill for our balcony and start cooking my meals outside as much as I can.)

One funny thing about me: though I generally enjoy warm weather more (you don’t grow up in Kapuskasing without looking forward to a tiny crack of sunshine every year, even if it does mean black flies that will eat your tiny body alive), my body takes a long time to adjust to heat. I can never quite find my perfect temperature (I’m tempted to cut armpit holes in ALL of my clothes) and, most horribly, warm weather can upset my stomach a little bit. I’m very prone to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, even when well hydrated. I’ve had that problem since I was in about middle school, and it’s never quite gotten better. What’s worst is going to eat something to calm your stomach and it’s already a-rumblin’ — you don’t want to eat anything more. That’s why in the past few years I’ve started taking it pretty seriously. Here’s what I do:

  1. Never go outside on an empty stomach. Well, never do ANYTHING on an empty stomach. But especially this. Food calms your stomach more than it upsets it.
  2. Always have water with me.
  3. Load up on vitamins!
  4. If possible, have something with ginger.

Thus, the creation of these popsicles came about. Now, if you’re not a fan of ginger, you can always dial it back a bit. If you like a LOT of kick, you can add an extra sprinkling of cayenne pepper. It’s all adjustable so you can pick the balance between sweet/refreshing and zesty/kick.

One thing I can say for sure: I really hope Popsicle Pete doesn’t come after me. Apparently “popsicle” is a proper name, but not unlike Kleenex, we kind of use it to generally mean “frozen ice pop.” But, well, I’m not going to call this amazing recipe “Citrus zinger frozen ice pops,” because I’m not your grandfather. Hey, if your grandfather wandered into a giant freezer, he’d be your frozen ice Pops! Hah hah hah!

Okay, maybe I could just stick to writing recipes.

Citrus zinger popsicles, makes six


  • 2 large navel oranges (seedless)
  • 1 cup ginger beer (ginger ale if you want a milder taste)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract (optional, will definitely give a more strong “orange” flavour)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, only if you REALLY want this to have a zing)


  1. Peel your oranges and separate into smaller sections. Blend in a medium-sized blender cup along with the ginger until they are pureed. Keep the pulp in!!
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ginger beer, orange-ginger puree, sweetener, sweetener, orange extract and cayenne.
  3. Divide into a popsicle mold (my six-popsicle model was perfect!)
  4. Set in the freezer for 4-6 hours.

As you can see, these were so bright and tempting even Lucy was losing it (okay, she was actually just yawning, but still, she was quite enthralled with the popsicle).

Come at me, Popsicle Pete.

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)


  • 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


  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!