Author Archives: Lidija Le François

Review: Eco Vessel Smashbox and Snacker from Vitarock.com

There’s a new online health store in town, right here in Toronto, called Vitarock.com. The site is pretty slick and well designed. I am a sucker for white space and I like that items aren’t cramped and crammed down the consumer’s neck. Click on the image below to see the screen shot and check out the site.

They sell a lot of vegan/gluten free items that I’m familiar with like: Nature Clean, Green Beaver, Giovanni, Dessert Essence, Manitoba Harvest, and a few others.

Vitarock screenshot

I totally was surprised by a brand I didn’t recognize – Eco Vessel. Eco Vessel is from the states and they have a variety of products from stainless steel bottles, glass water bottles, and then they have these kick ass food containers. All their products are BPA and phthalate free, recyclable and environmentally friendly.

I am always on the hunt for new lunch containers. We have a collection going on of containers, but lunch is important! If I don’t have a good lunch I am grumpy for the rest of the day. I seriously think meals and making food should be taught in school and I don’t mean the stuff they teach in Home Ec., people should be taught how to balance a meal and make things that nourish their souls. Oh, I love food too much.

Anyway, I all but squealed, okay a little, when I got my package. The post came quicker than I thought, I ordered in the morning and got it the next day. Amazing.

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Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the products not collapsed, I figure these are nicer anyway.

I love the collapsable part and the colours. Totally lightweight and perfect for lunch, camping, snacks, anything. One of my friends suggested the Snacker is perfect for a small dog water bowl. Hey, that works too. They have two compartment food containers, but I figure 4 cups of food is enough. The built in spork/knife dealy is awesome. So convenient to have the utensil built into the container instead of wrapping it up in tissue and making a mess out of it or losing it somehow. Very well thought out container.

After I had these containers for a week Mat was getting a little jealous shall we say, so I ordered a set for him too, nothing says I love you like here’s something to house your sacred lunch that I made with my two little hands. Well, it sounded better in my head.

I know I will be checking out Vitarock for more items, they seem to be adding new things often and they have some cool contests going on.

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Filed under Bento box, Contest, Eco Friendly, Eco Friendly Packaging, Meals, vegan

Green Beaver Extra Gentle Castile Sunflower Lavender Bar Soap

We noticed Green Beaver came out with  a new soap and we decided to pick it up. I’m super glad that we did because this has become my newest favourite soap  EVAR!! Okay, it’s seriously very good. I am not paid to say this, I don’t work for Green Beaver, and if I did I’d have a heck of a lot more product at home. I don’t believe the soap is on the Green Beaver site yet, so your best bet is to find it at natural stores.

Here’s the marketing explanation about the soap:

“Green Beaver Extra Gentle Castile Sunflower Soap is made with cold-pressed, locally harvested organic sunflower seed oil. The oil is incredibly rich in antioxidants (vitamin E and carotenoids) and in skin moisturizing omegas. Blended with coconut oil for a gentle silky lather, this soap leaves your skin feeling fresh and soft, and ideal for the most sensitive skin.

 Green Beaver Extra Gentle Castile Sunflower Bar Soap
The owners and creators of Green Beaver have made it a priority to use Canadian-grown organic ingredients whenever available. They are proud to have purchased 40 acres of organic sunflowers from a family farm, located 65 km from The Green Beaver Company’s door.

Their philosophy is, the more organic farmers they can support, the more land they can help convert to organic practices, thereby reducing the amount of pesticides used right in our backyard.”

I’ve spoken with the owner of Green Beaver and I honestly think he’s just a terribly sweet man who is in the natural product business for the right reasons. He wants to make quality products that work. I am completely in love with his enthusiasm and excitement with having found such a local organic farmer down the street. I wish you all could hear the happiness in his voice when talking about his good luck.

True to the description, the soap has some serious softness to it. I feel like I’m bathing with soft oils that sooth and moisturize my skin. I often start my shower by washing my face first and I totally love the way the soap makes my skin feel. I imagine this is what Roman royalty felt like.

Unlike Kiss My Face olive oil based soaps, this Green Beaver Sunflower Soap is light, and doesn’t feel goopy. I totally hate the green slime/sludge that is left over whenever I’d put down the Kiss My Face bar. There’s no way I could use KMF for laundry and I could totally see the GB working very well with that.

Sometimes I find soap to be overwhelming with scent and this soap is perfectly balanced and not at all offensive.

I’d highly suggest this soap for anyone as they’re allergy friendly.

Highlights: Biodegradable. Vegan. GMO-Free. Not tested on animals.

Ingredients: Sodium Cocoate** (saponified organic coconut oil), Sodium Sunflowerate** (saponified organic sunflower oil), Sodium Castorate (saponified organic castor oil)**,  Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavander) Oil*, Lavandula hybrida Oil*, Beta-sitosterol, Squalene, Tocopherol

100% of the total ingredients are from natural origin
87.2% of the total ingredients are from organic farming

*Ingredients from organic farming
** Made using organic ingredients

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Filed under Biodegradable Cleaning products, Eco Friendly, gluten free, vegan

Live Below the Line 2014 for $1.75 a day

I was contacted by a PR company about Live Below the Line 2014an innovative campaign that transforms the way individuals think and engage with extreme poverty issues.

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So how to do that? Live Below the Line, presented by the Micronutrient Initiative, challenges participants to eat and drink for $1.75 a day for five days – the extreme poverty threshold that 1.2 billion people worldwide must survive on for all of their needs.

From April 28th to May 2nd, 2014, Live Below the Line participants will experience the true meaning of living below the line and can choose to raise funds for Canadian partner organizations including Opportunity InternationalRaising the Village and Ve’ahavta, whose initiatives and programs help eradicate extreme poverty around the world.

There’s no doubt that eating and drinking on $1.75 a day can be a daunting challenge so there’s a full day of recipes that fit within the $1.75/day budget.

Here are a few examples of the recipes that fall under “vegan” – minus the honey AND fish sauce of course:
Breakfast - Smoothie

Lunch - Yellow Split Pea and Vegetable Soup

Dinner - Vietnamese Noodle Salad

I’d love to see if any of you can come up with recipes that fit this requirement.

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Live Below the Line’s social media channels:
Twitter: @LBLCA
Hashtag: #belowtheline
Facebook:facebook.com/lblca
Instagram: @LBLCA

For more information and to register for the challenge, please visit livebelowtheline.ca.

 

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Restaurant Review: Bukhara Grill (Toronto)

Mat and I had the pleasure of going to Bukhara Grill in Toronto on Bloor. They have another location in Mississauga for anyone in the west end. The location we went to was downstairs and next to this health store called Peachtree. It’s somewhat easy to miss the entrance to Bukhara Grill as the sign doesn’t stick out as much as you’d think.

So downstairs we went to be greeted by a very courteous host who showed us to a lovely intimate section of the restaurant. We were the first ones in the door, afterwards it started to fill up nicely. They certainly have done a fantastic job making this space their own.

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From the decorations to the mint and tamarind sauce already waiting at each table I really felt they’re trying for an upscale client. By the way the two condiments I mentioned are insanely good. I hope they decide to sell them as a separate product as I would start stocking up. We had no problems ordering and receiving the food the way we asked. They understand vegan and gluten free. Just make sure to pass on the papadums if you’re gluten free as they are made in the same place the naan is. It’s too bad, but that’s what happens when things are done traditionally.

We usually stick to aloo golbi ($9.99) and chana masala ($9.99) as we know them to be naturally gluten free. For a change we ordered Saffron Rice ($3.99) instead of just plain basmati. 

To say we were impressed is an understatement. Everything was flavourful, delightfully spicy, and delicious. We plan on making this our go to place for the weekend. We have a habit now of ordering an additional meal of the same for take away as it makes Sunday afternoon lunch that much easier.

Do not miss out. I cannot say enough good things about this place.

Happy eating!

 

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Filed under gluten free, gluten free meals, Meals, vegan

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies with Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels

The lovely people at Enjoy Life sent me a bag of their dark chocolate Morsels. I have one word for them – DELICIOUS! I had to stop myself from eating the bag. Yes, they are fantastic just on their own. I love dark chocolate and these are just right.

I used a fantastic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from The Gluten Free Vegan. This recipe is supposed to make 20 cookies, I made 15 because I really packed those babies. I used my hands to form them into cookie patties. I usually use an ice cream scoop, but today I felt like using my hands for some reason.

I’ve made this recipe about five times now and things I’ve learnt:
1. Do not use coconut oil – it doesn’t soften the cookie whatsoever, it makes them dry and kinda not to great
2. Use more chocolate chips than recommended, it’s a personal preference
3. You can use home made apple sauce, works fine too
4. Do not use rice sweetener, for some reason maple syrup really works, the rice sweetener does not

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Oh, they are delicious! I love, love, love the texture and they’re not too crunchy. Excellent recipe that you can’t mess up. Unless you use coconut oil.

Happy eating!

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Filed under baked goods, gluten free, Healthy Snacks, vegan

Mushroom and Chili cheese vegan gluten free calzones

I came upon a recipe from Dawn, blogger from Veg-Am: Ramblings of an amateur vegan cook for calzones. Now, making anything gluten free usually requires fifty different flours and expensive items, but her recipe was great. As to Dawn’s point, I do thank her Mom for this, I really do.

I made a few changes, I didn’t have tapioca flour, so I substituted 2.5x’s 3/4 cups. I read the conversion for corn starch from tapioca is 2.5, so I stuck with it. Thankfully it worked! What didn’t work, and don’t bother trying, was trying to crush tapioca pearls. Honest to goodness, I tried to blend them, I tried to crush them by hand in a mortar and pestle and nothing! These things are hardcore!

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As you can see – nothing worked! I couldn’t believe it. Lesson learnt, buy tapioca flour, don’t bother trying to be clever. I just assumed I could pulverize the pearls. I should have dragged out my Blendtec, but I honestly can’t be bothered to find it.

So here’s how the process went down. I added about 3 tbsp of Italian seasoning to the mixture and 2 tbsp of minced garlic since we seriously enjoy the taste.

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I first flattened the dough with my hand and then used my French rolling pin to continue between two sheets of parchment paper.

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The above mixture is Amy’s vegan chili and a mixture of Daiya Cheddar/Pepperjack.

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This mixture is: sautéed button/brown mushrooms, medium salsa and Daiya Cheddar.

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I spooned what I figured was a good amount, do use your judgement and try not to overfill.

2-IMG_20140114_081517Okay, a picture of our 10 year old cat Yuki. She is freaking awesome and smart. Can’t resist her in the morning.

Back to the calzones:

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The directions say to use a ‘wash’ of olive oil, so I applied it with my hands, as I couldn’t find my brush. I figured one of them would pop and as you can see one did, but it’s still tasty.

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There you have it – calzones and freaking heaven in a bite. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Happy eating!

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PIE! Vegan Gluten Free Apple Pie

I decided I was going to complete a childhood baking dream and make pie. We all have childhood baking dreams, right, right?! Well anyway, I had a hankering for pie and damn it if I was going to find a store that would sell a vegan gluten free version. I looked through my browser history, but I couldn’t find the recipe I used to make the pie. I wish I had held onto it, but ah well, that just means there will be others I will try instead I suppose.

I wish I hadn’t made too apple filling as to split the pie in half, when I should have used the crust I made to make a bottom for just one pie instead of top for two. Lesson learnt kids – just make one pie.

Either way – here’s me fulfilling a dream!

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Happy eating!

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Filed under baked goods, vegan

If you were wondering, even if you weren’t, here you go

I have been slowing down my Air Eater activity as I have been focusing my efforts on a) my second house move within a year and b) I’m writing a novel.

The first is terribly disruptive. Imagine moving two hours away, with all your belongings, plus two meowing cats who won’t shut up, unpacking and trying to live. Then months later doing the same thing now with dog in tow, who thankfully is a dream in the car, but the cats still won’t shut up. Not really an ideal way to be, but it had to be done. The worst part is we’re definitely going to move again when the year is up here as well. We just cannot find what we need for everyone. We base where we are going to live on the animal’s needs. Needs large windows for the cats, close to a good dog park for Mardi and reasonable distance to a good Thai place for us. Then the stupidness of calling companies to change an address. You don’t realize how many people have your address until you move. Rather frustrating really and it demands a lot of time to set things back to how they were.

As for the novel, it has been a wonderful time, I truly have enjoyed the process. I am in the middle of my first round of edits and I feel I am being driven crazy with character plot twists and ideas coming to me at the most random of times. No one wants to be in a grocery store and then shout out, “Of course, I’ll just have to kill him, that will solve everything.” Yeah, sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

Life takes you in so many directions and you only have so much time. I have been dreaming of this for a long time and I know if I don’t do it now I never will. This isn’t a goodbye, this is just a friendly FYI. I’ll post when I make something worthwhile, since I do tend to fail a lot with gluten free baking, sigh.

I’m also going to have to let Vegan Bloggers Unite! hold on and only publish articles from those who pursue me. I just don’t have the time to go chasing for articles.

Thank you friends for the lovely support and INCREDIBLE emails. I have snorted laughing so hard from the things people say. I appreciate your efforts to communicate like you have no idea.

Talk to you soon,

Lidia

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Easy Vegan Gluten Free Pizza Crust recipe

Who says you can’t have vegan gluten free pizza? It’s totally possible, just need to figure out a recipe that works and I believe I’ve managed to do so. Now, in Ontario, we have a store called Metro and they have their own brand of gluten free flour under the Irresistible brand.

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As you can see in the bottom part of the picture, Yoshi is never far from me in the kitchen, honestly this cat is always my little orange shadow. I love him so much.

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Anyway back to the flour. As you can see from the ingredients, there is already xanthan gum already added, which made this a heck of a lot easier.

I added 3 tbsp of Italian seasoning, 1tbsp of black pepper and 1 tsp of salt. I tried to follow the instructions on the back of the package for the pizza, I added the 2/3 cups of soy milk, this was a bad idea. I already had too much liquid since I had added extra ground flax seed, which turned out to be too much. I added about 1/2 cup of flax seed with equal amount of water and that was my mistake.

So here is where the correcting begins. Then I added about 3 tbsp of corn starch, still wet, then I added 2 tbsp of rice flour, still wet. I’m not sure what to do, then I figure, okay, add in the actual flour mix and that worked! I added about 1/2 cup of the flour and was able to make it stable to the ball of dough you see below.

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I put down a piece of parchment paper, then flour, and tried to make a circle shape. I flattened the dough with my hands and I tried to make it as thin as possible. I really enjoy a crispy flat crust. I suppose you can use a rolling pin just as fine.

Toppings:
- Tomato paste
- Daiya cheddar
- Pineapple
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Green peppers

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I baked it for 20 minutes at 450F due to the crust being so thin. Be mindful of your oven and make sure you check in at the 10 minute mark just to be sure. What you should be looking for is the bottom of the crust to not be ‘wet’, it should be light coloured and should feel crispy.

There you have it – simple as heck and tasty!

Happy eating!

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Filed under celiac, gluten free, Meals, vegan

Do it Yourself Laundry Powder

We were running low on our usual natural biodegradable laundry liquid, so I figured hey, let’s drive to Buffalo and get some ingredients that we can’t get in Toronto to make dirt cheap laundry powder. US friends, be very thankful that you have such items on hand at your local stores. We had to travel 2 hours, cross the border just to hunt this down. All in all, a four hour trip to find these items. Insane isn’t it? Worth it? YES!

Here’s what we bought:
$3.24 – 3 boxes of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner, 55 oz/3lbs = $1.08/lb

$3.38 – 3 boxes of 20 Mule Team Borax All Natural Laundry Booster, 76 oz/4lbs = $0.85/lb

$5 – 3 bars of Vals Soap (I don’t have the packaging, so I can’t recall the size) =$1.66 each

When you break down the cost per load, it’s incredibly cheap and you can’t beat the satisfaction of having made your own cheaper AND eco-friendly laundry soap.

Where did I get the idea for this? I found this recipe from PETA and here’s their instructions:

1/2 bar of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint pure-castile organic bar soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda

  • Grate the soap with a cheese or carrot grater.
  • Combine with the borax and washing soda in an airtight container (a Mason jar or Tupperware will work).
  • Shake!

Makes 1½ cups detergent

Yep, that’s it. Your detergent is ready to go! Use 1 tablespoonful per laundry load.

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Now, I used a bar of Val’s because I could not justify buying 1 bar of soap for $6. Dr. Bronner’s is pretty expensive and Val’s is just as nice. I grated the soap into a really fine powder, I used the second smallest side of the grater. The super small is just painful, I find it’s just too easy to hurt yourself, and I have done so easily before. I use industrial washers at laundromats, so my portion is 1/4 cup seeing as the loads I wash are bigger than the average machine. As the article suggests 1tbsp should do the trick.

Here’s what I ended up with. I couldn’t find the lid to the mason jar, so I used plastic wrap, but I would suggest a cloth, even thick paper towel as plastic wrap will tear easy.

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I’ve used the soap twice now and I really enjoy it. Now that it’s winter we use a towel to clean off Mardi’s paws when she comes back in from being outside and it gets pretty darn dirty. This soap cleans those dirt stains right out! Due to the non-fragrance nature of Val’s original soap there isn’t a heavy perfume. If you’re a scented kind of person, I would suggest a few drops of your favourite essential oil during the load. I am out of Val’s soap, so for my next batch, I probably will be using Mountain Sky.

I would love to hear if anyone makes their own and the recipes used. Please feel free to drop a line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by | December 17, 2013 · 9:06 pm