Category Archives: Meals

Mengrai Gourmet Thai: Thai Spicy Flat Rice Noodle + Lemongrass Coconut Soup Vegetarian/Glass Noodles

I have to admit, in Toronto, we’re somewhat spoiled with the restaurant choices we have. Mat and I have a favourite called Mengrai Gourmet Thai and there’s a reason we love going there. They are incredibly accommodating and understand what vegan and gluten free means. We’ve had the cold salad rolls – ask for no sauce on top for gluten free, lemongrass coconut soup, pad thai, green curry, glass noodles, and lately Thai Spicy Flat Rice Noodles (which are not on the menu only the take out version!).

Lemongrass Coconut Soup Vegetarian:Glass NoodlesThai Spicy Flat Rice Noodle

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lemongrass coconut soup is pretty fab and I’ve taken it one step further by adding glass noodles to the equation. Seriously, try this. It’s beyond delicious and it works with a side of rice just as well if you’re not a glass noodle fan. You’ll have to explain you want a meal size and not the appetizer.

The waiters are incredibly helpful and will not hesitate to help you with your meal choices if you describe what you’re in the mood for. We’ve been quite a few times and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a classy tasty meal.

Here are the restaurant details:

82 Ontario Street, Toronto, ON, M5A 2V3
(NW corner of Richmond St E & Ontario St, between Sherbourne & Parliament)
Tel: 416-840-2759 or 2754 (Reservation & Takeout)
Tel: 416-546-0331 (Catering / Cooking Classes /Group Dining / Event Bookings)
Their take out menu PDF.

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Vegan Gluten Free Lentil Potato Stew

The other day I felt like having a hearty soup and I figured I could do things the easy way and use my slow cooker. Really, a slow cooker is a complete blessing because it’s just a matter of putting a whole bunch of ingredients together and walking away.

Super easy to make! I found THIS recipe and varied it a little.

 

Ingredients:

6 cups veggie broth (I used 3 bouillon cubes)
2 cups dry brown lentils (rinse and drain)
2 medium red potatoes cubed
1 medium carrots chopped
2 large celery stalks, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
black pepper and sea salt, to taste
1-2 tablespoons Earth Balance, optional.

Apparently it gives the soup a richer flavour, but I used it, so I can’t tell you otherwise.
Instructions:

Clean and prepare the veggies before hand. To make the veggie broth, I boiled 3 cups of water and then mashed the cubes with a spoon in a bowl. I really rinsed the heck out of the lentils. I would highly recommend doing so. I put in all the ingredients and the water in to the crock pot and let everything alone for six hours on the first level.

lentil potato stew

 

The result was the kitchen smelling lovely and fragrant. This recipe was incredibly satisfying with a 1/4 cup of Daiya on it. I had this every day for lunch for a week, so needless to say it makes five servings.

 

Happy eating!

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No Hassle Easy Vegan Gluten Free “Meat & Potatoes”

Sometimes you have to raid your pantry and freezer for an easy meal that doesn’t require much thought, but provides maximum satisfaction. We had two burgers kicking around in the freezer and figured why not use them outside of the usual burger and a bun. What I find funny about the packaging is how it says vegetarian/vegan, it really should just say vegan, but I suppose this appeals to more markets. I forget that not everyone knows what vegan means.

The burgers are incredibly good and have a solid texture, nothing too mushy. They’re easy to pan fry, 3 minutes on each side, and I suppose they’d be fine on a grill too if you’re so inclined.

What’s on the plate:
– Mashed potatoes (made with minced garlic, dehydrated onion, Earth Balance, unsweetened soy milk, and a dash of Himalayan salt)
– Garden salad (tomato, cucumber, carrot/broccoli/red cabbage julienne, and mixed greens with Renee’s Italian dressing)
– One Sol Cuisine Mushroom Rice Burger
– Mushroom gravy

Burger Mash Salad and gravy

 

The simplicity of this meal was incredibly satisfying. I would totally make this again and it really was a matter of throwing things together in a short time. Something about this meal reminded me of a 50’s meatloaf and potatoes dish, but a heck of a lot healthier.

Happy eating!

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Vegan Gluten Free Mini Mushroom and Spinach Polenta Lasagna

I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought why not. I didn’t have a recipe, but how hard can assembling items really be? Here’s my take on making mini polenta lasagna.

Ingredients:
1 log of pre-made polenta (Or, if you’re really adventurous make your own)
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 packet of white button mushrooms
3 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 jar tomato sauce
4-5 slices of Daiya Cheddar cheese

Directions:
Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch pieces. Be mindful of holding onto the polenta and don’t be a silly like me and let it roll off the cutting board. I don’t use the ends as they’re not flat and flatness is what you’re going for. Before you begin clean your mushrooms and wash the spinach and set aside. Mince a few cloves of garlic, up to 3 tbsp, but whatever you like is fine as well. Now time to sauté! Use a medium sized frying pan and sauté the mushrooms in 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil with a with half the garlic. Be sure to stir them occasionally.  When the mushrooms are half the size drain them and place them in a bowl and set aside. Sauté the spinach in the same pan and use the rest of the garlic. This should only take a minute. Both the mushrooms and spinach should let out quite a bit of water, so do be careful to drain it as well. Place the spinach on top of the mushroom bowl and set aside.

Then the layering begins! Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the sliced polenta pieces. Break up Daiya Cheddar slices to cover. You can easily use the shreds, but the slices are uniform in coverage. After the cheese, spoon a dollop of tomato sauce and then layer the spinach and mushroom.

TIP: Now why put the cheese on first? Shouldn’t the sauce go on first? If you put the sauce on first it will most likely spill over the edge.

Top with another slice of polenta and then another dollop of tomato sauce. Pre-heat the oven for 400F. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. I baked it and then turned off the heat and left it in the oven for 10 minutes literally because I was trying to keep it warm timing it for dinner while I made a quick side salad.

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polenta, vegan, gluten free, aireater.com recipe, easy vegan lasagna polenta

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final polenta

There you have it – quick and easy vegan/gluten free mini polenta lasagna.

Happy Eating!

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Vegan Gluten Free Spaghetti Lasagna

Sometimes when you have no idea what you’re going to make for dinner a quick look around the pantry works. I really had lasagna in mind, but I didn’t have the shells and so I figured spaghetti would do. I have to say of all the noodles in the world I love spaghetti. Ho Fun is my second favourite. Something about those flat noodles, the texture, oh I cannot even.

The ingredients are pretty simple:

– 1 package of cooked rice noodles
– 1 bottle of tomato sauce
– 1  can of beans, I used Azuki, but anything will do really
– 2 cups of mixed vegetables
– 1 package of Daiya Slices, I used cheddar
– 3 tbsp vegan pesto

For each layer of pasta I was using a pasta scoop amount. It’s not an exact science as it is with lasagna shells, but it’s the only measurement I can really describe.

 

Instructions: Pour sauce into the pan and coat the bottom, then take a scoop of pasta and begin layering the: sauce, veggies, beans, cheese and pesto. I used a small spoon with the pesto and spread it as evenly as possible. For consistency sake, I switched up the layering of cheese to cover evenly.

lasagna sauce in pot

base of spaghetti lasagna

beans for spaghetti lasagna

mixed vegetables

spaghetti lasagna layer

spaghetti lasgana cheese different pattern

spaghetti lasagna with cheese

spaghetti lasagna first layer

final spaghetti pasta

lasagna sauce in pot, vegan , gluten free, pasta Bake at 400F for 20 minutes and there you have it. Easy and delicious. Happy eating!

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Vegan Gluten Free Pesto Pizza

I have fallen in love with pesto on my pizza. I’m sure it’s easy to make, but I honestly just had such a craving that while I was at a local health store I picked some up. I found this pesto made by a local company called Sunflower Kitchen. SF makes their products in  my home part of town, Scarborough, Ontario and that makes me rather happy.

If you go on their website you’ll see their goal:

Our Goal

Inspired by the earth’s bounty, Sunflower Kitchen is a family own business, a vegan, environmentally friendly company, committed to fulfill the promise of creating delicious, fresh, wholesome, ready to eat dishes that you deserve.

Doesn’t that get you in the feels? I can’t remember how much it was, perhaps $4 or $5 and frankly, it’s cheaper to buy than to get the organic ingredients and put them together. Last time I checked Whole Paycheck sells organic kale for $3.99 alone (if you’re lucky).

I’m happy to know that I can trust their products to be vegan and gluten free. I always recommend reading the label on EVERY single product you buy, but it’s nice to know there are companies devoted to this.

Kale and oregano pesto

pesto pizza

 

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The pizza was a case of the lazies, but it was so satisfying. Aidan’s sells these as pitas, but I use them as pizza shells.

What’s on this bad boy:
– Tomato pasted mixed with minced garlic
– Daiya cheddar slices (the better to cover with my dear)
– Sunflower Kitchen Kale and Oregano Pesto
– sliced tomatoes
– sliced portobello mushrooms

Baked at 400F for 15 – 20 minutes and there you have it.

pesto pizza

Happy eating!

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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.

Smashbox 1 compartment-001

 

Eco Vessel Snacker-001

 

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

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.

lbl-logo-can-landscape-reversed

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.

lbl-logo-can-portrait-reversed

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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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.

1-Metro gluten free flour

2-back gluten free flour

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.

5-Yoshi kitchen helper

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.

1-dough

2-spread dough

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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