Sunday, January 31, 2016

Peachy Dessert Parfait (vegan, healthy, gluten-free option)

This dessert parfait features a base of cultured coconut (aka coconut yogurt) mixed with semi-sweet chocolate chips and a bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Layering this yogurt mixture with naturally sweet and healthy California cling peaches and crunchy granola makes for a satisfying taste sensation that will have you forgetting about rich, fatty desserts. #vegan #glutenfree #healthy

Perhaps you can start the new year off with a total commitment to eating healthy foods like salads, fruits, vegetables and legumes, without any chocolaty desserts or sweet candies. But I'll bet that come February most of us are about ready for a change of pace. That's where balance comes into the equation.

I have been doing well this January, focusing on smoothies, smoothie bowls like my Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl, juices and salads. But I have a long history of devotion to dessert and I know that denying myself any sweets won't work indefinitely. So recently I created this healthy dessert parfait to satisfy my cravings in a healthy way - a way that doesn't encourage overindulging.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Amazing Teen & How You Can Help Hungry Kids #Toonies4Tummies

Barely a day goes by without an argument (or two) about food in this house. We argue about how many cookies the little gal can have when she gets home from school. She complains about how much fruit is in her lunch instead of "good" snacks like brownies and tiny banana cakes. My 13-year-old son complains about each night's "healthy" dinner and my latest "organic" snack purchase.

As much of a pain as this is, you know what's great about it? We argue about food because we have plenty of it. We get to make choices about what we eat each and every day. It breaks my heart to think about children (or anybody really) going hungry. When my son wakes up late for school and declines food before heading out to the bus, I can't stand the thought of him attempting to listen and learn without food in his belly. Then I imagine kids who go without breakfast every day. Kids who don't have access to healthy meals and snacks, for whatever the reason. Kids who feel the rumble of hunger deep down in their bellies and find it difficult to concentrate on anything else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thrifted Valentine's Day Table Finds & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #68

I went to the Salvation Army thrift store yesterday in search of items for our celebratory Valentine's Day table. The store staff had wisely grouped many items at the front of the store related to Valentine's Day - there were lots of little Valentine's Day cards (the kind the kiddos give out at school) and plenty of plastic hearts. I found these cute heart plates, which I thought were perfect for putting out chocolate treats on Valentine's Day. They were made in China and they have a dollar store look about them, while still being priced at 99 cents each. Having just donated items, however, I had a coupon for $10 off on a $25 purchase. So of course I went looking for more items to ensure my purchase would add up to $25. Not as easy as it sounds, because I'm much more picky about what I take home than I used to be a few years back.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls from Veganomicon #VeganCookbookLove

Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls - the classic recipe from Veganomicon - with lots of tips for rolling your own veg sushi. #vegan #healthy #sushi #homemade #recipes #recipe

Does anybody else feel that January is just whipping by? It's like the Christmas tree was up yesterday and now it's almost time to get out the heart garland and searching for vegan Valentine's Day recipes. Unbelievably it's the last week of Veganuary and our #VeganCookbookLove theme will soon come to an end. (Although if you know how much I love vegan cookbooks, you know there will be more to come this year!)

For this final week, I thought I'd share a recipe from a vegan classic - Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. As cookbook authors Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz note in the intro to Veganomicon, "it's a good old-fashioned, all-purpose cookbook." Of course the word "old-fashioned" is used loosely here - because there is little that's old-fashioned about a vegan cookbook. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

I have been highlighting some of my favourite vegan cookbooks on the blog this month for Veganuary (when people switch to a vegan diet for the month or longer). Not surprisingly, most vegan cookbooks are focused on good health in addition to delicious vegan recipes. So, even if you aren't planning to go vegan, they are a handy resource to have on your bookshelves in your quest for better eating habits.

Naturally this month I have been examining my own diet a little more closely and cutting back on some of the refined sugars I normally consume. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I have been eating lots of fruit, both fresh and frozen. I got this mix in the photo above from the freezer section at Costco. Within one large bag, there are six smaller bags, portioned to make two smoothies each. Each bag contains blueberries, raspberries, green chickpeas, bananas and spinach. You simply add liquid (and another banana in my case).

How To Turn Old Toys Into Snow Globes #12monthsofdiy

How to Repurpose Old Plastic Toys as Snow Globes - If the kids are having trouble letting go of old toys, let them pick a few plastic figures to use for #diy snow globes. They can help to create their own globes. #toys #kids #organization #fun #family #crafts #craft #idea

In my New Year's Tree post, I talked about the "branches" that are guiding me in these early months of 2016. While these toy snow globes might simply look like a fun little project to do with the kids, they also fit nicely into three of my branches (areas of focus) - order, creativity and family.

In terms of order, I have done a ton of de-cluttering over the last six months but there is still quite a load of stuff in our basement storage room, much of it old toys. Although the kids are 11 and 13 now and rarely use these toys, they have trouble letting go. While most of the small plastic figures they have collected over the years need to be tossed, I thought it would be fun to ask the kids to pick out a few to keep on their dressers inside homemade snow globes. Therein lies the "family" part of the equation - ie. spending time together making snow globes. And the creativity part, well I guess that's obvious!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Creamy Curried Chickpeas with Potatoes (vegan, gluten-free) & a New Non-Dairy Beverage (With A $50 Whole Foods Giveaway)

This recipe for Creamy Curried Chickpeas with Potatoes is both vegan and gluten-free. It can be ready in under an hour and most of that time is cooking time, so you can be doing other things (like browsing Instagram or catching snippets of your fave show on Netflix). #vegan #wholefoods #glutenfree #healthy #plantbased  #recipe

When the weather turns chilly, there's nothing so comforting as a warm meal - a hearty dish that's both nourishing and delicious, like these Creamy Curried Chickpeas with Potatoes. I am a big fan of the chickpea, or the garbanzo bean if you will. Whatever you call it, this humble-looking legume has a satisfying body and a willingness to absorb the flavours of a tasty sauce or seasoning.

This recipe for Creamy Curried Chickpeas with Potatoes is both vegan and gluten-free. It can be ready in under an hour and most of that time is cooking time, so you can be doing other things (like browsing Instagram or catching snippets of your favourite show on Netflix). You might say, "If this recipe is vegan, how is it 'creamy'?" Fair question. The curry sauce is made creamy with the addition of a rather exciting new non-dairy beverage, made right here in Canada. It's called Veggemo and it's the first non-dairy beverage to originate from veggies.

My Heated Chip and Dip Tray & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #67

One of the 5 "branches" of My New Year's Tree this year is order. Aren't we women always searching for that? As such, I am continuing to sort through my (many) belongings, putting my hands on each of them in turn, to see what brings me joy.

I uncovered this chip and dip dish in the basement. It was thrifted from my mom's house (my favourite "store") and I had forgotten I even had it. Which should mean that I get rid of it, no? But you see, the thing is, it heats up. It's a Cook's Essentials heated chip and dip tray - there's a red stoneware chip tray, a removable stoneware bowl and a heating base with a detachable cord. You can keep a dip warm or serve a hot cheese dip. Sure I don't actually eat cheese, but it will come in handy for when I figure out how to make a good vegan cheese sauce.

Should it stay or should it go? What say you?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Vegan Everyday (Cookbook Review, Recipes & Giveaway) #VeganCookbookLove

Buddhist Noodle Bowl recipe, from Vegan Everyday, by chef Doug McNish #vegan #healthy #wholefoods #glutenfree

It's week three of Veganuary, and time to shine some light on and share some love with another great vegan cookbook. This week I'm looking at Vegan Everyday, a weighty cookbook filled with vegan and gluten-free recipes from Toronto chef Doug McNish. Read on to enter to win this fab recipe collection.

Today I'm sharing two of the 500 (500!) recipes featured in Vegan Everyday. I chose two healthy entrees that I feel sure will help you with any new year's goals around healthy eating you (and I) may have. This Buddhist Noodle Bowl, above, combines silky soba noodles with a rich, salty broth, aromatic ginger and crunchy fresh vegetables. A simple and satisfying evening meal.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Year, New You (Book Reviews, Recipe & Giveaway)

This Coconut Yogurt, Berry and Hemp Heart Parfait is part of the cleansing diet in The Detox Prescription. The hemp hearts add heartiness and contain the powerful phytochemicals ellagic acid and resveratrol, which reduce inflammation, inhibit oxidation of LDL (“lousy” cholesterol), protect nerve cells, and prevent insulin resistance. Berries have a lot less sugar by weight than many other fruits. #vegan #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #fruit

I was really skinny growing up - I gained the "Freshman 15" my first year of university (thanks to my meal card) and I was still slim. Two decades and two kids later, I have myself a muffin top. It has taken me a while to come to terms with that lovely fleshy roll (about the last decade actually) but I finally decided to just buy higher jeans. My thanks to American Eagle Outfitter high-waisted jeggings!

My dad and his siblings are really slim - my dad can eat big bowls of ice cream during the night and never gain a pound. But I have watched my gorgeous mummy struggle with her weight for as long as I can remember, so I know just how strong the genetic component of weight is. If you wish you could lose 5, 10 or 50 pounds, I'm not here to add to your guilt. You are beautiful, Know that. Feel that. But maybe (like most of us past a certain age) you have aches and pains and health concerns. Maybe you have a desire for better health, a desire to worship your hardworking body and treat it to an abundance of beneficial nutrients and friendly, life-sustaining foods and activities. With that in mind, I have two book suggestions for you. (Oh, and read on for the recipe for the healthy, tasty breakfast parfait pictured above.)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl (vegan, gluten-free)

Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl - the New Year's #healthy answer to peach pie, with canned peaches (handy in winter!), a touch of decadent coconut cream & toppings like coconut, blueberries, oats & cinnamon. #vegan #glutenfree #bowls #smoothies #smoothiebowls

This Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl is the New Year's healthy answer to peach pie. It's a tasty blend of California cling peaches, a touch of decadent coconut cream, bananas, Medjool dates and toppings like coconut, blueberries, oats, chia cereal and cinnamon. Besides being super healthy and delicious, this peach smoothie bowl is vegan and gluten-free. It makes for a great start to your day or even a satisfying evening snack. If you fill up on something healthy in the evening, you're sure to reduce junk food cravings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Fave Thrifty Finds of 2015 & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #66

Thrifty & Vintage Gems of 2015 - my fave vintage, gifted and thrifted items and how I use them in my daily life #vintage #thrifty #thrifted #shopping #thriftstores #opshops

Thrift lovers unite in 2016! With 2015 behind us and surely more thrift shopping in our futures in 2016, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my favourite items/posts of last year. It was interesting to examine my old posts and reflect on which thrifted and gifted items became favourites, brought joy and were just generally more useful. Of course there were other items that ended up kind of falling to the wayside. And that's just as telling, isn't it?

I highly recommend looking back at your old purchases to help you find better, more useful treasures going forward! It goes back to the advice of popular organization expert Marie Kondo - keep only those items that bring you joy. And each of the items pictured above gives me joy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Salad Samurai (Cookbook Review, Recipes & Giveaway) #VeganCookbookLove

Cauliflower Potato Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero. Can replace some of the #cauliflower with pasta too! A healthy main meal salad for the new year! #vegan
Photo from Salad Samurai.

It's the second week of Veganuary! How are your New Year's resolutions or goals going? If adding more healthy meals to your repertoire is a focus, then have I got another great cookbook for you! Last week I shared a look at the first vegan cookbook I ever bought - How It All Vegan  (still one of my favourites). This week I am sharing recipes from the incredible Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love, a vegan cookbook devoted entirely to - you guessed it - salads.

I'm the first to tell you that it irritates me when restaurants offer salad as the only vegan option. How exceedingly dull. But if they offered salads like the ones in Salad Samurai everything would be golden. This book has a wealth of meal-worthy, scrumptious and healthy salads.

Friday, January 8, 2016

75+ Vegan Smoothies for a Healthy New Year

Over 75 vegan smoothie ideas for a healthy new year from popular bloggers. #vegan #glutenfree #healthy #recipes #smoothies #breakfast #family #wellness #recipe

There's no question that concocting a delicious, nutritious smoothie is a great way to start your day. But sometimes we run out of fresh ideas, right? At this time of year when we naturally put a renewed focus on healthy eating, I turned to some incredibly talented blogging friends for vegan smoothie inspiration. And boy did I get it!

I was salivating looking at all of these smoothie recipes. Whether you are searching for a green smoothie, a fruity smoothie or a dessert-like smoothie, there are plenty of options here to satisfy your desires. Over 75 of them in fact! With all kinds of ideas for add-ins to make your smoothies healthy, delicious and extra-special! So go ahead and sample one or two or three. You need these smoothies in your life!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tofu in Peanut Sauce (vegan, gluten-free)

Tofu in Peanut Sauce - All natural homemade peanut sauce on crispy extra-firm #tofu cubes. A delicious, healthy meal on the table in under 30 minutes! #vegan #glutenfree #healthy #recipes #vegetarian

Tofu is one of my favourite foods. Are you nodding your head up and down right now in agreement or shaking it side to side as in, "You're crazy sweetheart!" I hope it's the first, but if it's the latter, let's address your feelings about tofu right now. If people don't like tofu, it often stems from one of two things - they haven't tried it and it looks plain and unappealing or they have tried it but their first experience with it was of blandly cooked soft tofu.

While tofu is plain on its own, the wonderful thing about it is that it takes on other flavours beautifully. And YOU MUST start off with extra-firm tofu. It's a much kinder introduction to tofu than soft tofu. Extra-firm is amazing cut up in cubes for a stirfry or cut into triangles and baked in a teriyaki garlic sauce!

The 5 Branches of My New Year's Tree - aka My Not-Really Resolutions

"Everyday life has become my prayer."
- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

The 5 Branches of My New Year's Tree

I suppose it could be taken as a sign of cowardice that I don't make New Year's resolutions. Yes, it's true I don't want to set myself up for failure, however being kind to ourselves is always a good practice, no? Rather than setting up resolutions, come January I like to look around for inspiration. You could simply carry on as per usual - January 1st is just another day after all. But as we crack open the packaging on our brand new calendars, it's kind of fun to take stock of our lives and think about our dreams and desires for the upcoming year. As such, I decided to create a New Year's Tree of sorts for myself, outlining the "branches" that I wish to focus on in 2016. Many of my posts over the next couple of months will explore these areas. Here they are, my branches, in no particular order. Maybe some of them are your branches too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

I gotta say I didn't really pig out over the holidays. I ate lots of amazing food, but I tried to ensure that most of it was nutrient-dense and not just "junk." I kept in mind the things I learned when researching this blog post on 9 holiday superfoods. In other words, you can have healthy food that tastes great too.

Of course, I ate a few cookies over the last couple of weeks. Maybe a few more than a few. If Santa gets cookies (my daughter left him these vegan chocolate chip cookies above), I think moms deserve them too. I didn't eat too many in one sitting though. And I ate far less chocolate than I usually eat during the Christmas holidays. Don't get me wrong, deprivation isn't my thing. Instead, I try to fill up on lovely, healthy whole foods to reduce cravings for sugary foods.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Vintage Table Linens & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #65

I, like many of you, see January as a time of reflection, a time to think about what I want to do more of and what I want to do less of. I am developing a number of "branches" or areas of focus this year. I'll be writing about those soon. For now, suffice it to say that one branch of my new year's tree is "order," which comes from a desire to have a clean and organized home. I hope to build on the successes of last year's 4-month purge to get things running a bit more smoothly around the household.

One area that I have yet to tackle is linens - both bed linens and table linens. In looking through my linen closet recently I confess I was a bit overwhelmed with all the mismatched sheets and aging towels. (We got many of the towels and sheets for our wedding over 16 years ago!) Among those less-than-appealing items, though, are vintage table linens that I cherish, mainly because they come from my grandmother.

Monday, January 4, 2016

How It All Vegan (Cookbook Review, Recipe & Giveaway) #VeganCookbookLove

Rustic Tomato Lentil Soup Recipe - from vegan classic cookbook How It All Vegan - vegan & gluten-free - load up on veggies for a #healthy start to the new year! #soup #recipe

In celebration of Veganuary, a couple of blogger friends and I are giving a little love to our favourite vegan cookbooks. Seeing as the start of the new year is an optimum time to nurture better eating habits, I know that many people will think about switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet. And, even if that's not a consideration, we all want to eat more healthy, plant-based foods that are kind to our bodies and offer us the nutrients we need for our busy lifestyles.

Every Monday in January, Lisa of Viet Vegan, Trish of In Fine Balance and I will each share a look at one of our favourite vegan cookbooks. Believe me, this is not an exhaustive list - we are all vegan cookbook addicts and there are a wealth of amazing books to choose from. We are also hosting giveaways of a whole big bunch of incredible cookbooks, including the book I'm discussing today - How It All Vegan! Be sure to enter the giveaways below if you are in need of some recipe inspiration for this promising new year.

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