Saturday, December 31, 2011

gratitude cafe!

hooray! i got to try gratitude cafe in calgary last night!
i'll admit i was quite nervous about bringing paul and his mom there as there is an unbelievable amount of negative reviews of "attitude cafe". but paul and i agreed that our extremely low expectations weren't the reason we had a most lovely experience! paul's mom even said she would love to stop in again if she finds herself in kensington. so either people there have figured out how to run things in the last couple years or there are some delusional yelp stalkers trying to make them look bad!

when we came in, i was the only one who really wanted to eat, but the place was empty and thankfully everyone was okay with staying for something sit-down. our waitress came right away and suggested we do the raw platter and told us the wrap that was part of it could be split into 3 for us. so that was super easy!

it came so quick,  i don't even remember waiting!
the platter had a curry(?) with sunflower seed-sauced veg noodles in the center with a shittake on top, collard wraps and a gingery salad with sprouted quinoa, cilantro, cucumber and red cabbage. all pieces of the platter had intense (but welcome!) and differing flavours and textures. the vegetable crackers were too dry for paul's liking, but i enjoyed the thicker, nuttier texture than i am used to. i wish i could place more of the tastes but they were welcome ones that i don't have often! everyone enjoyed sharing this. and it was really nice how it was divided up into 3 portions for us!
we then decided to take on one of the raw desserts available - the amaretto cheezecake with a convenient 3 (1 for each of us! i'm sure it wasn't a coincidence!) cape gooseberries as garnish. super sweet and a nice nut (and possibly avocado)- influenced texture. it looked and tasted a bit like thanksgiving, er, perhaps, gratitude, on a plate. hehe.
and everything was so quick and enjoyable, we decided to stay for a latte. me and paul planned to share. then paul's mom figured she'd have one too. and the staff split our 2 ordered lattes into 3 mugs! yay! we got chai tea with almond milk. i guess one thing i was surprised by was the apparent lack of any "raw" drink choices. i guess you need to ask what is available for smoothie flavours and juices. there was no indication if fresh fruit was used and juiced on the spot or if everything was from a package (which i assume). i did expect at the very least, house-made almond milk. there was a coconut milk option but i confirmed it was from a can. no thanks! and okay, i'm happy enough to have almond milk from a tetra when i'm dining out in alberta! in a raw-friendly cafe!

and really, this was such a treat especially when compared to our options at o'sullivans later that night for karaoke! i was so excited to see 'vegan' on the menu but it turned out to be 'vegan nightmare'. hahaha.
anyways, i'm happy that we got to go to gratitude cafe and i just joined yelp now so that i can leave a positive review!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

raw kale chips! found in calgary, alberta!

i really didn't expect food success in calgary, alberta. me and paul brought a bunch of organic produce and snacks for our time here as we expected it to be expensive or non-existant. going to planet organic the other day proved us wrong!
we got kelp noodles like we love back home for $6.50! $1 cheaper than back home! and the produce appears to be cheaper! $1 cheaper too! like $2 romaine and $1.50 avocados? what is going on? i am excited there is a market for organic products in cowtown, alberta! though my main impression of the areas we have seen is that everyone here is living in EXCESS. there is oil money here! and no tax! people have more than one iphone and car... massive and new houses with new furniture. i wonder where the old stuff is?
in the town of didsbury, alberta (population 5000), the one coffee shop here serves soy and rice milk and has gluten-free options! and paul's mom found daiya cheese and coconut bliss ice cream at the grocery store here? i am so excited there is a market for it here! seemingly in the middle of nowhere!
anyways... i bought kale chips made by rhythm superfoods at the planet organic.

i haven't even seen this brand before! (**february 2012 update - i have now seen these in greens market in vancouver**) i think the store had 4 kinds of them for sale for $6.99 which is a nice price as i find if you buy them in vancouver, they are about $10 a bag. i got kool ranch but the bag i got tastes (or smells) a bit stale. paul said the flavour was 'trying too hard' which i agree. his kale chips are my favourite! he made some for this trip (and did some chards also) and they were AWESOME. only one of his nephews would try the "leaves from vancouver" though.
it was nice to make a raw lunch the other day using the kelp noodles and blending up tomatoes with a bit of lemon, a bunch of fresh basil, a few sprinkles of salt and oregano and a pour of olive oil, and then adding sundried tomatoes. i had mine on a bed of arugula and some other greens:
we have just a couple days left here and i hope we get a chance to check out gratitude cafe somehow, perhaps tomorrow?
we enjoyed some vegan goodness at the coup today for lunch which was fun. and the gratitude cafe is just a 6 minute drive from there. i'm curious about prepared raw food in calgary! the coup had a raw dessert but i wasn't too interested in it as it was agave-sweetened. 
i had the seaweed soba ($12) and some bites of everyone else's borsht and grilled pita sandwich things!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

lazy cookie experiments.

i'm not sure what my deal is, but whenever i make almond milk and have all the almond flour leftover, i either figure i won't use it for awhile and put it in the freezer or i try to make up a recipe for cookies that never works! the other day was no exception.
 what i should do next time is at least try something that has been done before so i get a better idea of what makes a good cookie texture. i'm thinking this cacao walnut cookie recipe might be a good one for next time (substituting the agave, of course!).
for these cookies, i used almond flour, banana, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and cacao nibs on top. maybe there was something else too. they smelled AMAZING in the dehydrator.
out of the dehydrator though, i figure these would need raw ice kream on top or something! they are kinda chewy but basically cause me to gasp for air, like eating too much almond butter or something. i think i need to add dates or something sticky and sweet to balance out the dry flour.

next time i will spend the extra 30 seconds and look up some sort of guideline to follow!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

why is the majority of industry in the wrong industry?

last night, i finally watched food inc. which isn't anything shocking to someone who reads michael pollan and had to recently cut herself off from food/environment/health documentaries as they were getting to be too doom and gloom!

but anyways...

combine thoughts from the movie and my friend mentioning today that oil of oregano will be pulled from shelves within the next 2 months (it's already started in alberta and apparently in ontario!) and i am having a hard time not getting back into a 'it's hopeless!!!' state again.

okay so oil of oregano 'works too well' - why can't BIG PHARMA switch gears (and products, ahem) and start mass producing things that work!?

ah, and why can't amazing foods (and superfoods!) be advertised with the amazing things they do? why can bogus, novelty "food" like cheerios ramble on about benefits of whole grain in your diet while raw chocolate zimt can't make any claims about raw cacao or the FDA will be after it?

what's so bad with having a healthy population?

oh, right. the traditional doctors.

why not pay them to keep us healthy and stop paying when you are not? they could potentially get paid non-stop! that's a medical plan that makes sense to me!!! keep these people accountable rather than just getting rid of one symptom only to gain a million others.

oh but a healthy population isn't something we need right now. not with a world bursting with almost 7 billion people?

let's pull a china with a 1 kid per family rule or try to encourage people (of our currently poor and frustrated generation) to not have kids?

i like to remind myself that the world can heal itself. more and more people are becoming interested in eating better, becoming concerned with gmo's and conventionally grown (ie non-organic) food.

we can eat more organic, compost it, barter for more... basically, i see our success dependent on returning to some old skool ways. it's funny to me to consider progress as going back to the basics. our brains are so focussed on the crazy advances to technology, we are forgetting our basic needs.

food. real food. water. unpolluted water. air. fresh air. love. attention and connection with real people in real time in the real world.

hope you are well. <3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

chocolate mousse in a glass

ok so maybe not the most INSPIRING photo of all time but how could i post without a photo?
anyways, after my flow class, i NEEDED a chocolate smoothie! but i was also down for experimenting. and what i have ended up with is the softest, most lightest (almost foamy!) pudding of a smoothie. i'm 'drinking' it with a spoon! heaven.
this is what i did and well, i'm not one for following recipes (or measuring) so strictly so the following is my best educated guess:
*half a frozen banana
*half an avocado
*1 cup almond milk
*2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
*1 tablespoon yacon syrup (i've been loving trying it in everything lately, trying to figure out exactly what i like about it. i'm so used to dates and maple syrup as a sweetener, this fruity sweetness is a nice switch!)
*a sprinkle of red maca powder (figure it can't hurt to combine some with that cacao)
*a sprinkle of lucuma powder (hmm, since i didn't have enough sweetness with the banana and yacon... haha)

i'm going to do my best to save some of this for paul to try when he gets home. i'm so curious for a second opinion!

Monday, November 28, 2011

crackers and ice kream!

um, so i haven't been incredibly creative lately. salad lunches (though i am LOVING my lazy dressing of sprouted chickpea miso, dijon, ground flax, apple cider vinegar and olive oil) but yesterday i decided ENOUGH is ENOUGH and played with some things. including the dehydrator which i haven't touched since i dehydrated some persimmon slices the other week (swoon!).

yesterday i wanted to try out the new yacon syrup i bought. i thought SMOOTHIE but had hmm, hemp milk and ice. the iced coffee texture wasn't exactly what i was craving, so i started adding some avocado and lucuma and then i decided to freeze it to be more like an ice cream. it was a subtle sweet and super creamy but it froze a bit more flakey-icey than i hoped. but having avocado in it meant paul was weirded out enough not to want any. which meant more for me but also makes me wonder if i have strange bachelor-style eating habits?

 i had been soaking flax seeds and pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds so i finally made some crackers! the bottom ones are the mix of seeds with 1/2 an orange, some slivers of red onion and 2 medjools. the top crackers are just a mix of the soaked flax seeds (whole and ground) with some braggs - salty crunchiness!
hooray for using the dehydrator again!

Friday, November 18, 2011

thank you, rooted!

yesterday was not the best day and that's after a not so great wednesday. i can't even remember the last time i felt so frustrated and BLEH!
paul got home around the same time as me which is a crazy thing in itself and he suggested dinner and eek! the day suddenly perked up!
the especially crazy thing though was that i wasn't craving anything in particular and not particularly hungry.
so... the best place to go (and he hadn't been yet!) was rooted on the drive. i always feel so much better after being here and last night was no exception. the people here are amazing and the food is incredible!!! (ooh and i'm happy to report they are open every day 11-8!)
i quickly regained my appetite! YAY!
we shared a large kale casear (i felt like i could eat another of those! soooo good!!) and i had some of paul's chili and i ate most of the mexican wrap. messy but delicious! ooh and we had the lucuma/mesquite cheezecake for dessert! YES!
this is probably my most favourite place to eat in vancouver. and i can't help but think that even though i haven't mastered eliminating stress in the work part of my life, at least i don't seem to have food-caused stress in my life and i'm healthy overall. 
and eating at places like rooted make me feel super lucky and happy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

indigo a no no!

this morning, me, emilee and brandi met at indigo food cafe for brunch. we have been talking about meeting there for weeks, with some other friends and finally decided this was the time. emilee had to rush to work after so we planned to go right at cafe opening at 10am.

when we got there this morning, we discovered it's only the website that believes they open at 10. 10:30 is the real time! so we killed time in choices nearby and decided we would order smoothies as soon as we got in.

we were let in a few minutes early which was super nice. there was one lady working and she was opening up as we were let in.

meals during opening hours are not recommended at this place. i felt super bad for the lady working as it was busy getting the 3 of us food (and collecting our payment at the end) and had anyone else come to dine in, it would have been impossible. we weren't able to order everything we wanted off the menu as some things arrive at the restaurant later in the morning (ie the collard greens) and some things hadn't been made yet (ie more almond mylk).

i'm curious as to why cashews and agave are used so much (though i guess this is common in raw food) and i wonder how much stuff there is organic as only a few ingredients on the menu were prefaced with "organic". my corn flax (yah, i usually don't eat corn either) enchilada tasted different from last time - heavier on the spices so not as fresh veggie flavour dense- tasting. and the green smoothie was average.

i will try it again - but maybe mid-day. it's a cute spot and the food is really nicely presented and i know the intentions are good...

Friday, October 21, 2011

ready and compost-able... worms. and bins. and workshops.

last saturday, i went to a worm composting workshop put on by city farmer. the last one of 2011!

on the way there, i was wondering WHAT i was doing going to something like this. and i guess i talked myself out of committing to a worm compost bin before i even got there. so although i am not currently worm composting and have discovered that there is a good chance there will be food scrap drop off in the west end after the west end farmers market ends october 22nd, i felt the workshop was still worthwhile and i learned a lot!

first, i hadn't previously considered anything about the composting beyond possible smell and fruit flies and WORMS. there is nature stuff happening when you compost and you need to think of how you handle it just like you would a garden. it's not a earth-friendly garbage bin. you add to the bin once a week and you start off with just 1 litre of your raw produce scraps! you probably can get 3 litres per week at most - which you need to work up to! you pour your food scraps under the straw and newspaper bits in one corner. the next time you contribute, you add in the next corner and so on so that the worms constantly have a new food source to work through. it's pretty neat.

but i started wondering how i could justify the work involved when it was mentioned how you have to keep your compost pretty alkaline. so 1/2 a lemon is kinda what you get to include in your 1 litre per week. and keep things mostly green to be safe to start. and i like greens and consume a fair bit every day but i think in our food scrap bucket typically you see a lot of fruit ends and banana peels. probably not going to be in the compost bin too much. coffee grounds are allowed (if applicable to your lifestyle) but kept to a minimum. eggshells are encouraged for calcium (so the instructor even said to get some eggshells from a friend!) but not the residue of the egg. but it seems that cooked food and meat and egg stuff are really only to stay out of your compost because they could attract rodents and such! not because it's totally gross to eat animal products. so ok, having a bin indoors means you could put whatever food scraps in there you want but you have to really limit the total amount. and i don't know if i can justify having a big bin in my apartment (or storage) that keeps one litre of food scraps out of the garbage disposal. as romantic a notion it is. wow, i didn't realize i was such a jerk to the earth! i am putting no effort into this, am i!?

anyways, after 6 months of committing to worms and a bin, i would have the worm casings to use 1/2 and 1/2 with soil for indoor and outdoor plants. and i have a bunch of indoor plants but i don't know if i could distribute all of my compost matter. and that's after separating all your worms from the compost soil. and you get compost 'tea' too dripping out of the bin which you need to collect regularly (once a week?) and can use 1 part for every 10 parts water as a super nutrient-dense fertilizer.

i think i really need a backyard or at least balcony, but ideally a garden over anything else, in order to make worm composting most sensible. i love our apartment but it's of limited size and there isn't a balcony, backyard, back porch or deck, parking garage or anywhere they would suggest, or i could consider, keeping a worm compost bin.

but someday i hope i can do it! it's right up there with having my own garden plot. sigh! some day! until then... going to hope for a food scrap drop-off place once a week. then i can keep ALL plant products out of the garbage disposal! ^_^ and no worms or bin or smell or fruit flies? pretty good deal to me...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

raw burritos!

my friend vanessa and i made lunch the other day. it was so much fun!
i made a salsa with tomatoes, red pepper, cilantro, lime and chili and guacamole with avocado (duh), lime and some spices. vanessa made the "meat" with mushrooms, sprouts, walnut butter, sprouted chickpea miso, seeds (i think sunflower?), some Braggs and spices (including chili and cumin).
we left the collards whole (i usually cut the stem off) and instead wrapped up our goods and twisted off the stem to eat on its own! so sweet and fresh and crunchy! 
 gorgeous, right?
p.s. if you want a concrete recipe to follow, this looks like a good one!

gratuitous produce photos...

after a successful farmers market saturday shop...
 i love being able to eat local! i hope that canada figures out a better way to support and sustain itself, food-wise. we need to support our local, organic growers! is it true that less than 2% of crops grown in canada are organic? gah!!!

 i love it when i see hearts in my food. paul found one on a potato the other day! i love that he noticed ^_^
 and... isn't this the most beautiful teacher apple? i wish i had waited to take a bite until after i decided to take a photo. so perfect! and again, grown here! we are so lucky!!!

have, ok, oh, avocado...

remember in the summer when avocados were just not working? what sucks is they are never in season in vancouver... i would love to find a way to grow them. but ANYWAYS... i have been able to buy ripe ones again and not deal with stringiness and brown offness or way under-ripe hardness... and i love using them for everything!
...including smoothies lately!
i've been mixing spatone liquid iron in with fruit for a smoothie every morning (to continue to boost my iron which was found to be dangerously low in december but within range currently! ^_^) and one morning i didn't have anything to blend really but apples. but i had frozen blueberries and an avocado... so a creamy blueberry smoothie was what i did up. YES!!!
 and the other day, i had one frozen banana and an avocado and a pear. i added some vanilla and ginger. paul tried some and wasn't blown away by it but i enjoyed it.
i still haven't made a chocolate avocado mousse! i was going to try the other day but i waited too long to use the avocado i had left. so sad!!!
which reminds me... my mom was recently in uganda and she says the avocados are the size of grapefruits - they are massive! and when you go to the market, they ask you when you are planning to use your fruit and then give you something that will be ripe by then or that is ready to use for that day. i love it! i feel like i'm pretty good about planning out when i will use things and i tend to buy produce at least a couple times a week (especially right now with wednesday and saturday farmers markets, though the main street one ends this wednesday! sob!), but it's a great concept. i think the north american way of shopping/meal preparing is more of a stock up on "staples" (non-perishable, processed, total-disconnect-from-nature food) and fresh produce is an afterthought that goes bad in the fridge.
we'll get there.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

we eat grass, er, drink, wheatgrass!

on the weekend paul got a manual wheatgrass juicer! YES!

i happened to be doing a coconut water demo at drive organics that day (btw, what an amazing grocery store! they have everything and everyone is so friendly and it has a real island vibe somehow) and they had trays of wheatgrass so i got one! $17 including a $3 deposit for the tray. same cost as organic lives though they don't have the deposit going there.

i got a ride home with ray and as i was waiting to cross the street to my building, i met a lady who was so excited i had wheatgrass and asked where i got it. then we got in a big talk about growing your own wheatgrass (which is what i'd like to do at some point soon!) and she mentioned her daughter just moved here and i've been in touch with her daughter many times since! they recommend this automatic sprouter sprouting machine and i'm so excited about trying it out at some point!

me and paul were kinda discouraged about how much juice you get out of the grass but it appears to be how it works. i found this site encouraging as it says 6-8 ounces per tray is the norm. and i learned from parvin that you can use one flat of wheatgrass twice... after you cut all the green and use it one time, there should be more growing again for you to use! i am nervous about the base getting moldy so we have been keeping the flat in the fridge. and you water it once a day in opposite corners. but not too much of course! so... we'll see. so far so good!

i would love to have wheatgrass growing for shots every day! 

rawzania night!

on friday, sarah, emily and jen came over and we assembled a raw lasagna together! i guess i would call it an ingredient potluck! no overuse of hummus here! and wow... how fun to be all crowded in the kitchen assembling this thing! ^_^

we used ani phyo's italian rawzania (page 185 in ani's raw food kitchen) as reference, though didn't use olives. jen made the 'italian pizza cheeze' (page 161) with cashews, emily brought the zucchini and sarah brought tomatoes, onions, basil and garlic (and carrots and kale for later! ^_^) from her garden. THE BEST! i blended up a brazil nut/cumin/coriander/braggs/salt crunchy topping which was so awesome the last time i made lasagna with paul.

Monday, September 5, 2011

mint-chip cheesecake!

so today i made the mint-chip cheesecake out of sweet gratitude, page 100. think mint cacao chip ice cream by cashew creamery as a cheesecake!

 i prepared last night by soaking the cashews and making the almond/cacao/coconut crust so this morning was easy!
ew, the mint and cashews don't look so pretty in the blender.... yet...
there's the crust! YAH!

 ooh and the warm from blending (oops) mint cheesecake! 
 and the chocolate blend for the swirl... my first attempt at a swirl!
 so fun!!!
 probably still could've saved less of the cake mix (and i saved less than the recipe asked to!) for the chocolate swirl but oh well! last time i saved the 2 cups the recipe asked for and it was way too much!
 now here is the best part... after having it in the freezer a few hours, i pat cacao nibs on the sides and top and add some mint leaves and it looks like a real dessert, doesn't it?
just in case you didn't see the first photo... ^_^ 
 oh, you want a view as if you're me, looking down on the cake, ready to cut it?
and here we go! 
 it gets soft so fast! i like it right out of the freezer! ah, and a note for next time with the swirling... i will pour heavier right away so that some of the swirl goes deeper into the cake! 
mmmm... cheesecakes are getting so easy to make! i'm so excited! 

lemon poppyseed cake!

it appears i never posted about this! back in june!!! this (though i'm curious about this as well!) was the first cake i ever made, from sweet gratitude, page 54, after alexia recommended it to me.

it took me FOREVER since i didn't really prepare in advance with ingredients so i spent most of my saturday making almond milk! what a process!
...and mashing medjools into a date paste. gah. i've since started getting hunza dates from organic lives as they are pitted already and i just chop them finely until they become more of a paste.
 ha. look at all this almond milk i ended up with! i needed 8 cups of almond flour for the recipe but only 1.5 cups of milk. i was giving this milk away as i didn't want to waste any! i now know to make almond milk (and flour) in advance so i can freeze the flour and drink the milk as i would normally. sigh.
 now after painstakingly trying to mix the almond flour with the dates with no mixer or large processor (the vitamix was no good at mixing the 'dough')...  the lemon frosting... yum! the vitamix is an icing's dream!
 first layer of the cake... frosting needed to set before i could put on the top layer!
 and it's done! i need to start doing more cakes so i have more practice at icing! yikes! (see the heart i made out of desperation?)
 that looks like 'real' frosting, does it not?
 and now the most important part... testing it!!!
 i couldn't get over the cakey texture...
 and oh, how it quickly disappeared! it had most excellent reviews, just sayin ^_^ well worth the effort!