What do you have in your vegan kitchen? \\ Il y a quoi dans ta cuisine végane?

When you transition to a vegan diet, it can be hard to know want to have in your pantry to make sure you have enough food. After juggling with this for a while, here are my kitchen essentials for vegans.

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  1. A good legume variety: buying these in bulk is very cheap and they are easy to store. These will probably become an important part of your diet so it’s a good idea to have them on hand at all times. However, if you want to have a balanced amino-acid intake, you need to make sure that you eat a variety of legumes. If you’re not sure how to cook these, check out my tips.
  2. Whole grains and pasta: Wild rice, quinoa, amaranth or whole wheat pasta are all a great source of nutrients and are a great addition to any meal. As they are whole grains, they will also keep you fuller longer, so you might as well keep them on hand.
  3. Some canned tomato goods: Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and pasta sauce are all great starting block to make simple meals: add some legumes to some pasta sauce, serve it on whole grain pasta and there you go! It’s a great lunch or dinner for when you are in a rush.
  4. Some plant-based milk: There is a wide variety of plant-based milk on the market now, and you can find some that don’t need to be refrigerated until opened. I like to stock up on almond milk when it’s on sale. That way I always have some to make oatmeal or to eat cereals. Be careful when buying: make sure it is fortified milk to get more nutrients for your buck!
  5. A wide variety of spices: Spices make everything incredible! Experiment with different types of curries, or explore the differences between paprika and smoked paprika. This will make every meal different and exciting.
  6. Fresh produce: Of course! Keep a good variety of seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables to make everything nutritious and delicious!
  7. Chocolate: No explanation needed.

I hope these tips will help you ease into a vegan diet and know what to keep in your kitchen. Let me know what are some of your essentials!

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On me demande parfois ce que je garde dans ma cuisine en tant que végane. Eh bien, de la nourriture! Sérieusement, voici une liste des choses que j’aime bien avoir dans ma cuisine pour être certaine de pouvoir cuisiner de nombreux petits plats délicieux!

  1. Une bonne variété de légumineuses: Comme les légumineuses jouent un rôle important dans un régime alimentaire végan, il est important d’en avoir à la maison! J’aime bien les acheter en vrac et en garder différentes sortes car il est important d’en manger de toutes sortes tous les jours pour avoir un bel arc-en-ciel d’acides aminés. Si vous ne savez pas trop par où commencer pour cuire vos légumineuses sèches, vous pouvez aller voir mes petits trucs.
  2. Des grains entiers et des pâtes: Le riz sauvage, le quinoa, l’amaranthe ou les pâtes de blé entier sont tous des sources de nutriments intéréssantes et complètes bien une assiette. De plus, puisqu’il s’agit de grains entiers, ils vous garderont rassasiés longtemps!
  3. Des tomates en conserves: Sauce tomate, tomates en dés, ou pate de tomates peuvent être la base de biens des plats délicieux! Ajouter des lentilles à de la sauce tomates, servir sur des pâtes de blé entier, et voila! Un repas rapide et nourrissant en deux temps, trois mouvements.
  4. Du lait végétal: Il existe de plus en plus de lait végétal et certains d’entres eux peuvent être conservé à température ambiante avant d’être ouverts.  J’aime bien acheter du lait d’amandes et en garder sous la main pour préparer mon gruau ou manger des céréales. Attention, si vous achetez du lait végétal, faites attention de regarder si c’est du lait fortifié: autant faire le plein de nutriments!
  5. Des épices de toute sorte: Les épices rendent tous les plats plus excitants et délicieux! Testez différents types de curry, explorez les différences entre le paprika et le paprika fumé et ajoutez des épices à tous vos plats!
  6. Des légumes et des fruits frais: Parce que c’est bon et nourrissant les fruits et légumes de saison!
  7. Du chocolat: Bien sur!

Voilà, j’espère que cette petite liste vous aidera à remplir votre cuisine de délices végans. Et vous, il y a quoi dans votre cuisine végane?

 

Presenting Aquaponix! (our home aquaponics system)

During the summer, I attended Montréal’s Urban Agriculture School held at UQAM. During a week, I had the chance to participate in workshops, visit urban farms and meet fun and inspiring people.

On the last day of the week, we were presented with four different “house farms”. The teams had to come up with a concept to help urban people produce their own foods. Now, this is a great idea for so many reasons: making food accessible, encouraging people to eat more fresh vegetables and greens, having people think outside the box, and more. After listening to all four presentations, I have to say that I was sold to the idea. Among the four kitchen-farms, two of them were aquaponics systems (one named BioUnit, and the second, Yaku) and they were really inspiring.

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So, when I came back home, I shared the idea with my boyfriend, and he was intrigued and hooked. We worked on it for a couple of months and made our very own kitchen-farm!

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If you are observant, you will see that some of the plants are growing in clay pebbles (red) and other in small rocks (gray): invest in clay pebbles. They really make plants grow faster and healthier.

The most tedious part was to gather all the required material. We made a few trips to Ikea, home hardware stores and the Botanical Garden before we had the shelves, water pump, air pumps, tubing, clay beads and lights. Luckily, we already had an aquarium, so that reduced to costs a lot. We were also able to keep our parsley, strawberry, and thyme plants for our urban garden patch.

We also added some timers so that the lighting and watering would be automatic. The lights come on in the morning, and turn themselves off after 14 hours. As to the water, it circulates 10 minutes every 90 minutes. We have nothing to do! This is perfect for the lazy gardener (you do have to feed the fish however!).

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The idea behind any aquaponics system is to have plants live on water-dissolved nutrients. However, unlike hydroponics systems where you have to keep adding nutrients to the water in liquid form that you buy, an aquaponics systems counts on fish poo to feed the plants.

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The Five Poopers and their haunted castle!

The tricky part is to find a balance between what the plants’ needs and what the system can filter: as the water is “dirtied” by fish dejection, it is circulated through pumps to the plant baskets. The plants clean the water by absorbing the fish waste as their food. Finally, the water comes back into the aquarium by gravity. It is therefore important to make sure that the number of fish is not too high for what the plants can clean to avoid having them live in a toxic environment. To make sure that this was not the case, we bought a water testing kit. So far, our five fish have lived in a perfectly balanced environment and are quite lively.

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For the last few months, we have had success with leafy greens and herbs. We are being adventurous now and trying out some tomato plants. We also have had some success with edamame beans, but our 3 plants produced 3 bean pods. Not the best outcome!

However, the best thing about this is that we can enjoy fresh greens and witness their growth from seeds, in the dead of winter (which also makes it difficult to harvest…). We are still working on this: we would like to grow our own fish food to avoid relying on store-bought fish food, but we are still figuring this out. We also like to experiment with different seeds and plants to see what works best.

Let us know if you have such a system at home and what you think of it! Also feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll try to answer them!