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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Coffee Stain You'll Love: DIY Vintage Wooden Box

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

Lying in some corner of my ever growing pile of collected bits and bobs was this plain wooden box I picked up for a couple of dollars at Dollarama. You have got to love Dollarama not only for the cheapness but for the variety of stuffs you can find in there. Being the creative arty type, many a times have I found simple treasures in the craft aisle.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

The box stayed for months without being used while I was making up my mind on a suitable project. The idea struck while doing some research on methods of dyeing wood; I found some tutorials on tea stain, coffee stain and adding nails or steel wood for a rustic effect. There are a lot of interesting experiments out there. Since we've only moved into our new appartment some five months ago, there are still ongoing DIYs, addition of fixtures, furnishings and decoration. Boyfriendlovlie and I have some furniture diy projects in mind. So, I wanted to experiment a little with wood stain before tackling the bigger projects.  And since I only paid $2 for this little box, I probably would feel that much of a heart pang if it turns out gross.

Tea stain was what I started with. This is a brew of extra strong tea: 6 black tea bags in half cup boiling water. This is the first layer applied using a small regular art paint brush.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

I applied it everywhere and let dry for a whole day, then applied a second layer and let dry again in front of the radiator. After repeating the process for over 10 layers, the colour was nowhere near what I wanted. A rich dark desaturated tone was more what I was looking for.
So, I switched to coffee stain instead. The brew is 5 - 6 tablespoons instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/3 cup boiling water.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

The intensity of the dye was really rich after the very first layer application.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

Nonetheless, I still wanted a desaturated feel. So, I took out the acrylic paint set and blended a greyish indigo hue. A watery application was getting closer to what I wanted with some thicker applications at certain areas to create more interest and a denser natural feel.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

The result was pretty good and I was happy with the colour. It did have the vintage feel I was after. Did you notice that I sanded the corners a little? That gave it more of the used vintage aspect.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

Now my box wouldn't be complete without some handles. After considering a few choices, I used what I had: air dry clay. I added some texture to the clay by rolling the dough on a silicon corrugated texture mat.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

Next, I cut out 2 circles and rolled back one end towards the centre while curving it slightly like a crescent. This needs minimal handling otherwise the texture will start to fade.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

After leaving them to completely dry, I painted them with acrylic paint in an ochre hue accentuated with tones of olive green and brown.
The handles were attached using a hot glue gun. I did a little bit of a poor job there because you can see some of the glue seeping out. Oh well! It's not like the "craft police" is going to come for inspection, so we're good!

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

A good rub of olive oil gave the box a subtle sheen and would also protect the wood and colours; my vintage box was ready! You can use this box for anything or give it away as a gift. I decided to use it for my air plants.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

I added some white and red dyed lichen for more texture and colour.

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

DIY Vintage Wooden Box

How do you like it? I find it pretty awesome that I didn't really have to buy anything new to make this box. Although I wonder how much coffee we'd need for larger projects. It might then be more cost effective to get some wood dyes if I can find a good one without the nasty smells and chemicals.

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Adding some Pizzazz to a Lazy Sunday

Vegan no-cheese pizza

Best day for a homemade pizza has got to be Sunday. After my green smoothie to bust away the first sign of a flu today, I really was not up for an elaborate Sunday brunch.
A good smear of tomato sauce layered with some fresh sweet peppers, fresh mushrooms, crumbled tofu tossed into some shoyu soy sauce onto the remaining store-bought pizza base in the fridge, and voilà - I had my lazy Sunday pizza. If using organic, crumbled tofu provides the perfect topping for a no-cheese pizza instead of using processed vegan cheeses which are still ladened with fat. These simple vegetable toppings were really bursting out with pizzazz with the use of fresh oregano as opposed to the dried version.

Vegan no-cheese pizza

Left-overs are going into the lunch box for tomorrow.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Diamonds Not Oreos

Cranberry Oats Diamond Crisps
Photo was taken while Boyfriendlovlie was practising his zen balancing with the cookies.

The one thing that got me excited when I moved to Canada was that Oreos are vegan here. Another taste of the so-loved (pre-vegan) childhood treat, was something quite unique despite it being just-an-Oreo. Sadly, after binging on quite a few packs, I obviously reaped the consequences of a little too many. As it goes: every taste lands on the waist! Sluggishness started to settle in - not a great feeling at all. Oreos are now only for the boyfriend. What would I not give to be able to eat them like he does and still not put on an ounce of fat. *sigh*. Despite abstaining from Oreos, the truth was my sweet tooth was still gnawing to be satisfied; I was left with no other choice than to have recourse to something homemade. I wouldn't call these cranberry oat diamond crisps healthy but at the very least I know what I've put in them. Oats being filling too, I would only need to eat one or two. At the very least, this is how it was meant to be.

What makes this version really distinct is the overnight chill in the refrigerator. You wouldn't want to omit that step because, trust me, that it does make a whole lot of difference. If you are in a hurry though, you may just chill the dough for at least 2 hours although it may lack the crispness and bolder taste that an overnight chill would give it.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend ... so I've made these into diamond shapes for a classier bite!

Cranberry Oat Diamond Crisps
Ingredients (about 25 cookies)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup desiccated coconut flakes
1 cup soft brown sugar
150 g non-hydrogenated vegan margarine at room temperature
2 tablespoon coconut-almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses (or maple syrup)
1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • Sieve flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add oats, salt, coconut flakes, sugar and cranberries. Mix well.
  • Drop the margarine in the dry mix.
  • Incorporate the margarine by cutting it into smaller pieces in the flour. Then mix either with a wooden spoon or with the hands.
  • Add the milk, molasses and vanilla extract. Mix to form a sticky dough.
  • Once everything is well mixed, transfer into an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours. (I left mine overnight).
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Drop mixture on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Spread the cookie dough and line the tray, flattening to about 1/2 cm.

Cranberry Oats Diamond Crisps
  • Bake for 12 minutes. (Keep an eye on it as it bakes really quick).
  • Remove from oven. The edges will be slightly more baked than the centre and they will already be crispy.
  • The centre will still be soft, it will harden upon cooling.
  • While still hot and soft, cut the cookie into diamond shapes (or any shape you like).

Cranberry Oats Diamond Crisps
  • Let cool completely before separating the shapes.
  • Keep in a air-tight cookie jar and eat moderately!
These are the perfect tea-time treat.

Cranberry Oats Diamond Crisps

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Breakfast Worthy of a Gladiator: Savoury Oats Fricassé Porridge

Gladiator Savoury Fricasse Oats

 Are you a morning person? Quite frankly, I am certainly not. Loathing in bed at the very idea of having to get ready for work every morning, I try hard to get "my feet untangled from the bedsheets" - as goes the Mauritian expression. Did I not have the flexi-time option at work, I'd probably barely make at nine everyday. Despite my numerous attempts at cultivating an early riser habit, there are some currents that still remain hard to fight against. For those ones, my strategy is not to fight against them but to con them and divert the attention.
Do you remember the stories your mama used to tell you when you were a kid to get you to eat your dinner? I remember I would binge on spinach because Popeye would get strong with it.

Luring myself into an attractive tasty breakfast is my cure to pull me back into the stage of life every morning . A brightening breakfast can range from a well made smoothie to a satisfying bowl of oats porridge. Of all the traditional cereal, oats have the highest protein content. But wait, that is not the luring-factor for me; oats are actually a much revered breakfast of the gladiators! Yes, you've read that well - the gladiators. It seems that gladiators ate mostly a vegetarian diet rich in carbohydrates.The very thought of starting the day like a gladiator is what lifts and sparkles my mood. That's the little kid within me that is still seduced by great warrior stories. While I wouldn't dare think that the life of a gladiator was pleasant, stepping outside in today's world though do need a mighty warrior within you.

Infused with the depth and palatability that only fresh vegetables can bring, these are not your average oats porridge. Sugar or maple syrup being no longer the centre of attention in this savoury version, it was now time for a medley of vibrant taste to claim the lead through each spoonful of this porridge made fricassé-style.

That is one bowl of serious goodness that can never go out of style with the plus side of a low sugar content (that will not disturb the low glycemic index of oats) . What more could one possibly ask for? Well, what vegetables you choose is pretty versatile and some finely chopped herbs sound pretty tempting too.

1 cup quick oats (you may also use other types of flake oats; it will result in a different texture)
1 roma tomato
1/3 cup frozen edamame
1/2 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1 teaspoon ginger (minced or grated)
1 tablespoon shoyu soy sauce
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (optional)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Water as needed
Curled parsley or herbs of choice for garnish

  • In a dry skillet, add quick oats. Dry roast for about 5 minutes. This releases a nice flavour. Remove oats from skillet and set aside. (You can very well omit this step if short of time)
  • Then heat the coconut oil in the skillet. Add ginger and sauté for about 20 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes until tomatoes are slightly reduced and turn a little darker in colour.
  • At this point, add the mushroom and edamame. Add soy sauce. Stir and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Next add oats along with 1 cup water. Add nutritional yeast if using.
  • Stir well and let cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring and adding more water if required. 
  • If adding non-dairy milk, allow porridge to reduce a little and add milk.
  • The consistency of this porridge should be oozy and not stodgy or creamy like traditional porridge. So, be careful on the amount of water you are adding to cook.
  • Turn off heat.
  • Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs before serving.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Eating Out: Aux Vivres, Resto Vegan - Montréal

In the heart Montréal, Aux Vivres is a restaurant boasting of a solely vegan menu. Could any vegan resist stepping into a restaurant where you can actually order anything from the menu, that is without having to ask for adjustments to be made? The answer is of course not! Upon recommendation from Babette of Vegan à Montreal, Boyfriendlovie and I decided to spend last Saturday evening dining at Aux Vivres.
Upon arrival, which was some time around 7:00pm, the place was packed and there was already a queue. Good sign, although we didn't fancy waiting too long (to be fed!). We were lucky that there was just the two of us, so we quickly got a table before other people that were in larger groups in the queue.
Menu options were so alluring that I found it hard to decide on what to order.

The drink menu is certainly not to be overlooked. The tonic with apple, lemon and ginger was one refreshing cleansing drink with all the goodness of fresh ginger. On a random day, this would have been my breakfast - it was quite filling by itself!

apple_ginger_lime_tonic

For starter, we ordered a Mezzé Aux Vivres with Chapati. This delightful arrangement of pâtés and creams was the best dish from what we ordered that evening. It consisted of a veggie pâté, veggie lox, tofu cream, hummus and olive tapenade garnished with pickles & capers served with chapatis - all exquisitely prepared to enliven every taste bud!

Aux Vivres mezze

Aux Vivres mezze

Aux Vivres resto vegan, Montreal photo chapatis_zps3a69bad2.jpg

Struggling to decide between the Dragon Bowl and the Bouddha Bowl, for my main course, I eventually went for the Bouddha Bowl. A mix combination of raw and cooked: lightly steamed broccoli and spinach, raw grated carrots, bean shoots with grilled tempeh on a bed of brown rice, all accompanied by a light and tangy Japanese vinaigrette.

bouddha_bowl

Boyfriendlovlie chose the Tempeh Burger which he quite liked. Although he said he would have liked the tempeh with a little more flavour. That said, after the starter we were both quite full. So we probably were losing a little of our sense of taste! Next time, we'll make sure not to order a starter so that we can really enjoy the main course without stuffing ourselves.

tempeh_burger

tempeh_burger

Despite being so full, I just couldn't leave without trying one of the desserts, could I?
"You have enough space for dessert?!" asked Boyfriendlovlie.
"Um, no! But I still want to eat dessert!" I replied.

And so we had the Uncheesecake. This sweet treat was light but did not lack taste. We could only eat half of it though; I guess, even at this stage, my eyes were still bigger than my stomach. We asked to get it wrapped so we could take it home.

berry_cheesecake

When dining out, my only regret is my small appetite! I feel full so quickly. Aux Vivres is definitely a place to revisit (until I've tried everything nut-free on the menu!)

Disclaimer: This review has been written of my own accord. I was neither solicited nor remunerated for it.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sweet Potato Tofu Wontons in Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup

Now that we are officially in Spring, pumpkin, squash and comfort food are soon going to be tucked away as fresher lighter recipes will start flocking the recipe blogosphere. Although, looking from the balcony today, the snowy wintery weather had me curling back into a sombre mood.

xmas in spring

Nevertheless minor Spring cleaning has already started at the Lovlie Cocoon, but the weather is still calling for a heart-warming glowing soup. While wontons are more commonly tossed in a light broth with noodles and vegetables, a thicker soup did prove to be delectably satisfying. Since wontons are lighter than dumplings, they made a good pairing.


Sweet Potato Tofu Wontons in Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup


On a related note, when it comes to food shopping, I am a real supermarket aisle scavenger - always on the look-out for anything new that could also be vegan. This seafood seasoning caught my eye in Loblaws on one of my grocery trips.



Seafood seasoning

I wasn't expecting it to be vegan since the label said "seafood" but my curious nature couldn't resist at least having a peek at the list of ingredients. When you become vegan, it's a thing you start doing by habit anyway - reading the label of every single food item you buy. And that said, I do that even when they have the vegan certification labelled on the packaging, just in case they still got nasties like MSG, artificial sweeteners and the likes. So, back to my new seafood seasoning, it was actually vegan, didn't contain anything seafood related. Interesting! And so it went in my cart.


Seafood seasoning

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post have been presented and reviewed of my own accord. I was neither solicited nor remunerated for it.

Well, I've been using that seasoning a lot since I've bought it, so much that it almost felt like a little addiction! It goes in almost anything - soups, salad dressings, tofu, sushi rice, sauces, savoury pancake batter and I could keep on listing. I haven't seen this anywhere except Loblaws so far though. So, I may have to make another trip down there soon.

Sweet Potato Tofu Wontons in Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup

Ingredients (4 servings)
Soup
1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
2 potatoes (peeled and cubed)
5 - 6 fresh mushrooms (sliced)
1 cup broccoli (cut into florets)
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Fresh herbs for serving (I used parsley)

Wontons
20 wonton skins (if frozen, defrost at room temperature for a least 2 hours)
1 cup boiled and mashed sweet potato
100g tofu
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons shredded nori sheets
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (choose a vegan one)
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Make wonton filling:

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Crumble tofu and add in. Sprinkle with the seafood seasoning.


wonton_filling


  • Stir and cook for about 10 - 12 minutes until tofu starts to turn golden and lightly crispy on the outside.
  • At this point, add the mashed sweet potato. Mix well and let cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.


wonton_filling


  • Add soy sauce.
  • Lastly add shredded nori.


wonton_filling


  • Mix well and cook for another minute or two.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Add salt to taste if required.


Make soup:
While filling is cooling, make the soup.
  • Add oil to a deep pan.
  • Next add cumin and let roast in the oil for 30 seconds.
  • Add potatoes with 2 tablespoons water. Cover and let cook until almost soft.
  • Add butternut squash and cook until potatoes and squash are soft.
  • Transfer to a blender and process to a puree. You may need to add a little water. (You can also stick a hand blender in the pan and process).
  • Next add the broccoli florets, the paprika, maple syrup and lemon juice.
  • Simmer until broccoli are half cooked (I like to leave a bit of crunch in the broccoli). Lastly add mushrooms and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add salt to taste.


Make wontons:

  • Place a big deep pan of water to boil. You can either boil the wontons directly in the water or use a steamer rack in the pan to place them on and steam.
  • To fold wonton, place a little of the filling in the middle. Brush edges with a little water. Fold diagonally and glue edges together to securely enclose the filling. Then fold back the two opposite ends at the longest edge back onto each other. Glue in place with a little water.
  • Leave aside for a few minutes as you proceed on making the rest of the wontons until all filling has been used up.
  • You can make some extras if you have enough skins as wontons freeze well uncooked.


folding_wontons


  • Depending on the size of the pan, place about 4 - 8 wontons at a time in the water or on the steamer rack. Boil or steam for about 10 minutes until skin is soft. Do not over-boil or wonton will start to disintegrate.
  • Remove wontons from water and place in a bowl or plate.
To serve, place wontons in a bowl, ladle with soup and garnish with herbs.

sweet_potato_wontons




Friday, 28 February 2014

Warm Spiced Tea Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Spiced tea strawberry banana smoothie

While another surge of bitterly cold Arctic air is hitting North America this week making the temperatures drop to -15 degrees Celsius today, the call for staying indoors wrapped in a blanket with a cozy warm drink is not a mere craving — it's an urgent need! At the same time I had resolved myself to go an a two-week health kick with a boost of fruity smoothies and raw salads; you see, I thought it was going to warm up as we are stepping into the Spring zone.
Determined to stick to my initial (light) detox plan, I had no choice but to experiment with a warm spiced smoothie concoction. The aroma of this spiced tea strawberry-banana smoothie was more than enough to invigorate and cuddle me up.

The tea connoisseur in me really can't resist passing by a tea shop without stepping in. As a result, I had to buy some Chai along with some Assam varieties from Davids Tea the other day in the shopping mall close by. Both varieties are very flavoursome although I do have a preference for the assam. For some reason, my tastebuds prefer the chai variety in cooler beverages. The subtle yet quintessential aroma of this spiced tea added the perfect myriad of flavour to this otherwise classic strawberry-banana smoothie.

Ingredients (serves 2)
1 tablespoon loose chai
1 banana
4 - 5 strawberries
1 apple (peeled and cut into smaller pieces)
100 ml coconut almond blend non-dairy milk (can be substituted by any non-dairy milk)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Boiling water for brewing the tea

Brew the chai in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and let cool down until tea is warm.
Add tea to the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
Drink immediately and enjoy the aroma.

Spiced tea strawberry banana smoothie

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My new crochet project: Owl #amigurumi

owl amigurumi

Meet Baltazar. That is how Sisterlovlie has named her new little friend. As I am picking up on more crochet skills and working on bigger projects like throws, I thought tackling amigurumis would be the next step. And Sisterlovlie being so fond of owls, I couldn't help but make my first amigurumi project an owl just for her. To my surprise, making these little stuffed cuties aren't as daunting as they seem. Their cute-factor surely helps in getting the project progressing at amazing speed.
This cute owl one was made using this pattern from Little Muggles. Amy, the author of Little Muggles sure got a whole world of crochet cutie plush, books and tutorials.

Just wanted to add a little note: I have used normal buttons that I've sewed on for the eyes. But if you are making these for children, make sure you use safety eyes which don't come off easily. That way the kids don't risk putting the buttons in their mouths and choke.

owl-amigurumi

Monday, 24 February 2014

30-minute Vegan Ramen #MeatlessMonday

30-minute vegan ramen photo 30-minute-ramen04_zps088a3058.jpg

Monday is my favourite day to spend hours in the kitchen! Eh what? NOT at all. Who does anyway? So, here's my quick and easy go-to meal for Mondays and any days that can only allow for a 30-minute prep and cooked meal. And the best is that you can leave some of the veggies raw or half cooked if you wish, saving you time and keeping all the nutrition.

30-minute vegan ramen photo 30-min-ramen-2_zps5a32421b.jpg

30-minute Ramen

Ingredients (2 servings)
1 medium carrot (large if you like a lot)
1 cup broccoli florets
1 zucchini
1/2 cup bell peppers, sliced
1/2 cup baby bok choi greens
1/2 block tofu (or about 200g)
3 - 4 tablespoons shoyu soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso paste (I like the barley and soy miso)
200g noodles of choice (I used flat rice noodles, pad thai style but you can use a Japanese style noodle for a more authentic ramen)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil to sauté the tofu and veggies)



  • Cut the tofu into long strips of about 5 mm thickness.
  • Heat oil on medium heat, in a pan.
  • While oil is heating, drench the tofu pieces in the soy sauce, allow excess to drip off.
  • Place tofu in the heated oil. Cover and let cook.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:
  • Wash all veggies.
  • Slice the carrot and zucchini into ribbons using the vegetable peeler, keep peeling all the way across and lengthwise to make ribbons. Cut the broccoli into florets.
  • Cut across the lower part of the stem of the baby bok choi to separate the leaves.
  • Slice the bell pepper into thin strips.
  • From time to time, turn tofu onto the other side for even cooking.
  • Once tofu is golden, remove from heat.
  • In the same pan, add in the broccoli, cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the rest: peppers, carrot and zucchini. Toss and mix. Sauté for about 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Lastly add the bok choi and turn off heat. The bok choi will cook with the heat of the pan.
  • Meanwhile fill another pan with water and allow to boil, you can do this while the vegetables are cooking to save time. Place noodles in the water and cook until soft.
  • While noodles are being cook, fill the kettle with water and put it on to boil.


To serve, place 1 tablespoon of miso paste into each bowl. Pour boiling water from the kettle until bowls are each half filled. Thoroughly mash and stir the miso paste into the water to make the soup.
Place noodles in the bowls, top with the veggies and tofu. Serve immediately. You can add a dash or two of soy sauce if you like.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Enjoy Decadence with some Punch! Vegan Chocolate and Spanish Paprika Cheesecake

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

After a few months off blogging, I feel rather timid to be posting a recipe again. It's been like eons since my last post so much that I had lost hope of ever coming back onto the blogosphere. But you know what? My repertoire of unposted recipes was getting dusty; I needed to let them see the light (of my screen). Okay, I am still feeling rather shy so I'll keep it short but here's something full-o-taste! Add some punch to the oh-so-decadent chocolate cheesecake with a good dash of sweet Spanish paprika!

Ingredients (for one 10-inch pie dish)

Crust
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits (about 20 biscuits, some of the "value" brands are vegan)
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons vegan margarine

Filling
2 cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can substitute with vegan margarine (that is of rather solid consistency) but not liquid oil. We need this to firm the filling a little better, so an oil that won't harden in the fridge won't help).
1 pack firm silken tofu
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika

More paprika for dusting

Here's the fun part! Just a few steps to decadence.

  • Mix crushed biscuits with sugar and margarine.
  • Line a pie dish with the mixture by pressing firmly around on the bottom and the sides.
  • Melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a double boiler. Mixing both together gently until smooth.
  • Add all the rest on the ingredients together with the melted chocolate in a blender. Process until smooth. (I used a hand blender, so I placed everything in a glass jug).
  • Pour the mixture onto the crust. Smooth out evenly.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Dust with paprika before serving.
Take a bite. Do you feel the extra oomph!

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

Monday, 16 September 2013

Quick Tips to Go Meatless (Guest Post by London McGuire)

Prior to becoming completely vegan, I went through a transitional phase of finding substitutes and gradually eliminating all non-vegan ingredients. If you are considering of reducing your meat intake, going meatless on Mondays could be a good start. Today I have a guest post from London McGuire giving us some quick tips to go meatless. London McGuire is a chocolate-loving foodie and TV junkie who contributes to several blogs in her free time. You can find her on twitter @londonmcguire

Quick Tips to Go Meatless

Green, clean, healthy eating is not a fad. With more cookbooks, chefs and restaurants veering to vegan and vegetarian dining, this herbivore diet is the way of the future. For many meat-eaters, however, turning from meat to veggies can be harder than thought. Thankfully, cooking shows guide amateur cooks through each step of the cooking process, while still allowing room for creativity and improvisation.

So how does one turn meat to meatless? Here are three easy techniques for enjoying a meat-free diet.


Experiment

When it comes to cooking in general, experimentation is always a good idea. You will never know if something works, or if you like something, unless you experiment. Many great chefs like those on the Food Network or Cooking Channel, as well as many others around the country create new dishes by experimenting with old ones. Take Chef Chuck Hughes' Vegetarian Shepherd Pie. There is no beef involved in the homey remake of this classic, but lots of vegetables, which add big flavor. Your family won't miss the meat in this dish at all. When cutting out meat from other dishes, try to replace it with another hearty ingredient, like mushrooms, squash, eggplant or perhaps tofu or tempeh.


Tofu Scramble

Spice It Up

People often claim that vegetarian cuisine lacks flavor. That statement could not be more false. When looking to exclude the meat but add flavor, just amp up the spices. If you think about it, popular cuisines like Mexican and Indian food are big on the spices. Take a simple enchilada recipe like this one. Although Rachael Ray's dish is amazing as is, you can easily replace the ground chicken for beans, crumbled tofu or tempeh. This recipe uses some big spices like coriander, cumin and paprika to add flavor to the chicken. That's not all you could add though; mix in some chili or chipotle powder for more flavor and heat. If you're looking to lose the meat, just add more spice for major flavor impact.


Be Open

Trying new foods can be scary, especially if it includes an ingredient you are unfamiliar with. Take tofu for example. For some odd reason, this protein-packed ingredient often has people running for the hills. Perhaps it's habit, but old habits shouldn't stop you from trying or experiencing something new. When you open yourself up to experiencing new things, you may discover a food truly amazing. Take these vegan lentil burgers that sound incredible. Not only do they incorporate different foods like lentils, they have various spices to add a lot flavor. This point really encompasses the other two: experiment and add some spices. You won't regret it.

Don't limit your taste buds to the known. Open your mouth to the wonderful world of vegan cuisine and you too could be going meatless more often.


Veggie Okara Burger

Thanks London, these are great tips and I must say I do abide by all of these myself since the very first day that I decided to follow a vegan lifestyle.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Vegan Food Swap - August 2013

A late post for August 2013 Vegan Food Swap. I was meant to post this on the 31 August as per the rules of the Vegan Food Swap, but here I am posting it on September 15th!

August 2013 Vegan Food Swap revealed! My sender was the bubbly Becca Williams! Becca is such a firecracker! She absolutely made my day and that includes all the email exchanges we had over the past month. I couldn't but smile and laugh aloud while reading her emails. So the package contained some really nice goodies all individually wrapped...

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accompanied by a long description letter!

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Wow! This warmed my heart and I still remember the feeling while I was opening each item one by one. Each packet was labelled in the order they should be opened to match the labelled description on the letter. How thoughtful! Thanks Becca.

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I really enjoyed what I found in each.
Gluten-free pretzel sticks. Yum! I opened the pack on the same day.

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Sesame flavoured snack-size nori sheets. Seaweed is one thing that I could never be satiated with! I just love the sea taste. And Becca picked up on my strong liking for Japanese food to send me these!

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Plantain chips. These were unsalted and unsweetened and I really loved them because I usually just find sweetened banana chips which send that sharp toothache feeling if these happen to glue onto the roots! eek! So these plantain chips, I loved.

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Pumpkin seed clusters. I tried those despite my allergy. Dangerous move but the allergy didn't kick in, thankfully. And these were so tasty and addictive. But I can only have a little nibble at a time if I don't want to suffer the allergy attack.

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Seeing this Vega sport gel,I was thinking whether that was a sign that I should get back on my regular gym training! I've been postponing my routine for a long time now! I've never had this product before and I haven't tried it yet but the ingredients seem a lot healthier that other brands out there. Becca's mum recommends it! So I will try it soon!

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Raspberry liquorice! I've been seeing this a few times in the health store but never thought of buying it because I've never been a great fan of liquorice. I'm glad Becca sent this in the package, because they are actually good! I even went to buy some more at the store! These have become my newly adopted candy. So yummy! I've seen the blueberry flavour too which I haven't tried yet.

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How could have Becca guessed I love ginger candy, I don't know! I had just bought a bag of soft ginger candy (in another brand) a week before receiving the food swap package. But hey, these are not too much! They will last me all winter and keep me warm!

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Thank you for these wonderful goodies! That was a good swap.

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By the way, you should really have a look at the awesome video Becca did featuring her chocolate lab named Gilmour! It sure did entertain me and at the same time sending a message out! Check it out here.



For my part I sent a packet to Jamie Hunter.

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