Pretty in Pink: Vegetarian Foodie Pics of the Week

Black tea

Happy Nude Food Friday, everyone!

Here are my fave vegetarian foodie pics of the week, courtesy of my iPhone, and filtered by Instagram. I freaking LOVE Instagram, which is funny, because friends of mine have been trying to get me on it for years, and I always resisted.

Aaaaanywaaay, here they are. They make me hungry, they make me feel better about purchasing single, pretty dishes compulsively, they reinforce my love for vegetarian food, and they are inspired by my favorite food photographers. Even though I’m not nearly as good as they are, the fact that I can come up with these makes me a happy girl.

Also, they each have a pink ingredient or two (or five), so that’s what the title of this post is about.

Enjoy! Hope they make you as hungry as a vegan hippo. xo

Chickpea Salad with Pink Lady Apples + Raw Asparagus

Vegan salad

Local Raspberry Yogurt with Chia, Hemp + Edible Flowers

Soy Yogurt with Edible Flowers

Very Berry Smoothie with Coconut

Berry Smoothie with Coconut

Amaranth, Daikon + Beet Sprouts

Vegan Salad

Beer Battered Cauliflower Tacos with Shredded Red Cabbage

Vegan Tacos

* I just wanted to just let everyone know that this last recipe was an inspired twist on Thug Kitchen‘s Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw. You must try. Recipe HERE.

#Food #Porn: #Vegan #foodie pics of the week

TGIF! Is everyone as stoked for Friday as I am?! I get excited for the weekends, because it means food. (I know–you’re all shocked.) But weekends allow more time for creativity in the cooking department, and that makes me happy. Which is why I thought the term “food porn” was appropriate. When you get excited to see images of food that you want to eat NOW, and it inspires you to create and cook and want to taste stuff, it’s kinda fun. Right? Think The Joy of Sex, but with food.

Kind of…

Aaaaanyway…I can feel myself definitely beginning to ramble and get off topic, so let’s just do this. Without further adieu, here are some of my best foodie pics of the week–drool-worthy, instantly-hungry, get-in-my-belly (as Austin Powers’ alter ego might say) vegan foodie food.

Enjoy. xo

Fresh Fruit Salad with Walnuts

Vegan Fruit Salad

Dark Chocolate Vegan Granola Bars 

Chocolate vegan granola bars

Pomegranate Smoothie with Orange, Kiwi, Strawberry, + Banana

Vegan smoothie

Vegan Garden Wrap with Anti-Inflammatory Green Juice

vegan wrap and green juice

Layered Oats with Coconut, Banana, Pomegranate, + Cinnamon

Vegan oatmeal

Tropicana Smoothie with Homemade Granola + Pepita Seeds

Vegan smoothie and granola

For more pics, visit www.instagram.com/vegheadjenniferbrowne

#Easy #Homemade #Chocolate Granola Bars: Nut-free for the kiddies

Chocolate vegan granola bars

Happy Tuesday, friends! Over the weekend, I tried my hand (again) at making homemade granola bars for my kids’ school lunches. I absolutely loathe (yes, loathe) the fact that I can’t find good quality granola bars anywhere. If you look at the list of ingredients on any package of granola bars out there, you will find at least one (but probably 3 or 4) of the following ingredients: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, corn starch, modified palm oil, etc.

When I read these words, all I see is ‘GENETICALLY MODIFIED CRAP.’

So I’m on a mission to create at least 3 recipes that take almost zero time (I’ve already told you I’m lazy), have minimal ingredients, and are relatively healthy. The sweetener I use in these is much lower on the GI (glycemic index) than regular sugar, and they are high in plant-based protein and fiber.

So here’s my first real winner (2/3 of my kids love them, which may not seem totally successful, but it’s TOTALLY SUCCESSFUL). This recipe is also vegan and gluten-free, (except for the dark chocolate chips, which you could totally substitute with carob).

Chocolate Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup NutraCleanse (use ground flax, if you can’t find this)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. raw cocoa
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup (you could also use pure honey)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla

vegan granola bars

Method:

Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl and mix well. In smaller bowl, combine syrup and vanilla. Mix everything together well, and pat down into an 8×8 inch pan, lined with parchment paper. Score bars (pre-cut half way down) to make 16 squares. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let sit for 5 minutes. (They’ll seem soft, but they’ll harden up.) When the 5 minutes is up (don’t wait much longer), fully cut bars and lift parchment paper to remove contents from pan. Set on baking rack to cool completely.

Ta-da!

Vegan granola bars

One more hint: don’t eat one, unless you’re okay with eating half the pan. I know this from experience, so don’t question it. (You’re welcome.)

Have a great night! xo

6 Ways to Make Homemade Oatmeal More Exciting

TGIF, friends! Is it seriously Friday already?! The weeks are going by WAY too fast right now. I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner! With all the craziness and hoopla that surrounds the holidays, it’s easy to rely on pre-packaged crap to get you through the day. But we don’t need to put our poor bodies through that—we just need to get creative! Cold months are perfect for oatmeal, which is super simple to make, and very good for you. It’s high in plant-based protein, low in sugar, great for your digestive system (and those of us suffering with IBS), and it’s a whole food.

Oats. That’s it!

But just oats can get a little boring, so here are 6 ways to create incredible-tasting oatmeal, and make it look even prettier (because everyone knows that pretty food just tastes better):

Homemade oatmeal

  • Experiment with some fun ingredients. Aside from the common toppings of cinnamon or raisins, try other things. Banana slices, pomegranate seeds (especially this time of year), blueberries, shredded coconut, and flax seeds are all great additions to any bowl of oats. Literally, IT’S ALL GOOD.
  • Swap water for almond or coconut milk while cooking. It makes a thicker, heartier oatmeal that will stick around for the entire morning. If your tummy starts rumbling for a snack an hour before lunch, then this idea is for YOU. No more rumbles.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Try assembling it the night before. If time (or lack thereof) is your excuse for skipping breakfast or throwing back a crappy Nutri-Grain bar on your way to work, then prep, baby, prep! Here’s how: layer dry ingredients in a bowl or jar the night before, and sit it on the counter where you’ll see it in the morning. When you’re ready for it, add fresh fruit and some unsweetened almond milk, and viola! Good quality, homemade breakfast. You can’t beat that.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Make your oatmeal into little muffins! Simply combine oats with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and some ground flax until the texture feels right. (Like vegan oatmeal meat balls!) Plop into muffin paper liners (in muffin tin), and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for 15 minutes before eating, or make the night before and just pop 2 into your purse on your way out the door. Easy, peasy!

Vegan Homemade Oatmeal

  • Dress it up. Not with toppings (do that, too), but arrange it in something fancy and pretty. It’ll be more visually appealing to you in the morning, and you might just make time to stop and take a foodie pic. I do it all the time. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed. Think about it: if you’re creating food that you feel compelled to photograph, then you’ll want to eat it! Get passionate about breakfast! And create an Instagram account.
  • Do a quick search online about how good oatmeal is for you. It’ll help to know that oats are protein-laden, fiber-rich, blood sugar lowering, weight-loss inducing, intestine-cleaning powerhouses. How do you avoid it, now? YOU HAVE TO EAT IT!

And those are my ideas on how to make oatmeal more exciting. I hope you’re totally planning on running home after work, assembling some jars of oats and stuff, and are looking forward to your healthful, amazing, plant-based breakfast of oats for the week. If you have kids, it’s fun for them to create their own oatmeal concoctions, too! Let the creativity roll!

Like an oat. Like a rolled oat. Get it? Kk, I’m out. xo

Happy Healthy Holidays! Sharing your favorite plant-based recipes

Rustic Table Setting

Hey, everyone! TGIF, am I right?! I don’t know about you, but my October flew by with insane determination, and November’s already kicking my butt, too. With no slow-down in sight (’tis the season for parties and get-togethers and perhaps a little fete-a-fete here and there), I know my brain will be mush within a few short weeks. SO…I thought maybe I’d try and conjure up a few simple ideas regarding shared eats. With Canadian Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, and American Thanksgiving just down the road, it’s clearly that time of year.

When I’m asked to “bring a dish to pass,” there are definite times when I fall back on old, lazy favorites. But considering I have a recipe book coming out next summer, I thought maybe I’d attempt to raise the bar for myself and be ready to show up to my friends’ houses with something that looks (and tastes!) like I’ve put at least an ounce of effort and creativity into it.

I’m going to share three plant-based concoctions that I think might fit the bill, and hopefully you think they sound good enough to try at home. I specify “plant-based,” because I like to share ideas that fit with my usual foodie lifestyle, which is that of clean, whole, nutrient-rich eats. We get enough crap out there, right? Let’s set a good example and share some healthy, happy recipes!

Alright. Here we go…

Chocolate-Graham Banana Bites (Makes 32)

banana bites2

Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas (not too ripe)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup graham crumbs
  • 32 toothpicks*

Method:

Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, slowly. Slice each banana into 8 chunks (so there should be 32 chunks in total), and stick each with a toothpick. Once chocolate is melted, dip each banana chunk half-way into the chocolate, then dust with graham. The chocolate will harden, so it must be done quickly. Repeat until every chunk has been dressed, then cover and refrigerate until they can be served.

Acorn Squashed Casserole (serves 8)

Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup watercress
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice each squash horizontally. Remove seeds and pulp, and discard. Slice squash into 1/2″ rounds. (Which will actually look like flowers.) Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, syrup, and spices. Add squash to bowl and mix well, until evenly coated. Bake in a single layer on cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then flip squash and back for another 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and arrange in dish. Chop herbs and sprinkle on top of squash. Serve hot as a side dish.

Baked Ratatouille Bruschetta (Serves 12)

Grilled vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an eggplant
  • 1/2 a zucchini
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 16 oz. can of chopped and roasted tomatoes
  • 1 large whole wheat baguette

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Finely chop eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and onion. Mix, and place in oven-safe dish. Mince the garlic and add to mixture, then stir. Drizzle olive oil over mixture, and then pour tomatoes over all the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Once done, remove from oven and let sit until it cools slightly. Meanwhile, slice baguette into rounds. Place a spoonful of ratatouille on top of each, and place back in the oven for 6-8 more minutes. Serve hot.

Hope you enjoy! From my table to yours, stay happy and healthy! (And have a great weekend!) xo

Look Who's Nominated For the One Lovely Blog Award!

One Lovely Blog Award

Thanks so much to FIT FARMER for nominating me for the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD! I’m super excited to be part of this supportive blogging community, and I hope everyone who reads this will check out my blog recommendations.:)

The Rules
– Thank the person who nominated you for the award
– Display the banner/sticker/logo on your blog
– Share 7 facts or things about yourself
– Nominate 15 bloggers that you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog

7 facts about me:
1. I’m a writer. I began with my first book (Happy Healthy Gut), and then I started writing for magazines (like Vancouver’s alive Magazine), and now I just write to get reactions, make a difference, and challenge myself. I’ve always loved to write.
2. I am 33-years-old. I have three kids, one husband, zero pets, and no more apples in my apple tree. (Because I picked them all to make applesauce, which I talked about a couple of blog posts ago.)
3. I used to have IBS, but I don’t anymore. 4 years ago, I began a whole food, plant-based diet that changed my life from the inside out. You can read all about it in Happy Healthy Gut!
4. I love to sing. Even though most people who have heard me will say I definitely can’t carry a tune, it’s because I have a VERY hard time singing in from of anyone aside from my kids (even my husband). But I can sing–for real.
5. I’m obsessive-compulsive. I didn’t really know this until I was a parent, but when you start comparing things with other moms and realize that you’re the only one who tracks days you work out, have a glass of wine, or feel overly emotional, you come to understand that perhaps you’re slightly ridiculous.
6. I love to eat! I’ve always been a major foodie, and I’ve always been willing to make myself sick for that extra stuffed mushroom. (Although I have to say, now that I’m 4 years in on the whole food, plant-based bandwagon, I can eat way more without feeling sick. It’s seriously ideal.)
7. I LOVE trash TV. Particularly the Real Housewives franchise, and especially New Jersey. Yup.

My 15 nominees:
1) Kitchen, Uncorked
2) Just January’s Jargon
3) Oh She Glows
4) Love Food
5) Love.Peace.Hapiness.Cooking
6) Taste of Colours
7) Bucket List Publications 
8) My VanCity 
9) Forks and Beans
10) Pickles & Honey
11) The Kind Life
12) Living Food Love
13) The Garum Factory
14) Fiona Grows Food
15) Good Girl Gone Green

Happy blog perusing! xo

Why You Should Be Cooking with Beans

*Disclaimer: I will use the word “farty” in this blog post. I apologize ahead of time.

Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. Right? NOOO! It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let beans have their way with you. You’re the boss, and they need to be put in their place.

Boss those beans around!

Why bother, you ask? Because beans are tiny gems of awesomeness that are high in fibre, protein, and a variety of other goodies. They’re a main staple in countries like Mexico–and others in South America–because they’re inexpensive, readily available, and super high in nutrients. They’re superstars, really.

Unfortunately, they get a bum rap. (Get it?) Beans can make some people feel bloated and gassy, so a lot of us choose to just ignore their amazingness altogether to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation in yoga class. Also, those suffering from digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease may find that beans make their gut situations worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

There is actually a correct way to both prepare and cook beans. Beans have indigestible carbohydrates that need to be broken down by soaking. If you’re using beans from a can, then the trick is to rinse them very well, until all the bubbles are gone. Those bubbles are gas, and they make you farty. (See? Told you I’d use it.) No one wants to be farty. If you plan on cooking them after you rinse them, then your best bet is to add a bay leaf to whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s soup, stew, chili, or whatever. Bay absorbs the acid in the beans that add to the gas. Just don’t eat the leaf.

(Although I must admit that the thought of this makes me smile.)

If you’re cooking dried beans, then rinse them very well first, and soak them in a lot of water overnight. (The general rule is one cup of beans to three cups of water.) In the morning, strain them and rinse really well again. When you go to cook them, cook with a bay leaf for the reason explained above, but also skim off the bubbles that will form off the top after about an hour. Remember, those are farty bubbles. Also, make sure you cook the beans very well. Don’t leave them half-cooked.

So, in conclusion of Cooking with Beans 101 (because now you’ve now graduated Bean University), you rinse, you skim bubbles, and you cook with a bay leaf. Other gas-reducing spices include ginger, fennel, and cumin, so you could cook with those, too.

Perfect Tofu in 5 Simple Steps

Luxurious Soy/Tofu

It’s Meatless Monday, folks! I’m here to help you figure out what to eat for lunch. Or dinner.

(Or both.)

When you don’t eat meat, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate a little extra protein into your diet. While I’m a big fan of beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, I’m also falling deeper and deeper in love with…tofu. (There’s a statement I never thought I’d say!) It’s cheap, versatile, and an excellent source of plant-based protein.

But I’ve learned something about this wonder product. Something major. Something that nobody told me when I decided to give up most animal products and dive into Veggie Land. I’m just going to say it: there’s an art to cooking tofu. My husband nails it, and I nail it…less. But that’s probably because I know he’s good at it, so I allow him to do it whenever we eat a tofu dish. I should really practice, but it probably makes him feel good to make me such amazing food.

I’m just being a good wife.

Aaaaanyway…the following are the 5 tried-and-true steps to preparing edible tofu. As I was typing this up, I noticed that they all start with the letter “S.” I love it. It reminds me of a good grade 6 lesson in alliteration. (That I nailed.) Here ya go:

  1. Slice. The thickness of your tofu makes a huge difference in how well it cooks. For regular stir-fries, take your block of tofu, and slice it into rectangles about quarter of an inch to half an inch thick.
  2. Soak. Once your block of tofu is sliced, you’ll want to place the pieces in a shallow dish in a single layer, and pour warm salt water over them until they’re immersed. Soak for about fifteen minutes.
  3. Squeeze. This step refers to squeezing all of the water out of the tofu. The easiest way to do this is to place your slices on top of a double layer of paper towel, then cover with another double layer. Gently press, until all of the water seems to be out. You might have to do it twice.
  4. Sauté. Get a stainless frying pan very hot. Place a little bit of coconut oil in the pan to grease it. Then place tofu in the pan in a single layer. Cook for about three to four minutes on each side, until both sides of the tofu rectangle are browned. Remove from heat and place on a plate, in a single layer.
  5. Season. I like to grind a bit of sea salt over top, but you can season however you want. Whatever floats your boat, amigo.

Cooked tofu

It’s also important that the firmness of the tofu you’re cooking with matches the type of dish you’re making. There is soft, medium, firm, and extra-firm tofu out there. Choose the texture based on the dish. For example, if you’re making a tofu scramble, you’ll want firm or extra-firm tofu. For most desserts, you use soft. You’ll get the hang of it. You know, just like my husband did.

(Go, Dave!)

The other thing about tofu (and any soy product for that matter), is that you need to source organic labels. 90% of North American tofu is genetically modified, so unless it’s organic, it’s been messed with.

So go get yourself some organic tofu, follow the 5 steps, and blow yourself away with your crazy ability to create perfect tofu. It’s totally something to brag about, and a skill you can list on your resume. (Or maybe not–your call.)

Here’s a link to Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce by Vega.

Happy Meatless Monday! xo

DIY Popsicles: you need to try these

Mmmm…popsicles. What’s better on a hot, sunny day? (I know some of you might be thinking “um, beer?!” but I’m trying to remain family-friendly, here.) 😉 You can buy them at the store, but they’re full of junk–high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours and flavours, and just generally super low on the nutrient scale. So, what’s a girl to do?

MAKE them! The following recipes are delicious, healthy, and include the benefit of using up very ripe fruit. They are all vegan, gluten-free, and super simple to make. A great blender makes a big difference, so if you own a Vitamix or something similar to it, break that sucker out.

The other great thing about these popsicle recipes is that they are all digestive-friendly. A couple of them could be tweaked a little if you are a chronic heartburn (GERD) sufferer, and I note that at the bottom of the recipes.

If you don’t own molds (it probably means you aren’t yet overwhelmed by your children for these suckers in the summertime), try using small containers (little jars, etc) and spoons or store-bought sticks. You can even use ice-cube trays and toothpicks for small ones. Anything goes! To remove pops from molds, run warm water over molds until pops melt enough to slide out. Also, remember that the amount of popsicles each recipe makes completely depends on the size of your molds. Have fun…

 

Homemade Ice Pops 

Lemony-Basil Pops— makes 8 large

Ingredients

1 ½ cups organic, plain soy yogurt

1 lemon (rind and juice)

1 small handful fresh basil

2 tbsp. agave syrup

Method

Separate the rind and juice from your lemon, and put both in blender. Add all other ingredients, and blend until smooth. Use a little unsweetened almond milk if mixture needs to be thinned a bit. Pour into molds and freeze for 2-3 hours. Add sticks or spoons to half-frozen pops, and place back in freezer for overnight. Enjoy!

*The lemon may be a little much for those with GERD…enjoy slowly to access whether or not it will be a problem.

 

Fruity popsicle sticks

Frozen Fruit Salad— makes 8 large

Ingredients

½ cup blueberries

1 cup strawberries

2 kiwis

2 tbsp. dried coconut

1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut water

Method

Thinly slice the strawberries and kiwis. Arrange all fruit in molds. Fill with coconut water.  Using sticks, try piercing through fruit in order to make stand upright and center. Freeze overnight. Enjoy!

 

Tropical Popsicle

Tropical Popsicles— makes 8 medium-sized

Ingredients

2 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 ½ cups frozen pineapple

1 ½ cups frozen mango

2 tablespoons honey

Method

Combine everything in blender and process until smooth. Pour into molds, and freeze for 2 hours. Add your spoons or sticks, and continue to freeze overnight. Enjoy!

 

Lime-mint Popsicles

Avo-Lime Popsicles— makes 6 large

Ingredients

½ tsp. finely grated sea-salt

1 ½ avocados

2 limes

1 cup organic, unsweetened soy milk

½ cup agave syrup

¼ tsp. vanilla

Method

Sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt into molds. Set aside. Pit and peel your avocados, and zest and juice your limes. Add to blender. Add milk, syrup and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into salted molds. Freeze for an hour, than add sticks. Continue freezing overnight. Enjoy!

*The lime may be too acidic for those with GERD. Try one and be sure to notice if the lime bothers you. This is all about knowing your body’s boundaries.

Have fun, and stay cool!