Plant Based Options for Easter

easter5.jpg

Easter is here - it came really fast it seems. Like any other holiday, the easier you can put your food together the more you can enjoy your company.  Here are some really simple plant based dinner ideas that will make your day healthier and more enjoyable.

hummus.jpg

Buying store bought organic hummus is easy peasy. You can serve it with just about any type of fresh vegetable, plant based pitas or chips. There are other great plant based dips available at your grocery store, so serve a few of them for variety. Everyone will enjoy this one.

gardein roast.jpg

Today there are quite a few tasty options available to serve as a main, that will please everyone at your table. Gardein has some great options that come with the stuffing, gravy and cranberries, making your job easier. 

easter6.jpg

Side dishes are always the easiest part when you are choosing a plant based menu. Spring offers up great options like asparagus, peas, artichokes and even fiddle heads. Our site is filled with great side dish options, or you can google bazillions of easy recipes. Just make sure to use plant based butters and milks when preparing your side dishes. Salads are always a great option as well, and putting dressings together is as easy as your favorite oil, vinegar and some salt and pepper. You can make your dressing up the day before. 

easter7.jpg

If everyone isn't filled with chocolates from their egg hunt, Daiya offers 7 or 8 different types of "cheese" cakes. My favorite is the Key Lime. For a lighter option, fresh fruit with a plant based dip or a chocolate sauce is another really easy option.

Hoping you all have a happy, peaceful, plant-filled easter!

Less Waste This Easter

Over 8,000 tonnes of waste is generated from Easter Egg cards and packaging every year! We have to do better this year. Here are some easy things you can do to bring that number way down.

easter1.jpg

One of the easiest and most important things you can do is to buy your Easter treats from a bulk food store (bring your own reusable bags). Choose either foil wrapped candies or unwrapped treats. There are beautiful wooden eggs available for you to stuff full of the kids treats. Mason jars and reusable bags work great as well. If you are going to buy from your grocery store, look for foil wrapped items with as little packaging as possible. And for those of you who have the time and talent, nothing says love like homemade treats.

easter2.jpg

All Easter baskets should be reusable. Buy a nice one that can be used for other things during the rest of the year. Skip the plastic shreds, the paper ones look and work just a good, or you can skip all together!

Cute-Easter-Baskets-Kids.jpg

Egg dyeing: There are tons of tutorials on line for amazing natural dyeing techniques. Did you know that regular dyes are tested on animals?! You can even use kitchen scraps to come up with some great dyes.

easter4.jpg

Enjoy this great time of year but remember we need to look after tomorrow as well.  Happy Easter!!

Plant Based Poutine - YUM!

Poutine may have started out as a Canadian treat, but you can find it anywhere now. This plant based recipe is really easy and absolutely delicious! You can either make the entire dish from scratch or buy the ingredients and simply assemble - whichever works for you!

poutine.jpg

Quick and Easy Classic Poutine – 4 servings

For the fries:
-  2 large Russet Potatoes, cut into thin fries – leave skin on
-  1 Tbsp Oil (Grapeseed, Olive or Sunflower)
-  1 tsp salt (or seasoning salt)

DIRECTIONS:     
-  Put the fires into a large bowl of ice cold water and let soak for 30 minutes to overnight.
-  Heat oven to 425F (220C).
-  Drain the fries and place on a dry dish towel to dry out as much as possible.
-  Add fries to a large bowl and toss with oil and salt.
-  Spread the fries over two large baking sheets in a single layer and bake for 30-40 minutes
-  ALTERNATIVELY – You can buy premade French fries and cook about 2-3 cups according to the directions.

For the gravy:
-  2 C of sliced mushrooms – any type you like
-  2 cloves of garlic, diced small
-  ½ onion diced small
-  2 C of mushroom stock (or vegetable stock)
-  ¼ C of AP flour
-  2 Tbsp of oil (or vegan butter)
-  1 tsp salt, pepper and thyme

DIRECTIONS:
-  Heat up the oil or butter over medium high heat in a large saucepan.
-  Add mushrooms, onion and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes (or until soft).
-  Add flour, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook for 1 minute.
-  Slowly whisk in stock and cook for about 2-3 minutes (until it thickens).
-  ALTERNATIVELY: You can buy a package of Vegan gravy and prepare according to the directions.

daiya moz shreads.jpg

For the Cheese:
-  1/2 cup raw cashews
-  1 cup water
-  3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tapioca flour
-  1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
-  1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
-  1/2 teaspoon each: salt and garlic powder           

DIRECTIONS:
-  Add the cashews to a small pot and with water. Bring to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes until they are softened.
-  Drain and rinse the cashews and add them with the 1 cup of water and all the remaining ingredients to a blender. Blend until completely smooth. It will be watery.
-  Pour into a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, and continually stir as it cooks (about 5 minutes). Continue to cook and stir for an additional minute to make sure it has firmed up completely. Cool in fridge for 30 minutes or up to overnight,
-  ALTERNATIVELY: Use a Plant based cheese like Daiya Mozzarella Shreds.

To assemble your poutine:
-  Place Fries in a large serving dish. Top with as much cheese as you like and cover with hot gravy.

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes - All plant based!

This is an easy dish to make that we call cheesy scalloped potatoes, but if you are serving them to guests you can call them Potatoes au Gratin. Either way, they are delicious! This recipe serves 6 but you can change it up if you are serving a crowd.

scalloped Potatoes.jpg

Ingredients:

- 4 cups potatoes, thinly sliced (you can use a mandolin if you have one)
- 3 Tbsp of vegan butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 cup grated vegan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping (Follow Your Heart Cheddar Shreds are perfect)
- 1 tsp each: salt and pepper
- a pinch each: cayenne pepper and paprika

Directions:
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and slowly whisk in flour. Stir for about 30 seconds. Add cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper and continue stirring.
- Slowly whisk in milk and cook until mixture starts to bubble. Add cheese and remove from heat. Stir until all cheese has melted.
- Arrange half of your sliced potatoes in a slightly greased casserole dish then pour half your cheese mixture over. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cheese sauce.
- Top with your remaining cheese shreds and place in heated oven for one hour.

The Best Vegan Sugar Cookies!

Cookies are one of my favorite late night snacks. These plant-based sugar cookies are dead easy to make and lots of fun to decorate with the little ones. You can find plant based dyes in the natural food section of most grocery stores. Enjoy!

cookies.jpg

Ingredients:

*  3/4 cup (1 stick) vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), softened*
*  1/2 cup organic cane sugar + more for topping
*  1/4 cup brown sugar
*  1 tsp pure vanilla extract
*  1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + more for rolling into shapes
*  1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
*  1 tsp baking powder
*  1/2 tsp baking soda
*  1/4 tsp salt
*  1-2 tsp non-dairy milk

FROSTING
*  1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter, softened
*  2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
*  Splash non-dairy milk

Directions:
1.  Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer.
2.  Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and beat for 1 minute.
3.  Sift dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and baking powder) over butter and sugar mixture.
4.  Mix until until incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Then add almond milk and mix until a soft dough is formed. Switch to a wooden spoon if it gets too thick. If it appears too wet, mix in a bit more flour.
5.  Cover and freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30-45 minutes (up to overnight).
6.  Five minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and position a rack in the center of the oven.
7.  Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of chilled dough and roll into balls. Alternatively, roll out between two pieces of wax paper, lightly flouring the bottom layer, remove top layer, and cut out shapes. (NOTE: For shapes, to ensure they keep their form while baking, freeze them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before baking.)
8.  Arrange cookies on a clean baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. If you’ve rolled the dough into balls, dip a glass into cane sugar and gently smash down into a disc to help them cook more evenly.
9.  Bake on the center rack for 10-12 minutes for (8-10 for cutout shapes), or very slightly golden brown.
10. Remove from oven and let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Prepare frosting in the meantime.

1.  FOR FROSTING: Wipe/rinse your mixing bowl clean and add softened butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Then add vanilla (optional) and mix once more.
2.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and continue mixing until thick and creamy. Drizzle in a little non-dairy milk to thin. You want this frosting to be pretty thick so it will hold its shape once on the cookies, so only add a little milk and add more powdered sugar if it gets too thin.
3.  To add natural food coloring, finely grate a raw beet into a clean dish towel and then squeeze it over the frosting and whisk.
4.  Once cooled, frost cookies and top with sprinkles (optional - vegan ones can be difficult to find). Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to a few days. Freeze for longer-term storage (up to several weeks).

Starting Your Plant Based Lifestyle

eatdrink.png

If you are thinking about changing your lifestyle to include being vegan, you have made a great choice! We have some steps to help make the transition easy!

First thing is there are no hard and fast rules. You need to make changes in a way that works for you. Don't view a plant based lifestyle as the finish line, but as an evolving process of mindful eating and living. I can tell you that you will eventually lose all cravings when it comes to eating animal products. I can also tell you, you WILL get enough protein, and you WILL be asked this question for the rest of your life.

Many people go vegan overnight and if that works for you – great. But for a lot of you, baby steps work best. You can start off by making small changes to your everyday meals. Here are some ideas but always make sure whatever plan you chose, it works for you.

vegan food guide.jpg

During your first week, you can try switching up your breakfast meals to plant based choices. Tofu Scrambles, Nut Butter and banana toast, avocado toast and protein packed smoothies are all quick to prepare and delicious. Our website has tons of easy recipes. Adding either nut or coconut milk or vegan cream replacements to your coffee is another easy one. There are great butter replacements in the grocery stores or you can use coconut oil. Try to source out ingredients that don’t contain unsustainable palm oil.

Next, you can start adding plant based lunches. If you can switch them all up at once that’s great. If not, change up your weekday lunches and leave the weekend meals for later. Smashed chickpea and avocado wraps, vegan pesto pasta, instant vegan miso soup, and quinoa veggie bowls are all super easy to make, are packed with protein and are tasty. There are plant substitutes for almost everything out there. So if you are craving mayo on your wrap, your grocery store probably stocks vegan mayo-if not, ask for it.

Looking up new plant based recipes to try will give you some inspiration and help you when you go grocery shopping. While you are researching new recipes, take a look for local restaurants who offer vegan choices.  When you are eating out, most restaurants will accommodate your requests for a vegan meal, so if you don’t see something on the menu just ask.

And as far as the protein question goes, here is your answer - rich sources of protein are found in all types of plant based foods including beans, soy products like tofu and seitan, quinoa, nuts, seeds, nut butters, lentils, non-dairy milk, green peas, oatmeal, hummus, hemp seeds, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, bananas, nectarines, nutritional yeast and wild rice…. As you can see there are tons of ways to add protein to your plant based diet.

 Beet Burgers

Beet Burgers

Remember that living a plant based life isn’t just about your food choices nor is it a “diet”; it is about living a healthy life while causing the least amount of harm to animals and our environment. You need to find your reasons for choosing this lifestyle and remember them if and when you think you might stray. Once you learn the real affects animal products have on your health and the environment, it will be an easy choice.

 

 

Easy Plant Based Desserts for Your Thanksgiving Dinner.

apple strudel.jpg

Easy Apple Strudel - serves 6-8 and can be doubled easily

-  2 packages of Vegan puff pastry (usually found in the freezer section of your grocery store)
-  7-8 sweet apples
-  1 Tbsp cinnamon
-  1 tsp cardamon
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- Splash of lemon juice

Directions:
- Take the puff pastry out to thaw according to the package instructions.
- Heat oven to 250 degrees.
- Peel/core and thinly slice apples and toss with lemon juice.
- Add cinnamon, cardamon and maple syrup and toss to coat.
- Layout 1 piece of the pastry dough on a slightly floured surface and add 1/4 of the apple mixture onto half of the pastry. Fold over and pinch the edges. Repeat with the next 3 pieces of dough.
- Place on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and put in oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove and enjoy hot or let it come to room temperature. Serve with Vegan ice cream-YUM!

pumpkin pie.jpg

PUMPKIN PIE – SERVES 8

- 2 cups of canned Pureed Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup full fat Coconut milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup each: organic cornstarch and maple syrup
- 1 tsp each: vanilla and cinnamon
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp each: salt and nutmeg
- 1 Store bought vegan pie crust – do not precook

DIRECTIONS:
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. You can use a hand mixer.
- Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 60 minutes. The middle should be a bit wobbly.
- Let cool and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

OPTIONS:
- Top with Vegan whipped cream and a light sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Serve with Vegan ice cream.

Daiya-Cheezecake-Key-Lime-Style.png

If you don't have time or don't feel like making from scratch, there are a ton of choices out there!  One of my favorites are the cheesecakes and key lime pies made by Daiya. Never have any of my friends or family realized these were plant based. 

There is also a huge variety of non-dairy ice creams and most stores are offering plant based desserts in their bakery section. If they don't, just ask!

Thanksgiving Dinner Side Dishes - Yum!

thanksgiving-table.jpg

For me, it really is all about the side dishes. Lots and lots of delicious veggies!  Here are some quick and delicious side dishes.

SPICY CORN
- 2 cups of frozen organic corn
- 1 tsp each: garlic powder, chili powder, lime juice
-  ½ tsp cayenne
- 1-2 Tbsp of Vegan Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast

DIRECTIONS:
- Mix all spices and add to frozen corn.
- Heat up in microwave or on stove top.
- Sprinkle with cheese or yeast and serve.

brussels.jpg

OVEN ROASTED BALSAMIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS:
- 3 cups Brussel sprouts cut in half
- 3 Tbsp each: balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Arrange Brussel sprouts on a baking sheet.
- Mix together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over sprouts.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

MAPLE CARROTS:
- 5-6 medium carrots, sliced on diagonal
- 1 Tbsp each: Vegan butter and maple syrup
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
- Boil carrots in water for about 15 minutes.
- Drain and stir in maple syrup, butter, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Maple-Rosemary-Roasted-Root-Vegetables_b-cropped.jpg

ROASTED ROOT VEGGIES WITH CURRY
- 4-5 cups of peeled and chopped root veggies: carrots, parsnips, turnip
- 1 large onion, chopped in big chunks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- Salt & pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp Cilantro or parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
- Preheat oven to 425. Toss all ingredients except cilantro together and layer on to two baking sheets. Cook for 15 minutes and turn over (or just stir them around). Cook another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

OPTIONS:
- Replace curry powder with 1 tsp each: rosemary and thyme

GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
- 8 medium potatoes cut in chunks, peel if you prefer
- 3-4 Tbsp of vegan butter
- 5 cloves of roasted garlic (see note)
- salt, pepper and chives

DIRECTIONS
- Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Boil for about 30 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and add to a large bowl. Add butter, salt and pepper.
- Mash with a potato masher or use a hand mixer (don't over mix).
- Mash the roasted garlic and stir into potatoes.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

NOTE:
- To roast garlic, wrap cloves in tin foil add a few drops of olive oil and roast in oven at 400 for 30 minutes.

OPTIONS:
- Replace potatoes with sweet potatoes. Replace garlic with a small sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Thanksgiving Stuffing and Gravy - Easy and Cruelty Free!

Thanksgiving_Table_Spread-WP.jpg

In the US, Thanksgiving is coming up soon so that means lots of friends, family, food and football!  Last time we covered a main dish plant based alternative, but no thanksgiving meal would be complete without stuffing and gravy. Here are some great options to buy or make.

Grocery stores like Whole Foods carry plant-based packaged stuffing mix and they are all easy, quick and cruelty free. If you would like to make your own, here is an easy recipe with a couple of variations.

SFW-Vegan-Stuffing-WF.jpg

Basic Easy Stuffing – 6-8 servings, can be doubled or tripled

-  6 cups of cubed bread, whatever type you like
-  2 cups of cooked rice, white, brown or wild
-  1 large onion, diced
-  2 of each: stalks of celery, carrots and apples, diced
-  2 cups of mushroom or vegetable stock
-  1 Tbsp each: Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Salt & Pepper
-  2 Tbsp of Olive Oil or Vegan butter

Directions:
-  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
-  Add oil or vegan butter to a large pan on medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and apples and all spices. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Mix in cooked rice and remove from heat.
-  Place bread cubes in a large bowl and add onion mixture, and 1 ½ cups of stock. If mixture is dry add more stock. Taste and adjust seasoning.
-  Place mixture in a lined or greased 9x13 pan and cover with tin foil.
-  Cook for 35-40 minutes.

To make Cornbread Stuffing, use the above recipe and replace the bread with homemade or prepared cornbread.

To make Mushroom Stuffing, use the above recipe, add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and use mushroom broth. Add the mushrooms to the pan when cooking onion mixture.

gravy.jpeg

Again, many grocery stores offer plant based gravy mixes. Just add water and you are done. If you would like to make your own, here is an easy and delicious one:

Basic Turk’y Gravy, makes about 2 cups, can be doubled

-  ¼ cup Vegan butter
-  ¼ cup AP flour
-  2 cups Vegetable broth
-  1 tsp each: poultry seasoning (or ½ tsp each dried sage, thyme, rosemary), salt & pepper

Directions:
-  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, add spices and flour and stir until completely combined.
-  Slowly add broth, stirring constantly until there are no lumps and gravy has thickened.

Easy Mushroom Gravy, makes about 2 cups, can be doubled

-  1 Tbsp Olive Oil
-  1 cup mushrooms, chopped finely (any type will work)
-  ¼ cup of minced onion
-  ¼ cup Vegan butter
-  ¼ AP flour
-  2 ½ cups mushroom broth
-  1 tsp each: thyme, salt & pepper

Directions:
-  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onions, mushrooms and spices. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes).
-  Add butter and flour and mix until it is completely combined.
-  Slowly add broth, stirring constantly until there are no lumps and gravy has thickened.

Easy Plant-Based Thanksgiving Main!

thanksgiving dinner.jpg

Thanksgiving really is a time to spend with your family and friends celebrating what you are truly thankful for. But it is also well known for everyone sitting down to a huge meal that traditionally is laden with meat products.  I have celebrated decades of this holiday serving plant based products only. It is absolutely delicious and much easier than you think. Today, we are going to cover Main Dish alternatives that will leave your guests wanting seconds and thirds!

turkey replacement.jpg

No Need For Turkey or Ham!

There are so many options out there, and your supermarket most likely has at least a couple of choices, but here are some that I like:

1)      With only a 22 minute cook time Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y is a great choice. Delicious and easy!
2)      Field Roast Stuffed Celebration Roast - Stuffed with a savory sausage-style stuffing made with butternut squash, apples and mushrooms makes this plant based roast and great addition to your meal!
3)      To feed a big crowd try the Vegetarian Plus – Whole Vegan Turkey. Tastes great and can feed over 20 people. And for those of you who want the “look” it does look like the meat option.
4)      Vegetarian Plus also makes a ham substitute with an apricot plum glaze.
5)      For cozier dinners, Gardein offers a selection of Turk’y cutlets which I quite often include at my holiday dinners and my guests love them!
6)      If you want to make a main from scratch, here is a great recipe:

portobello.jpg

Portobello Mushroom with Savory Stuffing and Gravy – 4 servings, easy to double or triple

-  4 portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
-  4 cups of cubed bread, whatever type you like-leave out to dry for an hour
-  1 of each diced: onion, celery stalk, carrot, apple
-  1 cup of cooked rice, white or brown or wild
-  2 cups of mushroom or vegetable stock
-  1 tsp each (dried): thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper
-  Olive oil

Directions:
-  Preheat oven to 350.
-  Trim the Portobello mushrooms and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place on parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes and remove. Let cool slightly.
-  While mushroom caps are cooking, add oil to a pan on medium heat, and add chopped vegetables and all spices. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Do not brown.
-  Add rice and stock. If the mixture is dry add a bit more stock, then remove from heat.
-  Mound stuffing into each mushroom cap. Place in 350 degree oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Gravy
-  2 Tbsp Olive Oil or Vegan butter
-  3 cups of sliced mushrooms, whatever type you like
-  1 small onion, diced fine
-  2 cloves of garlic, minced
-  1 tsp each salt, pepper, thyme-dried
-  2 cups of mushroom or vegetable stock
-  2 Tbsp organic corn starch or 3 Tbsp of flour

Directions:
-  In a medium saucepan heat oil or vegan butter over medium heat.
-  Add onions and garlic and spices, cook for 1-2 minutes and then add mushrooms. Sauté until soft (about 7-10 minutes).
-  Add your corn starch or flour to the pan and stir until veggies are coated.
-  Slowly add your stock, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes.
-  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.