Category Archives: Meals

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.

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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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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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Vegan Bean Bowl Fiesta

You know when you have one of those evenings when you really have no idea what to make for dinner, but you have a few things on hand so you figure, hey, let’s throw all this in a bowl and see what happens? Yeah, had that recently and this is what came of it.

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Ingredients:
Single serve

- 1 cup Bean ‘mash’
- 1 cup of guacamole
- 3/4 cup salsa of your choice
- 3/4 cup corn niblets
- 1/2 cup of Daiya

Directions:
How did I make the bean mash? Simple, opened a can my favourite beans, cannoneli and mashed the heck out of them with a potato masher, then added taco seasoning. I nuked the whole thing until the Daiya melted (it was 30 seconds in my microwave). Garnish with chopped green onion and there you have it. I also headed small corn tortilla rounds in a pan until crispy and used them to dip. This would also go well with a side dish of rice. I WISH the store I went to had Totuffi cream cheese as I would have put that as a layer above the bean paste or Tofutti sour cream would have been awesome too.

Happy eating!

 

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Filed under Gluten free eating, Meals, vegan

Asian Shepherd’s pie with 4 cheese mash and homemade “sausage”

As my attempt at recreating One Green Planet’s recipe for Spicy vegan gluten free sausage was a total failure I decided to use half of what I had left (it was a big batch as I was hoping the original recipe would be so great I could freeze some) and try to salvage it. So what’s a girl to do but make a shepherd’s pie?

Components:
1. Mash topping
2. Vegetables
3. “Sausage”

Mash topping
I used organic potatoes, so I just washed them and left the skin on for good measure. I boiled about 4lbs in a pot and when they were done (20 minutes due to the fact that I didn’t chop them up first or they’d have boiled faster) I put them in a large metal bowl and used a hand masher. I then added

- around 3/4 cup of unsweetened original soy milk (I like to use Natura)
- One 1/4 cups of Daiya Cheddar shreds
- One 1/4 cups of Daiya Pepperjack shreds
- 2 crumbled slices of Daiya Provolone
- 2 crumbled slices of Daiya Swiss
- 1/4 cup of vegan ‘butter’

Vegetables
I took the easy route and lightly sautéed asian frozen vegetables from Costco. I love how this mix has the variety of vegetables I have an affinity for.
- broccoli
- green beans
- sugar snap peas
- carrots
- red bell peppers
- shiitake mushrooms
- water chestnuts
- baby corn
- yellow onions

I was preparing everything simultaneously, so you can only imagine what my stove top looked like.

Sausage:

Now comes the part of the recipe that I really wasn’t looking forward to –  the dreaded sausage. It was a complete disaster when I tried to steam the mixture which also was not holding together. Here’s the original recipe. As that wasn’t working for me. I don’t think it made a difference that I used a white kidney bean, I mean a bean is a bean. I also added flax seed and soaked 1/4 cup of chia seed till it became 1 cup. Then I let it chill over night and it was STILL not cohesive to form into a ‘sausage’ link shape. Seriously?

For this recipe I decided to pan fry it. I took it slow, on medium heat as it was so damn sticky, it was hard to break into little pieces to fry evenly. I think I was standing there for about 20 minutes, but it felt like forever. If you can actually make this sausage recipe please let me know, I would be grateful that someone made it properly, give me some hope as it stands I will not try again. I went to a lot of trouble to get the vegan gluten free Worcestershire Sauce and it just feels like a kick in the teeth to work with this unruly mixture. I did it anyway. Finally, it browned up and I then assembled everything into a dutch oven Le Creuset.

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I baked it at 400 for 20 minutes. The top didn’t brown as much as I’d like, but we were hungry and basically everything is already cooked, so good enough. As always, I have Yoshi, my little kitchen helper meowing at me and watching my every move. I love his little face. He is a mommas boy for sure. He was trying to smell the spoon I had in my hand when I was dalloping the mash on top. I had it in my hand while trying to take a picture. After this picture he climbed on my knee to try to get a better smell. Too bad he’s not a veggie cat. Ah well.

5-Yoshi kitchen helper

So there you have it – I salvaged the sausage and made something lovely out of a horrible time. Hurray!

Happy Eating!

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

Easy Pad Thai

I’ll never understand how Mat’s sister can make everything taste amazing. She has mastered vegan gluten free baking and doesn’t even try at it. I so much as add egg replacement and the whole thing is garbage. Seriously. She’s done it again with a recipe for Pad Thai that is easy and incredibly tasty.

The elements for pad thai are pretty simple:
1. Sauce
2. Noodles
3. Vegetables
4. Garnish

Usually pad thai requires a) tamarind and b) fish sauce. I really did not want to go through the pain of mashing a tamarind brick through a sieve though it really is worth it. Fish sauce is out of the question, yet this recipe is perfect without it.

Sauce recipe:
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce + A dash of sesame oil = fish sauce substitute
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp white vinegar

Now, this doesn’t make very much, so I actually made 8x’s the amount because I used 3/4 cups of it to marinate the tofu in over night.

Instructions:

Tofu:
- Cut up tofu into squares, marinate over night, when ready to cook, place tofu on baking sheet (minus the liquid) and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until your desired firmness

Noodles:
- Rice noodles generally take 5 minutes to boil, so have those bad boys ready just before the vegetables cook

Vegetables:
- I generally use whatever vegetables I have on hand, but if you want to be semi traditional go for: bean sprouts, red/green peppers, mushrooms, baby bok choi, you can add ginger in as well.
- Stir fry the vegetables to match the timing of the tofu baking and noodles boiling. Should take about 8 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your veggies.
NOTE: Do add the bean sprouts last, they only take two minutes and are nice crispy

Garnish:
- Chopped green onions, cilantro, crushed peanuts, lime juice

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When the tofu is done, add it to the drained noodles and vegetables then pour in a cup of the sauce, that should be enough, but add more if you so desire. Add the garnish at the end and enjoy!

This recipe is seriously delicious. I cannot emphasize how much you’ll want to make extra sauce to have on hand.

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Handmade Gluten Free Vegan Pizza

We usually buy our pizza crusts, but seeing as the bakery didn’t re-order them I decided to make my own.  I have never made my own pizza crust with flour. Usually, if I do make ‘pizza’, I’ll make raw tomato bread and use it as a crust with cashew cheese.

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What I have here: Robin Hood gluten free flour, sugar, salt, xanthum gum, baking powder, table spoon of olive oil.

I followed this recipe: http://minimalistbaker.com/the-best-gluten-free-pizza-crust-sauce/

Now, here’s the thing, the flour I used didn’t really get adhesive until I added about a cup and a half more water than the recipe called for. The reason, I assume, the flours are different and must have different water saturation. This is why I don’t often bake – gluten free is freaking hard and I’m terrified to screw it up and waste these expensive ingredients.

Thankfully, it did work out and adding more water was the key.

1-pre bake shells

Don’t be fooled by how the circles turned out. As you can see one of them was ‘patched up’, the dough wasn’t the easiest to work with. I had to make them into small balls in my hand and then French rolling pin them into flatter shapes. I would highly suggest either flouring or oiling your rolling pin to make sure the dough doesn’t stick and fluster the heck out of you.

2-pre bake made

I topped it with: tomato paste, cheddar Daiya, red/green peppers, button mushrooms and parsley. Baked it off at 400 for 15 minutes. I double checked that it was golden brown on the bottom of the crusts before removing it.

3-pizza afterHappy eating!

 

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Deconstructed Vegan Tacos

We went to the states and found these corn tortilla rounds that were deliciously soft and gluten free. We just bought a new toaster oven and wanted to test it out. We put the rounds in with Daiya and set it to 400F for 20 minutes, which was a tad much, so 15 probably would have been just fine.

Who could resist making deconstructed tacos? Deconstructed is a fancy word for lazy in my books. I’m sure fancy chefs have actually made wonderful things using this term, but I clearly am not in this category.

Making tacos is easy as pie, except if it’s gluten free pie then it’s actually not easy at all.

Either way, here’s how I topped the tortilla and made it a freaking tasty taco.

Ingredients:
- 2 cups of cooked lentils mixed with various spices to your liking: cumin, paprika, oregano, black pepper, turmeric, garlic powder/freshly minced, ketchup, mustard, rice vinegar, gluten free soy sauce and fresh lime juice
- Daiya (any flavour is fine)
- freshly mashed avocado
- chopped tomato
- chopped red/green pepper
- chopped cilantro

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I made a quick side salad:
- mixed greens,
- cucumbers
- diced tomatoes
- broccoli slaw (broccoli, carrots, purple cabbage)
- radish sliced
- lightly sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Also, had some rice prepared, I prefer basmati and there you have it – delicious! I most likely will be making this for a few dinners in an row.

 

Happy eating!

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Triple badass Mac N Cheese + Tofu pups

I had a craving for creamy mac n cheese with hotdogs. Yes, I was reliving a childhood meal I used to make for myself and hey, some things you never grow out of, thankfully now I can make them cruelty free.

1-mac n cheese and tofu pups

I took the time to measure everything, even though I usually eye ball it.

Instructions:
Boil bag of gluten free pasta as per directions. Personally, I enjoy slightly mushier than usual pasta and thus boil the pasta about 5 minutes longer than suggested, but that’s me. The point is – boil your favourite pasta. This time we used Maple Grove white rice elbow pasta. We find this pasta to be just as good as Tinkyada and it’s always reasonably priced. While the pasta is boiling I cut up some Tofu Pups and fried them lightly in an pan until they were golden brown. For my Canadian friends I know you’re asking, what the heck is a Tofu Pup? I love these, more so the Jumbo ones, but they’re vegan AND gluten free hot dogs that are pretty dang good.

While the pups are frying on low heat I ready my cheese. I like to use 3 different Daiya cheese products for my mac n cheese.

1. Cheddar shreds 1.5 bags
2. Pepperjack shreds 1/4 of a bag
3. Chive and Onion cream cheese spread 1/4 cup

Oh yes, this is the holy trinity. Also VERY IMPORTANT – ready 1.5 cups of water on hand.

Once the pups have fried, put them aside as you have things to do. By now the pasta should be done and you’re ready do drain and rinse. I know some people don’t subscribe to the rinsing of pasta, but I am a believer of it. Before you put the pasta back into the pot to get everything together I suggest a tablespoon pad size of Earth Balance, or coconut oil to get things going. Put in the ‘butter’ or oil into the pot, keep the burner on medium and let the dumping begin!

First the pasta, then stir in the different cheese. This is where the water comes in. After each cheese I usually add 1/4 cup of water to see how it’s being absorbed and or coating the pasta. When you’re done with the cheese, don’t forget the Tofu Pups and there you have it.  If you like feel free to add the hot sauce of your choice.

Happy eating!

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