Relaxing Tea and workshop update!

Today was such an exciting day! If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen that I organized a workshop that happened tonight. I was really nervous that no one would show up, but 20 people came, and they were the best people I could have hoped for for my first vegan workshop. I seriously had a lot of fun discussing nutrition and meal planning with everyone who participated. Thank you so much!

 

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Thank you so much for participating in my workshop! It was great meeting you all!

 

So now that I’m home, I’m looking forward to enjoying a nice cup of herbal tea and reflect on this wonderful evening. Here is one of my mom’s favourite: Three Gingers by Pukka. We love Pukka teas: the packaging in itself is just so ridiculously beautiful, it’s a great reason to get those pretty boxes. The flavours are also so authentic and fresh. This one is a mix of ginger, galengal and turmeric: perfect for when you have a cold, ate too much, or just feel like something soothing and exotic.

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Give this a try if you have a chance! I’ll be posting some pretty exciting recipes by the end of the week, so stay tuned. I’ve been really busy these few days, but things should be back on track in the next few days. Again, thank you for you support and for reading this blog! Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude!

Zucchini Raviolis, perfect for the BBQ!

Zucchini are so good right now and super cheap too! That’s why I went a little overboard at the farmers’ market and bought a ton. I thought I would try making something summery that would be perfect grilled on a BBQ. Now, I don’t have a BBQ, but I think this would make the perfect addition to your vegan grill.

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These little raviolis are super cute, and you can customize them to your liking by changing the filling. I used some fresh basil for an extra summery touch, but I think sun-dried tomatoes would also be a great option.

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Here is what you need (for 14 raviolis):

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, separated in two.
  • 2 tbs ketchup or tomato paste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes

Here is what you do:

  1. In your food processor, place all the ingredients except the zucchinis and half of the basil leaves, and process until you have a firm, slightly sticky dough. Set aside.
  2. With your potato peeler, make long ribbons with the zucchini.
  3. Take two zucchini ribbons and place them in a plus sign (+). Place one or two leaves of basil in the center with one tablespoon of the tofu filling. Pat to even down and close the zucchini flaps over the filling. Flip over so that the closing of your ravioli is on the underside. Place the ravioli on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Once all your raviolis are done, add one slice of tomato on each one. Place in your oven set to broil for 10 minutes, or grill on your BBQ. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes and fresh basil leaves before serving and enjoy!

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This is really good! The zucchini slices are barely cooked and therefore keep their nice crunch without being soggy. The filling is full of basil flavour and has a very meaty texture to it. The sunflower seeds also give it a nice crunch. Finally, the tomato slice balances out the lightness of the filling and adds a lot of flavour. I love how these look like little parcels of goodness! Let me know if you try this out!

Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Yesterday some of my students did their English ministry exam. Stressful times! As a result, I have spent most of my breaks today correcting at school. When I came back home, I was really exhausted and ended up falling asleep as my mom, who was visiting me, was talking. I woke up, 4 hours later, slightly confused and craving doughnuts. So I finished correcting that exam (all my students have passed; I feel like a proud mother duck), and started baking!

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These doughnuts are baked and dipped in a decadent chocolate frosting. Completely vegan and gluten-free, these are amazing! The outside is crispy, and the inside moist and slightly chewy. I used unsweetened coconut flakes and sprinkles as toppings, but these are completely optional and could be replaced with chopped nuts, fresh fruits or anything else you fancy!

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Here is what you need: (for 12 large doughnuts and 12 minis)

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (I used deodorized, but use the type you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Coconut oil to grease the pans

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs almond milk

Decorations: shredded coconut, sprinkles, nuts, fruits, etc…

Here is what you do:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir all the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth.
  2. Prepare your piping bag: cut the tip of a zip-lock bag and place it in a tall glass, wrapping the top around the rim of the glass (with the tip in the glass). With a spoon, fill up your bag and twist the top to avoid it overflowing. Set aside.
  3. Prepare your doughnut tins by spreading a little bit of coconut oil in each doughnut hole. I’m using doughnut tins, but you can make this is muffin tins or any tin you have really! Preheat your oven to 400F.
  4. Fill each doughnut hole to the top. This dough does not raise a lot, so what you put in is pretty much what you will get after baking. For this reason, smooth out any bumps before baking. Put in the oven and let cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool completely before decorating.
  5. Mix all the frosting ingredients until smooth. Dip each doughnut in the frosting, and sprinkle your decoration before the frosting sets. Enjoy!

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These are really fun and have that nice old-fashioned doughnut taste without being incredibly greasy. As far as texture goes, they are crispy on the outside, tender in the inside and slightly dense. They are really delicious and so cute! These are sure to please your inner kid! Let me know what your favourite doughnut topping is!

 

How to avoid Sunday night blues

I like my teaching job. I just like week-ends better… especially at this time of the year, when students are tired to be at school, it’s great outside and I know that the end of year exams are just around the corner. Sunday night blues is something very common, so don’t feel horrible if you are dreading Monday mornings. Here are my few tips to avoid feeling blue on Sunday nights and wasting away those last week-end hours.

  1. Organize yourself: Know what it is you have to do to be ready for Monday. Do you need to prepare a presentation for work? Do you need to prepare food? Do you need to wash some clothes? Once you have identified everything you need to go through Monday, allot a specific number of hours or minutes for each task and know when you are supposed to be working on them. I usually keep 3 hours on Sunday night to plan my lessons, correct, and do school work. I also keep one hour to meal prep for the week. Like that, I know it’s coming, I know it’s useful, and I know Monday will be okay.
  2. Plan a Sunday night fun time: Now that warm weather is back, we just want to live on our balcony. So, as our fun Sunday ritual we enjoy a nice Pimm’s cup with some aubergine toasts and nuts outside. L’appero, quoi!IMG_3049IMG_3047
  3. Give yourself some relaxing time: Yoga, bath, reading with candles, drawing or listening to your favourite album are ways to create a nice, relaxing bubble so that you are ready for the up-coming week. It can also be a great way to calm down and get ready to be.
  4. Try to sleep early: I know it is counter-intuitive to cut away precious week-end time for sleep, but your Monday will be much better if you are fresh and well rested.
  5. Plan a Monday morning fun thing: You know that yoga video you really wanted to try out? Why not keep it for Monday morning? Or that special piece of clothing that makes you feel like a million bucks? Keep it for Monday. Or maybe your chocolate overnight oats? Prep them for Monday…or do all three of these things on Monday! That way, it will be much more exciting to wake up come that dreaded alarm sound.

I hope these tips are useful and will help you welcome new weeks happily. And remember, there is only one Monday per week. Let me know what tips you have to be happy on Monday mornings!

Gardening on the mountain

Today was the “Corvée du Mont-Royal” which is an event organized every year were people go to our beloved Mount-Royal, pick up trash, write down notes on erosion and tree health and other fun things. Last year, I was really excited about it and wanted to participate with my students. However, since negotiations between teachers and the government were starting, I was told that I couldn’t organize any activity at all. Deception. Well this year, the student council organized it! How fun!

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Our guide explained what we were looking for (trash or any object that does not belong in nature), gave us gloves and even provided with granola bars. Amazing! I was really happy with our team: the students were really fun and interesting, were super motivated and were just, well, happy. It was really nice to see that they were willing to come on a ped-day (no classes, but teachers come in) to go clean up nature. Once again, I was happily surprised with their enthusiasm and energy.  It was also a great change of pace to see students outside of the classroom and to be outside with them.

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It was a great day outside! The weather was perfect, and we found a lot of stuff, including these wood pallets! How strange! We also found pieces of metal banister that weighted a ton and made us wonder why and how it got hauled up to the mountain (it was a pain to haul down by the way), chairs, a gazillion beer bottles, a 1996 Orange Crush bottle, and a million plastic bottles and bags. It was quite astounding to see how much stuff is left behind by people and how much of the trash is actually recyclable.

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It was so much fun to be outside, to do something good for a Montreal landmark, to interact with students in a relaxed setting and to move a little bit. I really hope to participate in more events like this one because it was great! Let me know if you have something similar going on in your area!

Sprouts: a few tips

Sprouts are a great way to add flavour and texture to salads, soups, sandwiches and snacks. They are also a great source of nutrients and vitamins, so why not grow them yourself? Well, before you start, there are a few things you need to consider. I hope these tips are useful, and inspire you to start your own sprouts!

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From left to right: radish, buckwheat, alfalfa.

  1. Do you need fancy equipment?
    • No! I use glass jars that I close with cheesecloth. I find that jars are easy to use, simple to store and also cheap. You can always buy fancy, specialized multi-level “sprouters”, but really, a jar is all you need to get started.
  2. Will it take time?
    • Sprouts need attention: you will need to wash them twice a day while they are sprouting to avoid parasites or molds, but also to supply the seeds with their required moisture. Also, the sprouting time will depend on the seeds you are using, but generally speaking, sprouts take about a week to be done.
  3. What seeds can I use?
    • There is a great variety of sprouting seeds available in health food stores and online. I buy mine in a bulk store. I usually go for unmixed bags, but you can try out already made mixes of seeds to get you started and to give you an idea of what seeds you like best. My favourites are alfalfa, daikon, radish, watercress, chickpeas, lentils and fennel.
  4. Are all seeds the same when it comes to sprouting?
    • No! Each seed is different. First, the bigger  the seed, the longer it will take it to start sprouting. Also, some seeds are mucilaginous (like watercress, chia seeds, and flax seeds), so you’ll have to take some precautions while sprouting them. Finally, all sprouts have a different flavour and texture, so it is super fun to experiment and explore cooking with these new ingredients.
  5. How do I sprout seeds?
    • For non-mucilaginous seeds like daikon, chickpeas, lentils and fennel, place two tablespoons of seeds in a jar and let soak in water overnight. Rinse, drain and place in the jar that you keep in a tilted position. I usually use my plate dryer rack to keep my jars stay at an angle. This will help give more seeds access to air and light. Close the jar using a few layers of cheesecloth: the idea is to make sure that air passes, but not insects. Rinse and drain delicately twice a day for a week, or until the sprout is out. You can eat the sprouts when they are just out, or wait for the first leaves (cotyledon) to come out. You can also place your seeds in the sun for the last few days, and they will develop a little green.
    • For mucilaginous seeds like radish and watercress, place one tablespoon of seeds and one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds in the jar. I like using alfalfa seeds because they have a very mild flavour that lets the other seed’s flavour shine. Their role in this sprouting is to absorb the water that constitute the mucilage which will help the seed start sprouting. The rest of the process is the same as mentioned above.
  6. How do I keep these once they are sprouted?
    • I usually keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for about a week.
  7. Where can I use them in recipes?
    • EVERYWHERE!

I hope these tips are helpful and will encourage you to grow your own sprouts. They make for a really fun kitchen project with kids, and also add some life to your cooking. Let me know if you try it out, or what your favourite seeds are!

Sweet Potato Nori Roll

I love purple sweet potatoes! I also really like nori sheets, so why not combine the two? Add a few little things, and BAM! You have a nice, filling, fresh, and colourful meal that you can customize to your liking (or to your fridge’s content)!

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Here is what you need for each roll:

  • 1 Nori sheet (I get my Nori sheets here because it is a lot less expensive than what I find locally)
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (I used purple, but you can go with orange if you like)
  • 1/4 avocado in strips or mashed
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1/3 cup flat parsley leaves
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Here is what you do:

  1. With your fingers or a wet spoon, spread the mashed potato on the nori sheet.
  2. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds
  3. Add the avocado, carrots, parsley and sprouts.
  4. Using your fingers, lift one side of the nori sheet while holding the fillings in and roll it up! You can use a little bit of water to glue the end of the paper. Press gently on the roll to help it stay in place (sushi roll style).
  5. Cut in half to serve.

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Since these rolls are pretty big and the mash I used was cold, I didn’t feel the need to use a rolling mat. The rolls were easy to make and so delicious! They are also very quick if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. We ate this with some tamari sauce mixed with a little sriracha sauce, and it was amazingly good! I think tomato slices, cilantro, cucumber and kale could also make a great roll!

Let me know if you try it out and how you like it!

 

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Vegan Chocolate Tiramisu

I have to admit, I only had tiramisu once before going vegan. For some reason, however, I was craving the smooth layers of chocolate cake and cream. So I made some chocolate cake, thick vegan cream, a rum-chocolate dipping liquid, and here you go!

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Here is what you need for the cake:

  • 120g gluten free flour
  • 60g almond flour
  • 50g oil
  • 250g almond milk
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Here is what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oil, milk and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  4. Use a lined cake mold, and bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick put in the center comes out clean.
  5. Set aside.

For the cream, I used my coconut cream recipe, but skipped the Chai spices.

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For the rum-chocolate syrup, mix 1/8 to 1/4 cup of rum with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, and 1 tsp of maple syrup. This is completely optional, but it adds a ton of flavour. You could also use a little bit of chocolate milk.

To assemble: 

  • Add one teaspoon of syrup at the bottom of your jar or container.
  • Place a layer of chocolate cake, add a little bit of syrup, and cover with some cream. Repeat until your container is full and finish with a layer of cream.
  • Sprinkle a little bit cocoa powder on top and serve!

This dessert is best eaten fresh because if you put it in the fridge overnight, it will be thicker and less creamy. Still, this is great! It is full of chocolate flavour!

Let me know what you think, and if you try it out!

 

Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

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I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

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This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

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Avocado toasts really are the best!

I know, I know, I have yet again caught the bandwagon late. However, now that I’m on it, let me just tell you that it is amazing!  Avocado toast is so easy, tasty and filling! Plus you can pretty much make it your own with whatever ingredient you have or according to your liking.

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Here are a few of my favourite combinations:

  • Himalayan salt and cracked pepper
  • Capers, shredded carrots and cilantro
  • Cherry tomatoes, hot pepper flakes
  • Cucumber slices and fennel seeds
  • Walnuts, sea salt and honey/maple syrup

I often mix and match a few of these ingredients depending on what’s available, but really any of these combinations make my stomach happy. There is something so satisfying about avocado toasts.

Let me know what your favourite combination or topping is!