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5 MINUTES WITH LAUREN TOYOTA OF hot for food

hot for food is hands down one of my favourite vegan sites! Lauren is impossibly cool, making anyone more inclined to want in on the vegan lifestyle. The first time I stumbled across one of her recipes (it was their Ridiculously Easy Vegan Peanut Butter Cups), I knew we were gonna get along just fine.

What I love about their food is that it’s accessible to everyone. It’s not all about kale and quinoa…think Cinnamon rolls, breakfast tacos, and pierogies. Comfort food with a vegan twist. Personally, I didn’t become vegan in order to eat “healthy” food all the time. Of course I try and eat a balanced diet,  but I want the food to taste good and I want to enjoy cooking it. I also want recipes that my non-vegan family and friends can enjoy too. So stop what you’re doing, visit their site and sign up for the hot for food YouTube channel. You’re welcome!

I was lucky enough to connect with Lauren Toyota for a few minutes and have her answer a few burning questions for me. Read on:

  1. What’s the last thing you ate?
    Mary’s Crackers with hummus
  2. Which vegan chef do you most admire and why?
    Probably Chloe Coscarelli because of the empire she has built. She now has 2 restaurants, one on the east coast and one on the west coast. Baller!
  3. What’s the one dish you’ve created that’s scored you the most high fives?
    Nacho cheese sauce and cauliflower buffalo wings
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Mentally stable
  5. What’s the one ingredient can’t you live without?
    Nutritional Yeast
  6. Do vegans have more fun?
    Duh!
  7. What kitchen item do you most often buy for wedding gifts?
    I have never bought a kitchen item as a wedding gift! Haha I usually give money because it’s so easy.
  8. Where’s the last place you went to on a date? (and what did you order?)
    Tori’s Bake Shop. But 3 nights out of the week they do a late night dinner menu and it’s the best. We had a cheese platter, gnocchi, and some kind of salad with apple and spring peas.
  9. Did becoming vegan bring out any unexpected character traits in you? i.e. are you funnier now than ever before?
    I think the most impactful part of becoming vegan is just how it’s affected my well being physically, emotionally, and mentally in so many positive ways. It sort of connected a lot of dots for me.
  10. What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about vegan food?
    That it isn’t always raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, taste-free or fun-free and that there is more than one way to be vegan and eat vegan.

 

Featured

BLUE CHEESE, AVOCADO & JALAPENO BITES

I had a craving for some complex flavours, and so these little numbers came together. The cheese is nut-based, with spirulina added to make it look like actual blue cheese. It’s got a slightly sour taste to it, which I personally love. Others, not so much (watch a Toronto Star taste test here).

The jalapenos can be store-bought, or if you’re adventurous, you can make your own. The combo of vegenaise, cheese, and avocado creates the creamiest topping that seems to melt in your mouth. Paired with the crunchiness of the cracker, it’s a celebration in your mouth. This appetizer is great for vegans and non-vegans alike. If folks like “real” blue cheese, they’ll be willing to give this a go as well. It’s so quick to pull together and you can easily vary the recipe based on what’s in your fridge at the time. Continue reading “BLUE CHEESE, AVOCADO & JALAPENO BITES”

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SOY JERKY

I’ve heard both sides of the coin when it comes to eating things that share similarities with meat – especially when it comes down to texture. My take on it is this: texture is texture! Why should meat be the only thing that gets to deliver a good chew? When I eat tofu, or veggie products like burgers or hot dogs, I’m not doing so because I miss meat, or haven’t been able to “reconcile my choice” (I recently overheard someone delivering this diagnosis about people like me). I eat it because it’s vegan, convenient, tasty and fun (I’m a gal who likes to load up a veggie street dog like it’s her job). Continue reading “SOY JERKY”

VEGAN DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES

 

For those people who crave a little bit of dark chocolate at night time, these brownies fit the bill. They’re so rich and satisfying, you really only need one square and you’re good to go (for realsies).

The original recipe called for black beans, but I’m on a chickpea kick (check out our Chickpea Revolution Cookbook!) , so I subbed for black chickpeas. These can be found in most major grocery stores, in the international section. I soaked mine over night and then simmered on low for about an hour and 45 mins. So there’s a bit of a time investment, but I normally cook a big batch at once and freeze in small zip lock bags (in about 1.5 cup portions, which is about the amount in a can of chick peas). I do the same for other beans and when I need some for a recipe, I grab a bag, run under warm water to thaw and I’m good to go. It’s a great way to up your protein in recipes avoid the BPA that’s found in most canned goods. It’s also a much cheaper way to use beans.  Continue reading “VEGAN DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES”

SESAME TOFU TERIYAKI ON SOBA

 

A cooking class with The Chef and the Dish helped me master the art of all-things teriyaki! This tofu version is simple, healthy and delicious. I make 4 servings at a time and either share nicely with others, or pack three servings away for lunches during the week. I find soba noodles really keep well in the fridge and don’t really need to be re-heated (i.e. if you are avoiding the science experiment microwave at your workplace, just enjoy the noodles cold). Pure buckwheat is gluten-free, but some versions of soba noodles do contain gluten. Be sure to read the labels. Continue reading “SESAME TOFU TERIYAKI ON SOBA”

5 MINUTES WITH THE VIET VEGAN

I started to follow Lisa (aka The Viet Vegan) on Instagram when she was named as one of the top 15 vegan accounts to follow on Blog TO. She’s amazing!

Lisa is funny, personable, downright friendly, and highly skilled in the kitchen. Vietnamese food is amongst my favourite, and Lisa proves that going going vegan does not mean giving up this delicious style of cooking.  She recreates childhood comfort favourites with ease, and is able to vegan-ize anything she gets her hands on! Her YouTube channel has taught me everything from how the hell to use lemongrass, to making the best vegan nachos. She even talked me out of getting granite counter tops!  Continue reading “5 MINUTES WITH THE VIET VEGAN”

5 MINUTES WITH DOUG MCNISH 

I met Doug McNish at the 2015 Vegfest in Toronto where I tasted his life affirming vegan polenta poutine (pictured above). I was new to veganism and at the point where I was admittedly weary of anything that looked savory and cheesy (rookie mistake). I asked him if the dish was vegan, to which he smiled and replied, “I am a vegan chef!!!” (and then asked about the movie I’d just seen…my ticket stubs were on the counter). He was friendly and personable and the kind of guy you want to sit down with and talk about all things vegan. Continue reading “5 MINUTES WITH DOUG MCNISH “

COMING TOGETHER IN THE KITCHEN

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Many of us have non-vegan partners, and this experience allowed my husband and I to enjoy a cooking class together that was customized to suit each of our preferences.

The company  – The Chef and the Dish – allows you to connect with international chefs and learn how to make a variety of different dishes, from the comfort of your own kitchen! I think it’s a great excuse for a date night with your partner or a friend, and would make an amazing gift (you can order gift certificates).

I wrote about the company in my first published article in a national newspaper and I’m beyond excited!! Continue reading “COMING TOGETHER IN THE KITCHEN”

A KINDER COBB SALAD

I can only be convinced to eat a salad for dinner if it’s really awesome, filling and hearty. This cobb salad fits the bill! Not only is it downright pretty, but it contains a tonne of protein, good fats, and veggies. I actually made two identical salads- the one pictured was brought along to work the next day and kept me full for the afternoon.

The creaminess of the dressing and the avocado is a great contrast to the crunch of the slaw and almonds.

It’s easy as can be and of course – if you’re feeling lawless – the components can easily be swapped up. Try beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans. Mixed peppers would work well, and any type of nut will do.

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 cups shredded cabbage (I used pre-packaged broccoli slaw)
1 avocado, cubed
1 tomato, cubed
1/4 cup roasted almonds
1/2 block smoked tofu
corn from one cobb (i’m ok with raw, but if you prefer slightly cooked, place in boiling water for 5 minutes)
coconut bacon (I buy mine from Tori’s Bakeshop)
1/4 cup vegenaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions 

Whisk vegenaise, dijon, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss with slaw until completely blended. Arrange slaw on two plates. “Layer” your ingredients in long strips across the slaw. Top with coconut bacon. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

5 MINUTES WITH TARA TOMULKA OF RAWCOLOGY

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Tara Tomulka is the founder of Rawcology, a raw vegan kitchen that aims to, “unite foodies that believe real food is best in its most natural state”.

Tara is a Toronto-based Certified Raw Food Teacher and Holistic Nutritionist. She also  developed (and, lucky for us, teaches!) the first ever raw vegan course at George Brown Culinary school.

What I love about Tara’s business and recipes is her focus on community and local food. Her kitchen aims to source all of their produce from Ontario farms.

I’m thrilled that Tara agreed to take 5 minutes out of her busy day to answer a few questions for me!

  1. What’s the last thing you ate?

My addictively delicious “very cheesy” dip that’s made with red pepper, nutritional yeast, cashews, apple cider vinegar, turmeric and Pink Himalayan salt. Mmmm…

2. Which vegan chef do you most admire and why?

Sarah Britton from My New Roots is my absolute favourite. I love Sarah because her down-to-earth approach and genuine love for whole foods shines through in every recipe she makes and photo she takes. She’s the kind of person I’d want to cook with in my own kitchen at home. Sarah also inspired me to become a Holistic Nutritionist and I strongly share her sentiment that both diet and lifestyle play a powerful role in achieving optimal health and wellness.

3. What’s the one dish you’ve created that’s scored you the most high fives?

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I’d have to say my raw vegan pad thai with spiralized zucchini, kelp noodles and a ton of colourful veggies. I recently made it at a demo for high school students and were thrilled that they licked their plates clean and came back for seconds.

4. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Still trying to figure that one out! My next Rawcology goal is to start selling a line of plant-based dips and snacks that are high protein, high fibre and nutrient-rich. I’d also like to invest in a kitchen space that can be turned into a studio space in which I teach culinary classes, host holistic wellness classes and retreats. The goal is to collaborate with other health and wellness professionals from plant-based chefs, holistic nutritionists, naturopathic doctors, yoga instructors and entrepreneurs to deliver memorable, one-of-a-kind wellness experiences in this space.

5. What’s the one ingredient can’t you live without?

This may be a surprise but I’m going to have to say hemp seeds. I sprinkle them on coconut yogurt, salads, veggie bowls, add them to my smoothies and even my desserts. Hemp seeds are a perfect food, a complete protein, a rich source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and 3 tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre and 10.5 grams of EFAs!! They help balance blood sugar levels, support energy production and a strong immune system.

6. Do vegans have more fun?

What do you think? Hehe.

7. What kitchen item do you most often buy for wedding gifts?

Hand-crafted wooden bowls. Stinson Studios makes incredibly beautiful bowls!

8. Where’s the last place you went to on a date? (and what did you order?)

I went to Raw Aura Organic Cuisine and ordered the Pink Lady juice (yes, it did make me feel like a lady!), and split the Red Beet Ravioli, Nachos and Big Salad with my date. I loved it all but was very impressed by the presentation of the Beet Ravioli. I need to recreate something similar soon!

9. Did becoming vegan bring out any unexpected character traits in you? i.e. are you funnier now than ever before?

Switching to a plant-based diet has definitely made me more sensitive and compassionate in general. I cry in pretty much every drama and cartoon movie.. it’s embarrassing.

10. What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about vegan food?

That eating plants is not a sacrifice – there are endless ways that you can eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. My mission with Rawcology is to inspire and educate people that it’s possible to eat and create easy, healthy and delicious plant-based meals. Eating this way is not complicated. It should be simple and embracing more colourful, vibrant foods is one of the best things you can do for your own health and the health of the planet. I hope I can inspire you to eat more plants, every day!

BAKED SESAME TOFU STICKS

There’s nothing quite like savoury tofu. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s such an awesome, high protein addition to almost anything- salads, tacos, soup. But with this peanut dipping sauce, it’s unlikely to find its way into anything but your mouth.

If you’re too worn out to make the dipping sauce, don’t fret. No one will judge if you dip these bad boys into some hummus, vegan ranch dressing, or chilli sauce.

Continue reading “BAKED SESAME TOFU STICKS”

VEGAN THAI COCONUT SOUP (TOM KHA TOFU)

When I was younger and unattached, I spent close to a year in Thailand. I loved a million things about the country –  the warmth, the people, and the food. The spices were so varied and complex, meaning I could eat the same type of food every day (soup) and yet always enjoy a variety of flavours. A good amount of food in Thailand is vegetarian, so I happily ate my way through the country without a problem. I remember it as being incredibly family friendly, so I’m dreaming of the day when I can take my little ones there on a holiday.

What I love most about this Tom Kha Tofu recipe is how easy it is to make: from pot to bowl, we’re talkin’ 10-15 minutes. What I also love about this soup is how spot on it is in terms of tasting exactly like thai takeaway. Everyone is hella impressed when I serve this! It’s pretty light, so I find it’s best to eat/ serve as a starter vs. a main.

It’s also a very clean recipe, and will definitely be a staple during my upcoming 2 week cleanse with naturopathic doctor Christina Carreau. Subbing in almond milk vs. pure coconut milk reduces the fat content.

(note: I doubled the recipe below so i had leftovers for lunch).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3/4 cups of almond milk (original)
  • 3 tbs green curry paste
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup thin sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz tofu, cubed
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro as a garnish

Directions

In a large pot, mix the coconut and almond milk, the green curry paste and the tamari. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, mushrooms and tofu. Cover again and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn off the stove and stir in maple syrup and lime juice. Serve and top with cilantro and a sliced lime