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, February 28, 2011

Out-Of-This-World Amazing Mushroom Gravy Tempeh

Mushrooms seem to be one of those foods that people either love or don't...well I love 'em!!! My friend Danny goes hiking and picks chantrelle mushrooms which I think is just so cool! I first tried this mushroom gravy tempeh dish at Green Cuisine and fell in love! I'm not sure if the name 'gravy' gives the right impression because when I think gravy I think gross!!! Well this dish is anything but! It's not heavy or unhealthy either! Quite the opposite, really! I had never cooked tempeh before but it is so delicious and nutritious! I am going to tell you a little secret! I loved this dish so much when I tried it at Green Cuisine that I would lie in bed at night with my lab-top in lap, and search forever for a recipe that resembled what I had tasted. Sadly, I never found anything!!! So I would visit the Green Cuisine website quite regularly to see if they were serving it that day and if I could find an excuse to be downtown so that I could have lunch there!!! Finally when Ally was visiting us a few weeks ago, I realized while we were celebrating her b-day with a lunch at Green Cuisine, that they sell their own cookbook! I was so excited that I bought one for Ally and one for me! I flipped through the pages and was ecstatic when I found the recipe!!!! YAY! I seriously am in LOVE with this dish! I have made it twice so far! Once for my brother, Dan, Noah and I and then again when my mom and brother were over a week later! I can't believe how incredibly easy this dish was to make either! It seriously was SO EASY! In the cookbook, they suggest serving this dish with mashed potatoes but I have served it with roasted garlic yukon potatoes and steamed veggies the first time and over brown rice the second! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I do!

Mushroom Gravy Tempeh - Thank you Green Cuisine!
Serves 4

1/8 cup of sunflower oil - I just used a small spoonful of coconut oil instead
2 cups of onions, diced
4 cups of mushrooms, sliced - I used a combination of portabello, shitake and porcini mushrooms
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
2 cups of tempeh, cubed
dissolve together:
1/4 cup of tapioca starch (btw, tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing)!!!
1/2 cup of cold water

Saute the onions and mushrooms for 15 minutes, add the water, soy sauce, pepper and tempeh and boil for 10 minutes, stir in the dissolved tapioca and serve.

If you are interested in baking the roasted garlic yukon potatoes then all you have to do is first pre-heat the oven to 400'F and then cut up 4-5 yukon potatoes and warm a little coconut oil so that it's melted and liquid. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle the coconut oil over them. With clean hands sprinkle garlic powder, sea salt and pepper over the potatoes and massage them so that all of the potatoes are coated with a little oil and spices! Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet after 10 minutes and flip the potatoes over and then continue to bake in the oven for another 10 minutes. Voila! So delicious!

I gave my brother a slice of toast with daiya cheese and topped it off with some mushroom gravy tempeh. I haven't tried it this way but he really loved it so just another way you can eat this!

Delicious Vegan Pancakes - The Best Ever!

My family are in love with these fantastic pancakes that are honestly better than any pancake I've ever tasted! I swear! The recipe is derived from the Refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. I have gotten into the habit of making these pancakes once a week (usually on Sunday), for my family and there are always leftovers which taste just as great the next day! So here is the recipe for vegan pancakes and I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!

Vegan Pancakes:

Serves 6


Dry Mix
3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour 1 1/2 cups of unbleached white flour (that is there recommendation but I always use spelt flour) 3/4 cups of bran (I always use 3/4 cups of ground flaxseeds instead) 2 Tbsp. of baking powder 3/4 tsp. of sea salt

Wet Mix
4 Tbsp. of maple syrup
1 Tbsp. of raw tahini
4 Tbsp. of sunflower oil (I use canola oil)
4 1/2 cups of vanilla soymilk

Optional - you can add small, peeled apple slices, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or banana slices to your pancake while it's cooking! If I am making these for guests then I just make the pancakes plain and serve them with sliced berries, homemade applesauce and pure maple syrup on the side :)


1. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately; then fold together with a whisk or large spoon. Be careful not to over-mix the batter. A few lumps in the batter are fine. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil (I use coconut oil), in a heavy-bottomed frying pan or skillet with a non-stick surface. I heat the element to a medium-heat setting. Scoop 4 ounces of pancake batter and drop onto the hot surface. If you are using sliced berries, bananas or apples in your pancakes, add them now by gently pressing them into the batter on the pan.
3. Flip the pancake when the bottom side is brown and the batter on the top side is bubbling.
4. Continue cooking each pancake until all the batter is used up. Serve with homemade applesauce, fresh berry slices and pure maple syrup! Delicious!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vegan Gingersnaps

Do you ever have those days that you just make whatever recipe calls for ingredients that you actually have in your cupboards? I love to find new ingredients and do something different, but not all days are those days. Last week I was very tired, but just felt like something homemade, you know? I wanted to try out a Babycakes recipe and this was the only one that intrigued me that I didn't have to head out to the store for.

(from Babycakes by Erin McKenna) (thanks!)

Makes: 36 cookies

3/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/3 cup homemade applesauce
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup flax meal
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

-Preheat the oven to 325F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
-In a medium bowl combine the melted oil, applesauce, salt, molasses, vanilla and evaporated cane juice
-In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and xanthan gum
-Carefully add the dry mixture to the wet mixture using a rubber spatula until a grainy dough is formed
-Scoop (using a melon baller) the dough onto the sheets and space 1-inch apart
-Press each cookie down and bake on center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes (the cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center)
-Let the cookies stand for 10 minutes on the sheets and then transfer to a rack to cool
-Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for up to 3 days

Notes: My batch made about 43/44 cookies and therefore should only be in the oven for about 13 minutes (timing is very important with these cookies as they are so thin). I didn't have a melon baller, so I used a teaspoon instead (this is probably why I ended up with more cookies). I also sprinkled on a little organic cane sugar on top (homage to my mom and grandmother's cookies growing up).

Survey says?... the family LOVED them! I didn't even know my family liked ginger snaps? I also wasn't sure as they didn't look like the gingersnaps I'm used to (as they are so thing). I think the thing I love most about these cookies is the mix of the crunchy outside and the chewy inside and the fact that they have the tiniest hint of coconut (from the coconut oil)


Complications by Atul Gawande

This is one of the most recent books I've read. It's a true account of some of the tales a surgeon has seen throughout his career. It's quite interesting for a future medical school student, but I think for really anyone (my entire family has or is reading it thanks to gifts from my aunt).

Complications by Atul Gawande

It really sheds light on the amount of on-the-job learning and errors that are made. There are a lot of fascinating cases and I know anyone would love it.

Pick it up today! :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heartwarming Hot Chocolate - Vegan of Course! for those cold winter days!

Hello All!

I know it's been awhile! I have so many thoughts and ideas for blogs but have found it hard to find balance and time between motherhood, pregnancy, friends, family, hubby-time, school, house-stuff and well....LIFE! But I've missed this blog and thought that I would start things off with a lil' blog about this delicious hot chocolate I've been making for my family! I am not a huge fan of hot chocolate normally as I find it far-too sweet but this recipe that I have been making is from the Babycakes cookbook and it is outstanding! Not overly sweet and it's just perfect for those chilly Winter days!

Our son Noah leads a pretty healthy lifestyle and Dan and I don't really give him juice or sweetened drinks...we actually make him rooibos tea or what we call 'kids tea' for a 'treat' and he loves it! We don't sweeten it but let him drink it warm through a straw and he gets so excited! Dan and I don't have to worry about his teeth rotting or a crazy sugar high! That being said, on the odd occasion (like when we went to Tofino last weekend), it sometimes is so wonderful to just curl up together and talk over some delicious hot chocolate! So if you're in the mood for sharing some snuggles, laughs, talks or any other time when you might just feel like some hot chocolate, then here is the recipe that I use and it's AMAZING!

Hot Chocolate - Recipe from Babycakes by Erin McKenna
Serves 4

4 cups of unsweetened soy milk
4 tablespoons of agave nectar
2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan, combine the soy milk, agave nectar, and vanilla. Over a medium flame, heat the mixture for 3 minutes, or until hot (I find that it takes about 5-10 minutes for the mixture to become hot). Stir the cocoa powder into the saucepan and whisk until dissolved. Evenly distribute into 4 mugs! If you're feeling crazy, throw in some vegan marshmallows! I stumbled upon some by accident at Planet Organic one day and curiosity overcame me as I hadn't tasted a marshmallow in over ten years! So I bought the package and as you can see by pics that Ally posted, things got crazy! I love these!!! They are really sweet so I only will eat a few or else you would just be sick and not find them so lovely!

Enjoy your hot chocolate :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Dan and Jay had a few bananas that were going, so we decided to make some banana bread! Jay had made this recipe before, so she vouched for it. We added some chocolate chips... because, who doesn't like chocolate chips.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
From Babycakes (woohoo!)

2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for the pan
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 325F and lightly grease a 7 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan with oil
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon
-Add the oil, agave, rice milk and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth
-Using a plastic spatula, gently fold in the bananas and chocolate chips
-Fill the pan halfway with batter and bake on center rack for 35 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes
-The finished loaf will bounce back slightly when pressed and a toothpick will come out clean
-Let the bread stand in the pan for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edges
-Flip the loaf onto a cutting board and then onto a plate
-Cut and serve warm, or wait until completely cool before storing
-Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temp for up to 3 days

The baby likes :)

So gooey in the middle... but it was just the way I like it :)

This did not last very long

Mmm... enjoy!


Who doesn't love applesauce? And although applesauce is usually vegan on it's own, it's not always made with the best ingredients. This applesauce is so easy to make... and with quality ingredients! We used more apples in the Roasting Apples section so that it isn't too sweet (but it's still delicious!)

From Babycakes (Thanks again!)

Roasting Apples (modified)

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1-inch cubes
4 Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

-Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
-In a medium bowl, toss the apples, cinnamon, agave and lemon juice together and spread onto baking sheet
-Bake on the center rack for 35 minutes, rotating the sheet 180 degrees after 20 minutes (the apples will be soft)
-Let apples stand for 30 minutes, or until cooled
(These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week)


Roasting apples
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup hot water

-Spoon the roasting apples into a food processor/blender and add the hot water and agave nectar
-Blend until smooth (about 1 min)
(Can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week)

This applesauce is fantastic. It tastes fresh and it's a perfect topping for pancakes, waffles, oatmeal and to use in smoothies and baking!

(I this it's great if you don't process it too much and it's a little 'lumpy')

The only downsize is that it only keeps a week in the fridge? I'm unsure about freezing as it doesn't say anything in Babycakes.


Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another delicious brunch option we had... vegan double chocolate chip cookies!

Jay had made these right before I came to visit her and had a few left over... they were delicious! So we just HAD to make them again while I was there (it was a perfect plane snack paired with an apple on my flight home!)

Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
From: Babycakes (thanks girls!)

1 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
1/3 cup homemade applesauce (blog to come!)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 325F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
-In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, evaporate cane juice, applesauce, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla
-In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda, and xanthan gum
-Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine until a dough is formed
-Gently fold in chocolate chips
-Using a melon baller (we used a teaspoon), scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart and gently press each with the heel of your hand
-Bake on center rack for 14 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes (they will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center)
-Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
-Store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 3 days

These are amazing! Beware though, they are very thin (will burn easily and spread into each other while baking)... but sooo good!


Vegan Lemon-Poppy Seed Poundcake

Jay and I whipped this up for my birthday brunch. If you can imagine how easy it was... we made this, breakfast, homemade applesauce, cleaned the house and set up for the brunch between the two of us in only a few hours!

So this cake is... super easy and super delicious!

Vegan Lemon-Poppy Seed Poundcake
From: Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet (Thanks Alicia!)

Serves: 8 to 10

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup maple sugar
2 tsp egg replacer
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup soy, rice, or nut milk (we used vanilla soy)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Lemon Maple Glaze: (we chose this one)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp kuzu, diluted in a little bit of cold water

Berry Glaze
1 bag frozen berries, thawed
Maple syrup to taste
Vanilla extract to taste

-Preheat oven to 350F and oil the pans (you can use: 3 mini loaf pans, a muffin tin, or 4 mini Bundt pans.... we used: one square pan)
-Combine the flours, sugar, egg replacer, baking powder, baking soda and salt
-In a separate bowl, combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside for few minutes (it will look curdled)
-Whisk in the oil, syrup and lemon extract
-Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined
-Fold in the poppy seeds
-Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 15 to 25 minutes (mini loaf/muffin: 15 -18 min, Bundt: 20 -25 min) or until a toothpick comes out clean
-Cool completely in the pans on a baking rack

Lemon Maple Glaze: combine the syrup and lemon juive in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in diluted kuzu and continue to stir until it comes to a boil, simmer for 1 minute, drizzle over cake and serve!

Berry Glaze: whiz the berries in a blender with the syrup and vanilla extract... drizzle over cake and serve!

As we didn't have lots of time to let it cool before taking it out of the pan it's presentation isn't the greatest... but it tasted great!

It's very soft/crumbly (in a great way) and just sweet enough... mmm :)


Vegan Birthday Brunch!

We had a brunch in Victoria for my birthday. Dan and Jay had everyone over at their place. The food was fantastic (we forgot the pictures, but managed to get this picture after the food was eaten).

On the menu: vegan pancakes, lots of berries and fruit, maple syrup, homemade applesauce (blog to come), Santa Cruz iced tea, lemon poppyseed cake (blog to come) and double chocolate chip cookies (blog to come)!

The whole gang (plus Jay taking the photo)... lots of fun!

Vegan Cupcakes

So while I was visiting Dan, Jay and Noah in Victoria... it was my birthday! February 10th I turned 23. The day was fantastic... we were too busy to take any pictures!

The day started off, as always, with a visit to Starbucks. We then headed off to the doctors (Jay has had horrible Vertigo/dizziness and needed to get checked out). Then we took off to Green Cuisine (my FAVE vegan place in Victoria to eat!) for some lunch. We walked over to Pink Sugar, an amazing vegan cupcakery in Victoria. It was the perfect treat. Noah got a mini cupcake and the rest of us indulged in the full-size ones. I had little tastes of the other flavours, but the Toasted Coconut was by FAR the best (the one under the Pink Sugar label on my picture). I was able to snap this picture the next day... after the birthday madness (yes, you will notice that cupcakes are pretty much all gone by then).

After the cupcakes we headed to the mall. Noah, Jay and Jay's brother Nathaniel played in Toys R' Us while I got my makeup done at MAC (thanks to Jay!). Then we went home, got Noah some food, played and Jay put him down to bed. Jay's mom, Sherry, came to babysit and off we went! We were deciding between Ferris' or the Tapas Bar for dinner. We parked right in front of Ferris' and headed in! We enjoyed some drinks, sweet potato fries, and I had a vegan sandwich and salad!

All-in-all... a great birthday!

Vegan Marshmallows

Yes... vegan marshmallows. Jay introduced these to me when I went to visit her (I just came back... we were too busy having fun to blog! We took lots of pictures though... so many blogs to follow!).

These are SO good. I think they're even better than regular marshmallows (which contain gelatin, a vegan no-no). They are chewier than then regular ones, but still fluffy.

Jay held the bag up to her belly... apparently the baby is very excited about these Dandies.

And yes... we went a little crazy.

To be fair... we had just made the BEST vegan banana chocolate chip bread/loaf and were already on a sugar high (blog will be coming!)

Dan is very excited that these Dandies included his name... is Dan the secret behind the Dandies deliciousness? You will never know...

Yes... my status update from my phone... good times...

A nice healthy walk is great after a baking binge... stopping at starbucks for easy ice, half-sweet passion tea lemonades... maybe not the best idea... but a lot of fun!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Soup

It's been a crazy and busy month already! I have been WAY too busy to update... but much more will be coming! I'm off to Victoria on Monday to visit Jay, Dan and wonderful little Noah (and baby-to-be!). It's my birthday on February 10th, so I'll get to spend my birthday with them! (It's been FAR too long since I've spent my birthday with my brother). I'm SO excited! Yay!

Anyways, my parents have been away in Hawaii (yes... Hawaii... why was I not packed in their suitcase?) and my aunt stopped by for the evening. I decided I would make her some delicious pumpkin soup (perfect for the horribly cold day it was). I used the recipe found in Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin (thanks!) given to me from Jay for Christmas! So far it looks like a great vegan cookbook, I just have not had the time to make enough from it (when I do I will definitely review it!).

Curried Pumpkin Soup
Makes: 6 servings (you will want two! It's just too good!)

3 Tbsp Earth Balance
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cups (500 g) pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup (50 g) evaporated cane sugar
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 dry white wine
1 1/2 cups almond milk
Salt and freshly group pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped toasted pumpkin seeds

-Melt Earth Balance over medium heat and then add apples and onions and cook until onions are soft (~8 min)
-Add pumpkin, curry, both sugars and cook for 2 min
-Add the stock and wine and increase to medium-high heat and bring to a boil
-Reduce heat to low, partially cover and cook for 20 min
-Remove from heat and transfer half to a food processor/blender and let it sit 20 min to cool
-Keep remaining soup in the pot and set aside to cool
-Puree the soup in a blender/food processor until smooth and pour into a large bowl
-Transfer remaining soup into blender/food processor and puree until smooth
-Return all the soup to the pan and cook gently over medium-low heat until heated through
-Pour in milk and stir until hot, add salt/pepper to taste and garnish with pumpkin seeds

Honestly, this was a fantastic soup. Super easy to make and it had a great taste. It was sweet enough, but also had this great after-taste (from the wine!).

I also steamed some kale and zucchini with some Braggs!

And I took a few cosmic cookies out of the freezer to enjoy for dessert! Mmm :)