Fallin’ for Vancouver

2 Nov

 

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I love reading bloggers posts about their trips to another city, especially if it’s a vegan friendly one. Last week I went to Vancouver and completely fell in love, what a beautiful place to visit in the fall! I decided to fly out after I was reading something my manager had tacked up at her desk ’20 things to do in your twenties’ and one of them was don’t be afraid to spend $!

Now I am no stranger to shopping and will enthusiastically throw down the $5-6 a day for a latte, but it’s those bigger purchases that give me anxiety. It took me forever and a day to finally buy my Canon Rebel earlier this year but hey it came in handy for this trip! I am glad I decided to to stop being such a cheap- o, hopefully this means bigger and better vacays in my future!

I realize a one hour trip to Vancouver isn’t exactly the definition of an adventure by most peoples standards but it was a well needed break for me. Not that I dislike watching Woody Allen movies with my cats! I stayed at the Fairmont downtown, which is close to Robson Street and next to the Vancouver Art Gallery. I knew I would be relying on my feet and transit so it was a good central location. I went on a haunted trolley tour my first night there, and guess which hotel is said to be haunted? Mine! I didn’t see the ‘lady in the red dress’ on the 14th floor but I sure wasn’t looking for her either.

Well enough of me going on and on, here were my 5 favourite spots in Vancity:

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Stanley Park- what’s not to love about this beautiful park! It reminds me of Central Park in NYC, a nice little oasis away from the crowds of downtown. It was a little chilly and foggy in the mornings but still such a nice place to take a stroll. I especially loved the ‘Lost Lagoon’, and again, the leaves! 

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-Beautiful heron I spotted in the park

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Whole Foods- Ever since my first trip to NYC years ago I have had an affection for this place and the Robson Street store just reinforced those feelings. We have some great health food stores in Calgary – my favs are Community Natural and Amaranth, but there is just something about Whole Foods! The fresh food bar and bakery just fill me with joy. I love the little green ‘vegan’ labels and being able to fill a huge container with all my salad fixin’s. The best thing I had there was the Supah Health muffin- like a carrot muffin on steroids, so good! I also tried the thumbprint and double chocolate cookies and a date bar which were all vegan and super delicious. I may have eaten them before taking any pictures…

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I’m sure there would be a lot of people who would look at Whole Foods as just another overpriced grocery store catering to the organic crowd but to me it is magical! They also had a wide range of frozen Gardein foods and of course, some beautiful organic pumpkins!

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Granville Island- Ok I will admit the Kids Market was not how I remembered from my childhood and it broke my heart a little, but otherwise I love this spot. I took a False Creek Ferry out, you can pick up a day pass for only $12 and they make a few stops around the area. It’s worth the money if you are visiting outside of the spring and summer months but still want a bit of time on the water. I didn’t buy much in the market, just an apple and apple tea! Not very exciting of me I know, but I love love apples this time of year. I was saving my sugar for Fairy Cakes (which ended up being pretty disappointing). 

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I loved browsing all of the local vendors and checking out the arts and crafts, definitely a good way to spend your time if you were travelling alone like I was. Check out the local wildlife pics below, pigeons and  seagulls, hello exotic!

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Gorilla Food- This restaurant is exactly where meat lovin folk think vegans eat, it was very hippie in a good way! I got a little lost finding them at the end of a long day of exploring, so I got take out. I am a firm believer that everything tastes better if eaten while wearing a robe in your hotel any ways. I had the Go Veggie burger, mini Gorilla salad and a Butterfly Bliss for a tiny dessert. It was all really good, I love a bun free burger and the salad was packed full of healthy goodness. They were out of their vegan pumpkin pie so I wished I had gone earlier, I still haven’t had any since going vegan!

If I lived in Vancouver this would definitely be a place I would bring my omnivore friends to show them hippie food = delicious food.

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Chinatown- I like the hustle and bustle of Chinatown but I hate seeing the piglets and chickens hanging in the restaurant windows, so I didn’t spend an awful lot of time here. It is bigger than Calgary’s Chinatown of course and I’m sure there were some great spots to eat if I had looked into it.

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I did take a guided tour of the Dr. Sun Yat- Sen Classical Chinese Garden ($12/person) which was nice. If you have ever seen the movie Chuck & Larry, my tour guide sounded just like Rob Schneider’s character who runs the hotel where they get married. All I could think was ‘a ring is a circle, it has no end or beginning’ while he was talking. Nicest man, very little idea what he was saying about the gardens. That is why they make brochures I guess! If you ever go to Vancouver I would definitely recommend a visit to this tranquil little spot, they even give you some complimentary tea at the end of the tour!

I also loved the murals in Chinatown, especially of these little old men ;)

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Honourable mention goes to: Smak- 100% gluten free and vegan friendly. I didn’t eat here but the menu looked right up my ally since I try to walk on the healthier side of the street. They deserve a shout out because they made the best vegan hot chocolate I have ever had! It was made with almond milk and cayenne and was amazingly sugar free and so rich. I wish I could have one every day.

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So there ya have it, my love letter to Vancouver, I can’t wait to go back soon! :)

~Stephanie

Foodie Penpals- September exchange!

1 Oct

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I signed up for Foodie Pen Pals awhile back at The Lean Green Bean, and last week I received my first box of goodies! I love getting mail more than almost anything else so I was so excited! My pen pal is Julie from Quebec, she has an awesome blog about fitness with recipes and more, check it out here Food Fitness & Happiness. Julie sent me some really awesome vegan things!

In the box:

  • Fourmi Bionique gourmet granola in Vitality- I have already eaten it all it was so good! Very delicious with some almond milk.
  • Maple flakes- These i had never tried and they taste good on everything! I sprinkled some over my granola and also on a baked apple, yum!
  • Michel Jodoin cider- Have not tried this yet but I love cider!
  • PUR gum in pomegranate and peppermint- I had never tried this before but it’s vegan and aspartame free!
  • Theobroma chocolat- This was my favourite part even though I have had it before. I love chocolate and this brand especially because they make so many different flavours (this was coconut)
  • Herbal tea from Trader Joe’s and a fizzy ginger drink- The herbal tea is caffeine free which is nice since I am known to drink tea late into the night! I haven’t tried the fizzy ginger drink yet but I love ginger too.
  • Pink shoe laces! This was such a sweet touch, in my favourite colour!

I am so happy with everything Julie sent (how could I not be?), especially because the granola, maple flakes, cider and chocolate are all from her native Quebec! I am excited to think of something to send to Julie for next month, I will have to send some pretty amazing things to match what I received this month!

On another topic, I am so psyched Lush brought back my favourite fresh facial cleanser, Let the Good Times Roll! It was temporarily gone from stores and I missed it so. It is made with corn and cinnamon and makes my face so soft and smell like popcorn. If you haven’t tried it I suggest picking some up on your next shopping trip to Lush, and of course it’s 100% vegan. :)

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I can’t believe it is October 1st tomorrow! Time to start thinking about my Halloween costume and carving pumpkins!

Do you participate in a food or recipe exchange? Let me know in the comments!

~Stephanie

Why I couldn’t MoFo no mo!

23 Sep

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-Buckwheat pumpkin pancakes with cashew whipped creme, perfect Sunday night dinner :) Recipe adapted from Cozy Vegan (I just subbed in buckwheat flour to make it gluten free)

I signed up for Vegan MoFo knowing it would be a lot of work, and quite challenging for me as I am not used to bloggin on the regular. A week in I knew I had to bow out. I was constantly worrying about food! When would I make the raw dessert, were my original recipes good enough to post? When should I eat the foods I was reviewing? I knew as someone who is working through an eating disorder it was best not to have more food noise in my head. I am not ready to make a Jamie Kilstein style  post (love him!) about my own struggles with this, but I will say that in the not so distant past I have been afraid to eat and avoided it all together. When everyone else was putting out these great posts about their mac and cheese or revamped PB & J’s, I was stressing about how I could fulfill my MoFo plans without having to eat the treats I made.

I have since been to the doctor and found out my B12 is low, (common for vegans) and I am anemic, which would account for my low energy as of late. It has been an important reminder to me that I need to take better care of myself, because I still believe you can be healthy on a vegan diet. I will be adding some iron pills and B12 to my daily routine and hopefully feeling better soon!

Wherever you are I hope you are taking good care of yourself (and maybe having pancakes for dinner) :)

~Stephanie

‘From the book of’ Fridays- Raw Taco Gorilla Wraps

8 Sep

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Yes I know it’s no longer Friday…better late than never? Oops! It’s been a rainy weekend where I just want to stay inside and watch Sleepless in Seattle & When Harry Met Sally. A day spent with Meg Ryan is a good one in my books.  I must say I LOVED this raw recipe from Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder. It took me 5 minutes to make and has simple ingredients you can get anywhere. I often buy Yves or Gardein ‘ground beef’ when I want to make tacos or a mexican dish, now I know walnuts work great too! If you are a vegan who prefers not to buy analog meats because they are so processed, walnuts are a good alternative as they are rich in vitamin E and Omega 3’s.

I have posted the recipe below as it is available on Kimberly’s website, so I think it is ok to share :)

Raw Taco Gorilla Wraps

Yield: 6–8 wraps

INGREDIENTS*
*Organic if possible
2 cups walnuts
1 Tbs. cumin
1/2 Tbs. coriander
2 Tbs. low sodium Tamari
1 tsp. chili powder
Salsa
Collard greens, washed with stems trimmed about 2 inches from bottom of leaf
DIRECTIONS: Put the walnuts in a food processor with the blade in place, and process until chunky. Scrape the ground nuts into a bowl, and mix in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne. Add the tamari and mix again. Take a collard green with the dark edge facing down on your cutting board. Trim off the stem and up about two inches into the leaf. Place about ¼–1/3 cup of the nut meat mixture in the middle of the leaf. Top with some salsa. To assemble, roll up burrito style. Fold one of the long ends in, and then both the end pieces, and then the other long way, tucking in firmly. Place with the folded edge down on your cutting board, and slice firmly into two pieces on the diagonal.
– See more at: http://beautydetoxfoods.com

*I only used 1/2 tsp chili powder, (if you like really spicy foods use 1 tsp) and some gorgeous chard I picked up at the Kingsland farmers market.

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The must check out Vegan MoFo blog right now is Seitan Beats Your Meat. IT’S MAD MEN THEMED!!!! Yes you read that right! Veg cookbook author Kelly Peloza  is the mastermind behind this awesome blog. You have to check it out, even if you aren’t a fan of the show. The pictures are amazing and the whole thing has a fun 60s vibe. Recipes Kelly has shared so far: pastrami sandwiches, french toast, vegan ham and an old fashioned, heaven!

Enjoy your weekend, and if you have time, maybe watch some Mad Men while you eat french toast:)

~Stephanie

Try This Thursdays- Raw review

6 Sep

Any old grocery store has raw food of course- carrots, apples, lettuce, the list goes on and on! It would be a bit strange for me to review celery stalks, so for this post I have tried some (new to me) raw and fermented treats I found at Community Natural Foods.

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First up is Tonica, a new brand of kombucha that Community just started carrying that was also featured on Dragon’s Den. As a loyal drinker of GT’s Kombucha I was interested to see how Tonica would compare, and it’s always nice to support a Canadian business!  I tried the Mango Passion and Ginger Rapture (my favourite of the two), it is also available in 4 other flavours: Green Tea Revival, Nude Brew, Peach Resolution and Vibrant Blueberry. Price wise it was about $0.50 more than GT’s and a smaller bottle, (355ml to compared to 473ml). The biggest plus for me was the bottle didn’t leak being carted around in my bag all day, which GT’s always does, leaving my Matt and Nat’s all sticky! It was a bit less carbonated than some kombucha I’ve had, but the flavour was really good so I would buy it again.

Alicia Silverstone recently had a post on her blog The Kind Life discussing the possible negative side effects of kombucha, if you are interested you can read it here: http://thekindlife.com/blog/post/is-kombucha-healthy. I can’t say that I agree, but it’s worth considering.

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Keeping it in the fermented/probiotic category I tried Wildbrine Madras & Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut Salad. I love sauerkraut so much! It comes in 3 other flavours: Red Beet and Red Cabbage, Dill and Garlic,  and Arame Ginger. I didn’t have a chance to try them all but I plan on it! Wildbrine also makes Miso Horseradish kimchi which I must try. For next week’s product review I am excited to share some Power Plant goodies I have been enjoying so keep an eye out for that ;)

Blogs I am loving right now as they MoFo it up:

Hell Yeah Its Vegan- the chocolate curls on today’s post look amazing.

Oh She Glows- Angela is just the best all around, her posts are a must read!

Mary’s Test Kitchen- fellow Albertan :) her scones post is to die for!

Unrelated to MoFo I guess, but I snagged 2 great things in Vaute Couture‘s fall pre-order sale. I have wanted one of these gorgeous coats for the last few years so to get one at 1/2 price fills my heart with joy!

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Thanks for stopping by, stay classy MoFo’ers

~Stephanie

‘What is that?’ Wednesdays

5 Sep

Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe this is my fourth post in a week! By the time Vegan MoFo is over I will have posted more in one month than the year or so I have had this blog. It’s like fun homework! So the theme of my Wednesday posts is to try a new fruit or vegetable, keeping with my raw theme.

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First up is kohlrabi, which I picked up at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. Hello to a new addition to all my salads! Not only does it have more vitamin C than an orange, it tastes pretty good. The flavour is mild and has a nice crunch, and I love anything that adds colour. Think of how cool you will sound at your next potluck or family get-together when someone says ‘what is this?’ And you can say ‘kohlrabi’ like the super sophisticated and edgy vegan you are.

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How have I lived 28 years (yes I am elderly) without having a persimmon? So delicious! You know it’s ripe when it’s this beautiful deep shade of orange. Persimmons are a bit pricier than some other fruits as they are grown in Japan, (this one set me back $3), but it was well worth it. Bonus- they are high in beta carotene and have twice the fibre of an apple. I just sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on mine to keep it simple, but there are a ton of persimmon dessert recipes out there if you are looking for something more exciting.

Thanks for checking out my blog, and Happy MoFo to you!

~Stephanie

Treat yo’self Tuesday’s- Perfect Parfait

4 Sep

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Forgive my delay in posting this, I know it is no longer Tuesday! I wrote the whole post and somehow lost it trying to add photos, excuse me while I cry in the corner…

Anyways that’s life as Frank says so here we go. This recipe has one of my favorite things, raw cashew whipped creme! I have not had the best luck whipping cans of coconut milk so this is my go to when I want some diary free whipped topping!

Perfect Parfait

Serves 2-6 depending on the size of your glass. I used a Vitamix but any high speed blender should work just fine.

You will need:

For cashew whipped creme:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked 2 hours

3-4 dates

1/2 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

For chia pudding:

1/2 cup chia seeds

3 cups water

2 ripe bananas

1/4 cup agave (or your favourite liquid sweetener/0

1 tsp vanilla

For middle layers:

2 cups of fruit, whatever you want! I used blueberries and peaches

Toppings (go wild, it’s your dessert!) :

Walnuts

Unsweetened shredded coconut

Cacoa nibs

To prepare:

  • Mix chia seeds and water in a small bowl, set aside for about 15 minutes or until gelatinous.
  • While your chia seeds are doin their thing make the cashew creme. Blend all ingredients, adding the water a little at a time to make sure that it doesn’t get too thin.

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  • Set aside, if making the cashew creme the day before it keeps just fine in the fridge.
  • Now you are ready to make the chia pudding, so clean out that old blender of any leftover cashew creme! I suggest taking it out with a spoon that finds its way to your mouth ;)
  • Blend bananas, agave and vanilla until smooth. Add chia seed mixture, be careful not to over mix!
  • Now the fun part- assemble your parfait! I put the creme as the first layer since it is so thick. Add fruit, chia pudding and repeat! Top with walnuts, unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs, whatever your heart desires.
  • Serve immediately, because what else are you doing?

I hope you had a great Tuesday after the long weekend, I had my first PSL (Pumpkin spice latte y’all) and it was heaven! Tomorrow Vaute Couture launches it’s new winter line, and those gorgeous coats are 50% off! Get one while you can!

~Stephanie

 

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