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!

Friday, October 29, 2010

SENSATIONAL soup!!!! Seriously!!! MMM!

Perhaps the cooler autumn weather has turned me into a serious soup-maker....or perhaps it's the baby in my tummy and excess hormones that have caused me to crave serious good-for-the-mind-body-soul soups but either way, I am LOVING soups right now....not can soup! Seriously a no-go for me! Since I started making our family favourite lentil stew and other delicious soups, I can't even look at a can of soup!!! Yes the prep can take time but the outcome is incredible and will have you hooked on making your own soups! The beauty about soup is you really can be so creative and have fantastic outcomes! Once the soup is cooking and the veggies are cut, you can move onto the next thing!

So last night I embarked on a new soup-making adventure! I decided to make the Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup from Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook. The only thing that I would slightly change would be the title because for us Canadians, the veggies involved are in season and I bought all of my veggies local too so I would re-name this recipe to Roasted Autumn Veggie Soup!!!! But seriously, that's just a fussy-petty silly unimportant minor detail!!! This may just be the best soup that I have EVER had!

When I first read the method to make this soup (roasting veggies first), I was a little wary and worried that it would be too time-consuming...on the contrary I learned! While the veggies were roasting I had time to run Noah and our dog to return a movie that was due-back (BONUS: I got a nice 20 minute run in), and was able to wash dishes from the prep-work and then Noah and I started making cookies!!! It was amazing! Once the veggies are roasted, the soup takes MINUTES!!! The outcome is heavenly! So please, try this recipe! I wish I could take credit but really I'm just passing on an incredible recipe from Tosca Reno (she's pretty sweet)....so here it is! ENJOY!

Tosca Reno's Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup:

2 sweet potatoes
1 large squash (I used kombucha squash - my current favourite)
3 large purple onions (I used yellow onions accidentally because I am so used to using yellow when making soups/stews)!
2 full heads of garlic, trimmed, but left intact
3 tbsp. of best-quality olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. of coconut butter (I used coconut oil)
1 tsp. of sea salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
several sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp. of fresh thyme
1.5L of low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. of white vinegar (I didn't have white so I used balsamic vinegar)
2 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 400'F for roasting. Place the racks to allow space for the garlic and onions to sit on the top rack and the squash and sweet potatoes to sit on the bottom rack.

2. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

3. Scrub the sweet potatoes, trimming any strings but otherwise leaving them intact. Prick in a few places with a fork. Set aside.

4. Split the squash in half with a heavy kitchen knife. Remove the seeds and string. (You can save the seeds for roasting at a different time if you wish-a yummy and nutritious snack)! With a fork, prick the rind of the squash in several places to allow for more even baking.

5. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet with the squash and put in the oven. Bake for one hour or until a knife inserted into the squash pierces easily. Check the oven during the last 15 minutes of baking in case the vegetables cook too quickly.

6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

7. While the squash and sweet potatoes are cooking, peel and chop the onions in large chunks and place in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Toss to coat the onions in the oil. Spread the onions on the baking sheet.

8. Prepare the garlic. Remove the papery skins and remove top points from the garlic head with a sharp knife. Drizzle remaining olive oil over each bulb. Wrap in tin foil and place on a baking sheet with onions. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, checking carefully to make sure the onions don't burn. At this point turn the onions over, distribute the fresh herbs over top and return to the oven to continue baking for another 15 minutes or so.

9. Remove from heat and let cool. Keep the garlic tightly wrapped so it continues to soften.

10. Place the coconut oil into a large pot at a low-medium heat setting. Scoop the cooled flesh out of the baked squash and add to the pot. Remove the peel from the sweet potatoes and place the flesh in the pot with the squash (I wasn't super careful and didn't mind putting some skin into the pot since the skin has great nutritional value too)! Add the onions with herb remnants to the pot (removing any charred onions). Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the softened garlic into the pot. Add the veggie stock, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and, with an immersion blender, puree the mixture (I didn't have this so I scooped the contents bit by bit to our food processor and pureed the mixture in there)...Serve hot!

I hope you love this soup as much as Dan and I do!!!! We are officially hooked!!! I can't think of a better warm and nourishing meal to curl up with on a cold day!!! I really hope you enjoy this!!!

Cornbread Muffinlicious Blowing Your Mind!

Alicia Silverstone deserves a medal... seriously... a golden medal for including this cornbread recipe in her book. I am a HUGE cornbread fan, but haven't found a recipe that challenges my favourite cornbread (ok, the first cornbread I ever tasted... a catered event that had cornbread muffins for a fourth of july bash at my uncles cabin in Wisconsin... amazing!) and this recipe takes the cake! This recipe took like 5 minutes to prepare and only 25-30 min to bake... so super easy! The only thing was, the bottom of the muffin cups and muffins were kind of soggy? I'm not sure why this would be. The muffins were clearly fully baked (the middles and tops were perfect)? The batter/dough was very liquidy, but often cornbread batter/doughs are? So I'm not sure what happened here, but the ridiculously amazing taste makes this point obsolete.

Thank-you Alicia! (From Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet)


Makes: 12 muffins or 1 (9"x9") pan

1 cup sorghum or maple syrup (I used maple syrup as I only had sorghum flour, not plain sorghum)
1 1/4 cups soy milk (as per usual, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil a 9"x9" baking dish or 12-cup muffin tin. Combing the sorghum/syrup, soy milk, and oil in a medium bowl and mix well. In another bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, and mix just until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25 to 30 min (I took mine out around 25 min, maybe next time I will leave until 30, but I'm not a fan of dry cornbread, so I will check often) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread or a muffin comes out clean. They will be golden brown and crazy delicious (it's true!). If you don't eat these within 3 days (store these at room temp, not in fridge) then just freeze them! (ha ha yah right, these will be gone in 2 days for sure!)

Notes: Stir the batter just enough to combine the ingredients (muffins can become heavy and tough if the batter is overmixed). It is tempting to overmix these as when you combine the dry and wet ingredients it will be a little clumpy, but it's ok it it's a little clumpy!

Mmm... salivating....

My mom loved them!


Creamy Miso Salad Dressing!

We all know how much I love salads... and what easier thing to experiment with than a new homemade salad dressing? I got this recipe from The Vegan Table (Colleen Patrick-Gourdeau). I really enjoy this recipe, but I am definitely more in favour of the "honey" mustard salad dressing I posted on last week (that's just me, I love any thing sweet like that... this is more creamy... just as the title says!). I think this would go great with a salad of mixed greens, any mixed veggies and a few artichoke hearts (I always have some around, but apparently I was out today!... I think the kind of tanginess of the artichoke hearts would work well with this creaminess). I made a few minor alterations, here you go!

Ally's Creamy Miso Salad Dressing

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (I used 1/8 rice vinegar and 1/8 apple cider vinegar)
2 tbsp sesame or olive oil (I used 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil)
2 tbsp white, yellow, or light miso paste
1 tbsp water

Directions: Mix together and enjoy! This dressing will be the most creamiest if blended, but will still be delicious mixed by hand! Store in the refrigerator!

Yields: 1/2 cup (120 mL), or 8 (2-tbsp) servings

Per serving: 40 calories; 4g fat; 1g protein; 2g carbohydrate; 0mg cholesterol; 157 mg sodium

Mmm :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I LOVE soup (especially on a cold autumn day)!!!

Last week Noah and I struggled through a nasty cold (the first cold I've had in a really long time), and it just knocked us off of our feet for several days :( As soon as I had the energy to get up and start getting back into my usual routine, I found myself craving deeply nourishing foods! I think that being sick inspired me to kick it's ass and really dig deep and come out healthier than ever before!!! Being sick anytime is terrible but when you are a mother and you can't really have time off to be sick and then being pregnant on top of it all = no fun at all!! So I decided that I was going to start meal-planning for our weeks, to ensure that my family was getting the best nutrients in their bodies. I have found that when I have healthy amazing meals, the leftovers all get eaten up and then Dan doesn't go and eat out which let's face it, would not be as healthy! He needs all the nutritional energy he can get while balancing such a busy schedule in school and home life! Dan and I have noticed that when there are an array of healthy options in the fridge, Noah is satisfied and sleeps better too! Plus we can give him more choices, knowing that whatever he picks has great health benefits for him and he feels like he has a voice which is important and valued!

Anyways, enough with the tangents (thanks for bearing with me...or maybe you just scrolled down for the much-more exciting recipe)!!!! Dan has been asking me for months to make a leek and potato soup if there was a vegan-friendly kind out there...I decided last week to experiment a little and I ended up incredibly thrilled and impressed with myself!!!

After leafing through 'Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook', I saw a recipe for leek, potato, parsnip and cauliflower soup. What I really love and appreciate about Tosca's ideas (wish they were all plant-based), is that she incorporates many more veggies and nutrients then the average recipe out there. Her recipes are always clean, meaning they are excellent for your body (I am referring only to the vegan recipes as that is the way we live and those are the recipes I have tried). After looking at her leek recipe and realizing that I didn't have many of the ingredients (including parsnips and cauliflower), I decided to branch out and make my own recipe with my own veggies (but inspired from hers)! So here is the recipe that I came up with...I must say that not only did I LOVE this soup, but Dan and Noah also savoured it and loved it too!!! YAY! A success! I will definitely make this soup again and again!!!

Jayanna's Broccoli, Leek and Potato Soup


2 tbsp. of coconut oil
2 yellow onions, peeled, chopped into chunks
5 leeks of similar size, trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 cups of broccoli florets
4 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press.
8 baby potatoes (I used baby red potatoes because they were local), cut in half and then again (4 pieces/baby potato)
1 tsp. of sea salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp. of rosemary
2 L low-sodium veggie broth (Pacific Natural Foods Organic low-sodium vegetable broth is also gluten-free which makes this recipe vegan and gluten-free for those interested)


1) In a large soup pot, heat coconut oil over low-medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, leeks and broccoli and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until the vegetable have softened.

2) Add the potatoes, sea salt, rosemary, and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 35-50 minutes.

3) Scoop soup into a food processor if you have one and puree soup. If you do not have one, the soup will still be lovely, just not a pureed-consistency. I haven't tried using a blender but you can try this as well.

4) Scoop into bowls and serve! Noah loved his with some crackers and Daiya cheese sprinkled on top! I prefer mine just as it comes!

*Daiya cheese is a vegan, soy-free cheese that is incredible and is Vancouver-based! This is the only vegan cheese that we have had that melts like real cheese, tastes like real cheese and is a wonderful substitute for vegans! I first heard of Daiya cheese in Winnipeg out of all places at a sweet funky restaurant called Boon Burger (I heart this place so much)...when we moved to Vancouver, I started seeing it at the Whole Foods where I shop and on menus of hot spot vegetarian restaurants around town.
These are the ingredients for the cheddar Daiya cheese:
Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed Canola oil and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegan natural flavours, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), annatto.

It's really nice for Dan and I to give Noah a little treat of 'cheese' and know that we're not supporting the inhumane treatment which animals suffer from in the Dairy industry. Dan has now been vegan since May and he said that he was having cravings for cheese from time to time. Last week I made almond-flaxseed burgers (recipe from The Thrive Diet) and added Daiya cheese onto Dan and Noah's burger and Dan was salivating and in some sort of heavenly state!!! So our family gives three cheers for Daiya cheese!!!

Noah enjoying his delicious leek, potato and broccoli soup!!! He's proudly mixing in some daiya cheese because he loves helping and doing things all by himself!!! He's growing up so fast!

A satisfied papa bear (all of the family has earned the nickname of 'bear' since Noah started calling us by our name (eg. mama) and then following it with bear!!! His nickname is bear too!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Vegan Christmas Shopping!

So... yes... I know what you're thinking... isn't it too early to be thinking about Christmas? Well, kind of. I've been SO busy lately and SO sad that I haven't been able to get to Vancouver to see Dan and Jay (and Noah!) that I might as well start planning for Christmas (when I get to see them!). So I started thinking about some great vegan-friendly gifts. I thought I would make a long, long list for those of you out there who are stumped at what to buy. I think these are great gift ideas for people who are vegans, vegetarians, green-conscious, or just anyone! Even if people haven't made it a priority in their life to make these choices, I'm sure they wouldn't mind (and they might even appreciate) gifts like these!

So here you go!

Vegan Christmas Gift and Present Ideas:

Online Shopping and Great Websites:


Lots of homemade things to shop for (vegan and non, so make sure to search for vegan!)


Quality winter/fall vegan coats and some really cute t's and necklaces!


The cutest vegan lip balms with creative 'flavours'! Chai Spice, Green Tea, Vanilla Bean... oh my!




Lots of things here. A few things I thought were cute: Tofu Never Screams tote and Cow Hugger tote. A very cute diaper bag and really fun necklaces!


If you're looking for great faux leather (really looks like leather!) belts or fabric belts then this is your store!





I'm sure vegans would appreciate all kinds of books!

Vegan-Related Subjects:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Becoming Vegan: The complete Guide To Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis

Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World by Bob Torres

Vegan Cookbooks and Bakebooks:

The Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan Planet: 400 Irresistable Recipes with Fantastic Flavors from Home and Around the World by Robin Robertson

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier

Easy Vegan by Ryland Peters & Small

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan, Vegetarian, Athletic, Health or Style Magazine Subscriptions!

Vegan Baking and/or Cooking:

For those friends and families who would don't have the time, creativity, or who just love food!

Batch of vegan cookies, breads, muffins or candy

Vegan food dishes (casseroles, salad dressings...)

Jars full of beans, specialty flours, grains or homemade dough/batter mixes

Fruit basket full of organic fruits (maybe throw in a few different or rare fruits)

Gift basket full of organic or fair trade teas, coffees and vegan chocolate (add in a few fun things like an eco-friendly water bottle, travel mug, mug or devices to brew loose tea)

Gift basket of organic olive oil, organic vinegar, organic pastas (I love soba noodles!), and cans of organic tomato sauces and spaghetti sauces

Gift baket of organic, vegan wine and vegan cheese

Grow your own sprouts kit, seeds and/or potted herbs

Vegan or vegan-friendly restaurant gift certificates

Cooking and Baking Supplies:

A few things for anyone tackling healthy, vegan (or non) dishes in the kitchen would love!

Slow Cooker

Food Processor

Mixers (stand, hand...)

Bread Maker

Food Dehydrator



Spice rack (something fun and creative!) and Spice Containers

Soymilk maker (yes, they have these!)

Popcorn popper (include some organic popping corn!)

Pay for a weekly or monthly organic produce basket delivery (often available from local organic grocery stores... make sure they're local!)

Whole Foods, Organza or Planet Organic (or any local organic grocery store) gift certificate (I'm sure any younger families or students would appreciate this)

Other Ideas:

Reusable shopping bags (there are so many cute options these days!)

Vegan beauty products (any girl will love them!)

Donations to causes (any person should appreciate this. Make it fun... find out what cause would really mean something to them... make it personal!)

Hope you enjoyed all these ideas and let me know if you have any great ones!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Honey" Mustard Salad Dressing!

I am a big fan of vegan stews and vegan burgers and the like, but sometimes (ok, pretty often) I feel like something nice and light, but still healthy and filling. This is why I love salads... and they're so easy too! I've always been a fan of the sweeter dressings as opposed to the more oilier ones. My fave has always been a "honey mustardish" dressing, but honey isn't so vegan friendly. I found this recipe in The Vegan Table (by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau) and thought I would give it a try. I've always liked home-made dressings, but never thought I would be the type to make them for myself at home (Jay would always do this when she visits... thanks Jay!). I don't think I ever realized just how easy it is. I, of course, love the fact that it's not processed and you know exactly what you're putting into your body. So here it is!

"Honey" Mustard Salad Dressing
*Wheat-free, soy-free

Makes: 5 (2-tbsp per) servings

3 to 5 tbsp agave nectar (I only used 2 because my agave nectar was on it's last leg!)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar because I realized we were out of rice wine)
1 tbsp olive oil (optional) (I used 0.5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil)

Directions: Blend/whisk until smooth and enjoy with salad mixings of your choice!

I used romaine lettuce, red peppers, homegrown tomatoes, cucumber and hemp seeds/hearts! (I would have loved to add a few other things... especially avocado, but sadly I didn't have any)

Honestly... please make this for yourself... it is SO scrumptious!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Delicious Black Bean Wrap with a little ZING!

HEY!!!! It's been a long time and I've missed my happy, carefree blogging days! Battling 24/7 nausea, an online chemistry course, being a full-time mama to my beautiful 2 year old and supporting my hubby in his first year of med-school has kept me needless to say BUSY! But have faith, I haven't forgotten my dreams of blogging and sharing my passions and thoughts to those who care to listen!!!! Please be patient during this crazy time in my life and know that one day I'll be blogging more routinely!!!

Tonight I want to share a recipe with you that my whole family LOVES! It's so easy and healthy and DELICIOUS! The recipe is from one of my favourite vegan cookbooks is called REFRESH, by Ruth Tal. I bought it at INDIGO (in Winnipeg), but I'm certain you can find it many places....and don't be afraid to check-out your local library!!! I went to our local library with Noah this morning and have always just gravitated to the kids section (plus I have a zillion books of my own to read at home before getting any new books), but I suddenly found myself wondering if there were vegan cookbooks at the library!!!! I was so pleasantly surprised!!! They were easy to find, and I ended up checking out three books!!! So with new cookbooks, I'm sure I will be inspired to branch out and try some new recipes!

Anyways, I wanted to share with you this recipe for black bean wraps (or burritos as they call it in the REFRESH cookbook). I had to tweak the recipe which is originally quite spicy to meet my son's tastebuds but you can really just add and substitute anything that you fancy! I also have been inspired by my dear friend Amy who is visiting from her current hometown, China, to try using more vegan and gluten-free recipes as her youngest daughter and her are sensitive to gluten. It turns out that many people are that don't even know it! I have been so nauseated in this pregnancy that I have tried using less foods containing gluten in hopes that it might help!!! I usually use my favorite Ezekiel wraps by Food for Life but have taken to trying these new brown rice wraps that are gluten-free that Amy showed me (also made by Food for Life). They are softer which I love and have a delicious flavour but be warned that if you add salsa to your wrap (as I do), there will be some serious liquid-leaking messes! So have a damp cloth handy to wipe up your mess!!!! *Maybe not a meal to eat in front of a new love interest...actually, maybe it's the perfect meal to eat in front of someone you like because hey, eventually they'll see you at your 'finest' so they should be able to laugh at your messy face and find it endearing!!!! Maybe this is the trick to a make-or-break deal!!!

All kidding aside, here is the lovely, delicious, leftover-friendly Black Bean Wrap (recipe inspired from the REFRESH cookbook):

Serves 4 (I usually feed Noah, Dan and myself and have leftovers for 2 more wraps)

Your favorite wraps (I love wraps made by FOOD FOR LIFE, such as the Ezekiel wraps and the gluten-free brown-rice wraps)


2 tomatoes diced
1/2 cucumber chopped into small pieces
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 avocadoes sliced and cubed
2 cups of spinach
sprouts (to garnish) - I use broccoli sprouts or alfalfa sprouts usually but any will do!
Salsa (I use Simply Organic - medium salsa)


Make the black bean filling first (method and ingredients listed below)!
Once that is complete:
1) Heat tortillas on a grill or in the oven
2) Spread a generous layer of the black bean filling over the middle of the tortillas
3) Sprinkle with the tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and avocado. Then add salsa to your liking and finish off by adding the spinach and sprouts.
4) Roll the tortilla, tucking in the bottom part to prevent leaking! Repeat for each serving!

Black Bean Filling:


4 tbsp. of olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of cayenne pepper (I just add this after I have made the filling so that Noah can have his without)!
2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
pinch of sea salt
1 can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed!


Heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the remaining ingredients except the black beans. Simmer for 5 minutes. While that is cooking, you can puree the black beans in a food processor as suggested in the REFRESH cookbook but Dan, Noah and I have discovered that we love the beans just the way they are (and it's less mess *bonus), so we just add the beans to the mixture. Stir until heated through!
Add to the wraps and ENJOY!

Below are pictures of Dan using the leftover black bean filling to make a wrap with spinach and hemp hearts! MMM! So many possibilities!!!!

Dan being a goof! Looks as if this wrap is incredibly sketchy but...

He loves it!!!!