Monthly Archives: February 2013

There’s veggies in my chocolate!

Snapshot 2013-02-24 12-10-13

Obviously I’m human therefore I love chocolate. Okay maybe being a Homo sapien does not necessarily predispose one to love chocolate but I have yet to meet someone who detests it! With all the chocolate recipes floating around the internet due to Valentines day I developed some strong chocolate cravings. While torturing myself reading about amazing cocoa concoctions I stumbled upon a recipe on the civilized caveman. He has created a brownies recipe that is not only sugar free but also grain free! What’s the secret ingredient? Sweet potatoes. I was intrigued. I love weird food combinations so I couldn’t wait to try this recipe out! I’m not going to post my version of the recipe because I followed it almost exactly, the only substitutions I made were replacing the butter with earth balance to make it diary-free and I couldn’t find coconut flour so I used rice flour instead. Also I just melted the chocolate chips and poured them on top for an icing of sorts. I cannot believe how amazing these turned out.. They are the most moist, chocolate-y, melt in your mouth brownies I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever think of brownies the same way after having these.

Here’s the link for the Sweet Potato Ginger Brownies! Although they are called ginger brownies, to be honest I couldn’t detect the ginger in them. Which was not a bad thing but maybe to spice them up you could try using fresh ginger instead. Enjoy!

To keep up the veggies in my chocolate theme I have another recipe I adore. Each week with our organic box of vegetables we also get a newsletter (electronically now, to save paper) highlighting one of the veggies or fruits in our box. Usually they do a little write up on the farm they source that veggie/fruit from and most times include a recipe centered around it. This is how I discovered beet cake. The first time I made this unusual dessert Shadoe peered into the kitchen of our tiny apartment and probably thought I was ruining a perfectly good chocolate cake. Beets and chocolate.. I don’t necessarily like beets either so I was also skeptical. Alas the organic box had given us beets and I really had no idea what else to make with them so beet cake it was! Surprisingly this cake was a hit on the first attempt! I brought some to work and my coworkers all agreed that it was some tasty cake. The rest, Shadoe gobbled up, not sharing with his co-workers I’m sure. Since then I’ve made beet cake many times. Shadoe will actually get excited when he sees beets in the fridge now, happy that I’ll be making his favorite beet cake. I’m happy too since this simple recipe calls for way less sugar than a normal chocolate cake, which I’ll normally substitute with honey. Also it calls for whole wheat flour and is a source of veggies! I make it so often now that I even canned pureed beets from my garden specifically to make beet cake through the winter. Instead of your traditional cake this time I decided to try something fun and made chocolate coated cake balls! Chocolate cake dipped in chocolate, what could be better..

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Chocolate Beet Cake

  • 1-2 med-large sized beets
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or honey) I usually use less and it still turns out yummy!
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 chocolate chips
  1. Peel and dice beets and boil in saucepan until tender. Or if you have more time on your hands and can plan ahead, just wrap the beets as they are in foil and bake in the oven at 375 until tender. Let cool then wash off the skins under cold water, they should come right off. Once you have your cooked beets, puree them in the blender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare baking pan.
  3. Pour the pureed beets into a 2-cup measure and fill to 2 cup line by adding applesauce. In a medium mixing bowl add an extra 2 Tbs applesauce, the beet mixture, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the beet mixture. Stir until well combined and pour batter into prepared pan. Top with chocolate chips. Bake for 35-50 mins depending on the size of pan you use. Test by inserting a toothpick into the center. It’s done when the toothpick comes out clean.

Vegetarian freezer meals marathon!

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Smokey BBQ Veggie Burger

Since I had 5 days off this week I decided some freezer filling was in order. I wanted to make sure I had some healthy meals available for those nights when I do not feel like cooking anything after work. First on the agenda for my freezer meal prep was banana pancakes. I don’t really like them but my boyfriend is pancake crazy and I thought it would be a nice treat so he would have something quick to grab in the mornings instead of cereal every day. I whipped up a double batch and made them kind of small. Just the right size so that they fit in the toaster and so 3 would be a good sized breakfast. So far they’ve gotten good reviews except that the bananas tend to stay frozen after reheating. For the next batch I’ll either mash the bananas up better or just leave them out.

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Freezer Banana Pancakes

  • 1-2 ripe mashed bananas
  • ¾ C milk, or almond or soy
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 Tbs cold water
  1. Pour milk into medium sized bowl add vinegar and set aside for 5 mins for the milk to sour. Whisk in egg, oil and banana and mix well.
  2. In a small bowl, or on top of the milk mixture (I like to use as few dishes as possible) mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Depending on the consistency I usually add the 1 Tbs water to the batter so the pancakes aren’t too thick but If you want thick pancakes just leave it how it is.
  4. Heat oil in frying pan/skillet and pour in aprroximately 1/3 cup batter. Cook for a few mins over med heat or until small bubbles form in the middle of pancake. Turn and cook for a few more mins, until browned.
  5. To freeze I placed all the pancakes on a cookie sheet to cool then in groups of 3 placed them in freezer bags.

Next up was a batch of smoky bison burgers and veggie burgers. I wanted mine smoky flavor too so I picked up some fake bacon (tempeh) and added lots of barbecue sauce to the chickpea/bean mixture. I threw some of the fake bacon into the bison burgers as well, just for kicks lol. After burgers for supper, Shadoe had seconds of his so they must have been good, we prepped the rest to freeze for later.

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Smokey Barbecue Veggie Burgers

Adapted from Myrecipes.com

  • 1 398mL can of black beans
  • 1 398mL can of chick peas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 egg
  • ½ an onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ C red pepper diced
  • ½ C chopped mushrooms
  • 2 Tbs smokey flavored BBQ sauce
  • 1 Tbs chili flakes
  • fresh ground pepper
  • ½ packet of salted soda crackers or 1 ½ C bread crumbled

Toppings:

  • Handful spinach
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp BBQ sauce
  • Pickles
  • 1 Sliced tomato
  1. Drain/rinse beans and add all ingredients into medium sized mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with electric beaters making sure most of the beans are mashed but not all.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Form veggie mixture into palm sized patties and cook for a few mins on each side, until browned.
  3. Grab a whole wheat bun or bread of your choice add your toppings and burger and enjoy!

I eat a lot of hummus.. I love it as a protein on sandwiches, as a dip for veggies or pita chips, by the spoonful.. Lets just say I go through a lot of hummus and it’s kind of expensive to buy from the store all the time. I recently acquired a massive amount of dried chickpeas and I wanted to try making hummus completely from scratch. In a previous post I made it from canned and it was okay, not the best hummus ever tho. A couple of the girls at work said they would also like some homemade hummus and we decided on roasted garlic hummus and an extra spicy one. I set out a large bowl of dried chickpeas in water overnight but I had no idea they were going to double in size and ended up with a ridiculous amount of chickpeas the next day.. I hope hummus freezes well because even with giving away 2/3’s of the hummus I still had way too much leftover! They both turned out delicious! I’m not exaggerating when I say it may possibly be the best hummus I’ve tasted to date, spicy, savory, creamy, just perfect. I may have went overboard with the garlic in the one batch.. It definitely has some bite to it, but in the same addictive property that spicy food has. It burns yet you want more. Oh I forgot to mention I finally purchased a Kitchenaid Food Processor! I was trying to make all my hummus on Friday night when I ended up breaking my blender (it was a cheap one) and the magic bullet was just not going to cut it with so much hummus to blend. I gave up and resolved to buy a food processor before the weekend was over. Luckily kijiji had the exact one I was looking for, two years old, barely used and 1/3 the price of a brand new one! I picked it up the next day and happily resumed my hummus production.

Here’s the basic hummus recipe I used and then the add ins for the different flavors:

Hummus

  • Adapted from mideastfood.com
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Throw all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Super easy!

For the Roasted Garlic version I added:

  • 1 entire bulb of garlic plus 2 extra cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Slice off the top of the bulb of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven at 350 for at least 30 mins or until you can smell a nice garlic aroma from the oven.
  2. Mince the 2 extra cloves and add to prepared hummus along with the pepper.

For the Extra Spicy version I added:

  • 1-2 Tbs chili garlic sauce –depending on your heat tolerance
  • ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • Another spoonful of chili sauce for on top
  1. Add extra ingredients to prepared hummus in food processor. Mix, then top with approximately 1 Tbs extra chili sauce.

Finally my boyfriend and I both love lasagna and I recently saw a recipe for vegetarian lasagna roll ups which are a lot healthier than your average beefy, cheesy, noodley recipe. I decided to pack mine with veggies I diced red pepper, sliced mushrooms, and stuffed them with spinach, then I smothered them in canned tomatoes and tomato sauce hopefully there’s enough veggies in there to counteract all the cheese.. I looked in the freezer afterwards and saw that this was good. Over the 5 days off I also made a cauliflower crust pizza, chocolate beet cake balls, and tika masala pasta with shredded veggies (recipes to come), did I mention I love to cook? It’s honestly so much fun for me to spend hours in the kitchen, some good tunes blasting on the speakers, creating delicious foods for us to enjoy. Between all my cooking at home and hot yoga classes lately I’ve been loving life and I wouldn’t want to spend my days off any other way!

Vegetarian Lasagna Roll Ups

Adapted from skinnytaste.com

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 454g package ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 9 Tbsp mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • handful chopped basil leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
  2. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Top with chopped veggies and a spoonful of diced tomatoes.
  3. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Ladle tomato sauce and leftover diced tomato over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle chopped basil on top of cheese.  Put same piece of foil used for making the rolls over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

I accidently froze/ate all the roll ups before taking any pictures but they look very similar to these with extra veggies snuck in and if I were a professional food photographer 😉

Vegetarian Lasagna Roll Ups

I like to browse recipes on skinnytaste.com to get ideas for healthy meals but I don’t agree with the promotion of fat-free, sugar-free, light, or otherwise modified ingredients. Usually when they take out the fat/sugar or reduce calories they replace it with artificial flavors, sugars etc. I believe that to be less healthy for you than the real, whole food version, but that’s just my opinion!

Hope you enjoy all the recipes! Let me know some of your favorite freezer friendly foods!

The vicious cycle of childhood obesity

A great article examining the root of childhood obesity and it’s implication for future generations.

jennovafoodblog

My week has been absolutely crazy! Decided to write for a few more vegan food companies, so I’ve been almost frantically writing this whole week… This is actually the 5th article I’ve written in the past 6 days :p. I also had my first midterm on Thursday; hopefully I did as well as I think I did. Two more next week and then it’s reading week for me! I also managed to get home for the weekend, down south in Ontario, before the worst of the snow came. I got home Thursday night and was happy to hear that Friday was a snow day anyway. Good to be home with my family! I feel a bit guilty about this, but due to my current craziness I`m starting to feel a wee bit overwhelmed. As a result, I`ll have to cut my posts down to just one this week and I`ll…

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Day 29 dairy-free. Do we need milk?

I only have one day left to my dairy free challenge. Since it’s soon coming to an end and I’ll be able to eat whatever I want again I have to decide just what I want to consume. I was having a discussion with my boyfriend the other night about all the negatives of milk consumption, the environmental impact of the industry, how we obviously did not evolve to drink the milk from another species, how many people are lactose intolerant, how many milk products are high in fat and calories per serving. So why are we being told we need to drink milk, lots of milk, at least 2 glasses of milk per day. Why? Because it’s good for your bones! Duh! Everyone knows how great milk is at preventing osteoporosis and maintaining bone health, such a well-known fact should clearly be well documented right? There should be lots of long-term studies evaluating the effects of drinking milk and the risk of osteoporosis.

I decided I needed to do some investigating myself. You can read online articles all day on either side of the milk debate and come away from it very confused so I needed to go straight to the source. Not having any access to online journals Google scholar would have to do for now. A simple search of “drinking milk and osteoporosis” came up with many journal articles. There are a few short-term studies where bone density does increase with an increase in milk/calcium consumption but does this calcium build up last long term and can’t we get the same benefits from non-dairy calcium intake? One of the first articles I select is titled “Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study”.  Perfect, just what I’m looking for, and what were the results? They found no evidence that increased milk consumption or dietary calcium reduced risk of fractures. In fact their results revealed that women who consumed more calcium from dairy products had an increased risk of hip fracture whereas women with the same intake of non-dairy calcium did not display this increased risk. They propose that the animal protein found in milk may be accountable for this increase in fractures. The study involved 77, 761 female participants from the United States therefore adequately applicable to the average North American woman.

This study also proposed that dietary vitamin D may be more effective at preventing bone loss than calcium on it’s own. I decided to look into this too.  The first article I read also found no association between a high calcium or high milk diet and reduction in risk of hip fracture. Yet they did find a positive correlation between increased vitamin D intake and reduced risk. Obviously I have not taken the time to do an exhaustive detailed evaluation of many academic articles but at first glance what I have found aligns to what my instincts are telling me. That there is no good reason to drink milk; we do not need it in our diet. In fact other sources of calcium may be better for you and don’t contain the added fat and sugar. As long as you’re getting enough dietary calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients (which most vegetables/legumes are full of) there is no reason consume dairy products. Except for the fact that cheese/yogurt/ice cream are delicious!

This issue is important to me for many reasons, but mainly, I don’t like to feel lied to. I’ve been told my entire life that milk is great for you. I’ve watched all the commercials on TV with athletes donning milk moustaches. It’s almost as though the industry uses scare tactics, as well, as a form of promotion.. If you don’t consume enough milk your bones will become brittle and break, period. As soon as you tell someone you’ve cut out dairy, or no longer want to drink milk the first thing they say is “how will you get enough calcium?!” I usually like to respond “from the same place the cows are getting all this calcium, from plants.” This is much like the misbelief that you can’t get enough protein on a vegetarian diet and makes me very angry that we’ve been fed all this propaganda from the meat and dairy industry. An industry, which promotes increased consumption of their products while abusing animals and the environment to meet consumer demand. It also makes me angry that our governments are advocating supporting this system when there are much better alternatives.

As my 30-day dairy free challenge comes to an end I have a lot to think about. As much as I don’t think dairy is superfood I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating some cheese, yogurt or ice cream now and then from a dietary perspective. However from an environmental aspect it’s almost on par with eating meat if you think about the way we farm animals, milk them, and then slaughter them to be eaten. They are still consuming massive amounts of food and water and producing massive amounts of methane. Yet instead of being slaughtered right away, as in the meat industry, we impregnate them, take away their babies, hook them up to machines to suck them dry and then once they can no longer meet their milk quota due to age, or sickness we send them to the slaughter house. What a great life. I’ve heard that in Canada our cows are actually treated pretty well, many are still grass fed, are not bombarded with antibiotics or growth hormones and use a voluntary milking system (which sounds nice but really just means they are trained to go get milked so they get food, or get chased there anyways if they don’t go voluntarily).

Fortunately this 30-day challenge has shown me just how easy it is to make substitutions that cut down on my milk consumption. I’ve had no problem switching to almond milk for my coffee and cereal. I even just today discovered the deliciousness of chocolate almond milk and had a mocha of sorts for my morning caffeine fix. Even my boyfriend is on board with the Earth Balance substitution for butter since it really tastes very similar. I have found some vegan cheeses I enjoy, a soy based mozzarella and Diaya pepperjack shreds. I’ll keep using these and dairy cheese in moderation. The only thing left is yogurt. Unfortunately I have not found a suitable replacement for yogurt yet. I will keep trying but I’m also looking forward to the organic honey flavored Greek yogurt sitting in my fridge waiting for my dairy-free challenge to be over.

Health wise I feel great. I’ve been doing more physical activity lately and when it comes to meals I find I actually don’t want to put cheese on everything. I like my foods not being heavy and fatty and not feeling bloated or tired afterwards. All in all it’s been an informative month and I don’t think I would have willingly cut out so many dairy products without doing this challenge so I am grateful it has taught me that.

Day 20 dairy-free and hot yoga love

I don’t really have an interesting topic to talk about today except for my love of hot yoga! Well any yoga really, but in the middle of the winter when it’s -42(yes minus 42 degrees celsius) with the windchill hot yoga is just about the best way to spend an hour or more of your freezing cold day. I like to lie in shavasana and pretend I’m on the beach at some tropical paradise destination, it’s so relaxing and such a treat to have a warm place to escape to when it’s a blizzard outside. Not to mention it’s great full body workout that also includes balance and flexibility.  I’ve done a few different types of hot yoga so far. I tried the bikram style, which is a few degrees hotter and much more intense. They only offer 90 minute classes so every time you go you know you’re committing to a hour and a half of sweating your ass off. Although it was a great workout and I felt very refreshed afterwards, I still prefer the less intense hot yoga classes. I like to sweat but not to feel like I jumped into a swimming pool with all my clothes on.

I tend to hop around from studio to studio, not because I haven’t found one I like but because I can’t seem to justify paying over $100 a month or for 10 passes at one studio when I can go to a different one for their first month promotional offer or with a groupon. I just signed up for a one month unlimited pass for $40 and I’ve been trying to go every day or as much as possible! I started last week and so far I’ve missed 2 days but 5/7 isn’t too bad for the first week. I’m already feeling changes in my yoga practice after just one week. The first couple classes were rough and I’ve been sore pretty much the entire week but it’s been worth it to go back the next day and be able to hold a pose even longer or go deeper. I also like that I work shift work because I can go to classes that aren’t packed all the time like at 12 in the afternoon. I might end up having to pay for a one month pass after this one is up because I do like how much closer this studio is to where I live and I’d like to keep going after my month is up. Hopefully by that time I’ll be starting to see some physical changes too!

As for a non-dairy update I really don’t have much to report. I’m still not finding it too hard to live without dairy. I didn’t feel like packing a lunch the other day so I ended up getting subway for lunch and I honestly didn’t even notice the lack of cheese on my veggie sub. I’m thinking that’s a great way to cut calories if I can’t even notice it missing. My boyfriend almost convinced me to order pizza for supper the other day since I was feeling too lazy to cook but after cheating so much on our vacation I wanted to take the rest of the month seriously. It actually feels weird to only have 10 days left.. I can’t believe how easy it’s been to make it this far. I like that I’m not smothering all my foods in cheese anymore. Health wise I feel great too! I just realized that I worked all week yet I haven’t felt congested at all.. In fact I’ve been feeling great at work, not tired or stuffed up. There has been some research linking milk to mucus formation in some people so maybe milk was the culprit. There’s also been a lot of research which did not find a link so it could also be all the hot yoga lately.. I probably should have waited to see true results but in any case I think what works for you in your life is more important than what a researcher finds, in a lab, under particular circumstances, for a limited time trial, with other people. I think this way, because even though I love science and studied it for 4 years what we think to be true is constantly changing and science is just the process of finding new answers.

I also wanted to share a vegan product that I’m crazy about!  Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Calamari, say what?! Vegan Seafood?? My boyfriend always gets mad when I bring home vegan versions of things. He doesn’t like that they’re trying to be something they’re not but even he agrees these are super tasty! I’ve only had real calamari once so I guess I’m not the best judge of whether or not they taste authentic but they are definitely delicious and supper addictive. The secret to the squid like texture and flavor is apparently Konjac powder, a ground up root native to Japan, China, Korea and Indonesia. I’m not really sure what it is but I’m glad they found it! I also like this product because unlike some vegan alternative foods it’s not heavily processed and contains just a few ingredients. Unfortunately carrageenan is one of them but if you only have these once in a while I’m sure it’s fine! On top of that 5% of all of their profits are donated to support oceanic species and habitat. So they’re good in my books!

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Other than that I’ve just been really excited about this year and about becoming more and more like the person I want to be and accomplishing the things in life that are important to me =)