Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter eats and adventuring!

 

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For easter this year I wanted to have a nice sunday brunch full of veggie goods. I decided on:

 

  • gluten-free garden pasta salad
  • tomato basil crostinis
  • baked spinach dip with corn chips – I replaced the shredded and cream cheese with a vegan ones but used the real parmesan.
  • lots of fresh fruit with strawberry dip   
  • vegan lemon cheesecake with a lemon curd topping  (veganized of course with earth balance and no food colouring.. who needs neon yellow food..)  

 

**Click on the link to see the recipe I used!

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Easter brunch eats!

Plus my mom brought some super cute bunny buns which looked adorable on the table. 

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She also spoiled us with loads of chocolate and candy.. We’re pretty much stocked for the year. 

I thought I’d also share the recipes that don’t have links as I made them up! 

Gluten-Free Garden Pasta Salad

  • 2 Cups cooked gluten free rice bran pasta (I used Tinkyada brand)
  • 1 carrot peeled into ribbons
  • 1/3 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/3 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced purple onion or shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar or honey or whatever sweetener you prefer
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • dash paprika
  • a few fresh basil leaves chopped (optional I just had some on hand)
  1. Put everything in a bowl and mix well. I like to keep things simple when they can be and use the lease amount of dishes possible. 

Tomato Basil Crostinis

I discovered an amazing recipe for pizza sauce from thebrookcook and I couldn’t wait for a pizza night to try it out! Toasted herb bread topped with fresh basil leaves and vegan mozza seemed like the perfect combination to satisfy my margarita pizza obsession I spoke of before.

  • 4 Slices of a round herb loaf cut in half
  • homemade tomato sauce (canned tomatoes pureed with olive oil and salt)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • vegan mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 celsius.
  2. Pop bread into oven while it’s preheating remove when the edges start to brown.
  3. Remove bread slices from oven. Top with tomato sauce, basil and mozza and return to oven until cheese is melted. About 5 mins but keep an eye on it!
  4. Serve right away while still warm.   

Strawberry Dip

I’m not even sure why I’m posting a recipe for this one, it’s so simple I really just took 1/2 cup of organic greek strawberry yogurt (delicious on it’s own) and added about 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese. Blend them together and voila!

You’re probably wondering why I used vegan cheeses for some of the recipes yet not for all.. My mom also thought this was very strange and started trying to pick out which were real and which were not. But I can explain I swear! After doing the dairy free challenge I discovered that some things were easily substituted for vegan alternatives and that cheap grocery store brand cheese is something I can really do without. Yet I still love the flavor of real cheeses. Now I get the expensive real cheese, real parmesan, real mozzarella but I buy and use less of it. By replacing most of the cheese in recipes with a vegan alternative at least I’m putting slightly less demand on the dairy industry. Some of the recipes also call for mayo which I’m still a sucker for. I’m going to buy an immersion blender and start making my own from scratch at home because even though a bottle of mayo will last me almost half a year I’d still rather make it from the eggs from my chickens then from who knows where.    

Since it was such a beautiful day out we took a trip to Sandy Beach and went exploring on the still frozen lake. A very good Easter sunday all around =) 

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Canadian spring lol. Even though it looks super sunny out I still layered up with tights, thermals, long sleeve shirt, sweater and vest.

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Hope everyone is having a fantastic Easter sunday! 

My AOPA newspaper article.

 Article I wrote about our last meeting. Should be in the newspaper this week! 

The Alberta Organic Producers Association is a non-profit locally run organization made up of producers, handlers, and consumers who are all committed to working together to build an ethical partnership with nature. By practicing environmentally friendly farming methods, growing non-genetically modified crops, and refraining from synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use they strive to protect our earth for future generations. Members of AOPA meet four times a year at the Namao Hall in Namao, Alberta to discus new topics, share information and plan future events.

At this year’s Winter AGMM, held on March 9th, talk was centered on seed cleaning methods and the distribution of organic beef. Cleaning their own seeds is a great way for organic farmers to remain independent of large seed manufacturing corporations and to maintain the genetic diversity found in organic seeds. With Monsanto steadily acquiring more and more types of seeds, even organic, seed cleaning has become a way to combat this large monopoly’s stake in the industry. Roy Ritchie from Flaman Sales and Rentals was on hand to speak about the different types of seed cleaners and what they can do for organic farmers. From sorting seeds and grain based on size, weight or length to detecting the slightest shade difference, there are now machines for just about any use.  

Ted Soudant, Manager of Field Gate Organics, flew in from Ontario to speak on behalf of his company about cultivating a relationship with Organic beef farmers in Alberta. What started as a small group of organic farmers in Ontario, sick of the treatment they and their livestock were receiving at the hands of large processing facilities has since turned into a growing business who supply organic meat to over 70 locations in Ontario including Sobeys. Being in charge of the production, transport, processing, and sale of their own product these farmers and the people supporting them have been able to create a strong foothold in the organic market in southern Ontario. The main difficulty they have faced in this market has been meeting consumer demand. Which is where Alberta beef producers come in. Alberta is easily one of the largest producers of organic beef, yet with no real market to speak of, many farmers forgo the certification process and sell their cattle in conventional markets. Hopefully by joining forces with a company, which has proven that environmentally friendly growing methods and humane slaughter can be a profitable endeavor, Alberta organic beef will also prosper and grow.

If you are interested in becoming organic, or would like more information on organics please contact Kathy @ 780-939-5808 or email aopa@cruzinternet.com and visit our website www.albertaorganicproducers.org

5 of my favorite quick and easy vegetarian meals.

It’s been a hectic couple weeks for me. Minutes before my boyfriend planned to leave for a 5 day snowboarding trip I was in a car accident and my car towed away, right from in front of my house. Luckily no one was hurt but the next week and a half were definitely stressful for me. I had declined the rental package on my insurance so I was left without a vehicle until the insurance money came through. Living out in the country a car is pretty much a necessity to get anything done. I had a few days off work and still got to go on a snowboard trip that weekend, as my friend was able to drive us to Banff. To get to work and back I had to take cabs, catch a ride with someone who lived nearby, or get my boyfriend to drive me for the rest of the week. I arranged to go look at a replacement car on my one day off that weekend but the car was located 3 hours away. I ended up purchasing it even though it had some noticeable issues mostly because we had drove all that way and I got such a good deal. I also have been busy volunteering with the Alberta Organic Producers Association. We had a meeting last weekend so I went there from 10am-4pm and then straight to work for 4pm-2am. Thankfully Shadoe was okay with chauffeuring me back and forth. On top of working nights this week and my mom coming for a visit I also had to find time to take my new car into the shop, and write an article for the newspaper. It’s been crazy!

Things are finally starting to get back to normal. I had to decline overtime work today in order to get caught up on my personal life but I managed to accomplish everything I needed to do. It’s weeks like this that having to go quick and easy veggie meals is a must. While my mom was here I devoted a little more time to the kitchen and made us bean and rice enchiladas with Mexican rice and spicy jalapeno Cornbread on the side, it was a feast compared to most of my meals lately. I forgot to take any photos but since it was such a hit with everyone even my bean-hating boyfriend (who I’m slowly converting to the dark side). I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon and I’ll post the recipe next time!

To be honest my go to meals when in a rush or not feeling like putting in too much effort are usually some kind of pasta. I try to make them healthy by loading up the veggies so it’s more half veggie half pasta. I also cook a lot with Mr. Noodle instant noodles, normally I make a stir fry and use the noodles as the base but recently a friend of mine said she makes the noodles and broth then adds in all kinds of veggies, an egg, soy sauce and chilis. I tried her concoction and am now hooked! It’s like a spicy, salty, Asian inspired dish that is literally ready in minutes. When I’m really not feeling the noodles I go for more burger or sandwich style meals. I usually have a stash of whole wheat pitas in my freezer at all times and have found many uses for them, from pita chips for hummus, to falafels and mini pizzas.

1. Vegetarian Tikka Masala Pasta – I’m pretty sure I’ve invented this concoction. One day after cooking some pasta and not really being sure what kind of sauce I felt like having on it I noticed a half empty jar of Tikka Masala sauce in my fridge. I threw some onions, carrots, and red pepper in the food processor, sautéed them slightly in a frying pan, added a couple handful of spinach and mixed in the sauce and pasta. The first couple bites were confusing. I wasn’t sure if the sauce went with the whole grain pasta but the more I ate the more I liked it and it has now become a staple!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked whole grain pasta
  • ½ cup Tikka Masala sauce
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 tsp oil for cooking
  • Couple handfuls of spinach
  1. Grate all vegetables in a food processor or to save dishes you can chop them up julienne style.
  2. Sautee in frying pan for 1-2 mins or until tender. Mix in Tikka Masala sauce and cooked pasta, stir and serve!

2) Creamy Avocado & Basil Pasta – I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest and probably make it at least 2-3 times a month.. Warning it’s highly addictive. I would say it’s like a vegan combo of classic Alfredo sauce and pesto. It uses the creaminess of avocado in place of heavy cream, lemon and basil to add flavor and is a delicious plant based meal.

I’m directing you straight to the source on OhSheGlows.com. Also where this photo comes from.

15 minute creamy avocado pasta

3) Spicy Mr. Noodle Soup – Like I said above, this one is super quick and soo simple. I prep my veggies while the water is heating up on the stove and then throw it all together. I love to make this noodle soup whenever I’m feeling a little under the weather or on a snowy cold day.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package Mr. Noodle instant noodles.
  • ¼ a red pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-3 tsp chili garlic sauce to taste
  • ground pepper
  1. Cook noodles as per package, just before they are completely done cooking add in red pepper, spinach and soy sauce.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Stir a few times until spinach is wilted and then add in the egg. You wont want to stir it much once the egg is in there but I like to take spoonfuls of the broth and pour it on top of the egg to speed things up.
  3. Once the egg is mostly cooked pour into a bowl, top with chili garlic sauce  and enjoy!

4) Margarita Pita Pizzas – I have a weird obsession with Margarita pizzas. Ever since having an authentic one from Famoso I crave the simplicity of the tomato/basil/mozza flavors all the time. I order the exact same thing every time we go so it’s not a surprise that I tried to make my own version at home. Obviously it doesn’t come close to the real thing but for a quick and easy meal it’s very satisfying.

Photo courtesy of yummly.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole wheat pita
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh tomato
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • few basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 C.
  2. Puree fresh tomato and tomato paste in mini blender or magic bullet.
  3. Place pita on a baking pan. Spread olive oil evenly over pita with a pastry brush.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, then top with fresh basil leaves and mozzarella.
  5. Cook in the oven for about 5 mins, be sure to watch it, it will cook fast! As soon as the cheese is melted remove from oven and let cool.

5) Falafel Pitas – I don’t think anyone really needs instructions on this one.. All I ever do is grab a box of falafel mix, cook according to instructions and stuff it in a pita with my favorite toppings and spread. Personally I like tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber slices!

Photo courtesy of stonefire.com

Hope these give you some ideas for quick veggie filled meals. Let me know what your favorite go-to veggie dishes are!

Also, my cats, because it’s my blog and I’ll post cat photos if I want to lol.

Nuri had a photo shoot out in the snow a few weeks back. She was thrilled.. Obviously.

Nuri had a photo shoot out in the snow a few weeks back. She was thrilled.. Obviously.

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Hunting some birds.

Hunting some birds.

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Both cats hanging out on the cat tree. Butterscotch came to visit with my mom last week.