We are two individuals, sister-in-laws, and friends who are striving to thrive and be our personal best as well as making our surroundings a better place to live! Connected by faith, family, friendship, photos, and writing, we just want to share our journey with you!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pineapple Red Curry Recipe

Last night was my night to cook here at the Barnes' household! With Carry working, it would have been a fend-for-yourself kinda night until Carry pulled out this recipe she had been wanting to cook! It was from another family member and she hadn't tried it yet. At first when I read 'Fruity Red Curry' I felt a little apprehensive because I'm not a HUGE curry fan and I don't like pineapple!!! BUT Dan LOVES it (as does Ally) and I knew that Dan's dad loves a little spice so I thought that it would be a great experiment!!!! Dan went out and bought the ingredients which was really sweet...we had a busy day out and about but finally around 5pm I figured that it was do or die time for my curry-testing-skills! My cooking was off to a smooth start until Ally saw me dump the clumpy coconut milk into the pot!!! Let's just say it didn't look pretty!!! Thankfully the final product was a success and the flavour was incredible!!! We all have different levels of tolerance when it comes to spice in our family...this curry is about a 3 out of 10 on a spicy level (10 being HOTTTT)...so Dan and I added a little extra ZING with a splash of hot sauce (which I later learned had red colouring in it...BOO...is that REALLY necessary?!!)...but I would seriously make this recipe again (only hold the hot sauce with colouring because that's gross)!!! So here is the recipe:

Pineapple Red Curry Recipe

1 can of coconut milk
1 can of pineapple slices
2 tbsp. of red curry paste
1 onion diced
2 cups of assorted mushrooms
1 red peppers
1 cup of snow peas
1 package of firm tofu, cut into sm. cubes
1 head of bok choy (we used savoy cabbage instead because we didn't have any and it turned out delicious)
green onions, slivered for garnish
sea salt to taste

Cook at a medium heat setting, the onion for 2 minutes in a wok, until they start to turn translucent and soften. Add the tofu and cook for another 2 minutes until they are lightly brown. Add mushrooms, red pepper, snow peas and cabbage and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender-crisp. Pour in the coconut milk and pineapple and bring to a boil. Add the red curry paste and let everything simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve over your favourite grain (I made quinoa), and garnish with green onions! Voila!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A family Run and A new rendition on my favourite cookie recipe!

So today started off with a high energy family run! We were all pretty tired this morning since Noah has a cold and hasn't been sleeping very well. But I was determined to go for a run with Dan now that he has his new running shoes! So we laced up, poured tons of water in our water bottles (because it was HOT), and hit the pavement! I felt bad looking at Maggie (our dog)'s sad eyes, so Dan ran with Maggie on her leash while I pushed the jogging stroller with Noah. We ran a beautiful 30 minute route around the neighbourhood and by two ponds and it was just wonderful! I'm so proud of Dan for running the whole way!!! Whoohoo! Way to go babe! It takes determination and I know that when I first started running, I couldn't run for half an hour straight! So I am very proud! Noah loved the run too and while we were running he actually said "way to go mama, keep going"!!!! TOO CUTE! I couldn't believe it! Dan kept saying how energized he felt after our run!!! Being active if you have the opportunity gives you such a healthy and positive start to your day!

We had a really busy day of visiting family and Noah is still not himself, so we came home a little before Oma, Opa and Ally. I decided that it would be nice to make some cosmic cookies since I have been deprived of them!!! haha..jk...the food Oma makes here is DELICIOUS and I can't believe how accomodating everyone is towards my vegan lifestyle! We went to Dan's aunt's house for dinner tonight and she made a beautiful salad, 7-rice dish, and her daughter-in-law made a lentil stew and brought vegan bread!!! Dessert was an array of berries!!! YUM! So I definitely wasn't hungry but sometimes that's the BEST time to bake!!!

I made the cosmic cookies (recipe available on an earlier post), but I didn't add raisins, added more applesauce (3/4 cup), and I added hemp hearts! They turned out DELICIOUS!!!! SUPER yummy! So if you're experimenting with your cosmic cookie recipe, try adding something new or substituting!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A new recipe...my first time cooking with Macadamia!!!

I went to Indigo Bookstore with Ally a few days ago and bought this cute lil' book called 'Easy Vegan' which contains recipes for soups, snacks, salads, main dishes, desserts, and drinks.
I usually gain my inspiration for cooking from the books I've read (most influential to this day is still The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone), and also just browsing website recipes and then creating my own! But I find it so hard NOT to buy anything when I'm in Winnipeg because Dan's parents live so close to Indigo, which has a great children's section for Noah to play & read and I love looking at the vegan recipe books! Anyways, they have a buy 3 books, get the 4th free and that always tempts me...I am going to try and use my library card more and spend less but sometimes you just HAVE to have a good book for keeps!
Dan's parents are so generous and have done so much for our family. To let us stay at their place and to have them cook and take care of Noah so we can have dates has been a really nice treat! So I wanted to give a little back by cooking dinner FOR them! Unfortunately, Dan's dad had to work so he missed my vegan meal but I'll just have to make another meal! I love cooking for my family and for others! It's a great way to experiment and also share my love for food, health and being a vegan with the people I love most! I had a great 'healthy' discussion with Dan's dad about my choice to be a vegan and it was really passionate and made me feel so proud of the decisions I've made and the person I am today! He made a comment that stuck out and I will remember always. He said "When you know that 95% of people out there don't care about what you care about (eg. the treatment of animals, being a vegetarian/vegan, the environment), do you really think that your choice has any effect?" He wasn't feeling that way personally, but rather to put a thought out there and see how I would respond. So what was my response? I said to him, "You know, it would be easy to conform and just go with the majority. I could say, you're right, nothing will change so I'll just eat that too...but I HAVE to believe that change is possible and I feel such a sense of PRIDE for the choices I've made and I know that even my inspiring one person, my decision has been worth everything to me! Having a son, I want to teach him to follow his dreams and stand up for his beliefs and this is what I am doing. I don't feel that animals are being treated fairly or humanely and I can't just eat meat because I don't see what's happening. I know it's out there. We as consumers create the demand for the products we see on the shelves. All the processed crap out there, all the meat pumped full of hormones, all the genetically modified produce and tofu...we are responsible because we BUY it...but if we say, actually this is NOT right....I won't buy that...if a small minority can influence or encourage others to buy local, organic, free-range then we are creating a new demand"! I was also asked if I would go out and kill if I was in the hunter/gatherer era...well I'm not and I'm pretty sure that I would have been a grain/produce farmer if I was!!! haha...in all seriousness, we don't live in a world where we NEED meat/dairy to survive...actually are over-production of animals for the production of dairy and meat is gravely impacting our health and environment! Also, we are not respecting animals by beating them, depriving them of any sort of LIFE...the conditions that most animals endure are horrendous and I am ashamed that it goes on and that we are able to turn a blind eye. When First Nations Peoples hunted animals for food or clothing, they treated them with respect, only took what they needed and buried their remains. They killed their animals with tools they built with their own hands, instead of the long-range guns that are used today (you can't be proud of yourself for stalking an animal that's just got out of hibernation and killing them from 100 meters away...for sport?! That's insanity)!...I feel so passionate about the vegan lifestyle that I lead and I have never felt prouder of my choices! I know that being a vegan isn't for everyone but I encourage everyone to educate themselves more about the conditions that animals are treated, the impact our eating/living has on this environment, and don't be afraid to question things...I wasn't always this way. I used to eat chicken and fish. I was afraid to speak out. I felt self conscious and had a bad body image. I am not perfect (there is no such thing)! I still have moments where I feel BLAH but I am so proud of how I treat my body. With love and respect! I wish for everyone to find a healthy balance and love themselves enough to treasure their bodies! Treat yourself kindly and love YOU for YOU! I have seen too many beautiful people hurt themselves, trying to find happiness in all the wrong places. I don't really know all the answers other than to surround yourself with a good support group, people that support and love you for being YOU and be proud of the skin you're in!

K, did I seriously go on SUCH a rant or what?!!! I have a lot on my mind clearly! Anyways, I love the lifestyle choices I have made...I eat healthy but am not afraid to LIVE and treat myself...I work out hard and feel all the amazing benefits such as, a stronger mind, body and soul....

For those of you that were actually looking for a RECIPE (thanks for putting up with the rant)...here it is! I made this Roasted Sweet Potato and Macadamia Nut Salad from Easy Vegan and it was INCREDIBLE! I will definitely make it again, and again! I served this dish with quinoa, garnished with basil and toasted raw cashews and steamed asparagus. Everyone seemed to love the food so YAY! Here is the recipe and I hope that you enjoy it too!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Macadamia Nut Salad:
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp. of olive oil
1 tsp. of sea salt flakes
1/3 cup of raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
7 oz./200 grams of baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

For the Dressing:
1 tbsp. of cider vinegar
1 tsp. of wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp. of macadamia nut oil or olive oil (I used olive oil)
sea salt and pepper

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 375'.

Toss the sweet potatoes in a bowl with the olive oil and salt flakes. Tip onto a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Put the macadamia nuts in the bowl and toss with any residual oil. Add to the sweet potatoes and roast in the hot oven for 10 minutes, giving the sweet potatoes 20 minutes in total.

To make the dressing, mix together the vinegar, mustard and oil in a small jar/container. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the spinach leaves in a serving bowl/or on a serving platter and top with the sweet potatoes and macadamia nuts. Drizzle or spoon the dressing over the top and serve immediately!


I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who takes even a minute to skim through this blog! Whether I know you personally or not, it means so much to think that someone might be interested in the words, recipes, or silly things that we have to say!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cookies and birthday fun!

Today was a busy, but great day. My mom and I decided to give Dan and Jay a date afternoon and watch little Noah. They left for their date while Noah began his nap and I started on a new recipe for cookies (unfortunately Noah woke up just after they left, he's pretty sick today, so it was a feat finishing the cookies while half watching over Noah).

Jay and I were at the bookstore and I showed her this great cookbook I saw earlier (Easy Vegan, I think?... I'm sure she will blog on it later!) and I picked up one on vegan cookies (we all know how much I love to cook!).

It's called Vegan Cookies - Invade Your Cookie Jar (by Moskowitz & Romero)

It has 100 recipes (almost all I would love to make!), so it took a little while to decide which one to make. I thought I would start with a very simple one (sometimes simple can be better). So I made the Orange Agave Chocolate Chip Cookies and they turned out great. This cookbook is great, it has a wide variety of recipes (some less healthy vegan recipes and some that are much healthier) and has a lot of information about substitutions (for example; how to substitute different types of sugar like sucanat, white sugar, agave, stevia...) and many other things.

Orange Agave Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 2 dozen large cookies (mine only made 20 large cookies)

2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp nondairy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
Generous 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet... my fave!)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together agave nectar, oil, nondairy milk, flax seeds, vanilla, and orange zest until smooth, about 2 minutes. Sift in the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a soft dough. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Drop generously rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container.

Notes: Next time I will use mostly unsweetened applesauce and only a small amount of oil (I usually do this, but I like to bake exactly according to recipe the first time just to see what they're like and the consistency of the dough, but this dough is very greasy and could definitely sub mostly applesauce instead of oil). I think I will also try subbing in more whole wheat flour than white flour. I baked for about 14-15 minutes and they turned out cakey (which they were supposed to) in the middle, but solid on the edges.

They have a great orange-zest taste, so they are delicious!

After the cookies were all done we headed to the park for some fun in the sun! Unfortunately it was so hot and humid that unless we were at the beach or in the pool (we even filled the kiddie-pool for Noah, but he was too sick to enjoy it) we just couldn't stay outside. So we headed to my grandma's place for a visit (aka 'Great Oma' according to Noah). They had a great time together. Grandma would pour water from her water glass into a tea pot and Noah would take it and pour the water into the bath tub.

Isn't that just precious? We had a great time!

After that we headed home (Noah was missing Mama and Papa a little bit). It's one of my brother's birthdays today (Dan's birthday was on Tuesday and Nick's is today.... Happy Birthday Nick!) and he chose to go to Moxies... mmm!

It was a great day!

Fresh Cafe!!!

Yesterday Dan bought his first pair of good-quality running shoes!!! Whoohooo! I am so excited to share my passion of running with him and to have 'date' runs together! We might go on a run together tonight after the heat and humidity isn't as intense...it was a HOTTT day today! Dan and I had our first date in Winnipeg since we've been here (this visit)!!!! We went to The Forks and walked around. We then went to Organza which is Winnipeg's cute organic market that semi-reminds me of Planet Organic back home (I miss how easily I can find organic and local produce in B.C....it's much more difficult here and Organza is not too close to where Dan's parents live)...I bought homemade hummus, a barley and artichoke salad that looks divine, a vegan brownie, 'power balls', green tea, hemp granola, dairy free dark choc. chips (so I can bake cosmic cookies), a vegan burrito, homemade bread and some produce! Whoohoo! When we came home from some much-needed time together, Dan and I found an almost-empty house...Nick (Dan's bro) was home (and it's his BIRTHDAY!!!! Happy b-day Nicholas), but he was busy so Dan and I decided to go for a bike ride! It was still HOT but it was SO MUCH FUN! We felt like 'kids' again! We pedalled around the neighbourhood and found some cute paths! The mosquitoes weren't vicious because of the HOT SUN so we just explored freely and found it fun, adventurous and kinda romantic!!! I am so in love with my hubby! If you haven't done so, bike or run around your neighbourhood or when on holidays because it's the best way to really explore your surroundings!

Okay, so enough with today's activities! Yesterday after Dan bought his runners, Dan, Ally, Noah and I went to Fresh Cafe which is this super funky character-style building. You can check them out at their website: http://www.freshcafe.ca/ for more info! They have a great patio outside to eat while looking at their herbs that grow around the cafe. They use their own herbs in their recipes!!!! We sat inside (next time I would for sure sit outside), and while we were waiting for our food, Noah and I explored outside and even tried some dill! The servers were SO COOL and this one girl even picked a daisy for Noah and let us rub these lemon leaves (citronella) all over our skin (a natural way to repel bugs). It was such a cool experience watching Noah walk through the plants and sniff the different herbs! They had lavender, dill, basil, mint, lemon, and I'm sure plenty of other herbs too!

Fresh Cafe is open daily from 7am-4pm and they serve breakfast, lunch and a juice/smoothie bar. The menu is quite small but they use some local/organic ingredients and are very accommodating to individuals who lead a vegan lifestyle! I chose the butternut burger which was vegan (yay) and it came with a lovely, simple side salad! Although they did not have a kids' menu, I was able to order Noah cucumber, and a delicious blueberry smoothie. So it was good! The best part of my meal may have been the dessert!!! I have mentioned before that it's hard to find a good vegan-friendly dessert for those times you're feeling that you need a little something extra! At Fresh Cafe they make their own vegan brownie and it was mmm good! It came without icing and it was melt-in-your-mouth goodness! YUM! Thankfully it was a delicious treat that doesn't occur every day!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comforts that remind me of HOME! Boon Burger Cafe

I love Winnipeg because of our family and it's so wonderful to see Noah just ENGULFED with so much love from everyone (especially Oma and Opa)!!!! Family means so much and it's hard when we don't have tons of family in B.C....although my closest friends are considered family to me!!!! I have really been missing the comforts of my home in B.C. that include visiting our local farms and getting local produce and going to Planet Organic! I really am finding that Winnipeg is behind when it comes to grocery stores carrying a lot of organic and local produce. There are fewer organic, vegan-friendly restaurants that I have been too. That being said, today I can happily say that I finally checked out the Boon Burger Cafe which is Canada's very first all-vegetarian burger-joint! Walking in reminded me of Victoria, Tofino and so many other cool and funky little places that I have only found on the West Coast before! It's a small place with two long bench-communal-style tables for eating. You order and pay for your food and then are given either a dinosaur or animal to wait at the table with....we had the t-rex...I was very pleased that despite the small space, they were very kid-friendly and had a small corner with blocks and books for kids to play...while we waited for our food Oma and Noah played.

The menu is simple but super healthy! They make their own bread and patties and these incredible sesame-potato fries. I ordered the Salsa Burger with maple-glazed yams and sesame-potato fries on the side! Why not indulge while you are trying out a new veggie burger joint?!!! I didn't order a side of their own special vegan-gravy but I heard via facebook threads that it beats the Naam in Vancouver's miso-gravy! So it must be good! In all honesty I'm not a huge gravy fan BUT I can say that their salsa burger was the BEST burger I have ever had in my life!!!! Hands down! The patty was made with mushroom and brown rice and I am determined to try and re-create something that may just resemble their patty-of-perfection...if only I knew how to make their vegan bun/bread!!!! In all honesty, I know that I could NEVER make anything that insanely good and it's probably a good thing that I don't know how as I would eat it too much....a burger that good should be enjoyed on special occasions so that each bite can be savoured and thoroughly appreciated for all that it is!!! They have a kids' menu but I had Noah share with me as well as giving him a side of pickles, cucumber and avocado. They were very accommodating to my requests! I loved the friendly staff, fast service, good food and ambiance! Of course the company of my hubby, son, mother-in-law and sis-in-law was good too!!! The only thing that I would change personally is have their condiments be organic. It would better suit that place. They used Heinz Ketchup which I'm not a fan of. I much would have rather dipped my fries in some Organicville Ketchup made with agave opposed to Heinz which is loaded with salt and sugar!!! I would definitely recommend this place and only hope that B.C. will open up a cool place like this soon! If only I had the means then I would!!! I know that start-up costs are much higher in B.C....but seriously, we need a place like that!!!! So I would give this place a 9 out of 10 (it would have easily been a 10 if their condiments were organic and their cups weren't plastic)...I already can predict that this place will be a hot-spot and I can see it expanding down the road to accommodate their success!
I will finish off by showing you a cute pic of Noah...he fell asleep after having such a delicious meal! I almost always put him down for his nap at home but after our busy day I just fed him to sleep at the cafe and it was so beautiful holding my not-so-baby in my arms and rocking him to sleep! So sweet and special!

Hope you all enjoy this beautiful day and I'll talk to you soon!

Boon Burger!


I don't know what to say, but I'm pretty glad I don't live close to Wolseley otherwise I'm sure a Boon Burger addiction would ensue. Jay and I knew we needed to check out this new Winnipeg joint soon (thanks for the tip Alex!) and today was the day!

This place is a super cute little veggie burger joint (pretty small inside with two large picnic tables... we happened to come at a pretty odd hour of 3 pm and had lots of room, but I wouldn't bank on having a place to sit down during meal hours) that just opened. I'm 'following' them on Facebook and have got a lot of information from there. It's just recently opened and had much more business than they expected, so due to that they have shut down every once in a while to up the staff and figure out how much they need to prep, but I'm sure that will just be during this beginning time. On their FB page they said they want to be open from 11 am- 9 pm every day of the week, but again, during this start-up time that is all dependent on how much business they have.

Their food is amazing. They have 9 burgers to choose from (even a Phish burger and a Thanksgiving burger!) and everything on their menu can be 'veganized'.

Here's the menu!

Dan (my brother) and I had the Boon Burger (mine was 'veganized'), Jay had the veganized Salsa Burger and my mom had the Buddha Burger. Most of us got the sesame fries on the side and a home-brewed iced tea! The burgers were fantastic (and quite large, so be prepared!) and the fries were delicious. Each burger had a side of pickle as well. They do take out and on their website it even says they have a 'bike-through'! They are the only entirely vegetarian burger joint in Canada!

The veganized Boon Burger (mine)!

Our home-brewed iced tea!

Their prices are very reasonable (~$6-8) and a few extra bucks for add-ons (fries, salad, vegan gravy, vegan poutine). These prices, especially for healthy, often organic, all-vegan home made huge burgers are amazing! They are also making more efforts to be environmentally friendly... straws made from corn!

They also give each order an animal (we were the T-Rex... others were lions, tigers...) and that is like your bills 'number'... so cute!

So... we think you should head on down and pick up a burger... right now! Mmm :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hello from Winnipeg!

Hey everyone!!! First of all I have to say a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my amazing hubby who turned 27 today! YAY! I have missed posting so much and can't wait until I get home to post all my fabulous pictures and tell you a little more about our latest family adventures! I ran as part of a relay team in the Manitoba Marathon on Father's Day and it was SO MUCH FUN! I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was! This was the first run I have completed outside of B.C. and I dream of traveling all over the World to taste vegan foods, run a race or two (just for fun), and explore!!! Our team ran the Marathon in 3 hours and 56 minutes! It was a very hot day (I have huge and funny tan lines), and let me tell you how DIFFERENT the experience was compared with running in Victoria!!! First off, there was no ocean or sea-breeze (sniff, sniff), and there were no hills! When running in Victoria, I love running hills and training on trails and/or on the beach! The terrain was FLAT in Winnipeg (no surprise) and so HUMID! It was remarkable though how supportive all the Manitobans were to all the runners! There were over 13,500 runners this year! As I ran my portion of the race, there were people with hoses standing at the edge of their lawns to hose folks down, there were bands playing (I kid you not), and way more hydrating stations then I had ever seen before! It was great! The support was outstanding and really pushed me to run my personal best! I finished the race by running into the UofM Stadium and as I ran around the track with the crowds cheering, I felt such a high! After I finished they had yoga instructors offering circles of yoga stretching! How great! I totally participated and was glad to stretch my muscles! They definitely thanked me! Yoga is one thing that I definitely want to get more into. I think when you are involved with many high-impact activities and/or are feeling stressed, yoga really can benefit you on so many levels; spiritually, emotionally, physically. I was so inspired from my post-race yoga stretch that I went to Indigo with Ally and bought the Bob Harper (aka Biggest Loser), Yoga DVD. I tried it earlier today and it's AMAZING! I actually was sweating and found it quite difficult! I noticed how 'tight' my muscles feel and that's a BIG sign that I need to take more time out of my busy day to relax and stretch to prevent injury and for overall well-being! So I am HAPPY that I indulged in this yoga DVD! I like how it progresses at 3 levels. I started at level1, weeks 1-2. This DVD takes you on a 6-week journey!

I will post pictures from my Winnipeg adventures once I return home. Unfortunately I don't have what I need to transfer pics from my camera onto the computer...I'm excited though because Dan is out right now with his mom and Ally buying a new lab-top! He will need it for med-school and it will also allow us both opportunities to work on separate computers while we're at home (which means more BLOGS from me to you)!!!! YAY! Well, I'm excited what can I say! Easily excitable, that's me!!!!

Ally posted about our FUN Father's Day bbq which we had here at the Barnes' household! The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups were SO DELICIOUS (from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet book). I wasn't sure if I would like them as I am trying to steer clear of indulging TOO much and I also don't really LOVE peanut butter the way some folks do (like my hubby and Delaney for example)....but I LOVED THESE!!! You MUST try them! Check out Ally's latest blog for the recipe or buy The Kind Diet because it's the one book I use the MOST!!!!

Anyways, I just wanted to tell you where I'm at and Ally and I are going to check out a new vegetarian place in the next day or two so we'll be sure to let you know how that goes!!!! It's called the Boon Burger Cafe and if you have a chance, are interested or are in the Winnipeg area, then check it out! You can check-out their website at www.boonburger.ca or go to their facebook page where you can actually view their menu! If you don't live in the Winnipeg area, you can at least gain some inspiration for a burger creation you might just make up on your own! I haven't been but am happy to hear that they are very accomodating to vegans!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bbq... and mosquitoes! Oh my

So, the bbq went off without a hitch! Well maybe a little hitch... thousands of little hitches (aka... those little skeeters).

I'm not sure where everyone is from, but if you're from Winnipeg you can definitely understand where I'm coming from, and if you're not, ha ha well don't pretend like you can try (just kidding!). The bbq started at 4 and we were out setting up around 10-11 in the morning. At this point, the mosquitoes were in swarms, and I mean swarms. I think I would get around 6 bites in less than a second (I soon changed from my cute shorts into jeans and that helped a lot). I'm not a big fan of spraying chemicals all across our yard, but there literally was no other way to stay outside unless we fogged our yard with a fogging machine. So my dad fogged our yard twice, with one of those times about 30 min before everyone arrived. It helped in the short-term (and slightly in the long-term), but with the little bit of wind that afternoon, some of the mosquitoes were blown back into the area and re-congregated there. All-in-all though, we were a group of true Winnipegers and just grinned and bared it.

The weather was wonderful (there was a chance of thundershowers, but we were blessed with a rain-free and partly cloudy day!). Most people showed up (a few didn't though, so we were left with a bunch of leftovers). We are blessed to have a great 'backyard'. Our backyard is pretty small, but behind our backyard is a huge field, hill and lake equipped with a wonderful playground. We bought a badminton/volleyball set and a little kiddie pool and brought out lots of frisbees and balls for the kids (and adults!) to enjoy.

Jay's little Noah (my nephew) enjoying some time in the sun!

We had a lot of good eats. We had enough vegan options for anyone who wanted, and many non-vegan items (lots of people contributed with their own potato salads and the like, but most of the things our house contributed were vegan). We had bison burgers for most people, but also the option of vegan veggie patties/vegan hotdogs with vegan buns. There were lots and lots of salads (not everything is pictured... at all! There was lots of food!). I wish I had more pictures, but my camera went missing right when everything was being put out (I found it right before the hoards of people went in to get a plate of food and could only snap a few quick pictures).

Lots of fresh fruit as always! Jay also contributed a bowl of freshly bought raspberries and blueberries... mmm :)

Our delicious Quinoa Salad as always! (recipe has been posted in many past posts... this time we included sauteed onions and cucumbers, dried cranberries, fresh parsley and lime juice!)

My mothers amazing bean salad (ha ha, just had a little bowl on the side of my lunch today... delish!)

Little place cards so everyone knows what everything is.

And the piece-de-resistance! The chocolate peanut butter cups from the Kind Diet! (recipe below). We had many different desserts (including the Martens family tradition of a Jeanne's Cake), but this was our delicious vegan addition. My mother took initiative and made these all by herself the day before we flew in from Victoria... thanks mom! (My mom could bake in her sleep, but Jay and I were so excited she tried a new recipe from my vegan cookbook!)

The Kind Diet Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

MAKES 12 (we made 3x the recipe... so 36!)

1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter
3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter
(preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips (my mom used carob chips... mmm)
1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk (my mom used our Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze)
1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts (chopped almonds!)

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat.
Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
Top with chopped nuts.
Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

These were really amazing. The tops were the hardest to 'set', so they can be a little difficult to eat if they've sat out of the fridge for 10-15 min. We found it was even better if they were put in the freezer (you don't have to worry about them as much when you're leaving them out for so long, as in a bbq).
Me and my grandma!

All-in-all it was a pretty fantastic day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm Back... with a delicious Naam burger!

It's been a while...

I hope I didn't abandon anyone out there who enjoys this blog (really? there are people out there who enjoy our postings? ha ha, I still can't believe it). Let me just say, my life has not been more crazy than it has been in the past month, and I wouldn't say that if it weren't true. I needed to find the motivation to organize my life again, and I think it's coming (slowly, but surely).

Anyways, I just wanted to send a little shout out, and let everyone know that I'm still here... and I'm more excited than ever to share my challenges, motivation and some awesome new recipes and restaurants!

Jay has shared some of our amazing meals in a few of the restaurants in Tofino (*cough cough* Shelter, *cough cough* Sobos... AMAZING), but she has yet to mention the most amazing restaurant/cafe The Naam in Vancouver. It's in the Kitsilano area. Jay and Dan had been raving about this place for a while, so it was a must-eat (like must-see?) while we were in Vancouver for the day. Unfortunately Dan had an appointment right around lunch time and couldn't join us. This menu was so overwhelming, because there were so many amazing choices! It's a vegetarian restaurant, with many vegan options, and it's open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week!

We went at lunch, so I didn't have a chance to peruse the breakfast menu (but Dan and Jay say breakfast is amazing there, and the menus are available online), but the lunch menu had a lot of choices. I kept changing my mind between a veggie burger, a veggie mexican dish or a teriyaki dragon bowl.

Jay and I chose the same dish. We both had the Naam burger (there were many veggie burgers to choose from) and it was delicious. It came with home-made potato wedges/fries and a salad (with the most amazing dressing).

We ordered Noah some pita and hummus (as usual) with some brown rice and teriyaki sauce (he also ate off of Mommy's plate).

They also have lots of great desserts and baking (lots of vegan options again... they even have vegan pie!). We didn't have time to sit-in and eat some dessert (with little Noah... plus we were so stuffed!), but we did take a few things to go. We shared this little round chocolate hemp/coconut ball and a carob bar (both vegan). I highly recommend both of them, they were incredible, but if I had to choose between the two then I would choose the carob bar (we snacked on them while at the playground with Noah).

I will definitely be blogging again soon, but I should get to bed. We're having a bbq at our house with around 60 guests! (veggie burgers, vegan buns, quinoa and bean salad and vegan peanut butter cups ready to go! mmm)

I hope you continue to read, because I'm so excited to continue to post!