The Land of Soy Milk and Agave

Eating Vegan in Israel – Isreali EASY!

When I last visited Israel in 2013/2014, veganism wasn’t super trendy and cool. Thus, you had your usual options: salad or cook at home. Or hummus, of course. However, the times have changed! In 2017, veganism is super popular in this tiny, little Middle Eastern country.

When I say Israel has caught onto the veganism thing, I mean it has REALLY caught on. It is currently considered the most vegan-friendly country in the world, coming in at an impressive 5% vegan population. Meanwhile, 7 years ago, only 2.6% of the population was vegan or vegetarian. With an astounding 400+ vegan-friendly restaurant options, a whole bunch of vegan festivals, rallies, and even vegan options in the army, maybe we can no longer call Israel the “Land of Milk and Honey”!?

Popular Israeli animal rights activist, restaurateur, and blogger, Ori Shavit (an interview with Ori) credits this transformation to activism and progressive Israeli cuisine. Sure, suggesting that the vegan food came before the popularity of veganism is quite a surprising claim, but it was more so the type of foods people were starting to eat, rather than an executive decision to cook cruelty-free.

Ori and many other converted vegans owe their lifestyle change to the most beloved and most hated vegan of all: Gary Yourofsky. If you’re not familiar, you can look him up and see link after link of inspired vegans who followed Yourofsky’s lead. His website even, dare I say, brags about his 13 arrests and removals from various countries due to “random acts of kindness and compassion.”

Basically, the man gives a MEAN lecture, and I mean that in the positive way. His gift of gab resulted in a whole new generation of veg-heads, particularly affecting those in Israel. Some say that his lectures led them to draw parallels between the murder of millions of non-human animals to the slaughter of humans by the Nazis in the 1940s. Some are highly offended and angered by this interpretation, others can’t help but feel ashamed for being “blind” for so long- a term that has become closely tied to the vegan movement. A friend recently pointed out that as soon as someone uses the phrase, “I was blind…” she knows they are vegan.

What does this mean for me during my month-long Israeli escape? Food. Lots of it. More than I’ve eaten in my entire life, and I don’t mind it one bit! Let me share with you some of my best food experiences….

VEGAN EATING IN ISRAEL:

Everyone knows Shuk HaCarmel, yes? Did you know Israel’s very first entirely vegan supermarket opened up right in the middle of it? Ahhh! It’s small and a little tough to find amidst the wilds of Carmel Market, but keep an eye out for lots of green, ask around, and eventually you’ll find it. I won’t say it’s the place for ALL your veggie needs, but they have frozen foods, canned, packaged, fresh, and most of your other basic needs. There’s also a market nearby that’s vegan-friendly. Just be aware that they do sell dairy and eggs, so don’t be disheartened if you come across this place first. The worker was excited to meet me and happy to tell me where to go! —– HaGal HaYorak Market —–

While you’re in the neighbourhood of the shuk, also drop by Hamitbahon. It’s a brunch lover’s paradise. It’s also one of the few places in the area open on Saturday morning. This is where I had a big, delicious brunch with a couple friends. Complete with beets, couscous with squash, salad, sweet potato latkes, and lentils; everything you need to get all your energy for the day. Not to mention the gorgeous presentation!

—-Hamitbahon—-

Now, please excuse me while I skip to dessert. Because I can and it’s very important! The good news is, there are many vegan sweets and treats for you to eat after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, or anytime at all!

Also right by Carmel Market is something really unique. If you’re curious about the Iranian pudding called muhallebi, you can get a soy version on Allenby. It’s a yogurt-like pudding with rose water. Then you choose a syrup and toppings. I went with lemon-cardamom with coconut and peanuts! Cheap, refreshing, and super sweet! A great way to calm the body down after a long, hot day. Muhallebi

As much as I enjoyed this dessert and the agave baklava (pictured below) and various cookies and cakes I tried, my favourite of all was the gelato. While there wasn’t any vegan unicorn gelato available, I did try lotus cookie, pistachio, hazelnut, cactus pear, coconut, and halva. I even had a side of a whole wheat, chocolate chip cookie. Heavenly. I can’t and won’t list every gelateria in Tel Aviv, but they ALL had vegan options.

There was also a Boutique Central, vegan-friendly bakery next to my gym… the cruelty was intolerable.

Don’t worry, I’m not done with the vegan food, there is plenty of it. Just in Florentine alone there are tons of vegan and vegan-friendly places to eat out. Florentina offers Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare

24 Rupees has some decent Indian food. Not the best I’ve ever had, but we sat on the floor barefoot and ate with our hands. That fact won me over.

Habesh and Balinjera both offer really nice Ethiopian meals right in Tel Aviv.

And then, of course, I had some great hummus, cauliflower, mushrooms, ful, pita, and salad by the sea in Ashkelon at Scubar

Don’t worry about hummus, you’ll get hummus. Pita, hummus, fries, falafel, and Israeli salad is a very traditional and popular meal. No need to feel like a cliche, because everyone bathes in, swims through, shaves with, drives over, paints their houses with, and eats enormous quantities of hummus. Let’s just say, everything is hummus. My friend told me she never went more than 2 days without hummus. At first, I thought she was crazy. A week later, I was craving hummus every single day. The addiction is real.

If you’re looking for something a little more casual and simple, there are even great options at the mall. In Dizengoff and Azrieli Center you can grab veggie sushi or sweet potato wonton soup.

 

 

 

 

Then there’s also the Original Pancake House in Herzliya for the familiar diner experience with less familiar pancakes. It’s right across from Cinema City, too. What a winning combination: movies and pancakes! 
If nothing on this list made you smile, drool, or get excited to eat vegan in Israel, then put your mouth where your food is and cook something! Cooking is very important in Israel. Between the fresh ingredients, really intense oven set ups, and the crowded Shabbos meals, any host or house will probably cheer you on if you decide to cook something. If you’re not prepared, Israel is a whole pot roast of various cultures, everyone has their own traditional recipes to offer. They’re likely more than happy to teach you all about it. Just remember: hummus, tahini, and tomatoes. These 3 ingredients will make you very popular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you would like to work with me or submit your own post, contact me at:

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In the meantime, get satisfied!

Thanksgiving Beast

Who said that Thanksgiving dinner is a vegan’s worst nightmare?

When my parents told me that they needed help hosting a (belated) Thanksgiving meal for my brothers, their wives, my infant nephew, and me, I was thrilled! Just because the typical star of the show is a beheaded, drained, stuffed, and roasted Turkey doesn’t mean the vegans can’t come in and kick butt!

I beheaded the doubters, I was drained and stuffed afterwards, and then, er… I got roasted? Let’s just say, I had an amazing Thanksgiving meal!

Think this post is a bit too late? Nope! I’m counting the days until Chanukah and Christmas! But why stop there? Casual dinners with friends, work potlucks, kid’s birthday parties… daily meals!
Not only did I cook delicious food, I cooked easy food with easy ingredients that didn’t take very long at all. Plus, they don’t require weird ingredients and tools. Beat that, omnivores!

The menu:
Cranberry + Almond Rice Pilaf
Butternut Squash and Maple Syrup Mash
Pastelón
Pistachio and Orange Stuffing
and finally… Sweet Potato Pie!
Bonus: Vegan-friendly red wine

Plus, my sister-in-law brought pumpkin lasagna and individual pumpkin tarts.

Before I get into those details, I want to share the beautiful setup we arranged in the formal dining room. We didn’t bring out all the hoity toity dishes, but we made clean up a lot easier by using disposable plates. They were sturdy enough that they could be reused if you are not concerned about cleaning, or you are concerned about the environment.

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We started our holiday with fruit salad and veggie salad.

Now, I am not Puerto Rican. I’m not even Pu Rican. There is nothing Latino about me. However, I do love Hispanic food. The spices are exquisite and the flavours are very different from anything in my family’s culture. Thus, when a client of mine suggested pastelón made with beef, and I found myself drooling, I knew I had to find a vegan version!
Thanks to the talented and magical Yadira Laguerre I was able to find a super simple recipe to bring out the Boricua in my stomach and heart. Her site is full of Spanish vegan recipes that will keep you warm and happy all Winter.

I boiled and smashed some plantains, squished some black beans (and I added garbanzo beans), then covered it all with soy cheese. That’s all! I used Pepper Jack Daiya to kick the dish into merengue! The only thing I added at the end was a tiny bit of cinnamon and brown sugar to the plantain layer. It brought out the sweetness and gave the plantain some well-deserved extra attention.pastelon-collageMain dish complete, we moved onto our rice dish, butternut squash, and stuffing. Those took some taking and giving, rejecting and approving, but after some unique touches and additions, they got where we wanted them!
First: Jasmine rice with dried cranberries and almond slices. In the future, though, I’d ignore the recipe and cook the rice before mixing it with the other goodies. It was a bit al dente. Which I like, but not everyone is quite as sophisticated as me. unnamed-1

If you can’t read the chicken scratch in a blurry photo, here’s the same recipe. Of course, I used vegetable stock, not chicken.

The stuffing was pretty easy, and I was glad to see it didn’t need anything too crazy to keep it vegan. We kept it available for anyone- vegan or not. It was just some prepackaged bread; much like croutons with olive oil and rosemary. However, when made, I was disappointed by its lack of thrill and excitement. So, I went ahead and added diced pistachios and orange zest (with a touch of orange juice!) My mother then suggested we put some cut tarragon in a dish of almond milk, heat it up, and then pour it over and mix it in. Between the two of us, we’re one chef. I loved this idea and it tasted great!
As for the butternut squash, this is always tasty on its own. So, we left one cut up squash to its own devices. Between the olive oil and salt and pepper, we could just roast it for half an hour and be happy. However, my special version was mashed and splashed with vanilla and maple syrup. Sugar really does make life a little better.

Added challenge: Cut pistachios and pretty much EVERYTHING using only a steak knife. Challenge accepted and defeated! +1!

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Wine: Bogle pinot noir

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And this is how you create the most perfect of all ever vegan Thanksgiving meals!

Don’t stop reading just yet! We have one last piece of the meal that will really light your jetpack! I give to you… the… sweet potato pie! Woo! Wee! Wiiihaa!

Tofu, aquafaba, pre-made crust, sweet potato, sugar, sugar, sugar, spices and flavours… voilá! You have pie delicioso.

Get the recipe here.

Tip: Add vegan marshmallows to the top before warming in the oven!

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Then grab some vegan wine, a couple of my sister-in-law’s mini pumpkin pies, and be thankful that you’re vegan!

If you would like to work with me or submit your own post, contact me at:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

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No Farms, No Food

No matter where I’ve gone in the country or the world, there’s always one thing I can count on: there will be old people, Amish folks, and hippies running farmer’s markets. In recent days the market audience and salespeople has evolved and grown, but those three groups are a constant.

You may mock them, but they’ve got it right! Farmer’s Markets are a magical place where you can find anything! From the most bizarre fruit to the most delicious babka. Even if you’re not old, Amish, or a hippie, you should be taking full advantage of the local eats. Still skeptical? I have a list of reasons that just may convince you!

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Fresh Food. Your supermarket fruits and veggies have been stored and shipped and sitting around for days! Aside from the beating its gotten during transport, it’s just plain old. Old fruit is sad fruit. At any respectable farmer’s market, that apple you’re eyeing was probably picked straight from the branch that week, if not that very same day! No amount of wax can cover up the dusty oldness of your precious sustenance.

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Woman in Portugal prepares a sandwich with olives

Organic and non-GMO. Please don’t take me for the type who is hung up on GMOs and toxins and the government trying to poison us. I really don’t mind some cyanide in my breakfast. Still, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to be a little aware of what’s going into your body. Most farmer’s markets stalls will let you know what has pesticides and what is pure… if you’re into that kind of thing. Though, you can usually tell which is which based on the bugs crawling around your produce. I kid! Most of the bug bits are disposed of before they even get in your hand. What’s a worm poop or two, though? What harm is a dismembered spider leg, anyway? Stop being so high maintenance. It’s good for you!

Point is, when you go to the farmer’s market, you will know everything that has been in, on, or over your food. Even the things you really didn’t want to know. No more wax on your fruit! Wax on? More like, wax OFF!

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Spices in India

Real food. Speaking of waxing fruit, have you ever smelled a fresh tomato? Without it being pumped up with water and chemicals, have you sniffed one? Have you touched a tomato plant and smelled your hands? That Earthy smell that makes you feel like you just gave Mother Nature a hug? That smell is of what dreams are made. I love that smell. Supermarket food has never even been in the same room as Mother Nature!

It’s not just the fruit and veggies, though. Let us not ignore the baked goods and candy and flowers! Recently, after passing through my local farmer’s market I realized my favourite smell in the world is fresh pretzels. I had no idea!
Mm, mm!

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Delicious olive in Paris, France
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Some dessert in Liverpool

 

Non-industrial. Real talk- I don’t know much about food production. But come on, do you? Do you know what big boss is doing with your food before it reaches you? Knowing how these things go, I’m gonna guess lots of bad stuff.

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Chocolates in Spain

According to one news source, this is the reality:
“For the sake of efficiency, industrial farming favors monocultures, where a single field only grows one type of fruits or vegetables. Monocultures sap the soil of essential nutrients, leaving it barren and un-plantable. Likewise, they are more susceptible to disease and pests. In general, industrial farming (both conventional and organic) is hard on the land, depletes the soil of nutrients, uses industrial chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides, and utilizes environmentally unfriendly practices that are not sustainable over the long-term.” (huffingtonpost.com)

I believe it. Besides, that all aside, wouldn’t you rather support your local farmers and bakers than some huge business?

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DIY maple syrup on a stick Montreal, Canada

Variety. Ever wonder why supermarkets are so huge when most people just want the same items? The stuff that tastes good, but isn’t too good. The better stuff is usually more expensive. Maybe that’s just me; I’m cheap and choose money over quality. Maybe this doesn’t apply to everybody. However, what if you could get some really neat stuff for a decent price in less time and space? Ah, now we’re talking!

Farmer’s marketers don’t have the money to waste on wasting your time. If they don’t offer the goods at competitive prices, they won’t survive long. Therefore, they typically give you good quality items for the best prices they can survive on. Yes, they may have to charge a touch more than the stores, but they offer more! Weird and tasty concoctions belong in a farmer’s market just as much as the reliable brownies that you love.

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Jersey City Market
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An indoor market in Knoxville, TN

Support your locals. This may sound like the mantra of the old hippies I mentioned earlier, but why not give back to your community? Most farmer’s markets’ produce come from within a 100 mile radius. Whether they’re individuals or farmers, they are practically your neighbours! Unfortunately, due to the popularity of supermarkets, these folks’ businesses are suffering. For a couple extra bucks and an open mind, you can help them thrive!

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Flowers in Union Square, NYC

Friendliness and sociability.  If nothing else I’ve written here has you convinced still, I offer this final attempt. Maybe you hate nutrition and the Earth and everything else, but how about just running into friends or making new ones? Do you like that? Farmer’s markets are a community-run kind of thing. Even if the sellers are just manipulating you, they’re gonna be nice. They’ll answer your questions and give you storage and cooking tips. They may have recipes for you to try or recommendations. Sometimes there are classes or lectures, art, music, demonstrations…. There’s a lot going on! Bring the kids or your pet, there’s something for everyone to see, do, learn, or experience.

Whatever you end up doing at the farmer’s market, it’s going to be a lot more interesting than your supermarket!

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Some sweet tunes in Dublin, Ireland
 Besides, you might come across a gem like this:
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If you would like to work with me or submit your own post, contact me at:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

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Try your best, but you don’t succeed

I always thought Indian was in my blood. As though I could turn water into lassi. I love the Hindi language, I loved my week in India, the Hindu beliefs, the culture… and most of all, I love Indian food. I’ll eat daal and dosa or palak and poori any day of the week!

Being so convinced that I was born to be a disciple of Brahma, I got it in my head that I would be a natural when it came to cooking Indian food. That makes complete and total sense. Not delusional at all.

This is when I decided to make one of my favourite Indian foods: samosas! These are triangular pastries filled with potato and spices, then fried (or baked.) Samosas are beloved for their flaky dough and soft and salty insides. They are also often served with various chutney options or tamarind paste. They can be filled with lentils, peas, corn, onion, or any vegetable you like. I kept it simple: I just wanted spicy potatoes. Most people have samosas as a side or appetizer. They also serve as a tasty little lunch, though!

On my hunt for the most perfect and easiest samosa recipe online I came across The Flaming Vegan. On this website, I found a recipe for vegan samosas. The author of this recipe, Neha Basrani believes that I can prepare these dumplings of delish in 10 minutes, and after cooking for 30 minutes have perfect little Indian knishes. Here’s her photo:

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Okay- cool! I’m totally down for perfect symmetry; golden tetrahedrons. Just show me the way, Neha!

Here you can see her recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the pocket:

• 1 cup of all purpose flour

• Vegetable oil to fry the snack

For the filling:

• 3 large potatoes

• 1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 2 green chilies finely chopped

• 3 tablespoon oil

• ½ teaspoon turmeric

• ½ teaspoon red chili powder

• ½ teaspoon crushed garlic

• ½ teaspoon grated ginger

• Salt to taste

Incredibly, I had many of these ingredients! Sure, I had to substitute leek for onion. 2 green chilies for one large. Cayenne instead of chili powder. Whatever. You get the idea. I was mostly there.

Unlike my usual cooking adventures, I was ready this time. I was willing to make all the mess, use all the bowls, and do whatever necessary in order to have my samosas come out ready to serve to Buddha. Yeah, Buddhism- WHAT!

Maybe using my recipe sheet as a spoon and vegetable rest wasn’t the best way of doing things, but I had no fear at this point. I was ready to cumin, salt, and conquer.

METHOD:

STEP 1: In a medium sized bowl, mix the oil, salt, and flour together to form dough. The dough should not be too hard nor too soft.

STEP 2: Cover the bowl with a cloth for for at least twenty minutes and let it rest.

STEP 3: For the filling, first peel, boil , and mash the potatoes.

I have never in my life peeled, boiled, nor mashed potatoes. Turns out, this is fairly easy. One might even say it was fun! Not that I had a potato masher tool thing…. I just used my fork and stabbed the potatoes a lot once they were boiled and soft. Anger management complete!

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Go, Potato, it’s your boilday! Gonna pot ya like it’s your boilday!

I did a really good job at boiling and mashing my potatoes. Pretty sure I could do that for a living. Not to brag. #hireme

STEP 4: Heat some oil in a pan (approximately 3 tablespoons). Add ginger, garlic, onion, and green chilies. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Now add mashed potatoes, cilantro, salt, turmeric, and chili powder. Saute the mixture for two more minutes.

STEP 6: Set mixture aside for five minutes to cool.

I was pretty good at this, too. I chopped up two types of chili peppers and added a bunch of spices and herbs and junk. Like, you’d be impressed if you knew how much I added. The cacophony of flavours would flip your lid. The tricky part was knowing when the potato mix was “browned”. Turmeric is kinda golden, it turns the taters brownish. I just kind of assumed that they were cooked when they were burning my fingers. That is, because I kept taking forkfuls of the mix and eating it. This is part of the recipe that was left out. Always taste what you’re cooking… multiple times.

Now, here’s when things start getting complicated. I’m still completely confused when it comes to the dough.

STEP 7: Take the dough and roll it into 5” flat ovals. Cut each of them into halves.

STEP 8: Take one half and roll it like a cone in your hand.

STEP 9: Put about a tablespoon of the filling into your cone. Then seal the third side with a moist finger (use oil or water) so that when you deep fry them, no oil will enter.

STEP 10: Repeat. 

STEP 11: Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the samosas. Serve them piping hot with dipping sauce of your choice, such as a chutney.

My dough wasn’t really cooperating. I really did use the amounts of oil and flour that are suggested here, but the dough was like bread crumbs. So, I added more oil. Then more flour. Then more oil. No matter what I did, the dough kept falling apart!

In this photo, things were looking okay. Maybe even promising. I took a big ball of my crumbles and squished them together. Then I made a triangle with my hands. I’m not sure what the logistics were supposed to be when it came to cutting and shaping, but I just kinda did what made sense to me.

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Apparently, what makes sense to me is nonsense. Everything just… wasn’t good.

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I don’t know how many samosas you’ve seen or eaten in your life, but I’ve had many. Many. Never in my life have I ever had a samosa that looked like this. My dough was just not having it. It was like, “Yo, it’s Saturday. It’s my day off, I’m not dealing with this.”

For my second trick I took pieces of dough and applied it like cement to the cracks. Not gonna say I’m a genius, but I’m pretty sure I’m thinking at Einstein level.

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Check that out! It almost looks like something! I continued this method due to the success I was having. Great success, let me tell you.

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I mean, how badly do you want to eat these samosas? They look just like the stuff you get at the restaurant, ammirite?

Put those suckers in the oven at 250 for 30 minutes…. Oh, yeah, I decided to bake them rather than fry them, ’cause I’m so health conscious and junk. This meant I had to totally guess time and temperature. Sounded good to me. Like they say: too much is better than too little! …right?

At this point, I had also decided these little guys were going to completely transform in the oven. Like, they were supposed to look like this, and then would change completely as they heated up.

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A little something I learned in the 90s

Presto! It worked!

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Wait… no… that’s not right. Let me try again.

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There we go. Levitating lunch.

Remember earlier when I told you that people loved samosa because of their flaky exterior? We missed the boat on that one, kids. My samosa dough wasn’t bad, but it was soft and fluffy. Like a cupcake samosa for your toothless friends.

Now, am I going to lie and tell you that my samosas came out looking like love dumplin’s? Yes.

Now you can try!

My attempt: 2/10 satars for appearance and likeness … but, 7/10 satars for flavour!

The recipe itself: 8/10 satars

If you would like me to try your recipe or product, or you would like to submit your own review, contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

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Experimenting with Aquafaba

Have you heard of this new MIRACLE ingredient? Boy, oh, boy, do I have a treat for you! Now introducing…. BEAN JUICE!

Okay- it’s not all that and a can of beans. It’s kinda cool, though! Aquafaba has a website (http://aquafaba.com/), a Facebook page, a fandom, a cult… pretty much everything you need.

The concept behind aquafaba is that you take the juice from the bean jar (chickpeas/garbanzo beans are most common) and you whip it up in a mixer. You don’t have to mix it if the recipe doesn’t call for fluffy egg whites, but if you do, it turns into this thick, white marshmallow. It looks like Cool Whip! The more time you let it whip, the thicker it gets. I was intrigued and very curious now!

They say you can use 3 tablespoons of this in place of eggs in baking recipes. Handy, for sure. Though, the downside being that, in order to get a non-bean taste, you need sugar or other flavouring.

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Look how pretty that is! You can also add colour if you are as easily impressed as I am.

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Lookit! This was when I put it in a container and realized two things: I made way too much of this stuff, and I have no idea what to do with it now. My oven is out of commission, so I can’t even bake with it. They say if you put aquafaba and sugar in dollops into the oven, you’ll get meringues. Never in my life have I wanted or need a meringue, but suddenly I want them so, so much. I also shall mention that I found a mixer on Ebay for a couple bucks. Nuts! But you can also hand mix (which will take forever) or use a little hand mixer thingy that costs a couple bucks on Ebay, as well. So, now I had a bunch of whip and nowhere to go… or did I?

Fortunately, I was then invited to an event at a neighbour’s house. I didn’t happen to have anything to bring along, so I grabbed a bunch of ingredients from the local dollar store and decided to get creative.

I bought: a can of chick peas,  mixed Ghirardelli chocolate squares — of course, checking to be sure that they were all dairy-free. They even have one with cherries in it. SO GOOD. I already had sprinkles at home, so I just bought pre-made Mudslide mix since this was a party for the growed up peoples.

See what I did? I mixed the chocolate and a little almond milk in the processor, then threw that concoction in the aquafaba with the Mudslide. I didn’t have to add sugar or vanilla due to all the yummy flavours! Then I put it in little, plastic shot cups and added sprinkles. Magnifique!

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These went over very well, and dang, that mudslide mix really gave it a KICK!

Now, having leftover aquafaba… so much of it… I decided to try one more thing: ice cream!

This required: 4 bananas cut up into 1-inch cubes and frozen, vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of aquafaba, and whatever other delights you wish to add. The first time I did peach and chocolate chip. The second time I did cherry and chocolate protein powder. You will notice they look a bit different, but both were so yummy!

The cherry one was thicker when I first made it, but it melted when I placed it next to the burning hot water I used to wash the dishes. Clever.

Even if you don’t like bananas, you won’t notice the flavour. If you use enough other ingredients, you’ll just get the frozen banana texture. You can add peppermint or strawberry or whatever makes your tummy happy! It’s healthy ice cream, guys. HEALTHY ICE CREAM!  You don’t even need the aquafaba, honestly. I think that just kind of smoothed it out and added extra fluff and sweetness. Or you can add a touch of your alternative milk of choice and see if you prefer that. Add it very sparingly, and after mixing, otherwise, you’ll get a smoothie. Smoothies are good, but not our goal here. Unless that’s what you’re in the mood for. That’s cool, too.

Anyway, I’d say the Mudslide Mousse Shots were a 9/10 just because I think I could have added even more chocolate or made it a tad thicker. The ice cream is a 10/10 since it is so easy, versatile, and magical. Give it a try, I dare ya!

 

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The Summer Sausage Stir Fry

I have certainly never considered myself a stir-fry kind of person. Just a bunch of vegetables slathered in oil and fried up? Meh.

However, it was warm today, and I had random vegetables (aka my parents went on vacation and gave me all the vegetables from the back of their fridge,) so I decided I’d mix ’em up with some other stuff and see what happened. What happened was, I got a stir-fry. Darn you, sneaky, sneaky meal!

The difference is, though, my stir-fry is just downright better than other stir-fries. Stir-frys? Stir-crazy french fries? Whatever.

Without further ado, I present: The Summer Sausage Stir Fry!

Ingredients:

Oil of choice (typically, I like to use olive oil, but all I had was vegetable oil)

Red pepper

Bok choy (and/or kale)

Carrot

Tofurky sausage of choice (Original is fine since there are so many other flavours)

Granny smith apple

Rosemary, pepper, nutritional yeast (optional)

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All you have to do is mix all these ingredients up in a pot or pan or wok– if you’re really legit. The outcome has a really special and delicious flavour. A little sweet, but definitely savoury, as well. It’s great for picnics or BBQs!

It’s a light and healthy meal, but definitely fills you up! I was so excited when I tried this and discovered it actually tasted like real food.

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Plus, no frustrating decision between fork/knife/spoon; this is definitely a fork-friendly meal!

I give this recipe o’ mine 10/10 Asian veggie leaves!! wee!

How you doin’, sweet buns?

Ever have the overwhelming urge to catcall your baked goods? Me neither. However, I tried something new and exciting this week- STICKY BUNS!

The challenge? It’s gotta be sticky, it’s gotta be cinnamony, it’s gotta be fluffy, and it’s gotta have just the right amount of brown sugar– how come you taste SO good?

Patience and doing things by the book isn’t really my thing. However, this time I was going to follow the recipe… almost. You tell me to mix all-purpose flour and whole wheat pasty flour? NO! I’m using entirely whole wheat flour! Because my sugar and butter buns are going to be healthy, dangit!

Ingredients:

DOUGH
  • 1 cup milk alternative of choice (I used sweetened vanilla, which I never use, but it was on sale!)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 packet rapid rise (instant) yeast (~2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (regular, white)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour (the recipe suggested more, but I didn’t need 3 cups….)
FILLING
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (up these amounts if you like extra filling, as there wasn’t much)
STICKY GLAZE
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or walnuts, which is what I used and loved)

Remember how much I hated flouring a surface and using it to knead my dough? Well, I did it again. The things I’ll do for sugary goodness….

As for tools, aside from the usual mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and things of that nature, it’s also suggested that you use an 8×8 pan. However,  I didn’t have one and I didn’t want to buy one, so I used my springform pan. Worked for me!

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Now, let’s do this!

For the dough:

  1. In a bowl in the microwave (at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Earth Balance until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. Or just take a bath and scoop the water. Basically, just make sure it’s luke warm, but not too hot to touch. (Luke Water… I am your baker!)
  2. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. I noticed that it just sat there and looked at me. I don’t think you mix it yet, just let it be. Let it activate for 10 minutes. Then add 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt. Now you can stir.
  3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball, adding more flour as you go and as it will absorb.
  4. Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grape seed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Roll around to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. About 5 minutes before the hour is up, prepare sticky glaze! Weeeee! Mix butter and brown sugar. Try not to eat it all. Spread it in an even layer on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Top with nuts and set aside.

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6. On your lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. If you don’t have a rolling pin, like moi, just whack and beat that dough into something that resembles a rectangle.

7. Brush with 1/4 cup melted vegan butter and top with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1Tbsp cinnamon.

8.Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. This might not look as pretty and tidy as you like, but as long as you have a rolled up tube of deliciousness, it will work.

9. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 2 inch sections.

10. Position in your 8×8 dish with the glaze layer on the bottom (you should have about 10 rolls.)

11. Cover with plastic wrap and set on top of the oven to let it briefly rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.

12. Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

13. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully invert (this means to turn it upside down, dummy!)  Serve immediately. Or don’t. Whenever you’re ready.

Your fingers will get a little messy and sticky, do not panic. Lick the yummy stuff off your hands.

We started at the bottom.

 Now we here:
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I was shocked how good these turned out! Not super sweet or cinnamony. Even the whole wheat thing was okay, it wasn’t dry or hard at all. First my brother and sister-in-law tried one and loved it. Then my father and mother tried one. The response was, “I thought they were just being nice, but these are really good! I’d pay for one!”
Then I charged them $5 each and ran away, laughing.
This recipe was a total and wonderful success! If I were really selling these, I might make sure they were all the same size, and use a bigger baking pan, so they wouldn’t get squished together. Otherwise, I give this recipe 10/10 acorn nibbles.

On the Egg of Glory

I had eggs, and you can too!

Follow Your Heart (http://followyourheart.com) has released a new item! It’s magical and mysterious and curious and delicious. The VeganEgg!

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Can you believe it? Gluten, allergen, and cholesterol-free! Unless you’re allergic to egg replacer stuff…. In which case, you’re definitely allergic to this. Because it’s an egg replacer. And you’ll die. But other than that, it’s GREAT!

Here’s the given list of stuff not in it, and stuff in it:

  • EGG-FREE
  • GLUTEN-FREE
  • ALLERGEN-FREE
  • CHOLESTEROL-FREE
  • NON-GMO
  • KOSHER PARVE
  • DAIRY-FREE

INGREDIENTS (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-gmo, soy-free): Whole Algal Flour, Whole Algal Protein, Modified Cellulose, Cellulose, Gellan Gum, Calcium Lactate (Plant Source), Carrageenan, Nutritional Yeast, Black Salt.

I feel like it’s probably also nut-free, chocolate-free, apple-free, sushi-free, cotton candy-free, paper-free… but they didn’t deem those things important enough to mention.

When you purchase the VeganEgg, you get an “egg carton”, but inside is just a bag of yellow powder. A tad anti-climactic. However, if you follow the recommended use and mix 1/2 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of powder, you get a thick cream that smells like egg yolk (tastes like it, too, but you should probably heat it up before eating.)

My first attempt was a bit of a bummer, though.

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See? Liquidy and flat. Not very eggy, unless it was an egg with OCD. I added pepper and rosemary, but that didn’t liven things up much. This was sort of like someone took a plastic and foam egg from a kid’s kitchen playroom and added pepper. I felt duped. I am resilient, though! I carried my head high, nonetheless!

The next morning I added just a touch more powder and put it in a pan with olive oil. This is when things started happening!

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I also added Daiya cheese and Sriracha. I had to microwave it a few seconds to melt the cheese. However, overall, as you can see, the thickness and fluffiness were much more impressive this time. It also helps that I used almond milk instead of water.

Now I started getting excited and adventurous. If I could make a cheesy omelette on a plate, why not in a Pillsbury croissant thingy?

1- This was my first time using/making Pillsbury croissant thingies. I didn’t know what I was doing.

2- They don’t come apart as easily as expected, so some squishing and squashing was necessary.

But I set the oven to 375, put my eggs and cheese and rosemary and pepper inside the dough, rolled ’em up:

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and  let the oven fairies take over.

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This combination made for a delicious and nutritious breakfast! Filled me up until lunch and I felt really good about my life choices. My mother claims it looks like a model of a heart. I take that to mean my food looks like a beautiful model. I’m talented.

The upside: I can eat this instead of oatmeal, I can bake with it, and it’s fast and easy.

The downside: I’m rediscovering that I never really was a huge egg eater. It’s a great product if you love eggs, though! Of course, if you miss the yolk texture, you’re out of luck. The more liquidy mixture is like a soft yolk, but you can’t replace the hard boiled egg. Womp womp.

Also, the powder is a bit messy. It is light and gets everywhere… or maybe I’m just a messy person.

Still, this is extremely impressive, and I am sure someone out there is working on yolking it up…. Curious what other people are making with their VeganEggs! Let me know!

I give this product 9.5/10 French poodles!

 

There are pizzas I remember

Since I can remember, I was not a huge fan of pizza. It was boring and messy and just stupid. Pizza is stupid. However, one thing I’ve noticed about being vegan is, the stuff I “can’t” eat is so much more appealing, even if I never liked it before.

For example: Marshmallows, ice cream… um… other stuff. Basically, lots of stuff I used to hate, I now get very excited about vegan versions. Like pizza!

There are some places that offer no-cheese or dairy-free cheese options, but that’s a whole thing and you have to talk to people and explain stuff and then deal with knowing you have no idea what’s actually in your pizza. Not to mention, requesting whole wheat crust is just asking for Pizza a la Spit.

Instead, with my mighty genius and genius genius, I decided I would make my own pizza. I’m the superhero of savoury vegan foods. Though, I didn’t have yeast. So, that was a thing that wasn’t a thing. Great start.

Fortunately, no yeast pizza crust is possible, just less desirable. It’s simple, you just need:

2.5 cups of flour

2 and 3/4  teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup water (though, I used more because the hard dough was driving me nuts)

Then I put flour all over my rolling table thing. It made me feel professional and stuff, but then I realized, the movies never show you how one CLEANS UP after doing this. It was chaos.

Getting back to an innocent time in my life, before the realization that I would have to clean up, I then kneaded the dough for 4 minutes. Whatever that means. I just kind of played with the dough and made little dough snowmen.

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Now that the crust was ready, I needed toppings. Ya always forget the obvious things like what you’re putting on the pizza, don’t ya! No? Me neither.

I decided I would use the finest ingredients aka what I had in my freezer: spinach, edamame, roasted garlic tomato sauce, and kidney beans. I boiled them up just until they were soft and warm enough to spread onto the crust. Before doing this, however, curiosity got the best of me. I took some dough, put it on a fork, and attempted to make a boiled bagel. It kind of worked. Sorta looks like a dumpling that fell out of my soup a week ago and rolled under the counter… and I finally got around to fishing it out. Tada! But dang, look how artsy that photo is! I think I should get a round of applause for that.donut

Back to business. Sauce! Spinach! Beans!

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Shaboom! That almost looks like pizza. By the way, I spread some soy butter on the pan to limit sticking and because a buttery bottom never hurt anyone!

Then I went ahead and stuck that in the oven at 400 for 22 minutes. Let me just say, for being a sad and useless attempt at whole wheat, vegan pizza… I ain’t mad. Not mad at that recipe at all.

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I’d go as far as to say I’d give this pizza 9/10 sips of Pepto Bismol

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day 2016- were you there? I was. Not even joking, I was SO there! You don’t even know! Why would you, after all?

For my Valen-FRIEND’s Day (see what I did there?) I had a friend come over. He brought me stuff and gifts. That’s why I have friends, because they bring me dolls and art and candy and flowers…. After he gave me the gifts I completely deserve, I was going to throw him out. Like, out in the cold and snow, because what else am I gonna do with him? But then he was all like, “Wait! How about we bake? We can bake!”

I don’t pass on opportunities to bake. We baked.

First we went to the cheap-o store to buy pans. Apparently, I’ve been making cupcakes and muffins without a muffin tin for ages! Well, I did have one, but I killed that sucker. It was burned and charred and crying before it even knew what happened to it. That’s how success happens. I also bought a springform pan. Not sure what one does with these, but they’re always in recipes and they look cool, so I paid the $7 to own one. No one can judge me now.

Then we went to the grocery store for vegan butter. The woman working there seemed to be yelling at me in some exotic Asian language. Then I was informed that she was very upset about the dead flowers in my hand. I tried to explain that my friend had been waiting in the cold for an hour (despite other evidence, this was not my fault) and in that time, the flowers froze and died a slow and painful death. This didn’t seem to calm the woman. I took my butta and ran.

Then, after my friend informed me that dollar store food is permissible, we went to “99 Cent Dream”, because if they’re charging you more, you’re being ripped off!

In my 99 cent dream, there is a huge box. It’s wrapped in gold wrapping paper without a crinkle, tear, or indent anywhere. On top there is a Royal Blue bow shimmering in the reflection of a perfect sunrise. I walk forward and pull the end of the ribbon. The bow and the packaging neatly unfold and fall to unveil the contents. It’s a tiny, dead turtle.

Apparently, dollar stores sell EVERYTHING! We just needed oil, coconut milk, and something else I can’t recall at the moment. The cupcake plan was on its way!

1 cup Whole wheat flour! Check.

1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar! Check.

1/2 can Coconut milk! Check.

1 Banana! Check.

2 teaspoons Baking powder

Pinch salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup oil

3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup alternative milk… or more champagne. Yesss!

Everything we need, plus red food dye for a real thrill!

Put all that stuff together in a bowl. Toss ‘er and turn ‘er!

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Blend, baby, blend! Or, should I say: Process, mama, PROCESS!

Yay! You made things that will possibly, maybe resemble cupcakes in the near future!

I put them in the oven at 365 for 10 minutes, but that wasn’t cutting it. My recipe was whack. I add 5 minutes for a total of *counts on fingers* 15 minutes! Bueno!

Now we have cupcakes, but what’s missing? Frosting! weeee!

My stupid recipe told me to combine 2 cups of sugar (that’s a lot of sugar), 1/2 cup butter (melted and cooled) and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I did this and added a little red dye. Not as much as in the cupcakes, so it would be more pink. The problem is, this combination was super liquidy, even after a couple hours in the fridge. Thus, I did what any smart cookie would do, and I added a cup of flour to thicken ‘er up. What do you know? It worked! Here you can kind of see which cupcake was the first attempt and which were made after adding flour:

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I didn’t want you to forget why we’re here, so I added a couple hearts. But, in case you’re blind, here’s the original photo:

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See gloopy gloppy back there? Yeah, he was the mistake child we never wanted. He’s a metaphor for the mistake you may make on Valentine’s Day. Remember! Always wear protection, kids.

We mixed, we floured, we frosted. The final step is…

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Sprinkled some coconut on top, poured more bubbly, and we had a downright jamboree!

Oddly enough, these cupcakes kind of tasted like corn muffins. I don’t know why. I simply don’t. Science. Still, they were tasty!

I give the recipe 6/10

I give MY version of the recipe 8.5/10

I give my Valentine’s Day 10/10

And that, my friends, is what matters…. The gifts.