Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Toronto Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017 Recap

We had a great day stuffing our faces on Saturday with friends at the 3rd Annual Vegan Food and Drink Festival. We didn't try absolutely everything at the festival, but here are some pictures of the food we ate. 

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017 Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017
We started the day off with Tofu Benny Waffle Fries from Champs Diner. We bought early bird tickets and at first we were so afraid that there would only be local vendors, thus, there would be no point in coughing up ~$14 for tix. Luckily, there were out-of-towners at the event and Champs (from Brooklyn, NY) was one of them! We have been lusting after some Champs' grub for a while since we've been following them on Instagram. I thought this was pretty scrumptious, definitely in my top 3. The benny sauce was sooo good and the ham had that true ham flavour!

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Next up was Arlo's from Austin, Texas! They were at the festival last year and we were so happy to see them return. We love this burger! Look at that bun - it looks like a real egg bun! There are surprisingly quite a few vegan joints in Texas, we'd love to go there one day and try them all. 

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

These slices are from Virtuous Pie. LOL I just notice the fork in the foreground of this shot. Yes, we brought our own utensils to the festival. The pizza was okay, nothing special.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Root beer float from Sweet Teeth. We missed the waffle sundaes they were serving last year. We didn't have any of this but our friends said it was the most delicious root beer.

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings from No Bones Beach Club in Seattle were so flavourful and so was the dip! Plus 10 points for presentation!

OMG! These were probably my favourite of all the food we ate. Vegan pierogi from Pierogi Me! The Sundried Tomato Cheddar ones were soo amazing!

While pricey ($3 a pop) these macarons were really well-done, flavour- and texture-wise. THe strawberry was our favourite. 

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Rescue Dogs Fat Mac using the special sauce from Apiecalypse Now! here in T.O. I must say the dogs from Rescue Dogs are super tasty.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

OMG! These doughnuts were amazing!! So fluffy and soft! I could've eating a dozen myself, haha. These are from Glory Hole Doughnuts. They're on Queen West but I've never tried them before.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Uhhh here's the dud of the day from Snackrilege. It was a Voodoo Doughnut with Tofurky slices, Chao cheese and tofu slices. Super disappointed. It was cold and the doughnut seemed stale, which it probably was considering they traveled from Portland, Oregon. We've always wanted to try Voodoo Doughnuts, but I don't think this was a fair test.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Oat & Mill Chocolate Peppermint Patty ice cream sundae. I was pleasantly surprised by this ice cream. I thought that considering it's made from oats, the ice cream was fairly creamy. It was still on the more icy side of things.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

The big controversy of the day was the Impossible Burger, which is supposed to taste like a beef burger. It does taste and look like a real meat burger, but I wasn't a fan. I actually prefer to see veggies, grains or beans in my burgers. Neither of us was ever a fan of real meat before going vegan, so this wasn't something we're interested in or looking for. We found out after the festival that the burger was tested on rats, so that's ironic and questionable, ethically. 

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Another vendor from Texas was V-Eats. This is their po-boy and it was good! I think it would've been better with a different, maybe softer, bun but the mushrooms themselves were great.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

The Fairly Frosted festival special Strawberry Chocolate ice cream sandwich. I wish we had let the ice cream soften up a bit more before eating it but I couldn't resist. This was a great flavour combo.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

We needed a little something to wet our whistle by the end of the day. This is the Pineapple Slushie from Chill Pops and it definitely did the trick.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

Coconut Curry, Citrus Squash and BBQ Lentil dumplings from Steambox Dumplings. It took forever to get these and I'm not 100% sure it was worth the long wait, especially considering they are located in Toronto. They were also pretty tiny but the flavours were really delicious, particularly the Citrus Squash. 

Vegan Food and Drink Festival 2017

This sign ticked us off because it appropriates First Nations culture and that is just so not cool. Ugh!

So, the festival is over for another year. There are definitely questionable things about the festival like the sign above, there were corporate vendors (i.e. Ben & Jerry's and Hellman's both owned by Unilever) yet the tickets were still expensive and there wasn't really any entertainment. The good thing is that it provides an opportunity to try vegan places that aren't accessible everyday like Arlo's, Champs, V-Eats, etc. And of course if you have great company, that makes it fun!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Literally the Best (Vegan) Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Here's another muffin recipe for you! We're on a roll with the muffins apparently.
We're not joking around when we say these are literally the best vegan blueberry muffins. They're so soft and delicious with the perfect amount of sweetness. Yet again, we always have a hard time getting our muffins light and airy - it may be because we try to go with healthier muffins most times. Not that these are unhealthy but, ya know, they don't use any healthy flours or apple sauce in place of oil. Life is about balance and every now and then you need a soft, pillow-y muffin.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins might be a personal favourite of mine. These have a little secret ingredient (custard powder) that, I think, gives them a subtle buttery flavour. It's really nice. And don't worry they're still vegan because Bird's Custard Powder is vegan! Tricky, I know.

I got a little artsy with the photos placing them on a fashion magazine, lol. Just trying new things.

Literally the Best (Vegan) Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from The Flexitarian

250g self raising flour
175g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Bird's Custard Powder (trust!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened original almond milk
200g fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, custard powder and salt in the large bowl.
3. Stir in vegetable oil, vanilla extract and almond milk. Mix until well blended but don't overmix.
4. Gently mix the blueberry in with a wooden spoon so as not to break them up too much then spoon mixture into a muffin tin.
5. Bake for 25-30 mins until the muffins have risen and are golden on top. Make sure they are cooked through by inserting a toothpick or tester.
6. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Or eat right away, like we did!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vegan Cherry Almond Muffins (with FRESH cherries!)

The cherries were really good this season. Sweet and juicy. We definitely took advantage of all the delicious cherries, too. We ate a lot of them as is but we couldn't help but bake with them too. Seeing as cherry season is over, you can always save this recipe in your back pocket for next year or make these muffins with dried cherries.

These muffins were great! Not too sweet, so they really let the cherries shine through. They have a nice almond flavour as well. These muffins make the perfect snack!

Vegan Cherry Almond Muffins

Adapted from Chef Amber Shea

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup unsweetened original oat mylk (we are obsessed with baking with oat milk now thanks to America's Test Kitchen!)
6 oz. vanilla non-dairy yogurt (we used almond/cashew cultured yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired
3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.
3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the oil, mylk, yogurt, and extracts.
4. Mix gently just until combined. Add cherries and almonds. Fold in and be sure not to break the cherries too much.
5. Fill the muffin cups about 75% of the way.
6. Bake for 16-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Soft Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you want cookies, but sometimes you also want your cookies to be a little healthier. That's how these cookies came to be. Adding oats to chocolate chip cookies always makes me feel a bit better about eating them. Plus, I really love oats. Regular chocolate chip cookies can seem a little plain for me. I like a lot of action going on in my cookies. To keep things interesting, ya know?

I think we replaced too much of the flour with oats for our cookies, so they ended up SUPER soft to the point where they actually fell apart when we picked them up. They tasted great but no one wants to reach for a cookie to have it completely crumble apart before your eyes. Okay, it wasn't that bad. I've added some more flour to the recipe below, so hopefully it all works out now. Either way, these cookies are delicious and have plenty of fibre from the oats.   

Soft Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate 
Chip Cookies
adapted from The Vegan Zombie

3/4 cup peanut butter
6 tbsp vegan butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oat milk, or your fav milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. 

Cream the peanut butter, vegan butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy. 

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.

Form small balls and place 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 mins.

Allow to cool for 5 mins on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Be careful that the don't break apart :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Easy Vegetable Soup with Beans and Pasta

Summer might not be the time where people think "hey, I'll make a piping hot soup!" but let's face it, it's an easy, clean and delicious meal that takes next to no time to prepare. We're fans of soup any time of the year even in the Summer because we are busy people. It just works. And this soup has been our go-to for YEARS. We are still making it and adapting it each time by adding in a bay leaf or changing the type of beans or shape of pasta. 

Start to finish, this soup takes about 40 minutes. We have yet to ever prepare one of those 30 minute meals in 30 minutes. This is as close to a 30 minute meal as we can get. Maybe we are slow or maybe we tend to overcook our veggies but that's how we like it. Cook this for a long as you'd like or as short as you'd like. Just make sure you give it enough time to let the flavours meld.

Easy Vegetable Soup (vegan, gluten-free option)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely (use less is you don't love garlic like we do)
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped small
3 carrots, chopped small
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning
bay leaf, optional
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1 can romano beans (or any type of beans you like!)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup of pasta of your choosing (use GF, if desired/required)
nutritional yeast or Parma, for topping
more freshly cracked black pepper, for topping

1. In a large pot over medium heat add the oil, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, Heramare (bay leaf, if you want) and salt and pepper and cook until just soft. 
2. Add tomatoes, stock, beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Remove bay leaf (if used).
3. Add the pasta and cook for another 8-10 min until the pasta is al dente. 
4. Top with more freshly cracked black pepper, nooch or Parma! to make it extra delicious.

I would hope someone out there in the universe understands our love for fun-shaped pasta but this was a box of Catelli Bistro Rainbow pasta made us extra excited. It was perfect for this soup and tiny enough so you could get a few pasta on your spoon. Alphabet pasta are also awesome, no matter your age. Who doesn't like looking for the letters to spell their own name in their bowl of soup?!

We love Parma! especially the Garlicky Green variety though the Original is also awesome. We just love garlic and this is quite garlicky. We purchased it at the Toronto Vegetarian Festival in 2016 but have since repurchased at our local health food store Nature's Emporium in Newmarket, ON.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Roasted Veg Sandwich with Romesco Spread

Just a head's up this is probably going to be a downer post.

This sandwich is delicious and amazing and one of the best that we've ever made, so if my rantings make you feel down at least you have a nice sandwich to make afterwards.

I don't usually "go deep" with my blog posts, but I just feel like being honest with how I feel (even if I feel embarrassed after posting this). Lately, I've been in a funk. Nothing really appeals to me and everything makes me feel bad. I don't feel like doing anything but I hate not doing anything. I haven't even felt like cooking or baking, yet store-bought food turns my stomach. I like listening to music as a distraction but I can't even find any music that I enjoy listening to lately. I'm sure a big part of it has to do with the fact that I'm still dealing with the loss of our second mom/Nannie a.k.a grandmother last year (who I miss SO much) as well as the dramatic progression of our grandad's dementia, which are big things, but I don't want to feel this way. And feeling this way makes me feel like I'm wasting precious time and taking advantage of the life I've been given. It's a negative cycle that isn't helped by this super dreary, rainy summer. I don't even know if I'm accomplishing anything by writing this down. Do you ever feel like there's a rain cloud hovering above your head? What do you do to make it go away?  

I should probably make this sandwich again. It was delicious, after all. 

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich 
with Romesco Spread
adapted from Isa Does It

for the veggies:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
4 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 sweet potatoes, sliced thinly -  use a mandolin if you have one
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
handful of baby spinach

for romesco spread:
3/4 cup sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roasted red peppers, chopped - we used ones from a jar but you can always roast your own
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread out the veg in a single layer and brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven.

After 12 minutes of roasting you should flip the sweet potatoes because they'll need less time where they're thinner. Roast everything for another 12 minutes then flip the zucchini and eggplant and remove the sweet potatoes if they look golden/browned and feel soft. Put the eggplant and zucchini back into the oven for another 10-12 minutes, until the veggies are brown and soft. 

Preheat a large pan over medium-low heat and spread the almonds out in a single layer. Toss until brown and fragrant - 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a blender and pulse until little bits. 

Add the garlic and pulse. Then add the roasted red peppers, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, salt, and puree until everything is blended. It doesn't have to be completely smooth. You'll have to scrape down the sides every now and then while blending. You may also have to add water if things get stuck. If so, add a tablespoon at a time. Keep refrigerated until the sammies are ready to go. 

We used ciabatta buns for our sandwiches and pressed them in the panini press to warm 'em up first. But you can use whatever buns you like and do whatever you like with them. Spread some romesco on the buns then add the veggies and the spinach. 

We hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 3, 2017

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert {Review}

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert

Did you miss us? We hate that we've been away for so long but we have a backlog of delicious treats to share with you. We've been doing a lot of cooking and a little baking, too. But today, we have for you a product review! Yay! New things! President's Choice just brought out a new dairy-free ice cream and it is gooooooood. It's designated as vegetarian but the ingredients don't have any animals products, whatsoever. 

It's been the first hot day in a long time so we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy this cool, creamy and sweet vegan frozen treat. The other awesome thing about this is the price point. We paid $3.99 CAD at No Frills. We are used to paying $7+ for vegan frozen desserts (aka vegan ice creams) so to see such an affordable option is really great.  

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert

PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert is so soft and smooth. After only leaving it out of the freezer for 5 minutes, it's very easy to scoop. Our first impressions are that it's very chocolatey with a very slight coconut flavour. It's not overpowering at all if you're not a huge coconut fan. Comparing PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert to the So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert, this is a lot smoother, more chocolatey and much creamier. It's so great to see companies like Loblaws producing vegan options. This is an excellent product that is well-executed and I think we are going to be enjoying it a lot this Summer. We aren't sure if it will take the place of our beloved So Delicious Cashew Milk Dark Chocolate Truffle but it's a close second and much cheaper. 

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

This is where we found the President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert in No Frills. $3.99 regular price! We haven't seen a ton of advertisement for this product so it will probably go on sale soon to generate some interest. It's definitely worth trying if you like chocolate ice cream. There are some other flavours: Mango and Coconut. I am sure we will try those soon too but we are gushing about the Chocolate flavour so we wanted to share that with all of our lovely readers. 

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

Ingredient list for those of you wondering about what exactly is in the PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert. You can see the Vegetarian symbol on the packaging (I don't think President's Choice has a Vegan symbol). The ingredients are: coconut milk, sugar, water, cocoa, tapioca maltodextrin, dextrose, palm mono- and diglycerides, carob bean gum, guar gum, sea salt.

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

It's not a super dark colour and more along the lines of a milk chocolate rather than the darkness of the So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate dessert. The Kitchen Grrrls give this a big thumbs up! Canada never seems to get cool or exciting products (and if we do, it's months or years after our neighbours to the South get them) so this is an exciting day haha.

More information about the PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert is available here.
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