Archive for allergy

Soup, soup, a tasty soup, soup

Today’s post is brought to you by p-p-p-p-p-p-procrastination.

Soup #1: Alphabet soup

Alphabet soup

Alphabet soup

I recently purchased Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix in an attempt to broaden my dietary range of proteins. It is a simple mix of “green split peas, yellow split peas, barley, lentils and vegetable pasta”. If you do not have to worry about cross-contamination, I would suggest making your own mix from bulk goods to save a little money.

Ingredients (2 servings):

Directions:

1. Sauté onions and garlic until transparent. (I did this with water instead of oil.)
2. Add water or broth, tomato, other vegetables and the soup mix. Bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 60 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Other vegan vegetable soup recipes:

Soup #2: Black bean soup

Black bean soup

Black bean soup

Black beans are an excellent source of both protein and fibre. Although black beans and other legumes are an incomplete source of protein, one can easily combine them with grains to form an excellent source of complete protein.

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • ½ c onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 c black beans, canned
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c zucchini, cubed
  • ½ c corn
  • 1 c water or vegetable broth
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 t cumin
  • garlic salt and peper
  • ½ avocado

Directions:

1. Sauté onions and garlic until transparent. (I did this with water instead of oil.)
2. Add the beans and a little bit of water. Fry for a few minutes.
3. Add water or broth, tomato, other vegetables, cumin and 2 T’s of yeast. Bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
5. Add remaining yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with avocado slices.

Other black bean soup recipes:

– Aly

Articles of interest:

PS Let me know if you have an awesome soup recipe that should be included!

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Quick post!

Happy belated birthday to the lovely Maureen!! You deserve all the best <3!

The due date for my thesis is quickly approaching leaving me with little time to get up to any exciting shenanigans in the kitchen. This means that I will be eating a whole lot of my favourite speedy meal over the next month:

Baked whole wheat pita bread, soynut butter and smashed banana with a ton of cinnamon.

It tastes better than it looks: baked whole wheat pita bread, soynut butter and smashed banana with a ton of cinnamon.

I am finally starting to overcome the loss of peanut and almond butters, and am learning to love soy butters (lately I’ve been enjoying Salba Olé brand and the I.M.Healthy brand which carries a dairy-free chocolate spread). I usually eat this after working out as it is a great source of Potassium, protein and carbohydrates.  I am not sure what I would do without soy and got quite worked up when I thought that it might have been responsible for a massive allergic reaction I had a few weeks ago!  I am also not sure what I would do without the Cavendish banana!! Do you?!

Speaking of unsustainable practices (re: bananas), apparently advice to eat fish hurts the environment! Surprise, surprise! In other news, the EU is apparently phasing out some aspects of animal testing in the cosmetics industry.

– Aly

PS Ugh. What?! WHAT?!!

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Product Review: Enjoy Life Snack Bars

It has been awhile since my last post! Anyway, here I am!

With the deadline for my thesis quickly approaching, I have not had the energy or time for culinary experimentation. In an attempt to break the monotony of my diet and to find a quick energy fix (not an easy task when  living with a myriad of food allergies!), I picked up some Enjoy Life Snack Bars.

Enjoy Life Foods is a company dedicated to making products free of the most common U.S. food allergens (gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish). As a result, their products are also vegan-friendly. (Looking for allergy-safe and vegan friendly chocolate chips? Look no further! Available in Ottawa at Market Organics.) Unfortunately Enjoy Life products do tend to be a bit pricey – I was partially motivated to give the snack bars a chance because they were on sale.

Back to the snack bars! I tried out the “cocoa loco” and “sunbutter crunch” flavours.

barsunbutterko_smallThe sunbutter crunch bars are as “buttery” and rich as the name suggests. I would no’t call them crunchy though, especially in comparison to the granola bars I used to eat as a child. The texture was very chewy and quite enjoyable. The bars are more sweet than salty, which is alright with me! They have about 4 g’s of sugar per bar and more importantly, 3 g’s of protein.  They also have some B-vitamins, which may be lacking in a vegan diet without adequate supplementation. I found these bars more satisfying to eat after a workout than the chocolate ones.

cocoa_loco_sm1

The cocoa loco bars had a slightly grainier feel to them and were not as rich or “buttery” as the sunbutter crunch bars. I was slightly disappointed with them as they were not as chocolatey or sweet as I had expected based on the name and quantity of sugar (9 g’s per bar!). They also have less protein than the sunbutter flavour with only 2 g’s per bar. (The vitamin and mineral content are comparable.) I did not find them as satisfying or filling as the sunbutter crunch bars – this could be a  result of the slightly lower caloric and fat content, but I imagine it had more to do with the insufficient amount of chocolate.

The lack of pre-made snack bars out there for vegan food-allergy sufferers makes these bars seem absolutely fantastic! They are an extremely convenient and portable addition to any allergy-sufferer’s lunch bag (the bars are individually wrapped). I am not sure if they would satisfy someone with a larger appetite than mine though, as they are quite small (28 g per bar at 7 cm x 2.5 cm x 1.5 cm). Although I would recommend these to anyone with severe food allergies, I am not sure that these would be a valuable investment for everyone else due to their high cost and small size.

– Aly

Update: A vegetarian restaurant called “The Green Earth” opened in mid-February. The menu is supposedly 98% vegan.

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My belated Christmas-dinner post… and some other fun stuff

Thanks to everyone who suggested recipes in response to my plea for ideas. We hosted dinner for the extended family on Christmas day, and I was pretty pumped to try out some new experiments on a group of unsuspecting victims. Er, guests. I ended up making three vegan dishes (two of which were gluten-free).

Of all the recipes submitted, I picked Ricki’s Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites. I liked how they are both gluten-free and vegan, and as well were low in sodium. Plus I knew I could serve them with my West-Indian Mango Chutney in a communal fashion, which is important for group dinners, I think. Just like Ricki, I omitted the caraway seeds and used fresh cilantro. I used toasted, smashed rice bread for the bread crumbs, and used a cookie cutter to get disc-shaped servings:

Ricki's Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

I really liked these little bites and I think they went fantastically with my Jamaican souvenir (the jar of mango chutney).

I sort of guessed at the baking time, but 350 deg C for 15-20 mins seemed to do the trick. It might have been a bit too new-agey for a traditional family dinner, but everyone seemed like it… or at least they seemed to appreciate the effort I put in!

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 a baked sweet potato, flesh scooped out
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (that is, take 1/2 a cup dry quinoa, and cook it)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in non-stick skillet.
2. Add beans to pan and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring now and then.
3. Turn off heat. Mash beans in pan till they’re about half crushed. Put in big bowl with all the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. If too moist, add more bread crumbs.
4. Form into patties. Grill or bake.

We also made glazed carrots, corn, and braised brussel sprouts (all of which are also gluten-free):

glazed carrots

corn

braised brussel sprouts

Braised Brussels Sprouts:

4 cups brussels sprouts
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 tsp Braggs soy sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Steam brussels sprouts for 10 minutes in boiling water. Set aside. Spray a little olive oil in a large non-stick and heat on medium heat. Saute the shallots and garic for 2 minutes. Add the steamed brussels sprouts and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, covered, on high heat. Add balsamic vinegar, black pepper, nutmeg, soy sauce. Cook or 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Add the parsley and broth. Cook for 5 minutes more, uncovered. (per serving, 112 calories, 22 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 8.6 g fibre).

I also made The Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, but I forgot to take a picture! Which is too bad, because this recipe was all kinds of bitchin’, and it’s gluten-free to boot. It was really sweet and desserty but also a bit tangy because of the citrus juice.

You can see it in the picture below, above the corn but below the quinoa bites. In the top right corner is my aunt's delicious beet salad.

I also made, for dessert, a double batch of my favourite lemon-cranberry bread:

lemon-cranberry bread

Which accompanied another dessert item, fruit salad:

fruit salad & lemon-cranberry bread

So Christmas dinner was a huge success and it was great seeing friends and family again.

A couple of times in Jamaica last week, I ate a dish of sauteed spinach with raisins. I successfully recreated this simple recipe yesterday by sauteeing about 8 cups of spinach in broth with a handful of sultana raisins and one chopped red pepper. WIN.

sauteed spinach with raisins

With a couple extraneous mangoes burning a hole in my fruit basket, I made Indian Mango Curry Dressing, a recipe from a Raw cookbook I bought my sister for Christmas:

Indian Mango Curry Dressing

Indian Mango Curry Dressing:

1 medium (or 2 small) mangoes, pitted
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil from a dark bottle (I used half oil half water)

Blend until smooth. This dressing is a major WIN because it’s delicious and creamy! It’s nice to have a vegan dressing that’s not a vinaigrette.

Next, I wanted to make a big veggie-tofu-noodle dish to last me a couple days. I used this product that I found in my fridge. My mother bought it at a huge chinese grocery in north Toronto

The label reads: Tofu Shirataki. Spaghetti Shaped Noodle Substitute. No cholesterol, no sugar. Gluten-free. Vegan. Guilt-free. 20 calories , 3 g carbs, and 2g fibre per serving. 2 servings per bag.

Has anyone else heard of this product? I’m super skeptical about it. When I read “20 calories per serving”, I became pretty wary, especially since it came from Chinatown. But then I read on the label that it’s shipped from House Foods in California. California = legit? I don’t know. Help?

I cooked the "noodles" up and they looked and tasted exactly like ramen noodles! (seen here tossed with jerk seasoning). So what's the deal with these things? Anyone?

I had also been marinating some tofu in a ziplock bag with jerk seasoning paste (from jamaica) mixed with ketchup, so I fried those up. I also sauted some carrots, peppers, zucchini, celery, black beans, cilantro, and green onion with another dose of jerk paste + ketchup.

I wasn't really sure how to pull of this whole "jerk" thing, so I just added it to everything.

Et voila! Lunch for the week. Can anyone tell me if I cooked with jerk properly? I have never tried the flavour before, since it’s always used with meat dishes, but I think it’s a very tantalizing mixture of spices and I definitely want to cook jerk again.
-Maureen

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Restaurant Review: Live Organic Food Bar (Toronto, ON)

I’ve got a fair bit of food to post from the last couple of days.

This will probably be my last food post for a little while as I’m going on a trip! I am soooo very excited. Actually, it’s two trips that I coupled together to save airfare. First, Omnivore Boyfriend (O.B.) and I are headed to sunny Santa Cruz, California for a week of surfing. Surfing is my favourite sport (I’ve surfed in 3 different oceans) and I LOVE California so I really couldn’t be more ecstatic about this leg of the trip. I’m probably going to eat sandy tomato & cucumber sandwiches all week because I know there is a grocery store in town and I’m certainly not eating take-out for 7 days.
Next, O.B. is heading home, and I’m travelling solo to Canmore, Alberta, to meet up with a group from the Alpine Club of Canada for a week of scrambling/hiking in the Rocky Mountains. We’ll be staying in a cabin and the entire week is catered by a woman who, apparently, is possibly the most incredible chef I’ll ever encounter. She is aware of all of our food restrictions (including my veganism) and I’ve been told it’s not a problem, so I should have TONS of vegan-food pictures to post when I get back. (And of course, envy-inducing pictures of the Californian beaches and the Rocky Mountains).

So, onto the food! On a whim, I invited my omni Maritimer friend Mel out to a raw, vegan, organic food bar called Live. Mel admitted to having eaten vegan before only “accidentally”, but she was happy to have brunch at Live (bless her adventurous soul) and I’m delighted to report that she thoroughly enjoyed her meal.

My meal was mostly raw, I think, and gluten- and nut-free. I had the Cowboy Wrap and a blueberry-raspberry spritzer.

Mel had French Toast and a glass of juice, the name of which escapes me, but it contained fresh fruit juices.

The food was a bit pricey at Live but the food was all kinds of awesome. My Cowboy Wrap was filled with grilled tempeh, vegetables, and a southwestern sauce. Some places you go to for a meal (i.e. pubs, smaller restaurants) and you KNOW that just slap a Yves veggie burger onto a Dempster’s bun and bill you $11 for it? I got the feel at Live that everything was carefully prepared by hand. After all, most options are gluten-free and nut-free, requiring a high degree of diligence against contamination (a big problem in manufactured goods).

My rating for the Live Food Bar is 5 stars. I didn’t get a rating from Mel, an omnivore, but I think it resembled two thumbs up.

Hmmm… I just realized how tired I really am. I think I’ll save the rest of my pics for another post. So perhaps this isn’t my last food post after all. Happy Tuesday!

-Maureen

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Food crises: global and personal (with product review)

In case you have been locked in an ivory tower and have not noticed rising food prices at home or food riots around the world, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently announced that billions of dollars are needed to boost agricultural industries in order to deal with global food shortages which are resulting in substantial increases in the cost of food. The UN World Food Programme states that the problem is a result of “increased energy costs, rising demand from economic growth in emerging economies, the growth of biofuels and increasing climatic shocks such as droughts and floods“. The issue is obviously more complex than that, and I am certainly not claiming to have a good grasp of the situation. Although I may not be completely informed, I still feel that increased agricultural production is not an adequate solution as it does not consider the detrimental effects of intensive and unsustainable agriculture on the environment. The CBC has two websites (here and here) dedicated to the world food crisis that I would recommend if you are interested in learning more.

I have been having a food “crisis” of my own lately, which seems particularly banal to write about in context of current world issues, but I was feeling some pressure from my lovely co-author to pick up the blogging slack. As some of you may or may not know, I have a tree nut allergy along with an associated sensitivity to a million and one fruits and vegetables. Not all tree nut allergy sufferers are allergic to peanuts, which are a legume. However, it is incredibly difficult to guarantee that peanut products have not been cross-contaminated with tree nuts. In spite of this knowledge, I have continued to eat peanut butter, as it is one of my favourite foods. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that my body is no longer capable of consuming my beloved PB. In a desperate bid to find a substitute, I shelled out over 9$ (DISGUSTING in comparison to the price of PB) to try out a soynut butter (soynuts are roasted soy beans).

I purchased Selecta Peabutter (made in Montreal) from the Herb and Spice on Bank St. Aside from being produced in a nut-free facility, it is also gluten free. It approximated the texture and taste of PB fairly well, although the taste is distinctly that of a soynut product. I think it will do as a fine replacement for PB in times of desperation. The only problem with this stuff is that it is ridiculously expensive, which may sway my decision to purchase it again.

– Aly

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