Please let me start off my saying, my favorite treat is ice cream. Let me also point out that most vegan ice cream tastes more like ice than cream. SIGH. I was recently visiting my sister and stinking cute new nephew in L.A and had The Kid with me so naturally we had to find ice cream one afternoon. I also needed to try on some new running shoes so I dragged The Kid along with the promise (re: bribe) of going for ice cream right after I was done. I asked the store manager if there was anywhere nearby for decent ice cream and he suggested a new place called Quenelle. He mentioned that the owner was somebody well known and it would probably be pretty good.
Feast your jealous eyes on this bad boy.
Oh Em Gee. It was so good. This was the soy based peanut butter fudge and it was pretty much to DIE for. The Kid selected a traditional option of marscapone vanilla and he inhaled it. I really think this was the best thing I ate on our trip (more posts to come on that) and I hit all my favorite spots. L.A is probably the most vegan friendly city in the United States with New York City vying for the top spot. Regardless, if you want a serious treat (they also had about a dozen other gourmet flavours as well as some popsicle options!) head over to Quenelle next time you are in the Los Angeles area. You will love me forever. And maybe them too….
I live in the Lower mainland in beautiful British Columbia and I am always on the look out for new Vegan or Vegan friendly joints that will actually appeal to the Hubs and I and huge bonus marks if the Kid can eat there too. Here’s a secret, there sadly really aren’t that many. However, this one falls into the “doh!!” category because I have walked by and heard about a newer take out place in the Kitsilano area called The Noodlebox but had never bothered to go in. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a fan-freaking-tastic yoga conference on Vancouver Island (Victoria Yoga Conference to be exact) and on one of our lunch breaks my friend suggested we just grab something from “The Noodlebox”. Of course, I had to ask, is it the same as the one in Kitsilano and she said yes. (Duh…). So off we went!
Sigh. It was amazing!!!! Veggie options galore! Add Tofu to anything!! Pick your spiciness level!! Noodle or rice?? White or Brown!? OMG!??! Why haven’t we eaten here before!??! They even had a kids menu!!!! I have to say that this is quite rare in Canada in any restaurant you actually want your child to eat in. They also offered Ocean Wise seafood and plenty of meat and egg add-ons for those who are so inclined. Plus the portions were HUGE. A plus when you’ve just completed two, one hour power yoga classes.
I picked the Spicy Peanut Noodle Box but added Tofu and got brown rice instead of noodles (they have Gluten Free options as well if that is an issue for diners). It was PACKED with tofu, veggies, spicy peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, chopped fresh herbs, some green onions and some sprouts. It was the perfect meal and I’m not going to lie, I freaking LOVE the old school Chinese food take out boxes. I’m cheesy like that.
I literally can’t wait to go back. And next time I’m taking the Hubs and Kid. They also have locations in Calgary and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them enter the East Coast market some time soon too. Keep an eye out people!!
A good friend of mine is trying to eat healthier these days and has been doing great but has had some challenges finding new healthy foods that actually taste good and appeal to her whole family. Wait what? Hubs and kids that don’t want to eat healthy foods. Weird… Sigh.
But I digress. I had her and her beautiful kids over this week and thought I would try something that had caught my eye this week on findingvegan. Raw, vegan, chocolate pudding. Made from avocado no less. I was in. I found about two dozen different recipes and I was a bit surprised to find that so many of them called for totally different ingredients and quantities of ingredients. I threw caution to the wind and mixed a whole bunch together to create this beauty:
The friend loved it. My kid did too. Hubs thought it was not so chocolatey. But what does he know anyways. You can play with the cinnamon and the amounts of cacao and maple syrup to make it more your bag.
Here’s what you need:
2 ripe avocados
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (you could add more if you like a sweeter pudding)
1 Tbsp Pure Vanilla
1/4 (heaping) cup Cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt (or kosher if that’s all you have)
Fresh berries for garnish (I used raspberries and it was perfect!)
Here’s what you do:
Toss everything in the food and blend until very well blended. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice in the blending process. Fill 4-6 bowls with pudding and refrigerate for at least an hour to set. Garnish with fresh berries and nom nom nom!!!
So I’m not really a pasta girl. Perhaps you will notice on my blog that I AM a carbs girl. But my kind of carbs are bready, muffin-y, cookie goodness. Pasta has never really float my boat. The Hubs however, is a huge pasta guy. I wanted to blow the bank this past meatless monday and thought back to a dish I had many many years ago on our anniversary or his birthday or something that was pretty basic. Gnocchi in a brown butter sauce. It was way too rich for my taste and he pretty much ate my whole dinner. I looked around for a good sounding gnocchi and found a sweet potato gnocchi in a sage butter sauce that is totally vegan by Chef Chloe Coscarelli. Hardcore vegans will be familiar with her work, the rest of you should be. Check these bad boys out:
As much as I don’t love gnocchi there was something about these that were just amazing. Plus they are cooked in batches and I realized that they were even more amazing when the earth balance was a bit hot and they got a crispy exterior on them. Perfection.
Plus, it was REALLY satisfying when Hubs walked in and balked when he realized that I was making them from scratch. Clearly he thought I meant I bought sweet potato gnocchi when I asked if he was okay with that for dinner. HA. Take that silly meatatarian! He made it clear that he has never made gnocchi before because he is always scared they will be rocks. Mine were perfect. Maybe could have been a teeny bit lighter but we were both super happy with the result. Making these again next week for sure!
Here is her recipe with a few of my added tweaks!
What you need:
2 Large (approx 2 lbs) Sweet Potatoes or Yams (depending on the colour you are working towards)
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 to 3 cups unbleached AP flour (or a GF mix if that’s how you roll)
1/2 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves torn into large pieces
Here’s what you do:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees . Bake your sweet potatoes until tender, approximately 40-50 minutes. Give them a firm squeeze if you’re not sure. Once they are cooked through and cool enough to handle, scoop all the flesh out and mash in a bowl and place aside or in the fridge to cool completely.
Add the salt, nutmeg and pepper to the cooled sweet potato and mix. Add the flour half a cup at a time until the mixture becomes a slightly sticky dough that you can handle but be sure not to over work it and don’t add too much flour! This is apparently the trick. Too much flour and too much muscle equals rock hard gnocchi. Divide the dough into six pieces and roll each out on a lightly floured surface, again, not too much until you have six “ropes” that are about half an inch thick. Cut your gnocchi into half inch pieces and if you want to be fancy, you can roll each one with a fork for that restaurant look. Clearly I did NOT do this.
Get a medium pot going with boiling water as well as a pan with the margarine and sage leaves. I would keep the margarine pretty hot, medium high heat so that you get that nice crispy exterior on the gnocchi.
In batches, add about 20 gnocchi to the gently boiling water for about five minutes. They should start to float to the surface after about four minutes. If not, give them some time to float up. Then transfer to the “butter” and sage and fry for a few minutes and flip until each side is nice and crunchy.
Serve! I added a sprinkle of salt to mine. Hubs added cheese. Sigh. I was so close. Ah well. It was still awesome!
We haha few manky looking bananas hanging around (haha, get it hanging?? okay sorry, been a long day) and I knew it was a banana bread kinda day. I always buy too many bananas so that I can make bread, muffins, smoothies, the list goes on. I saw a few recipes that looked pretty good, but I saw one that called for oat flour and it caught my eye since the oats I have are gluten free and that would make the loaf vegan and gluten free. Double bonus. This recipe looked the best and I decided to give it a go. OMG. Best banana bread EVER. EVER. Epic. Wow. It was fully of vegan mini chocolate chips, that probably didn’t hurt either…..
Please make this!!! I was also a bit skeptical about the peanut butter but it was a ever so slight hint of PB flavour but moist moist moist. I could have eaten the whole loaf. Hopefully there will be a bit left tomorrow for the Hubs to try. The Kid went to town on it too. 50/50 that he will get any. Sorry babe. Sucks to go out of town on baking days.
Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
2½ cups oatmeal (make sure they are certified gluten free if you have a gluten intolerance)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas if they are small, 2 very large bananas)
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
non-dairy milk or water (if necessary, I did not need any)
1½ cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Lightly oil a loaf pan and set aside.
- Put oatmeal in a blender or food processor and pulse to a fine crumb.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips to the blender and blend until combined. You may need to scrape down the sides and then blend again to get completely combined. (it will not be completely smooth. The oatmeal will give it a grainyness and it will be very thick! Much thicker than a traditional banana bread)
- If the batter is very crumbly add a few TBSP of water or non-dairy milk to the mixture. You want the batter to be very thick but it should still hold together.
- Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Top with remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips and banana slices if desired.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Okay, okay. No mindless snacking is healthy. But how many times have we found ourselves at the bottom of a freshly opened box of wheat thins and thought to ourselves wow, how did that happen. Oops. I have major issues with portion control. I can and have literally eaten an entire box of crackers or a whole box of cereal in three bowls. Ya. Fail.
One of my latest snack obsessions has been coconut chips. They are CRAZY expensive though. I was chatting with my BFF about this first world problem of ours and she took it upon herself to figure out how to make them at home. I used her recipe for mine and they were freaking awesome. I don’t think I will ever buy a package again. Not only was it WAY cheaper, but it was fast and easy. Fast. Good. Easy. Good. Cheap. Heaven.
But wait! You’re thinking to yourself, but your Hubs doesn’t even like coconut!! Yes. Well you can’t please everybody right? Tee hee. A dear friend came over with her munchkin that night and we almost polished off the container. Ah well. Good excuse to make more!
Here is my BFF’s recipe:
Toasted Coconut Chips
3 cups wide coconut flakes
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tbsp water
Note: Though the chips look a little toasty in the photo above, remember that coconut sugar is brown, which accounts for much of the dark colour. They are not burnt!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the coconut flakes in a large bowl.
In a small pot over low heat, melt the applesauce, coconut sugar and water until it becomes syrupy.
Pour the liquid over the coconut flakes and gently toss until all the flakes are coated. Some of them may break as you stir – that’s okay.
Spread the flakes onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 6 to 8 minutes or so, until the chips are dry and crispy. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Burnt tastes yucky. For real.