Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

As a kid, I did not like most vegetables. In fact, you could probably count the foods I would eat with one hand and I did not tolerate foods and flavours combined. However, my mother tricked me with chocolate zucchini bread. Except for the name, you would never know as a kid that there were vegetables in there at all. Who ever came up with this combo was genius.

That's right, I took a bit before i could snap a pic... I couldn't resist!

I stole my mom's recipe when I moved out and I still have the scrap piece of paper I wrote it down on. It's faded and covered in chocolate, but I am pretty sure I have it down. The original recipe called for eggs so I replaced them with chia seeds. I think they are my favourite egg replacer for baking. Plus they are insanely healthy. Combine that with the dark chocolate and zucchini and basically this is a healthy snack.... well in moderation!

Why so healthy? Chia seeds are load in potassium, really high in omega-3, high in amino acids and are a complete protein. I use dark chocolate it this recipe and that is on the list of super foods. Full of antioxidants, dark chocolate is known to be good for your heart and lower cholesterol.. Then there is zucchini, another great source of antioxidants and has beta carotene, vitamins C and A. It is also low calorie and high in fiber.

Even though there is white flour (easily substituted for whole wheat, I didn't have any at the time), I stand by this is a decent snack... better than processed junk food anyways.

The recipe....

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2 chia eggs (click here for recipe)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 square melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, leave the skin on and buy organic if you can (about one large one)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
Easy batter, once your prep is done, it takes 5 minute to combine

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Make your chia eggs and then add to a bowl and beat until fluffy. Add the oil and sugar and beat again for a couple minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate, vanilla and grated zucchini. In a second bowl mix the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the dry and stir until combined.

The hardest part... Waiting for it to cool!

Bake for 50-60 minutes (test with a tooth pick, it should come out dry). Cool 15 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Photo credit:

Just like mom used to make. And for all you non-vegans... this recipe was tested with five non-vegan colleagues.. It's not just me, this is a truly addictive recipe.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garlicky Quinoa

There are a lot of days where I come home from work and have less than an hour to get ready to leave again. This puts a lot of pressure on having a decent dinner. Yes, I could go get take-out, but I much prefer to have something cooked at home. When I don't have leftovers waiting, it gets a little tricky finding something that I can whip up in under 30 minutes.

My normal favourites are pasta or quinoa because they cook fast and are filling. Quinoa is my favourite though. It is a great healthy alternative for a quick plate. I can't remember if I have written much about my love affair with this South American super grain(I probably had, but I don't care, it should be given its moment again).

It was something I had never heard of until I had switched to a vegan diet. I am not sure why it hasn't caught on as much for the meat and potatoes crowd, but I am telling you... it needs to!

So, what is quinoa? It is a seed, but cooks like a grain. It is related to spinach and chard and people have been eating it for thousands of years. It is a complete protein with a balanced set of amino acids. It is a great source of fibre, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten-free. It's no wonder Quinoa's nickname is the gold of the Inca's.

I usually cook up some quinoa and add some lemon juice, basic, vegetables. I have used it in stir fry's, veggie burgers, salads.. you name it and I bet I could find a way to incorporate some quinoa into the mix.

This time, I wanted to change it up a little bit and made a garlicky quinoa with roasted asparagus.

Garlicky Quinoa
  • 3/4 cup quinoa (red, white, black or mixed)
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Asparagus, and any other vegetables you want (Zucchini, tomato, peppers, carrot, kale, artichoke etc)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Time out how long it will take for roasting the vegetables (asparagus take just 8 minutes, so I use them when in a hurry). While you are waiting on the oven to heat up add the broth, quinoa and bay leaf in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Once in a full boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes (just like white rice).

Cut the ends off the asparagus and add to a shallow dish with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss and put them on a cookie sheet or on tin foil and roast for about 8 minutes (give them a shake about 4 mins in). While everything is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan, once it is hot add the onion and cook for about 5 min or until they are soft. next add the garlic cook for a few minutes and try to not burn it. If you time this out, the quinoa and the veg should be ready.

Add the cooked quinoa to the frying pan and stir well. Chop the asparagus into bite size pieces and add it in. Next add the basil, cilantro, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Stir well again and serve!

Some great additions to this would be some fried tofu or tempeh if you want a bit heavier of a meal. The nice thing about quinoa is that it is a grain and a protein source, so you don't really have to do much to it for a fast meal.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Raspberries with Orange Lemon Sauce

Sitting at home nursing a minor hangover, I was watching one of my favourite shows, Chef at Home. I love Michael Smith and even though he is not a vegan chef by any means I love his style of cooking without recipes. as he put together this awesome dessert, all I could think about was making it vegan. Unfortunately (or maybe not) I did not bother to write down what the recipe was... so I am following his mantra and cooking without a recipe.

This recipe is not for the sweet tooth's of the world. It is very, very tart. However, if you like lemon and you like raspberries, you must give this a try. Sublime on a hot summer night .

If you like your desserts sweeter, I would just adjust the sauce and add some agave or maple syrup. If you like sour treats, make and serve!

Raspberries with Orange-Lemon Sauce
*Inspired by Chef at Home
Serves 2
  • 1 cup of fresh raspberries (or other berry of choice)
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy, but almond would be a great choice too)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (Use more if you like it sweeter or other sweetener)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • Graham Cracker crumbs (or any vegan cookie)
  • 1 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • Mint leaf for garnish
In a sauce pot, add the orange juice, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest and juice. Whisk the sauce and heat over medium low heat. Once everything is combined, add the corn starch slowly and whisk constantly until dissolved to avoid lumps. Continue to whisk until the sauce is simmering and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Wash your berries and get a martini glass or other single serving dish. Fill the dish half way with the berries and drizzle maple syrup. Cover with sauce and repeat to make a couple layers. On the top, sprinkle the cookie crumbs and drizzle again with the remaining syrup. Let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The sauce will thicken and set. Once cool, garnish with a mint leaf and serve.

How easy is that? if it wasn't for the cooling of the sauce, this dessert would take 10 minutes to make. Next time, I am going to try and sweeten the sauce a bit and use a mixture of berries. So good and refreshing. If you can, enjoy this one outdoors.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Planning Ahead for Vegan Un-Friendly Event

Photo credit:

You want to see an angry vegan? Invite them to an event with no vegan food. This blog post is for my sister who is going to try a seven day vegan challenge. First - congrats and it is going to be fun! We are both attending a wedding next weekend and  she will be officially in day two of her challenge. I am really glad she didn't change the date of the challenge because of the wedding. I think if you want to really get a taste of a vegan lifestyle, going to an event where you don't know if you will be accommodated or not is actually probably the biggest challenge.

As someone that goes to events regularly, I have learned some ways to ensure I don't die of starvation or turn into a rabbit. It is not that hard, but does take a little planning ahead. My suggestions are not the only way to prepare, but hopefully give you some ideas on what you can do to ensure you have a good time and aren't wasting the day stressing over food.

  1.  Make sure your host knows you are vegan - So easy to forget this, but it really isn't fair to just show up somewhere and then expect them to be ready for you. The sad truth is, most people don't know how easy it is to accommodate you. Make sure to tell the host with your RSVP and then I usually remind them about a week out again in case they forgot. Maybe it is overkill, but I also remind someone on staff when I get there as well. Sometimes even when the venue is told about your dietary request, they forget. Do you due diligence to ensure that kitchen has the time to plan for your meal.
  2. Be specific with your request - If you are like me, you do not want to spend a day eating lettuce and berries while everyone around you is getting served meat dishes, rich sides and decadent desserts. In my experience a lot of venues really take the cheap way out when they accommodate for a vegan. If you aer going somewhere all day and night, make sure your request is specific. some people have a letter ready that goes so far as to explain what they specifically want. Ask in your request that there is a protein source and a grain with your dish. It is amazing how many times I am served a plate of roasted vegetables and that is considered a meal. Never assume that people can read your mind. If you are really worried, you can even ask to speak with the chef. most places will allow this as they want you to be happy.
  3. Don't complain - There is already a stigma out there about vegans. We are often told we are preachy, we think we are better than everyone else and we are know-it-alls. I am sure there are other things people think.. The fact is, food is political and I don't know why, but people can be threatened by the diet choices of others. If you show up to an event and people aren't accommodating, don't whine; try to solve the problem in a polite way (and take to your blog after!). Sometimes, regardless of planning I end up eating green salad for days on end at conferences. After a while, I start to get cranky. I do like salad, but I do not consider it a meal if it just greens. To fix the problem, I ask the kitchen if they can make me a smoothie with soy milk or add beans to the salad or maybe get me hummus and bread with my meal. Even just asking for a bow of mixed nuts can make the difference. I try to keep things more positive so they don;t just think I am complaining or being picky. Say things like, 'The salad is great, but would I be able to get ___ with it?' Don't just ask for vegan protein, be specific.
  4. Leave your feedback - after the event, always make sure to get some feedback to the venue. This is so important. People will never learn if they don;t hear from the customer. If the food was good and planned well, say so. If it wasn't, say so! This is where you can put in your complaint and I always try to put a suggestion as well.
  5. Always thank the host / venue - This is just common sense, but if someone goes out of their way to work with your dietary needs, thank them.
Now, keeping the above in mind, it doesn't hurt to plan ahead. Just like when I go to BBQ's and a plan a vegan BBQ kit, I think it never hurts to be ready when attending a conference, wedding, or whatever it is you are going to. I don't always make a pack, but every time I have, I am thankful I did. It is pretty easy to do and depending on the length of the event, whether you have access to a fridge or not and where you are going should be factored in. Below are a couple of examples of things that I pack with me.

One-Day Event Vegan Kit
  • Soy milk (the single juice box style)
  • bag of mixed nuts with dried fruit (Or try these - Sugar and Spice Almonds)
  • Apple or other packable fruit... but apples are great because I find them more filling
  • Protein bar
  • Packable dessert (Vegan cupcake or vegan rice krispie squares are good examples)
  • Hummus and crackers or bagel
Photo credit:

Multi-day Events
  • Soy milk (the single juice box style)
  • Instant oatmeal
  • bag of mixed nuts with dried fruit
  • Apple or other packable fruit
  • Protein bar (one per day with different flavours)
  • Quinoa with basil, lemon and olive oil
  • Succotash or other bean salad
  • Packable desserts
  • Vegan granola
  • Hummus and crackers or bagels

Photo credit:
So, for a multi-day event, the list is similar, but I just pack a bit more and plan for a variety. I think one of things that makes me grouchy more than anything is eating the same thing every day. I don't know why, but it truly drives me crazy. Sometimes I really wish I could just eat the same thing day after day. Life would be a bit easier, but then I wouldn't have much to blog about!

So, I hope this was helpful. It probably seems like common sense, but it's this common sense that can be the difference between a cranky day of hunger and enjoying wherever you are with a fully belly.