Giveaway: VEGA Gift Pack + Plant-Powered Families (over $200!)

Giveaway of VEGA bundle and Plant-Powered Families cookbook www.plantpoweredkitchen.com Many of you know I love my green smoothies. I’ve been making them daily for about 10 years, and so far haven’t tired of them! I pretty much make the same combination most days. No recipe needed, just a general sense of ingredients and proportions, and modifying as I go.

Initially when I started making green smoothies, I didn’t add any protein powders. Later, I started experimenting with Vega products. Over time, I found a few favorites I really enjoyed – and over time, I noticed that the flavor profiles of Vega really improved. Now, Vega has quite a wide range of products from nutritional shakes to sport drinks to incredibly delicious snack bars.

Why do I use Vega? I just love it! It’s not that I feel we “need” the protein. I do appreciate its nutritional profile, especially when days are busy for us and the kids. But I also just love the flavors. Is that peculiar? When I make my green smoothies and add the vanilla, coconut almond, or tropical powders, the flavor is elevated… tastier! Plus, because of its nutritional profile, adding vega to our smoothies does make them more satisfying when “on-the-go”.

After experimenting with my favorite vanilla and tropical flavors, I turned to chocolate. (What took me so long?) 😉 I tried the chocolate powder and created this Chunky Monkey Smoothie recipe, now in Plant-Powered Families.

Chunky Monkey Smoothie

…and then used it in these Protein-Power Balls (also in PPF)…

Protein Power Balls

I use the vanilla and tropical Vega powders in a couple of other PPF recipes as well. Given my love for Vega, and use in PPF, it seemed a natural fit to bundle a giveaway of my Plant-Powered Families cookbook with some of my favorite Vega products.

The cool cool folks at Vega agreed, and we have put together a fine prize pack for you!

The winner of this giveaway will receive:

1 Large Tub of Vega One Vanilla
1 Tub of Protein & Greens Tropical (my fave!)
1 Tub Vega Sport Mocha Protein
1 Box Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts & Sea Salt Snack Bars – (these are dangerously good!)
2 BPA-free Shaker Cups (we have these and love ’em)
1 copy of Plant-Powered Families

Giveaway of VEGA bundle and Plant-Powered Families cookbook www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

This Vega bundle is valued at over $200! 

Lucky for us, the folks at Vega are super cool and offering not just this giveaway, but also giving us plant-powered families 20% off plus FREE shipping on any orders until August 2nd in their online store (you won’t get a better discount than this).

To get the 20% off and free shipping, enter this code at checkout: PPFamilies 

Here’s the link again to their online store: Vega e-store. I’m stoked, I’ll be ordering myself – and have my eye on this tee. :)

Take advantage of this sweet deal. and then enter to win this enter prize pack below. Tell us which Vega product you love the most – or which you’re most keen to try!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I have not received monetary compensation to post this discount and giveaway with Vega. I simply love Vega products, and Vega is supporting my work with this offer and gift bundle. Thank you, Vega!

Choosing Raw: The Cookbook (& Recipe for Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream)

At last, the brilliant and creative soul behind the Choosing Raw blog has published her first cookbook. Many of us have been a fan of Gena Hamshaw‘s work for years. It’s hard not to be. Gena delivers posts that educate and inspire us, not with recipes alone, but also with her life observations and food knowledge. She is a bright light in our plant-based world, always offering a balanced approach to raw and vegan food.

Choosing Raw cookbook

When I think of Gena, a few words come to mind: integrity, compassion, and knowledge. You feel it in every post she writes, and in Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, these qualities shine through in print. Gena shares so much within this book, from her wisdom of food nutrition to her passion of recipe creation, to her commitment to animal rights.

I received a copy of Choosing Raw last week, and know you will love its content. Not only visually appetizing with food photos, it is a lifestyle book, answering the why, what, and how of eating a raw and vegan diet. The book is broken down as follows:

  • Preface: Kris Carr
  • Introduction: My Story
  • Part I: The Why
    • Your Health
    • Beyond The Plate
  • Part II: The What
    • Vegan Nutrition
    • All About Raw Foods
    • Frequently Asked Questions About Raw and Vegan Foods
    • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Part III: The How
    • Setting Up
    • Getting Started
    • 21 Days in The Life
  • Part IV: The Food
    • The Recipes: 15 essentials, 5 Juices, 10 Snacks, 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads, 5 Meal-Size Salads
    • Level 1: Tried and True: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 2: Something New: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 3: Brave New World: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • 13 Desserts for Everyone

Gena has cleverly partitioned the recipes into food preparation/cooking “levels”. This is one very special feature of her book, graduating home cooks from easier to more complex raw recipes. I also think her meal plans (21 Days in the Life) will be extremely useful for people new to raw and/or plant-based foods.

Of course, apart from the brilliant recipe planning Gena offers, her heart truly shines through in the introductory sections. This is especially true in her personal story, but also even evident in the FAQs and myths and misconceptions. Gena connects with us from a very personal level through every chapter.

CRinside1

Raw Cobb Salad, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

CRinside2

Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

Let’s talk about the recipes for a moment, though, because they are not to be underestimated. Gena is exceptionally creative, and  the recipes range from fully raw to high raw and cooked dishes. There is spectacular food photography (by Hannah Kaminksy) for many of the recipes, capturing the vibrance of raw foods. I have highlighted many recipes that I want to try out, including: Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, Green Lemonade, Creamy Maple Chipotle Dressing, Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble, Raw Pad Thai, Coconut Curry Kelp Noodles, Raw Peach Cobbler, and (last but not least!) Sweet Pea Hummus Tartines. Because #hummusisafoodgroup. 😉

So many enticing recipes! This week I tried Gena’s Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream and Nut or Seed Pate. These were both fully raw dishes, both incredibly easy to make. One of the myths of raw foods dishes is that they involve tedious or complicated food preparation. Not always true. These recipes were quick for me to make (I need that right now with 3 girls on summer vacay and a very active puppy), and were instantly gratifying!

Nut or Seed Pate (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

First up, the Nut or Seed PateI enjoyed snacking on it straight up with crudite, but it looked super lovely as I was assembling a sandwich, so I pulled out my iPhone to snap some pics! This particular recipe is very flexible, you can use a combination of nuts or seeds. I chose to use a combo of raw almonds and raw pumpkin seeds, and it was delightful.

choosingrawnutpate

The same day I made Gena’s Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream. I mean, who am I to resist ice cream? :) My all time fave dessert, sweet, treat. Period. This particular recipe is one of the GORGEOUS featured food photos on the cover. It’s a cinch to make, does not require an ice cream maker, and is wonderfully refreshing and tasty. I reduced the fresh ginger a little so the girls would spoon in too, as they aren’t super fond of ginger. The flavor is bright, fresh, and still creamier and more luscious than a fruit sorbet.

Gena allowed me to share the recipe with you today. We had some fresh cherries and blueberries on hand the day I took a photo. After taking these photos, I thought this would be a very beautiful (and easy) Fourth of July dessert!

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

Raw, Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (link to print/share)

This ice cream tastes entirely too delicious to be dairy free and made without an ice cream maker! Ginger and blueberries are a surprisingly harmonious combination, and the color of the finished ice cream is phenomenal. Garnish with fresh mint or a few extra blueberries before wowing your friends. Makes 4 Servings

1⁄2 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or more and drained
4 frozen bananas
2 heaping cups frozen blueberries
1 1⁄2 tablespoo

ns fresh, grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder if you’re using a food processor)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons almond or hemp milk (may not be needed for the food processor version)

If you’re using a high-speed blender:
Blend all the ingredients together in a highspeed blender. Use the tamper attachment to facilitate blending. Add a little more almond milk, if necessary, to facilitate blending.

If you’re using a food processor:Place the cashews in a food processor and process until they’re broken down. Add the bananas and let the motor run until they’ve turned into soft. When you have soft serve consistency, add the blueberries, powdered ginger, and lemon, and blend until totally smooth. Add the almond milk only if you need a thinner consistency; you may not. Serve.

Leftover ice cream can be transferred to a sealed storage container and frozen for up to a week, then reprocessed in the food processor just prior to serving.

From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream from Choosing Raw

I encourage you to add this genius work to your cookbook collection. Gena will welcome you into the world of raw foods, demonstrating that it can be very simple to include raw meals and snacks in your daily meal plans. It’s not about attaching to a label or being rigid with a dietary regimen. With her heartfelt approach to eating healthy, this is far more than a cookbook. It offers guides, meal plans, scientific support, and a lot of heart. No matter where you are with plant-based eating, we can all enjoy – and benefit from – Gena’s talent and insights in Choosing Raw.

Do you have a copy of Choosing Raw? If so, what recipes have caught your eye, or have already become favorites? 

Protein-Rich Foods Kids Will Love: Today’s Parent

As parents raising children on a plant-based diet, the question of protein is always present. At first we question ourselves. After researching we come to understand how a whole-foods vegan diet provides ample protein, and are (usually!) at ease with the issue. Yet, the question remains, as we are often asked about protein by friends, family, and also new vegetarians and vegans.

12 Protein-Rich Foods Veg Kids Will Love - Plant-Powered Kitchen via Today's Parent

Other than recipe emails, protein for kids is the question I receive most from readers.

What are some protein-rich foods I cam give my kids? What are recipes kids will love? What foods do your kids like most, Dreena?

"Instant" Chocolate Chia Pudding

So, you will enjoy this special post that I’ve written for Today’s Parent:

Protein-Rich Foods Vegetarian Kids Will LOVE!

I’ve shared 12 kid-tested, mom-approved recipes in this piece – including a couple of new recipes!

Hempanana Smoothie

photo credit: kokoskitchen.com

I ask that you please support this article. Comment on the post, and share it through your social media networks. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write this piece for Today’s Parent. We can encourage mainstream media to include more vegetarian lifestyle pieces through our support. So, please share this piece through facebook, pinterest, twitter, Google+, etc. Thank you!

Read on at Today’s Parent, and please share your thoughts here, as well as there. Enjoy!

p.s. Special thanks to Sarah Wise for cheerleading my work and helping make this article happen!

Other photos credit to Nicole Axworthy.

Momo Granola Bars: Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

In the last few years, there has been quite a spotlight on plant-based fitness. When I first became vegan, there was little talk of vegan athletes. Now, it’s very different. A plant-based diet is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the arena of fitness and athletic pursuits – as being the optimal diet to achieve optimal performance.

Matt Frazier is one of the people making great strides (literally!) to help educate people about plant-based nutrition as an athlete. I first discovered Matt’s very popular blog, No Meat Athlete, through Gena Hamshaw. Matt brings well-researched and referenced posts to his readers, with a balanced and approachable voice. His posts are educational and inspiring, often dispelling myths about the plant-based diet and also how it relates to athletic performance. Plus, Matt manages to sneak in the occasional entertaining post (that one’s a personal favorite).

No Meat Athlete

Matt has just published his first book, No Meat Athlete. As an ultramarathoner that “runs on plants”, Matt shares tips, recipes, motivational stories, and insights from his years of training and also transitioning to eating plant-based. This perspective will benefit vegetarians and vegans working towards fitness goals, and also athletes looking to clean their diets with a plant-based foundation.

No Meat Athlete is divided into two main sections:

Plant-Based Nutrition For Athletes – this section covers food and nutrition philosophy, how to get started on a plant-based diet, plant-based nutrition for sports, some tips for getting started in the kitchen, and recipes to fuel athletes and their families.

Running On Plants – this section focuses in on the aspect of running and training, how to begin to run, how to make it a habit, then moving into more advanced training tips, and finally Matt’s insights for training for racing.

While I’ve always valued exercising, I’ve never been a runner. You may not be either. But, you can reference this book for more than just how to train for races. If you are at all interested in maintaining a fitness routine on a plant-based diet, then I think you will find Matt’s wisdom and tips helpful – as well as motivational. I’ve always maintained a personal exercise routine and fitness (my fitness post is coming), and we have very active girls. Our two older daughters play rep hockey, so they are on the ice or training or most days of the week. This resource will be helpful for me not just in my own athletic commitments, but also for our girls.

Matt is also a parent, and notes in this book that his recipes are family-friendly and “workable in the real world”. I appreciate this, because most of us are not endurance athletes, and most of us are living busy lives with families and work commitments. Still, we can benefit from some of the knowledge gained by athletes like Matt, to improve our own levels of personal fitness, and to fuel ourselves – and our children. (This topic is particularly important to me, one day I will write about child athletics – how as a society we are merely ‘feeding’ our kids rather than ‘fueling’ them, and yet our nutrient-rich plant diet is often challenged.) Right now, time for a recipe!

When our girls are on those long jaunts for hockey games, I love to pack them a really nutrient-dense snack. When I saw these Momo Granola Bars, I knew I’d be trying them. Matt was kind enough to allow me to reprint this recipe for you to enjoy as well!

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

MOMO GRANOLA BARS Link to RECIpage to print/share

This is a DIY energy bar with whole ingredients at its base. It has enough carbs for a pre-workout pick-me-up, enough protein for a post-workout recovery, and enough great flavors for a dessert or snack anytime. —Mo Ferris, Johnson & Wales–trained chef and vegetarian marathoner

2 cups (160 g) rolled oats

*1⁄2 cup (50 g) rough chopped roasted and salted almonds

1⁄4 cup (55 g) rough chopped pecans

*1⁄2 cup (84 g) flaxseed

1⁄4 cup (16 g) raw pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons (23 g) hemp seeds

*1⁄2 cup (80 g) chopped dried cherries

2 small pinches kosher salt

1⁄3 cup (89 g) peanut butter

1⁄2 cup (172 g) brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spread oats, almonds, pecans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown. Remove the mixture from oven and add to a large bowl, along with the cher- ries and salt. decrease oven temperature to 300 ̊F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. mix thoroughly. In a separate small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup. over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. When the bubbles that form get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat, pour over the oat mixture, and thoroughly mix. While still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick (no gaps!). note: The mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet. bake for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Flip the rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3 x 5 inch (7.5 x 13 cm) bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large plastic bag. Yield: About 12 bars.

*My personal notes: I used raw almonds, and as I was out of flax seed, I replaced it with 1/3 cup of flax meal, and substituted a combination of raisins and dried cranberries for the dried cherries (though I think the dried cherries would be amazing)! Also, I cut some of these bars while cool and others after refrigerating. I got a much cleaner cut after refrigerating, just fyi.

These bars are really tasty. Not overly sweet, and very satisfying with a crunchy, chewy texture. Our whole family loved them!

Our eldest helped me with this photo, and while we were taking the pictures, a ladybug stopped by for a visit. We love ladybugs. They know a good thing in these bars. 😉

momogranolabarsladybug

Thanks Matt for sharing this recipe with us, and for writing this book. I wish you much success with it!

Are you a runner or involved in other athletic pursuits? Has a whole-food plant-powered diet helped your athleticism? 

p.s. I’ve just added a new feature to my site. On the sidebar there is a spot for you to sign-up for my (NEW!) newsletter. I will be delivering special promotions and goodies in this newsletter. Go ahead and sign up already! Also be sure to join my plant-powered community on facebook – I share all kinds of wonderful there! 😀

Top 10 Recipes for Back-To-School and Tips for Packing School Lunches

Top 10 recipes for back-to-school and tips for packing healthy lunches!

We are full swing with back-to-school now, and many of us moms and dads are scrambling to get organized with activities, schedules, and – lunches. DUN-DUN-DUUN!

Does the thought of packing lunches again make you cringe? It can be frustrating to plan and pack school lunches, and that can feel even more overwhelming when eating vegan or plant-strong. I’m here to take some of that stress away today. I’ve been packing lunches for our girls (and my hubby) for about ten years now, so I’ve learned some tricks and definitely have a school-year system.

One of my tricks is to rely on some key recipes. Ones that are easy, quick, that my kids love, and that pack well for school lunches. I’m sharing them with you today, along with some other tips for school-lunch success. Ready to take notes? Class begins, now:

1. Tamari Roasted Chickpeas

So, I only make a quadruple batch of these now. Seriously, my kiddos eat one batch in one sitting – easily. So, at least once a week, these get tripled or quadrupled! What to do with them? Add them as a side snack in lunches, or mix into pasta, or rice/quinoa. Mash into a sandwich with your kiddos’ fave condiments. FYI, the school kids may also want them. I’ve had requests.

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: lilveggiepatch

2. Creamy Hummus

It’s official, #hummusisafoodgroup.

Hummus is a Food Group - with Simple Reminders

Now that the hummus food group movement has officially begun (thank you Simple Reminders), get started with my Creamy Hummus! But don’t stop there. Try these other varieties. And, you know you can FREEZE hummus, right? Yes, double or triple batch, then freeze in about 2-cup portions. It thaws beautifully, take it out the night before and pop in the fridge. How to use? In sandwiches, slathered in wraps, as a dip for veg and rice crackers or pitas, on pizzas, as a spread for bagels or on pizzas, thinned out and mixed into pasta!

3. Easy, nut-free Baked Goods

It’s just impossible for me to narrow this down to one recipe. But, I can narrow it down to 5 or so recipes that I make every week through the school year. These recipes are staples to pack in lunches for recess, and also for hubby’s lunch: (1) Maple Banana Bread, (2) Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oat Bars (now 25% off my ebook with code PP15school), (3) Banana Oat Bundles, (4) Snackles (original and pumpkin!), (5) Apple-Hemp Muffins. Put those 5-6 baked goods in rotation, double-batch and freeze some if needed. Your kids will thank you. Then you can thank me. 😉

Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars - Plant-Powered Kitchen

4. Lemon-Herb Tofu

Or, Balsamic-Tamari Tofu (read on). This recipe originates from Vive le Vegan, and has been a staple recipe for me – and many of my readers – for years. I used to make it with the herbs all the time, but noticed once we had the girls, they were a little fussy about all that herb-age! So, now, I do a most simplified marinade of tamari and either lemon juice or balsamic (usually balsamic because it is quicker) and a touch of maple syrup. Those modifications are in the recipe, which I’ve just posted. How to use it in lunches? Keep sliced for sandwiches, crumble and use in wraps, cut in squares and mix into quinoa or leftover pasta, add to soup, or let them eat it on the side with a sandwich. Many possibilities with this recipe, and lunch prep will be easy-breezy!

Lemon-Herb Tofu - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Lemon Herb Tofu; photo credit: veganprairiefood.wordpress.com

5. Smoothies

Either before school or after school, they are a brilliant way to nourish and sustain your kiddos in a nutrient-dense drink. Don’t just fill them up with fruit, balance with some greens and veggies if you can, and also add nutrient-rich hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, or nut butters. Our eldest now loves green smoothies, and the trick for me was adding frozen pineapple. I’d used it before in green smoothies, but didn’t always want it myself. Yet, it is one of the best tricks for balancing any ‘green’ flavor tones. You can get the full green smoothie tutorial here. Also try the Acai Antioxidant Smoothie and Strawberry Goji Smoothies (in first smoothie link).

Strawberry-Goji Smoothie - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Strawberry Goji Smoothie Photo credit: tahinitoo.wordpress.com

6. Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls

Make ’em soon, and make ’em often! There is a nut-free option in the recipe, so you can make these for school lunches. If you don’t want to roll into balls, you can also press into a small pan and cut into squares. I often double the batch (you need a larger processor to do so), and freeze half. They pack perfectly for lunches, and school parties (being nut-free, dairy-free, and also gluten-free) and also terrific when running out to activities.

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls - Plant-Powered Kitchen

7. Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup

This is one of our girls’ favorite soups. The recipe is in eat, drink & be vegan, but I have just posted it for you. Make it for dinner one evening, and send it to school in a thermos for the kiddos another day. Or, just keep the leftovers for a quick dinner another night. Some other soups my girls love include this White Bean Soup and Sweet Potato Lentil Chili.

Mellow Lentil "Sniffle" Soup - Plant-Powered Kitchen

8. Cheesy Sprinkle

This unassuming little recipe with nutritional yeast transforms many of our school lunches from drab to fab. I add it to pasta, and “ta-dah!”, kiddos love it. Sometimes I’ll use a basic marinara sauce, but more often I’ll do a simple slurry of apple cider vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup (just a touch) – mix it up to taste, toss into pasta, then mix in the cheesy sprinkle. Kids LOVE this for lunch. Add in some veg or beans (there’s those tamari roasted chickpeas again!), cubed tofu or tempeh, and it’s a very satisfying lunch. I also sprinkle it into wraps for the girls, with things like cubed potatoes and hummus, and into quinoa bowls. Many possibilities! Note that the original version is nut-based, but I offer a nut-free alternative in the recipe. This is the one I use for school lunches, and the girls really haven’t noticed the difference.

Cheesy Sprinkle - Plant-Powered Kitchen

9. Chia Puddings

This may not be something you pack into lunches – though you certainly could, they are both nut-free – but your kiddos will love coming home to it! I have Chocolate and Pumpkin Chia Puddings posted, and in my upcoming cookbook (details soon), I have an Apple Pie Chia Pudding (plus a Bananascotch Pudding and  PB Pudding with Fresh Berry Swirl, it’s going to be a fun book)!

Chocolate Chia Pudding - Plant-Powered Kitchen

 

10. Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

With the school year comes school parties. Halloween, Christmas, birthdays… someone lost a tooth, someone has a new baby sister, it’s “party day”! Yeah, I’m exaggerating. But not much, us parents know the school party scene. Always a reason for a party – and junky treats. Most of the treats we see going in and out of schools are pretty crummy. So, get a healthier – but DELICIOUS – dairy-free, egg-free chocolate chip cookie recipe in your arsenal! My Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies are a classic, and have almost 250K YouTube views. These are your go-to vegan cookie.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: veganeatsandtreats.blogspot.ca

 

Other Tips for Smart and Plant-Powered Lunches

– Pack lunches the day before. There is already enough chaos in the morning, so pack the lunches during lunch the day before, or the evening before.

– Also fill water bottles! Have them ready in the fridge ready to tote.

 Cook things in batches through the week and weekend. Hummus, tamari roasted chickpeas, muffins, as mentioned above. But also batch-cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, etc. All those staples can be used in wraps, sandwiches, added to soups, pastas, and more.

– Pack plenty of fresh fruit and make it EASY for them to eat. Yes, it feels a nuisance sometimes to peel those mandarins or cut oranges into bite-size pieces and pop into a container. Why not just pack the whole fruit? Because kids have very little time to eat in school, that’s why. So, make it easy for them to eat that fruit. Peel or slice or cut into small pieces and pack in a container along with a fork. They are far more likely to eat it.

– Pack occasional treats – seaweed snacks, baked chips, cookies, a few vegan gummy worms. They have very healthy lunches, let them find a treat once in a while!

– Have stock of different size containers. I have an entire cupboard with different sizes of containers. Some are ziploc, others are reused containers from nondairy yogurt or store-bought dips, etc. The smaller ones are great for fruit and snacky items, the larger ones for pasta, sandwiches, etc. One day I may reveal my crazy cupboard of containers and lids!

– We all need shortcuts. You may not always get to making marinated tofu, making soup, or baking muffins. Get some Amy’s burgers or other veg burgers that you can easily heat and put in a sandwich, and pick up healthier granola bars or snack cookies. Try Amy’s baked beans in a wrap with rice (I always add about 1 cup or more of black or kidney beans to stretch it out) or Amy’s alphabet soup – amp up the nutritional profile by adding beans, cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes, or cubed tofu. Try a pre-marinated tofu which simply needs to be sliced or lightly heated. Keep some quick fixes on hand to avoid mama (or papa) food-prep burnout!

Next, here are some examples of lunches I’ve packed for our girls (photo quality not stellar, but sure to give you the idea):

packing school lunches - plant-powered kitchen

Hummus sandwiches with carrot sticks, fruit cut in containers, maple banana bread (not yet sliced, pack in a little plastic wrap).

Quinoa mixed with tamari roasted chickpeas, tamari/vinegar slurry and cheesy sprinkle, and peas, pineapple-carrot cake (new recipe, not posted yet, sorry!), and fruit.

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, "Banana Oat Bundles".

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, “Banana Oat Bundles”.

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Couple of news-y bits before I sign off:

First, PCRM has launched their September kickstart. I’ve been following PCRM from their early days, and am extremely proud to be partnered with them for this month’s kickstart. Not only are quite a few of my recipes in their 21-day plan, I am their “featured partner” for September. If you sign up and mention my name as the referral, you have the chance to win one of my books at the end of the programplus you will be eligible to purchase the PP15 at a discounted rate. I don’t discount the Plant-Powered 15 ebook anywhere else, this is a special PCRM initiative. If you are new to the kickstart program, it is completely free to register. Every day you receive emails with recipe highlights, tips from celebrities, and more. There is also a community forum. In fact, I have met some very special readers here from the kickstart program! So, it’s a very cool way to network and also, obviously, get immersed in a healthy plant-strong dietary plan.

Second, I have just launched my Plant-Powered 15 on amazon. You can still order through my site, but now you have the option to order via amazon on your kindle. Since many of you already have the PP15, I am asking a wee favor: If you have and love this ebook, can you leave a short review on amazon? Would really help establish its presence. On the topic of reviews, I would also deeply appreciate extra reviews of LTEV. As I work to finish this next cookbook, it is helpful to build the reviews and profile on amazon. I sure appreciate any help. Thank you.

With that, I hope you enjoy these school lunch tips. PLEASE share some of your own! What recipes do you rely on regularly? And, what are your go-to snacks and meals to pack into lunches. Any terrific quick-fixes to share? 

 

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Fresh Herbs 101: How to Shop, Prepare, and Cook (+ my VegNews nomination!)

freshbasilandparsley

Do you love fresh herbs? Do you use them often, or are you a little unsure how to cook with them? Do you think of them as leafy greens? (I sure do!)

If you’ve been following some of my facebook posts and tweets, you’ll know that I’ve partnered with Vegan Mainstream for their August cookbook club. The theme this month is FRESH HERBS! This past week I did a Google Hangout with Emma and Stephanie, talking about herbs and also sauces and spreads. Today, I’m bringing you a Fresh Herb primer!

Start using fresh herbs in your cooking and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner! Still, ranging from fragrant leafy bunches to needly, woody stalks, fresh herbs can be mysterious and even intimidating for home cooks. Let’s get to the basics of fresh herbs – varieties, how to use them, and how they differ from dried herbs. Some of the most common fresh herbs include:

Basil: Basil might be my favorite herb. It is leafy, tender, and beautifully aromatic. The most common variety we see in stores and use most often in cooking is Sweet Basil, though you can seek out other less common types such as Lemon Basil and Thai Basil. The flavor of (Sweet) Basil is slightly peppery with an anise or licorice note. It pairs wonderfully with tomatoes, bell peppers, many pasta (and Italian) dishes, and of course is usually the main ingredient in pesto sauces (although other herbs can also be used in pestos). Basil is one of the more fussy herbs, as it is more perishable (preferring a temperature in between room and refrigeration), and can easily bruise and blacken. After buying, you should refrigerate it, however. If you buy a small package, simply store it as is. But, if buying larger amounts (like bags for making pesto), then lightly wrap the leaves in a large towel/paper towel and then into a plastic bag to refrigerate. Use the basil within a few days, or it will blacken and spoil. To use, trim or pinch the leafy portions away from the heavier stalks.  When using in cooking, it is best to add it to finish dishes or for very brief cooking, as longer cooking destroys the flavor (and color). Generally, dried basil is not a good substitute for fresh, unless a recipe specifies that substitution.

Parsley: Another tender, leafy herb, parsley is available in two common varieties: Italian (or Flat-Leaf) and Curly-Leaf. Curly-Leaf is the variety you often see as small side garnishes on restaurant dinner plates. Personally, I’m not a fan of curly parsley, much prefer the texture of flat-leaf parsley, but the flavors are fairly similar. Parsley is a fairly sturdy herb, even though it’s leafy. It doesn’t bruise easily, and keeps in the refrigerator quite well for several days (store in a plastic bag). As with basil, the stems are stronger in flavor and also tougher, so use the thicker (lower) stalks for vegetable stock or stews, or use them for juicing – or simply compost/discard. The leafy portion is the best part for cooking, and you can chop the upper tender stalks that hold a lot of the leaves. Try to think of parsley past it’s use as garnishing herb, and more of aleafy green. Try it in pestos, minced into salads, or even added to smoothies(yes, I do so)! It is a nutrient-dense leafy green, rich in iron and vitamin K. Who knew, right?! Dried parsley, like dried basil, is not a good substitute for fresh.

Cilantro: The love or hate leafy herb! Cilantro looks a little like Italian parsley, but with softer, more delicate leaves. It is somewhat more perishable than Italian parsley, and its flavor is quite different. If you don’t like the flavor, you might think it tastes “soapy”. On the other hand, if you love cilantro, you might describe its flavor as lemony/pungent/floral. Cilantro is sometimes called coriander, though it should not be confused with, or substituted for, the spice of coriander seed. Coriander seed (used whole or ground) has a lemony essence, but with a warmer, nuttier flavor, which is different from the flavor of fresh cilantro leaves. Do not substitute dried cilantro for fresh. This tender leafy herb is usually used to finish dishes, or added for brief heating through at the end of cooking, so its vibrant flavor is not diminished. Use the tender leafy stalks and trim away from the lower heavier stalks. Cilantro is often featured in Indian, Mexican, and Asian dishes.

Dill: Dill, or ‘dill weed’, is a tender, leafy herb, though it generally isn’t sold in larger quantities as you see with basil, parsley, and cilantro. It works beautifully with potatoes, in salads, and in creamy dips and dressings. Use only the leafy portion, tear or chop away the soft, feathery leaves from the tough stalks. Dried dill can sometimes be used in place of fresh dill, but only where the dried dill will be cooked into the dish. Dill seed is often used in recipes, and the flavor is quite similar to the leafy fresh herb – and more aromatic and flavorful than dried dill – so it may be preferable to use dill seed in some recipe applications rather than dried dill.

Chives: Chives resemble small, thin green onions, but aren’t as strong in flavor. Their hollow shoots have a mild onion flavor, lovely for sprinkling on soups, pastas, salads, and more. You can either chop or slice them, or use kitchen shears to more roughly ‘snip’ them into dishes. If you don’t have chives, you can substitute the very upper portion of green onions. This is a better substitute than dried chives – just use a little less as the flavor is stronger.

Thyme: Fresh thyme is a stalkier, more hardy fresh herb. It is usually found in small packets in your grocery store, though it’s one herb that typically grows quite well in a home garden or on a windowsill. Fresh thyme is another of my favorite herbs. If you don’t care for dried thyme, give fresh thyme a chance – the flavor is much more pleasant. The flavor of fresh thyme is more subtle and buttery than dried thyme, and so while dried thyme can be substituted for fresh in many recipes, it isn’t quite the same. If substituting, be sure to add at the beginning of cooking to allow the flavors to develop and open. Fresh thyme can be added a little earlier in the cooking process (as opposed to leafier herbs like basil and cilantro), but it is sometimes also added towards the end of cooking to keep the flavors vibrant. It accents potato and mushroom dishes beautifully, as well as bean, nut, and fall dishes like stuffings and nut roasts. To remove the leaves from the stalks, hold the stalk in one hand, and then run your fingers down the length of the stalk in the opposite direction of the growth of the leaves. If you have very young thyme (you will know, because the stalks will be very tender like a green, not woody), you can use both the leaves and the stems. No need to strip the leaves from these tender stalks, just chop both to use in recipes.

Oregano: If you’ve ever used ‘oil of oregano’ you are well acquainted with the strong, pungent flavor of fresh oregano! Mind you, the flavor in the fresh herb is far more muted than that medicinal oil, so don’t be put off from trying fresh oregano! Oregano is probably used more in dried form than fresh. It’s added to tomato sauces for pizza and pastas, and in soups and stews. Instead of using dried oregano to simmer in cooked sauces, next time try a little fresh oregano added at the end of cooking/simmering – or to lightly sprinkle over fresh pizza! (Just a little, as oregano is definitely more pronounced than leafy herbs, but it’s wonderfully flavorful.) To use the leaves, strip them away from the woody stalks. Then chop as fine or coarse as you like.

Rosemary: Rosemary is probably the strongest-tasting herb of all mentioned here, and a little goes a long way. It is a very sturdy, hardy herb with leaves resembling pine needles. With that sturdy structure, you can immerse a full stalk of rosemary into soups, stocks, casseroles, and them remove them before serving (much like you would a bay leaf). The leaves can also be stripped from the stalks and chopped to add to dishes. Because rosemary is such a strong, pungent herb, it does benefit from some mellowing through cooking. Dried rosemary is a very good substitute for fresh, though will not have the aroma and flavor intensity. The general substitution equation when replacing dried herbs with fresh herbs is 1/3 of the amount in dried (ex: 1 teaspoon of dried oregano for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano). As detailed above, for herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro, the dried forms are not a substitute for fresh. If a recipe calls for those fresh herbs, use them fresh, don’t substitute dried. If a recipe calls for dried basil, dried parsley, etc, that’s fine – the recipe has been designed to use the dried form. But where a salad dressing might use 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, for instance, don’t substitute the dried. The ‘hardier’ herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano are often more forgiving. Many recipes involving longer cooking times use dried forms of these herbs, because it allows the herbs to release their flavors and develop more body. Now for a few recipes that are truly special because of fresh herbs

Pizza with Fresh Herb Pesto!

Some recipes that make the best of fresh herbs include:

 Enjoy the recipes! Before you zip off…

vegnewsawards

I got word this week that I’ve been nominated in the 2013 VegNews Veggie Awards! I haven’t been nominated for quite a few years, so it’s kind of special to be included in the category of “Favorite Coobook Author” once again. I hear from many of you here and on facebook about how much you love LTEV and my work. Please send that love through a vote in the veggie awards… and wish me luck! I’m in very good company with many talented chefs and authors.

Vegan Travel Tips, My Trip To Newfoundland, and Hummus Recipes!

If I’ve seemed a little distant the past few weeks, it’s because I was – literally. We took a family trip back to Newfoundland to visit family with our girls. The last time we visited was 6 years ago, before our youngest was born. It’s a day-long trip with a 4 1/2 hour time difference. Some of you know that I was born in Newfoundland, so most of my extended family (and all of my husband’s family) live there. It was time us to reconnect with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I was not looking forward to the travel, however, and had no idea it would be even harder than I imagined…

Our trip began with us arriving at Vancouver airport in the morning and getting the announcement that our flight was just cancelled. What?! We don’t take a family trip for six years and then our flight is cancelled when we do? The next flight we could jump on was at 7pm that night. With 3 kids travelling a total of about 11 hours and 4 1/2 hours jet-lag, a red-eye was NOT happening. We talked to the manager of WestJet and eventually we were put up in the airport hotel overnight, given some food vouchers and some credit for future WestJet travel, and booked our flight for the next morning. I didn’t want to go home because there was no fresh food and I knew the girls would be bummed to return home. So, we made it a mini-adventure to stay at the hotel. The girls got to swim and watch planes take off and land, plus they thought it was SO cool to hang out in the hotel. View from our room:

newfoundlandtrip_hotel

The real inconvenience was the food. Eating vegan in an airport is hard. Eating a whole-foods vegan diet and eating well in an airport is near impossible. I had packed a lot of food for the flight, so we ate most of that the first day. But, what about a proper dinner and food the next? We had $150 in food vouchers, which sounds terrific. But, that’s for 5 people for 3 meals, and they had to be used in certain dollar quantities for each vendor. We ate the food we had packed, and that night we ate at the Fairmont Hotel restaurant. This is a very nice hotel, and the restaurant had vegan options. I got a vegetable curry with rice – it was nice but a small portion. Hubby got a roasted vegetable pizza which was beautiful. The girls – we ordered the all-too-typical pasta with marinara sauce. But, their pasta had eggs. So, we ordered it over brown rice. The girls wanted bread but the hotel bread had dairy. I’m sorry, but if you have vegan options on your menu, you need to have vegan bread. How hard is that? Most breads are made without dairy! Frustrating. Dinner was decent and satisfying, but we used the bulk of our food vouchers – $100. Oh well! The next day we had to figure out some food for travel. In the morning, we still had some fruit and muffins and almond butter sandwiches that I packed, so the girls ate those. I grabbed a Starbucks Soy Chai Latte (love those). We picked up some water and granola bars, and then our next best bet for lunch on the plane was Subway. We knew they could do a veggie sub so we ordered a few of those. Our eldest girl had tried the veggie patty and convinced us all to get it. I should have just ordered a full-on veg sub, I was not a fan of that patty – and neither were the other girls or hubby! I took a few bites and passed on the rest. But, at least it was a vegan option, and at least one of us loved it!

I had hoped there would be food options on the plane to purchase, but there was really nothing. I asked if they had fresh fruit, the attendant said “no, trust me, we’ve come a long way with the popcorn chips“. OY! There was an Asian Veggie Wrap, but it had dairy when I looked at the ingredients. So, we snacked on the subs and nibbly food until we got to Toronto. I was wise to tote some Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. They satisfied my treat-need! Plus, they can be made in advance and frozen – so you can prep them a couple of weeks before a trip. Make note!

cocoacookiedoughballs

It made me a little sad to see what people eat regularly, with the time spent in the airport and on flight. Sodas, diet sodas, chips and more chips, just a steady intake of sugar, aspartame, and fat and salt. What is all this “food” we are eating that isn’t even food? All chemical concoctions designed to bring us back for more and continue to be hungry because we are never really nourished. I was a little disturbed and talked to hubby about it, but he told me to relax (as usual). 😉  I guess because I’m so connected to a healthy eating community online that I am often distanced from what society consumes regularly. Being reminded of it wasn’t pleasant. But, it grounds me in what I am doing to help educate and inspire people to reach out to whole plant food choices more often.

Once we hit Toronto I saw light… a sign with a menu that had rice and quinoa bowls, vegetables, tofu, and… KALE! BINGO! I hit the washrooms with the girls (it must be easier travelling with boys!), and then got to that green-glowing Freshii counter! I ordered some quinoa and noodle bowls, and we got on to our next flight to St. John’s. We dug into those bowls and hubby said “I never thought I’d be so happy to see broccoli“. Even the girls were sighing, saying “mom, this is really good“. They ate a lot of veggies, without coaxing! Thank heavens for that food, it got us through our day! We arrived in St. John’s around 1 am, and were eager to get settled after a long day of travel, hence blurry photo. (Real men wear flower backpacks.)

newfoundlandtrip_arriving

The next few days we were adjusting to the time change. In fact, we didn’t really adjust fully until we were about ready to return home! That morning, we popped out for some staple items – sprouted breads, fresh fruit/veg and avocados, nondairy milks, larabars (for out and about), nut butter, and some veggie burgers and a few other quick vegan meals. Before leaving for this trip, I told hubby I was not cooking while in St. John’s. We were staying with his parents, and I was visiting my mom a lot. I decided all of our meals would be quick/simple, and I would go out for some lunches and dinners with hubby and my sisters and mother. We rarely get to do that in Vancouver, so that was the plan!

Our first day there my eldest sister Debbie had a get-together at her house for her daughter’s graduation from university. Great timing for us, we were able to connect with many extended family members and friends. Here I am with my beautiful sister Debbie, and then another of us with the hubbies!

newfoundlandtrip_withDeb

newfoundlandtrip_withfam

Plus, my sis made a BIG pot of veggie chili. Hubby kept saying how good of her that was, we were able to have a decent meal that first day, plus brought leftovers home. Also, she made batches of my cookies! I was so excited I pulled out my camera… yup, and posted to Instagram. Here they are: my Berry Patch Brownies and Troll Cookies (both from LTEV) and my Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. My sis adds peanut butter to them, and they are amazing! (Deb, if you’re reading, please tell us how much you use, I forgot to ask!) My sis made many more batches of cookies while we were there. One day, she welcomed me with an ENTIRE, batch of freshly-baked, still-warm Troll Cookies! Hit. The. Spot.

debcookies

Many happy nanny hugs on the trip. Our girls only see my mom and hubby’s parents every year or two. They sure love spending time with them, it’s hard being so far removed – maybe many of you reading have family living far away and can relate.

newfoundlandtrip_hugs

And I taught mom how to take a selfie! Not sure she’ll repeat it, but pretty good for a first try, right?

Newfoundlandtrip_momselfie

With the time change, most days we weren’t all awake until about 10 am (except me, I’m up with the sun – or earlier)! So, breakfast was light and then I’d lunch, usually wraps with fresh veggies and prepared hummus, or nut butter sandwiches on sprouted bread. As I said, I was keeping things simple. But, simple should still taste good, and I tell you I got sick of storebought hummus. Truly, most brands of hummus give hummus a bad name. They have a weird, predominant flavor from the citric acid preservative. And, some are more garlicky than kiddos like. After a few days eating different varieties, I got sick of them, just couldn’t eat them. I said to hubby “if people think this is the hummus we eat and love, no wonder they think vegan food isn’t good“! We needed other lunch options.

THIS was not one of them.

newfoundlandtrip_sausage

We passed this food truck several times in downtown St. John’s. So very NOT vegan! 

Thankfully, St. John’s has two vegetarian spots that are great for quick meals. The Sprout and The Happy Hummus Hut. We got a terrific lunch at The Happy Hummus Hut one day, and another day stopped in for some snacks (they make dessert rolls with rice paper wraps and raw chocolate or pumpkin ‘fudge’… pumpkin was my fave!). I met the owner, Hlynn. We have tweeted quite a few times. She is incredibly warm and generous, and gave me a couple of her raw savory rice rolls to sample – they were delicious! They have a featured ‘hummus of the day’ each day. How much could I love that? Much!

happyhummushut

And, I had a few dinners at The Sprout, enjoying the Pad Thai (shown below, image credit: The Sprout), Lentil Burger, Tempeh Burger (zoinks! amazing tempeh!), and soups and salads. All delicious meals! One night I had dinner there, then lunch and dinner again the following day. Just slightly embarrassing.

sproutpadthai

We ordered take-out pizzas at Pi Pizza two evenings. They mention some vegan specifics on their menu, including their vegan crust and non-dairy cheese. Though their menu says “soya cheese”, Pi actually had Daiya – which is far better than other (soy-based) vegan cheeses. And, we dined at Quintanas, a Mexican restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they knew about modifying for a vegan diet. They also had Daiya cheese as an option to dairy for their burritos, and so we had a delicious veggie/bean burrito with salad that night. Here I am with my mom and sister having our Mexican meal:

Newfoundlandtrip_Quintanas

We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing on our visit. This trip was all about our girls spending time with grandparents and close relatives, and also hubby and I getting a little time out together (we rarely do), and me getting to have some ‘solo’ time with my sisters and mom. We did, however, take the girls to Signal Hill. One MUST go to Signal Hill when visiting St. John’s. It’s a crime not to! Truly it’s beautiful up there. The wind can literally sweep you off your feet on a gusty day! Check out hub’s hair – and he has thick hair! Our youngest girl kept calling Cabot Tower “Rapunzel’s Tower”… she is a huge fan of the Tangled movie (and I still cry at the ending after seeing it a good 25 times). Yeah.

Newfoundtrip_signalhill

Our eldest loved it, here she is looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. If you look close you can see walking trails… not for the faint of heart in some spots!…

Newfoundlandtrip_signalhill2

Some of you know that I have 5 sisters. All of our names begin with a “D”, and I’m the 5th in line, second youngest. Here I am with my other beautiful (and youngest!) sister, Dayle.

newfoundlandtrip_withDayle

…and with our beautiful mama…

newfoundlandtrip_withDaylemom

Fashion Sidenote: You can’t quite see it fully in this photo, but I am wearing a new skirt I bought from Squeezed Yoga in Toronto. I have seen most of their beautiful, comfy clothes via Melissa West of Namaste Yoga, as she models their yoga wear through her video segments (and on the Squeezed site). After seeing Melissa’s bamboo skirt last year, I had to have one this year! Sign up for their newsletter, because you can get in on pre-orders for new lines. I did just that when I ordered this skirt and got in on their discount. The skirt fits beautifully, and is soft and light. I ordered a small, and when it arrived I choked a little because it looked like and extra-small. But, Donna knows how to design clothes to flatter women’s bodies. When I tried it on, it just fit like a glove skirt. 😀

My eldest sister, Debbie, also has three children so our girls had a blast getting to know them better in person. They also have a wee dog, Winston. Our girls fell in love. Ok, so did I. Think I need to find our family a little Winston!

newfoundlandtrip_winston

Oh, and Deb also has a Porsche! Here we are going for a spin. We took off like Thelma and Louise! … To David’s Tea. Then Toys ‘r Us. Then Starbucks. Party women. 😉

Newfoundlandtrip_porsche

One of the highlights for our girls on the trip was visiting their grandparents’ cabin. Hubby spent many of his summers there as a child, and they have a beautiful big pond and often rabbits, beavers, and yes moose come for a visit! No moose pictures, but lots of water fun!

newfoundlandtrip_swimming

newfoundlandtrip_seadoo

On the return flight home, I was armed with small meals and substantial snacks to carry us through the long day. I made quesadillas with hummus, leftover sweet potato fries (thanks Deb!), veggies, and Daiya for the girls. That was one meal. I also had larabars, granola bars, granola, fresh fruit (apples, oranges, grapes), baby carrots, and some baggies of snack chips for the girls (a healthier alternative than those in airports and on the plane). For our second ‘meal’, I kept it as lightweight/simple as possible with some sprouted grain bagels with almond butter. My bags of food were getting heavy already! In addition to the fruit and veg, we kept hydrated with plenty of water and for me – mint tea on the plane. It was a long flight back – 3 hrs to Toronto, then another 5 to Vancouver, and that’s just flying time! The view from over western Canada, gosh it’s beautiful out here!

newfoundlandtrip_planeview

If YOU are flying or doing other long hours of travel, here are some of my ideas for snacks and small meals. PLEASE feel free to add your own in the comments! —

  • Wraps or quesadillas with hummus and veg. I love using collard leaves for wraps, so while I packed whole-grain wraps for the fam, I snuck in a collard wrap for me!
  • Sprouted grain sandwiches with sliced cucumber/tomato and cashew cheese or rawesome nut dip
  • Whole-grain bagels with nut butter or low-sugar/sweetener preserves.
  • Small containers of hummus along with fresh veggies (cukes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes).
  • Healthy oatmeal-to-go cups, soup cups, and noodle bowls. Search out varieties that are lower in sodium, have organic and natural ingredients, and no artificial ingredients/MSG. Airlines sell these types of noodle/oatmeal cups on the plane, so if you tote your own they can fill with hot water – plus they are LIGHT for packing in your carry-on! At VVC, we took home an oatmeal cup sample from Straw Propeller. That’s one brand of healthier oatmeal cups, there are a few others on the market.
  • Fresh fruit. Keeps you hydrated and is satisfying!
  • Teas. I kept a stash of bags of my favorite teas in my purse while travelling, all through my trip. I could use them at restaurants, visiting with my mom, etc. Plus, I carry small packets of stevia to sweeten my tea. I don’t use stevia in baking or otherwise, but love a little sprinkle in my tea!
  • Dry cereal and individual non-dairy milks for the kids. They can either munch on the cereal straight up, drink the milks straight up, or combine both in a baggy – pack a few spoons!
  • Larabars. They saved our butts through the trip!
  • Granola. Terrific for nibbling. You can find a few decent store-bought varieties, but most are still sweeter than I’d like. Try my Hempanola, Cocoa-Goji Granola, or my oil-free Almond Zen Granola from the Plant-Powered 15!
  • Popcorn, kale chips, and baked chips. For very long flights, crunchy snack foods are great for the kids (ok, adults too). There are healthier options than those sold in-flight or airports!
  • Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or nuts – plain or seasoned. I love the Kaia Foods salt and vinegar pumpkin seeds. Actually, our 4 year old loves them even more. Eat straight up or make a little trail mix with raisins, or mix with popcorn, etc.
  • If you have time to bake/cook: Tamari Roasted Chickpeas, healthy muffins/snackles, Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls, Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars (they keep very well)!

Finally, knowing you love hummus as I do… and knowing that you also believe it such be deemed a food group, after returning from my trip I posted two more hummus recipes for you to enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from ed&bv; it has an entire HUMMUS chapter, hoo-ahh! (link to print/share)

Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from eat, drink & be vegan

and Peanut Sesame Hummus, also from ed&bv (link to print/share)

Peanut Sesame Hummus (background) from eat, drink & be vegan

Make some hummus! Make it often! Double or triple your batches, because it freezes brilliantly. Make it for a friend, travelling without a food processor. 😉 Don’t forget it can be enjoyed slathered on pizzas, used in wraps and sandwiches, thinned out and tossed into pasta, dolloped on baked spuds! Or, put a big ol’ scoop in your salad. Trust me on that one!

p.s. If you are wondering where to subscribe to my blog, link through here. Also, link up with me on facebook for DAILY updates – it’s like my mini-blog!

Have you done any travelling eating plant-powered? Have any words of wisdom or extra food ideas to share

am I vegan enough? am I eating healthy enough?

eat, drink, & BE vegan!

Are you vegan – enough?

Are you eating healthy – enough?

This topic has been brewing in my heart and mind for a while. After returning from Vida Vegan Con, I thought it was a good time to open up this discussion.

You see, before leaving for VVC, I had some trepidation. I’ve been vegan almost 20 years, and yet had never been to an event that signified and exemplified veganism in its entirety like VVC. As most of you know, I came to veganism through my health, and later learned and integrated the animal ethics rooted in the word and movement. Talking with some colleagues before VVC, I was concerned that I wasn’t “vegan enough”.

Recently someone asked me on twitter why I never use the word vegan in my tweets. I was quite surprised. While I know I use the terms plant-powered and plant-based in my work, my cookbooks all have the the word vegan in their titles. I always shop for vegan shoes, clothes, and cosmetics, and choose the same options for my family wherever possible. Yet, in that moment I felt I wasn’t vegan enough.

One morning at the VVC conference, I was working out at the hotel fitness room while listening to Our Hen House. Who should walk in? Jasmin Singer. There were only three people in this fitness room. I laughed at myself, that here I was listening to her podcast with Mariann – and there Jasmin was, a few feet away. Yet I felt completely awkward to interrupt and introduce myself. Perhaps because I felt most of us don’t want to be bothered with introductions while working out. Or, perhaps because I felt I fell short in my vegan-ness. That might sound silly, but truthfully I have much gratitude and respect for people like Jasmin and Mariann, Victoria Moran, Jonathan Balcombe, and Gene Baur. They are the educators about veganism at its core, covering a breadth of vegan living topics including, but not limited to, the vegan diet.

I focus my time where I know I’m most effective – creating recipes and sharing food inspiration. I try to keep abreast of current issues surrounding animal rights and vegan activism, but often fall behind. My work has always teetered between the vegan and plant-based realm, so I guess I have felt connected to both without being attached to one exclusively. Alas, my work is an expression and reflection of being a Libra!

Backtrack to twitter. Shortly after receiving the question about my vegan-ness, I receive another addressing a nutritional issue with my recipes. I’ve always thought my work was healthy, and it certainly has evolved through my books and years of recipe development. Yet in this moment I felt it was not healthy enough.

I realize some of this is social media, and we need to temper the feedback we get and remain grounded in what we do. Yet, after my VVC trip, I realized that I am not the only one that has these insecurities about vegan and health absolution. I talked to some other bloggers that were also concerned that didn’t feel educated and informed enough for the vegan community, and likewise bloggers that felt they were committing health crimes in the plant-based community.

Vegans that aren’t healthy enough. Plant-based people that aren’t vegan enough.

I returned from VVC invigorated and feeling renewed in my connections to veganism. Yet, I wondered if many of us in the community are having these thoughts (myself included), are we alienating those new to the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle with notions of impossible perfection?

I’ve heard from many that eat plant-based but don’t want to identify with the word vegan for this very reason, because they are afraid they will be judged for not doing enough, not being vegan enough. And, I understand that, because the word encompasses far more than our diet. It is a life philosophy, a full belief system and change of consciousness. But if I sometimes feel not vegan enough… do you feel the same? Are you discouraged from making worthwhile changes in their lives and diets for fear of being judged that you aren’t entirely there?

I hope not.

But, let me return to the health component of eating vegan. Healthy vegan eating does matter in the long-term, because it is the only way to sustain and uplift the vegan movement. And, it matters even more when raising children. Yes, more. When you have children, those little lives become paramount in your life. Your compassion can extend to all living beings, but not at the expense of your own children. So, there is no point in discussing the welfare of pigs or chickens or dairy cows if a parent cannot believe that this way of eating can be optimally healthy for their child.

That in itself is entirely ironic when we look at the nutritional standards of the standard diet. But, as parents, we have believed that this is the cornerstone of health for our families – forever. As Dr. T. Colin Campbell writes in Whole:

Our society believes so passionately in the health value of milk and meat that it is hard for us to conceive that we might be wrong – that these foods might, in fact, be very unhealthy. It is too far outside of what we have been taught for decades for us to believe it easily, no matter how true it may be.

We have a lot of work ahead, to demonstrate to parents that a vegan or plant-based diet IS indeed healthy – the very understanding of healthy foods needs to change. Our food choices as a larger population will not change until we have a new definition of “healthy”, one that does not include meat and dairy.

Eating healthy is not about perfection, it's about practice!

So, we work to educate about the nutritional excellence of whole plant foods. Do our efforts communicate a standard of purity, leaving others to feel not healthy enough? We are so passionate about the nutritional beauty of our whole foods like beans and whole grains and leafy greens that we may very well communicate a message of perfectionism. There is no perfection in any diet. There is practice. If we are losing readers because of perceived notions of perfection, then we are failing our causes for improved health and animal welfare.

What also matters is helping people sustain this vegan lifestyle through beautiful, appetizing, sensory-pleasing – and healthy – vegan food. Not every food boasting a V is healthy! Doesn’t mean we cannot eat it, but it does mean we should know the difference. One of my personal food mantras is to focus on eating 90% whole and minimally processed foods. We have room for the treats, sure. Yet, we need to fuel and nourish our bodies for long-term connection and vitality with our vegan diet. I have noticed the more I eat lesser processed and whole plant foods… the more I want them! It might feel a chore at first to move away from the processed choices and make that big salad with beans and leafy greens and veggies for lunch. But not for long! Our bodies adapt and respond. The more we choose healthy foods – foods that ARE ingredients, not FULL of ingredients – the more we enjoy them, and the better we feel. We even begin to crave them.

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Here’s what I realized after reflection on my week at VVC. It doesn’t matter that I am not the most educated about vegan activism. What matters is knowing that animal agriculture is warped and cruel. What matters is that eating animals is not necessary. What matters is choosing not to eat meat and dairy every meal of every day. And finally, what matters is helping to show others the same. 

Vegan food is my activism. My goal is to share whole-foods recipes that will excite you – treats included! And to share messages about real, clean foods to inspire you to grow and thrive in this beautiful diet. Not to be perfect. But to come to understand and love the vegan basics – beans, grains, veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, and greens. To show you how they are the heart of the vegan diet. Whether you come to that diet from an ethical place, or for health reasons.

Is it naive, idealistic, and simplistic to think there is a place we can connect and support one another? That we can find common ground and build on that foundation for the greater good of better human health and also animal welfare?

Probably so. Here’s the thing. My heart is in both places. So, I will continue to reach out to you from both perspectives, with optimism.

That is vegan enough for me. And healthy enough for me. How about you? 

Do you feel these dietary and ethical pressures? How do you resolve them? Please share your insights with others.

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread: Whole-Grain Vegan Breads To Love!

The past few weeks on my facebook page I’ve been posting some of the lunches I pack for the girls at school. After posting a sandwich that I made for hubby, I was asked:

Did you make the bread?” “Any suggestions for good vegan commercially made bread besides Ezekiel?”

A1: No. (breathe a sigh of relief, this is not a bread-making post)

A2: Why, yes I do! I never make bread.

With the recipe development I do and having three young girls, I’d have to do so in my sleep. So thank the vegan heavens that there are good people out there making good vegan breads! I’m going to share some of the brands I buy regularly and love. These are primarily sandwich breads, but I do mention a couple of options for baguettes and artisan breads before finishing. As I’m not sure of availability in particular areas, try asking your whole foods and grocery stores if they can bring in a brand or two. Sometimes they aren’t aware of the demand, and will try carrying a new line.

Note about reading labels: If you are looking for complete, 100% whole-grain bread, look for that on the label. “Multi-grain” is not the same as “whole-grain”. Multigrain sounds as if it has whole-grain products, but really just means that it can have variety (or ‘multi’) of different grains, and those can be refined. “Organic wheat flour” is also not whole-grain, it’s simply organic. Read the ingredients. Most multigrain breads have “wheat flour” or “enriched flour”, neither of which is whole-grain. Look for “whole-wheat” or “whole spelt” or 100% whole-grain on the labels and in the ingredients. All of the sandwich breads I am listing here are whole-grain, some are also organic, and one special variety is veganic! silverhillsbread 1. Silver Hills. This is one of the first whole-grain vegan breads that we discovered. It uses sprouted grains, which make the grains/bread more digestible and nutritious. You can choose from a variety of loaves and bagels, and it looks like they’ve just released hot dog buns and hamburger rolls! I especially like the widepan loaves for sandwiches. They do have a couple of gluten-free loaves, though I wasn’t as impressed with these, but that’s probably because their regular line is so very good. We have been using Silver Hills breads for years. They are a little pricier than standard bread loaves – but you can sometimes find deals at large chains like Costco or smaller stores (we have a corner store that sells it cheaper than our province-wide health food store)!

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2. One Degree Veganic Bread. A recent (and exciting!) find. Our girls especially love this bread because it’s “squishier”. You know how kids simply love squishy, soft bread? Well, while Silver Hills is tender, it has a lot of texture and isn’t always ‘soft’. This One Degree Veganic Bread is very soft and the slices are also usually generous. One Degree is also made from sprouted and organic grains, like Silver Hills. This bread has been slightly more expensive in our health food store than the Silver Hills. When they do have specials, I stock up and freeze quite a few. How I love that this bread announces it’s vegan certification on the label! Not only are the ingredients vegan, but they work with veganic farmers that utilize plant-based fertilizers. Thank you. In short, this is my new favorite vegan bread for our family.

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3. Trader Joe’s Sprouted Whole-Wheat Bread. This is widely available for most of you in the US as it is a Trader Joe’s product. Its texture is more similar to the Veganic bread, a little softer and ‘squishier’. It is sprouted but not organic. It has a sweetness from the dates and raisins, and our girls really like this bread too. Those are the vegan sandwich breads we use. I don’t buy Ezekiel breads for sandwiches because I find it too nubbly and rough for the girls. Plus, the slices are quite thin and small. We do like it for pairing with casseroles, soups, and pastas – yet I typically opt for some local whole-grain artisan breads for dinner meals, such as these: cocolithicbread One that I especially love is a local company called Just Pies that specializes in gluten-free breads. I tell you their gluten-free breads are THE BEST, especially their “Cocolithic” coconut breads. Those are so tender and feel ‘glutinous’ it is hard to believe they are gluten-free. They are also made without yeast and oil. Apparently a magician makes them. There is no website that I can find for the company. They are local to BC, and I buy them at Antony & Sons. peacebombbaguette Another plant-powered baguette that we enjoy at dinner is the Peace Bomb from Dave’s Killer Bread. All of Dave’s breads are vegan and organic, and most are whole-grain (check the FAQs). The girls really love this one, it has a slightly sweetness. As parents, it’s great seeing them eat all those seeds around the baguette without any fuss. Kids can be particular about seeds and it’s easier to rely on nuts and nut butters for it. Next, If you don’t care to make cinnamon rolls like some people (might or might not include me), then try the Sin-Dawg baguette. Wow, delicious! I’ve bought it a couple of times for a morning treat for the girls. It’s so cinnamon-y sweet, no icing needed! Instead, I slather some almond butter on the cinnamon-enriched-slices after toasting. Quite irresistible! Dave’s also has sliced sandwich breads, including a spelt variety. So, that’s another option to consider for sliced lunch breads if this killer line is in your store. Are there any vegan breads that you love and would like to add for readers? Please tell us your favorites.

Vida Vegan Con 2013: The Food, The People, The Fun!

Sitting at my computer for the first time since last Thursday. What a whirlwind trip off to Portland, Oregon for the Vida Vegan blogging conference. This is only the second event in its history, and yet it is a wonderland of vegan personalities and of course, vegan food!

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I arrived Thursday afternoon, and that night went to dinner with my buddy JL, her hubby Dave, and our new friend Ashley from The Unintentional Vegan. I actually saw JL as the elevator doors opened (we stayed at same hotel), and we squealed SO loud I think we damaged Dave’s ears! JL had reservations at Natural Selections. WHAT a find! They had a four-course vegan menu (their menu changes daily), and it was phenomenal. By far the best meal of my visit. I don’t remember the names of the dishes (pop to JL’s blog to check, she took a pic of the menu!), but here are some pics (quality not the best b/c of lighting, and well we wanted to EAT!).

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Every course was exquisite with rounded flavors and special touches. We all literally groaned tasting the first bites of each dish. JL had chosen this restaurant after reading a review by Grant Butler in the Oregonian. If you visit Portland – get there!

The next morning I was meeting my dear friend Heather Nauta for brekkie! We got lucky, the “Kure” juice/smoothie bar was 2 blocks from my hotel, it fit our bill perfectly. I got the “Queen Green” smoothie. Of course. 😉 We also bumped into Lisa Pitman (I hugged her extra long to absorb her joy, see pic below), Nicole Axworthy (photographer for my upcoming cookbook!), Hannah, Angela Liddon, Kate Lewis, and Marika Collins. (Some photos to come.) Here I am with Heather afterwards at the VVC registration:

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Also at registration I met Isa Chandra Moskowitz for the first time.

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We got our swag bag. Holy shmokes, lots of stuff:

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I had my first panel that morning – “Compassionate Parenting” with Sayward Rebhal, Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten:

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photo credit Ami Baio, heart-shaped sky

Here I am later with Sayward:

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I had no idea she was so tall! I have slight heels on here, and Sayward is in flats! I missed getting photos with Michelle and Josh. What a beautiful, kind group of people. Splendid energy, loved it.

After that panel I met my Canadian blogging buddy, Ricki Heller and we snapped a pic with Angela. Canadian Plant-Power!!

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This is the first time I’ve met both, despite having ‘known’ them through blogging and email for years. What a pleasure to hang out with these ladies. Ricki’s new book is coming out this fall, by the way. If you are gluten-free and vegan and love healthy sweets – just go preorder! Angela was so unassuming and humble despite her huge fan following, she is as lovely as you can imagine – and yes, she glows. 😉

Food interruption!! Sampled this Wayfare oat ice cream. O M G.

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There was a LOT of decadent vegan food at the conference. Coconut Bliss also have a new Salted Chocolate Caramel flavor (WOW!) and So Delicious has a new sugar-free ice cream (also amazing). Thank HEAVENS the kind people from Portland Juice Press let me monopolize their Saturday morning sample table (later I scored a whole bottle, saved my butt that day)! Later Angela Liddon and I escaped with Tess Masters (aka The Blender Girl!) for another green juice! Here I am with Tess, must admit I have bit of a girl crush! :)

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Also finally met my friend Gena. She is also so unbelievably real and down-to-earth, despite her huge online presence and career accomplishments. Her smile brightens my heart.

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Group pic with Ricki, Heather, Christy, JL and Gena:

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Later I did the “Art of Writing Recipes” panel with Terry Hope Romero and Nava AtlasJason Das tweeted this sketch of us afterwards. HOW COOL! (And, how did I miss meeting you, Jason?!) It was a flurry of activity and people.

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Here I am later with Nava. What a privilege to meet this vegetarian and vegan cookbook pioneer. I have communicated by email so many times with Nava, and this was our first time to meet. I felt like I’d known her forever, so easy to talk to, great sense of humor, and so much career wisdom.

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Also reunited Fran Costigan (we first met at Summerfest). Here I am with Fran and Brian Patton (aka The Sexy Vegan). Brian is funny and witty in his videos, and in person he is that and also a really sweet guy. I’ve been tweeting with him the last month, he is uber-fun. I’m sure I’ve annoyed the heck out of him, repeatedly telling him to get gifts for his beautiful pregnant wife!

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Also reunited with Allison Rivers Samson and Jill Nussinow. Couple pics of these vegan divas!

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Jill with Lisa and Nicole…

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If you’re still with me (!), here’s that “joy hugging” with Lisa:

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My 3rd and final panel was “oversharing and privacy lines” with Susan Voisin and Joanna Vaught. Gosh, so blown away by the spirit of personalities at this conference. Again, for someone with the reputation and fan base that Susan has garnered, she is one of the most genuine and gentle people I have ever met. This panel was useful for many bloggers I think, to determine what type of blog they want to have (more lifestyle-oriented like Joanna, or more recipe-based like Susan’s or mine), and how much of our personal lives we are willing to share. Joanna was engaging and humorous, first time I met her as well!

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I met Whitney of Eco-Vegan Gal fame. I must admit, I was a little nervous meeting her – she is so savvy. But, I should not have been. Whitney is every bit as warm and beautiful as she appears in her videos.

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Here we are at the Galarama Saturday night. Isn’t she just naturally stunning? She complimented me on my style! I cannot tell you how lovely that is to hear as a mom of three normally bustling about in day-to-day routines. Only wish I had more time with you, Whitney!

With Grant Butler at gala:

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Another gala pic, with Jared Bigman. We had quite a few laughs, made my night!

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And with Cadry Nelson from Cadry’s Kitchen:

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So many pics, so little time…

Another with JL. Gosh, she is FUNNY. She cracked me up at dinner the first night, and her no-nonsense attitude is refreshing.

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I met many other people just briefly but didn’t get a chance to talk with them or get photos. Didn’t even get a photo with VVC organizers Jess, Janessa, and Michele (boo). As much fun as it was (and it WAS)… boy, it was good to get home. Seeing the girls jumping around in the van to pick me up was the best. Our eldest had drawn this to welcome me home:

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I think it’s a peace offering for the week of housework I have ahead of me. 😉

Were you at VVC? Tell us what your favorite eats were, the highlights, etc! 

(p.s. for more photos and fun, check out #VVC2013)