New York City

Life is hard. So I went to New York City. I needed to get out of Montreal, and it proved to have been the right thing to do. In school, so much of my learning is based on my internal world; my inner sensations and my thoughts and my body are under constant construction because of what my classes demand of me.  I get wrapped up in existential thoughts (why does dance even matter!?) and I get wrapped up  in the dangerous web of self criticism and I get wrapped up in the way my body feels. Ultimately, school causes me to hugely disconnect with the external stimuli I know and love. So, going to NYC was the best choice for me. The insane amount of external stimulation pumped me back to life. I learned SO many things; I’m starting to feel like an adult… I’m starting to understand why my parents and sister are poor of money, but rich of the world; next time I have any money you’ll be sure to see me on a plane, train or automobile. BUT, less about my lame food for thought and more food for our bellies. I ate at some seriously awesome places. My top 5 are: Peacefood Cafe, Jerusalem Restaurant, Two Boots, Beyond Sushi, and Lula’s Sweet Apothecary. Also, an honorable mention to Stumptown Coffee for the best damned almond milk latte. I also ate at Whole Foods. My first night, I was starving because I got distracted by the tall buildings and bright lights (I  felt like a serious country mouse), so I went to Whole Foods and created the HUGEST salad at their salad bar and it cost $12… I was shocked. At Commensal here in Montreal, a buffet style vegetarian restaurant, the same amount would have cost me upwards of $20. Any who, here are some photos of what I ate at those four beautiful places. DSC_0951Peacefood Cafe. A bit pricey, but great home-style meals. I don’t mean home-style in the sense that it’s SUPER casual in the restaurant, I mean it in the sense that the flavours and ingredients are top notch and very comforting. There were some of the classic vegan fare-type things (kale salads, pasta with pesto, pizza, etc), which I was really into. For a soup+salad, an entree and a slice of key lime pie for dessert, it cost me $30 (including tip). As I said… PRICEY. But it was very tasty.

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Jerusalem Restaurant. WOW. This was the greatest little whole in the wall. There is an outside window you can order at for take out, or there are 6 places inside. For $8 I got everything in the picture (a pita, Israeli salad and a HUGE amount of hummus). I loved this place because not only was the food fantastic (the hummus was seriously garlic-y), but the ambiance was great too; laid back, some groovy music, and two funny dudes running it made my dinner relaxing and pleasant. I was in at around 8pm and it was fairly busy – I couldn’t imagine what a zoo it’d become at lunch time!!

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Two Boots. Okay, so I went to Grand Central station and the foodcourt was… heaven. There were more than 4 different vendors that had explicitly vegan meals! IT WAS SO COOL. I chose the V for Vegan pizza. The slice was $5. And OH MY GOD IT WAS UNREAL. The pesto and the roasted veggies and the Diaya cheese… it was something that totally hit the spot. Damn. I want a slice now. DSC_0188

Beyond Sushi. This place was super fascinating. While the sushi had the traditional sushi taste, it’s all made with wild black rice and other cool ingredients. Again, all the choices were vegan. There are rolls (8 pieces), single pieces, and wraps. For $11 they have a combo where you can choose 1 roll and 1 wrap (there are many options for both). They also came with tasty sauces. Wow. Tasty is basically the only adjective I can think of when I think of New York… Anywho, this sushi was super cool, and filling. I was very pleased.

DSC_0237Lula’s Sweet Apothecary. (Forgive the weird photo – it was like 10 pm and I was SO antsy to eat it) Okay. I’ve left the best for last. This… this heaven on earth actually brought tears to my eyes. The tears didn’t come out of having deprived myself of ice cream for so long (trust me, I love me my Coconut Bliss), but they came from the pure ecstasy brought by the amazing flavour. So all the ice creams and all the toppings are vegan. I got a sundae for $7 (I know, a splurge. BUT it’s a great independent little shop AND it was so good I almost bought a second one…). A sundae includes two scoops of ice cream, one wet topping, one dry topping, coconut whipped cream, and a cherry on top. I chose mocha ice cream, chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, caramel, and candied pecans. It was like a turtle. They also had 1 flavour of soft serve (birthday cake) which you could get with a dry topping and they blend it up (like a Blizzard!) and there was also a brownie sundae and a banana split. Man. It was so great.

New York was SO great. I hope to return soon because I feel like I didn’t see enough/anything. AND there were so many good eateries that I didn’t have a chance to eat at.

 

 

Carrot Cake Smoothie

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As I’m sure you’ve come to understand, I’m a busy human being. School consumes my life, but when I get the time, I try to commit to my various passion-projects (they keep me sane). So, with the busy schedule, I like to pack all the things into my smoothies. Okay, okay, this smoothie doesn’t have spirulina or maca or bee pollen or goji berries or acai (OR WHATEVER SUPER FOOD), it’s still full of tasty goodness… seriously… like a cake in a cup!

If you’re skeptical about adding the rolled oats, don’t worry! They do not change the flavour, nor do they change the texture in your mouth. Primarily they thicken the smoothie (and because they’re a complex carb they bring great long lasting energy).

If you’re a fan of carrot cake with a bit of a tropical twist, add some pineapple chunks or mango. Even dried pineapple! Th next smoothie I want to experiment with is a blueberry pie one, or a key lime one.

Also, I recently went to New York City. I plan on posting about the amazing places I ate in the upcoming days!

CARROT CAKE SMOOTHIE: (serves 1 large glass, or 2 smaller)

  • 4 small carrots, washed (if your blender isn’t super good, roughly chop the carrots for easier blending)
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid (water, coconut water, nut milk, coconut milk, anything works)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 heaping tablespoon nut butter (cashew or almond rock)
  • 4 dates (alter amount based on how sweet you want it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Method:

Blend everything in a high speed blender until smooth. Enjoy!

Simple Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Balls

DSC_0684WHERE DOES TIME GO? I don’t know. But I think it’s better that I don’t…

School really pushed its limits (and my limits) this past month. I’m now on spring break so I’m beyond thankful for that. So to kick it off I made some cute little cookie things. They are the perfect size to just… shove in my mouth while I’m adventuring. They are adapted from Minimalist Baker’s 5 ingredient cookies, but I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (I know… that’s not something you hear often out of my mouth), so I opted for raisins. Big surprise. One could easily add in any kind of mix in: berries, nuts, seeds, chocolate chunks, other dried fruit… anything really.

They are chewy and naturally sweet! The cool thing is that they;re actually really healthy (no refined sugars and only oats and almond meal!) so they could serve as a pre-workout power boost or as breakfast.

Oh, just a side note: I don’t have a food processor, just a handy lil’ magic bullet. This being said, I didn’t process the oats as the Minimalist Baker recipe recommends, therefore the oats were whole in my cookie. I really liked having the whole oats, but it’s a matter of preference (and what tools you have available!). ALSO, if you don’t want then to be balls, just squish them on the cookie sheet before baking to make them more like cookies.

SIMPLE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIE BALLS: (yields 20)

  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice
  • 3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or mix-in of choice)

Method:

Process the dates, banana, and nut butter until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, and salt. Add the date puree to the oats and almond meal and mix until combined. If the mixture is too sticky, add more almond meal or oats one tablespoon at a time.

Add your mix-in of choice and stir until it’s well distributed in the mixture. Cover the bowl and let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and grease two cookie sheets (I used coconut oil, but one could also use Earth Balance or grapeseed oil).

Once chilled, spoon out 1 tablespoon balls on to the cookie sheets with about 1 inch in between each ball. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden and slightly firm (Because there’s no eggs in these babies, they can be as under cooked as you want).

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to an airtight container for storage… if any are left over after the feast.

EASY-PEASY! Much love as the days quickly transition from winter to spring (even though we got 30cm of snow overnight which covered the freshly uncovered brown grass…).

Coconut Surprise Muffins

 

 

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I did a thing.

School is exhausting. I dance all day and I come home and I’m dead. My brain won’t function well enough to create so I usually make a super simple meal and sit and watch an episode of House of Cards, read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, write, or do some housework. Essentially, I’m saying that I unfortunately haven’t had the mental capacity to invent any new and crazy food things. HOWEVER, I’m simple reinventing the golden nuggets I already have (such as the artichoke salad that’s based on the lentil salad!). Also I’ll admit this was created from some stress baking… Moving on… remember the coconut loaf I made a lifetime ago? The one that is heavenly? Well. I turned them into muffins. And I added a surprise in the middle…

 

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For Valentines Day, my parents sent me this AWESOME salted almond dark chocolate bar. It’s so decadent and dynamic (not to mention fairtrade and organic!!). Sometimes things are so good you don’t want to taint them; this was not one of those things. I wanted to give this phenomenal chocolate bar a new lease on life – let it stretch it’s legs and do some good in the world. So I plopped a nice fatty chunk in the middle of coconut muffins. BAM.

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I was inspired by this recipe for coconut muffins, but I (of course) mostly based it off my coconut loaf. I didn’t add dates or maple syrup so the coconut dough part isn’t very sweet, but that’s what makes the chocolate stand out… ya’ know? Whoa, epiphany: coconut coffee muffins – using strong coffee or espresso instead of milk alternative. As for an alternative to the surprise in the middle… good dark chocolate just seems to be the best option! Maybe a couple of berries or nuts or dried fruit? of course you could always add chocolate chips. It’s just that chocolate fulfills all desires. 🙂

SURPRISE: check the very bottom for another surprise.

COCONUT SURPRISE MUFFINS: Makes 12 medium sized muffins (15 small)

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 small ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, from a can
  • 1/3 cup milk alternative (I used unsweetened almond-coconut)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup spelt flour (or all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • scant 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 good quality chocolate bar (I seriously mean GOOD quality)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F and prep a muffin tin with coconut oil, or muffin liners (my muffin tin is oddly small so I also greased some small ramekins).

In a small bowl, mix ground flax and water to make the flax eggs, let sit for 10 mins.

In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, including the thickened flax egg.

In another large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the coconut. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter will be quite thick.

Fill each hole in the muffin tin half way with batter. You’ll most likely have to use your fingers to squish it into the corners a bit. Place a chunk of chocolate in the middle of each muffin and cover with remaining batter. Squish the batter around the edges to make sure the chocolate is well contained (you don’t want it to pop out and burn!)

Cook for 20-25 minutes until the tops are slightly golden, and spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool for 10 minutes. BUT ONLY TEN MINUTES OTHERWISE THE CHOCOLATE WILL NO LONGER BE ALL MOLTEN OR SURPRISING.

Keep in a sealed container. To reheat, pop them in the oven at 200F for a few minutes (or pop into a microwave for a few seconds).

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HELLO AGAIN! Are you truly still reading after seeing the recipe? Cool! Anyway, to further convince you that I’m not creating much these days but simply reinventing, the above photo is of apple muffins. Remember my fruit explosion muffins?? Yep, I made them into apple muffins using 1 1/2 cup fresh apples and 1/2 cup dried apples. I then topped some with cinnamon, some with walnuts, and some with… you guessed it… raisins.

At this time of year, we’re all exhausted and pissed off and DONE WITH EVERYTHING. But remember that there is baking, and love, and coffee, and dreams, and passions. Being productive is difficult, but small steps still move you forward. If anything, let me inspire you to keep on moving. Even if it’s only a single breath.

Artichoke and Lentil Salad

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Let’s add artichokes to my list of addictions. I will never be able to get enough of them. Initially, I wanted to undertake the great task of using a fresh artichoke. However, I guess I picked an extremely unripe one so in frustration I walked to Provigo and bought a jar of marinated artichoke hearts. It was a damn good idea.

The jar of artichoke hearts I bought were marinated in oregano so this tasted extremely similar to the lentil salad I posted in November, I chose to be lazy and used a bit of the oil they were marinated in as the dressing, and just added a huge squeeze of lemon juice. The major upgrade in this is the addition of a whole ton of fresh herbs.

If you’re like me, you have leftovers up the… yeah. So this comes together super easily when there are cooked lentils ready and waiting in the fridge. I suppose this could also work with a grain such as amaranth or rice (or quinoa!), but it would also work as a starter/ side salad for a bigger meal without the grain or lentils. VERSATILITY! I’ll just admit to being a bit of a lazy “cook/chef/baker” and say that I use whatever is in the fridge. I usually just go grocery shopping with flavours in mind, and get what’s on sale. I’m quite a compulsive grocery shopper… and yet I never buy cookies….. I digress. This salad is wonderful. The solid lentils and the slippery artichokes and the salty marinade/oil rock and lasted well the next day for lunch. 

ARTICHOKE AND LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup cooked french lentils
  • 2 cups spring greens (or spinach, or chard, or kale, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons artichoke marinade, (or olive oil with a sprinkle of dried oregano)
  • 4 whole marinated artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large salad bowl, mix all ingredients except the artichoke heart segments, and a few leaves of each fresh herb. Divide the salad into two bowls and divide the artichoke segments equally. Garnish with the remaining fresh herbs and add a healthy grind of black pepper on top.

Feast of Saint Valentine

I lied to you all. I’m posting on this wonderful day the things I made for the loves in my life. I feel quite full of love, and I want to start expressing it: a)more explicitly; and b) more often. So I’ll begin today with a few goodies for the soul.

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From one morbid soul to another. I made Coconut Butter Skull Crushers (with cranberry-raspberry chia jam inside. When you bite into them it looks like bloody brains…. hehehe). Inspiration from here and here.

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Then I made these brownies. But I made them in a muffin tin (and a few in tiny ramekins) and topped them with the cran-raspberry chia jam. They are the perfect single serving little cakey-brownies. Although I detest cake, I love making brownies and I love baking for my loves.

Beyond food, I choose to love ALL today. I don’t care if you think v-day is a cop-out and it’s just an excuse to do nice things and express our feelings. Well, at least we have an excuse to treat the ones we love!! MUCHO LOVE. (Wow… world record for number of times a post could have the word “love”)

Raw Lasagna Stacks

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Oh yes. It happened. A wonderful raw lasagna with a basil “ricotta” sandwiched between layers of cucumber, zucchini, tomato and a few sunflower sprouts with a giant dollop of basil pesto. And Kalamata olives. BUT WAIT. IT’S ALMOST VALENTINES DAY. I’m making a few recipes to treat the few loves in my life and I’ll post them soon, however what I post won’t be super relevant since Valentines day will have passed. OH WELL. If you need chocolate, check these raw brownies out, or these brownies, or these cookies, or these chocolate turtles. But if you want to butter your lover up with some awesome powerful veggies…. read on!

The wonderful thing about this recipe is how simple it was. Yes, there are three parts to it, and assembling the ingredients take a little bit of time. But you basically throw things into a blender and slice up some veggies, then the fun ensues! I had way too much fun engineering a way to stack mine incredibly tall. Once it came down to eating it, I used a sharp pairing knife and dug in. If it all crumbled, I would have just eaten the veggies slathered in “ricotta” and dipped in the pesto.

I’ll be honest; I made this lasagna based on the olives. I found this amazing grocer with an amazing olive bar. AN OLIVE BAR. I WAS DYING. I adore olives. ah. (and frozen peas and raisins…) Anyway, I bought these olives and I thought that pesto went with olives so I made some pesto and one thing lead to another. I don’t really know.

After the odd conception of the lasagna, I looked up some other blogger’s and chef’s raw lasagna. I saw a few recipes for uncooked lasagna that included tortilla layers (specifically Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted tortillas). I think that would be a fantastic extra layer and it would make these babies even more filling.

RAW LASAGNA STACKS: (serves 4)

For the ricotta:

  • 1/2 cup firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave (or liquid sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large basil leaves

For the pesto:

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tiny garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro (or spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts (or nut of choice, or bland nut butter – not peanut butter)
  • salt and pepper to taste (a small pinch of each)

For the stacks:

  • 1 english cucumber, left unpeeled and thinly sliced 1/8th inch thick and 3-4 inched long
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced 1/8th inch thick
  • 1 large zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/8th inch thick and 3-4 inches long
  • 1/2 cup sprouts of choice
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • Kalamata olives for garnish

Method:

For the ricotta: blend everything except the fresh basil in short bursts until the mixture is smooth. Add the fresh basil and continue blending until the mixture is creamy. This will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.

For the pesto: Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

To assemble the stacks, begin with 2 pieces of cucumber and a spoonful of ricotta. Layer on some sprouts and a few basil leaves, followed by a layer of tomato and a layer of zucchini. Repeat. Finish each stack off with a large spoonful of pesto and a few kalamata olives.

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