Nothing warms us up like a delicious bowl of homemade soup in the winter. I ended up inventing this vegan tomato bisque completely by accident. Let me tell you what happened.

At one of the grocery stores in my neighbourhood, they give you a free product if you spend over a certain amount on your grocery bill. A couple of weeks ago, that free product was a jar of tomato juice.

I don’t usually purchase juices since they tend to be pasteurized (i.e. all live nutrition killed by high heat). As you all know, I enjoy the health and bliss-inducing benefits of juicing my own vegetables and fruits. However, I also avoid wasting anything, rarely do I throw food away and who refuses a free product anyway? I looked at the jar and immediately uttered the words …  “tomato bisque”.

OK, sure, but what is a tomato bisque anyway?

I had heard of a lobster bisque in the past but I don’t eat lobsters since I don’t eat animals.

Let’s talk about lobsters for a minute. Did you know that they can live up to 100 years old? They are highly sophisticated creatures, having evolved throughout centuries since the time of the dinosaurs, like sharks! They have complex social structures, and they mate for life! Ahhh, how could we not love them! Contrary to what some choose to believe, they suffer tremendously in those horrendous tanks at the grocery stores because they cannot stand to be in water containing their own excrement. Their claws are cruelly bound and they are inhumanely crammed. Once thrown into boiling water, again contrary to what some choose to tell themselves, the intensity of their physical pain is said to possibly be higher than our own since their nervous system does not permit them to “pass out” when the pain reaches a certain threshold, like our nervous system does. Lobsters do not have a nervous system and brain set up like humans do, however studies show that they are capable of feeling pain and releasing stress hormones just like us. With this knowledge, how can we continue to victimize and torture them?

I knew no animal remains would be necessary to create a tasty bisque. I decided I would use solely the tomato juice, and I would sweeten up the tomato juice with peas. I also knew this soup would be totally irresistible with a topping of homemade croutons, totally optional of course!

Cozy up with my vegan Tomato Bisque! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 

Ingredients:

3 cups tomato juice

1 cup unsweetened organic soy milk OR rice milk

1 cup peas, cooked and drained

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 small russet potatoes OR 5 mini russet potatoes, chopped

2 medium tomatoes OR 5 cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish with homemade croutons. Chopped cilantro OR parsley and green onion, may be added to the garnish if desired.

 

Method:

  1. In a pot, heat oil. Add onion, dash of sea salt and sauté for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, dash of sea salt and sauté for 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and peas and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in tomato juice and soy milk and lower heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Pour into blender. Add nutritional yeast and blend until completely liquefied and creamy.
  5. Add more salt if desired. Garnish with homemade croutons (recipe follows).  Add chopped green onion, cilantro or parsley to garnish if desired.

 

Homemade Croutons

 Ingredients:

3 slices of bread, cubed

1 garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Cut 3 slices of bread into small cubes.
  3. Place bread cubes in a large casserole.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and oregano. Drizzle over bread.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt over bread.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is hard and crispy.

 

I have a wonderful new Facebook page where I give a recipe every day and share information on plant-based meals. Check me out! You can also follow me on Twitter.

“We know, deep down, that we cannot look deeply anywhere, for if we do, we will have to look deeply into the enormous suffering our food choices directly cause. So we learn to stay shallow and be willingly blind to the connections we see. Otherwise, our remorse and guilt would be too painful to bear. The acknowledged truth would also conflict too strongly with our self-image, causing serious cognitive dissonance and emotional disturbance. We choose to ignore, and thus choose to be ignorant and inattentive.” ~Dr. Will Tuttle

As many of you have written to me requesting support and assistance with adopting a vegan lifestyle, I feel it very helpful and inspirational to share with you the story of a new vegan, Louise Guay.

In pain, sick and overweight, Louise decided 6 short months ago that she had to do something to improve her health. After days of dedicated and thorough research, she became convinced that transitioning into a fully vegan diet would be beneficial to her. Here’s her story:

1. What made you decide to change your diet and why did you opt for a vegan diet?

I was in a lot of pain and not feeling well. My mobility was reduced because of all the physical pain I was experiencing. My osteopath saw a lot of inflammation in my body and she suggested I try eliminating certain foods from my diet to see if the inflammation would decrease.

I came across the book by Jacqueline Lagace, “Comment j’ai vaincu la douleur et l’inflammation chronique par l’alimentation and also noticed a lot of your posts regarding veganism on Facebook. I learned that a vegan diet could possibly help me overcome my inflammation and feel better.

2. What was your biggest challenge to getting started?

It wasn’t really that hard. I was so miserable and in so much pain that it just had to be done. I contacted you for advice and spent 3 or 4 days reading all day. I bought several books and started learning as much as I could. I began to clear out my pantry and fridge. At first, I held on to fish, eggs and some dairy, but over the next several weeks, I began to let these things go one by one. I weaned myself off certain things more slowly than others. It’s not only about animal products for me, but also heavily processed  and industrialized foods, GMOs, that needed to go as well. It was about replacing all of this processed foodstuff, for fresh, real food.

3. What has been your biggest challenge in maintaining this new lifestyle?

My biggest challenge is remaining patient. I find it difficult at times to remain patient with other people’s misconceptions and their need to share their opinions on what they deem proper nutrition with me. They all seem to present the same arguments: what about the carrots suffering when you chop them? Where do you get your protein?

They speak to me as if I am dumb, and that’s very hurtful. They have no training in nutrition, whereas I spent several days educating myself, and continue to learn more every day, and yet they feel the need to teach me about the importance of protein.

In many ways, I do not understand people’s reactions towards what I am eating and why it is so important to them.  I am overweight and instead of people praising me for my obviously healthy meals now, they feel the need to criticize my choices. It seems like my choice not to eat meat is such a huge issue.

Some people say I am extreme. I say, yes I am; I am extremely happy.

I think about you a lot and how patient you were with me when I started changing my diet. I tell myself that I must be more and more compassionate with people, if I want to preach compassion towards animals. I’m growing into that. It’s a whole process, a whole evolution.

 4. What are some of the results and benefits of adopting a vegan diet?

So many benefits and it’s only been 6 months!  Where do I start? I feel a perpetual sense of peace, serenity, joy even. My mood is more stable and I wake up happy. This is new to me. I used to be full of anxiety.

I need less sleep, but my sleep is more restful. The quality of my sleep has improved.

I had a digestive system that really wasn’t working. It wasn’t effective, nor regular. All my digestive issues are gone. No more acid reflux, bloating, constipation. All of it is completely gone.  I never had such digestive efficiency.

I lost 10 pounds so far!

I now have a lot more mobility, without pain. My osteopath, whom I have been seeing for over 15 years, says she has never seen my body in this good shape.

My skin and eyes are clearer, my senses are heightened and I have a lot more energy and stamina. I feel like I have a bounce in my step!

5.  Any regrets?

 My only regret is not having done this sooner.

6.  What’s your advice to someone considering adopting a vegan diet?

Go at your own pace. Do lots of research. Let go of things one at a time if you feel more comfortable with that. Try some dairy alternatives, like almond milk or yogurt. You may find you like these more than the dairy anyway! Try recipes without cheese.

One thing is certain, however, you will have to learn how to cook if you want to eat less processed foods. Cooking is fun, so give it a try! Cook for yourself like you would for a loved one and be that loved one. Invite yourself to your own table and serve yourself a kind meal.

Eating should be nourishment, the way a mother nourishes a child. We must be our own mothers. A lot of eating is self-abuse. In adopting a vegan diet, I became friends with my body. Now eating is a pleasure because I want the best for my friend. My body has been singing Alleluia for the past 6 months!

 

Louise’s favorite organic vegan recipe she created while experimenting in the kitchen:

Mushroom Chickpea Stew

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

4 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 cup of chickpeas, cooked

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon olive oil

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil.
  2. Add onion and cook until transparent.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly soft. Don’t overcook.
  4. Add chickpeas and boiled water to cover.
  5. Lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Drizzle olive oil and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.

 

“Cook for yourself like you would for a loved one and be that loved one. Invite yourself to your own table and serve yourself a kind meal.” ~Louise Guay

 

I know some of you may be feeling a couple of pounds heavier right now after the holiday season. Don’t stress it too much, most of us are in the same boat. If you’ve made a resolution to lose those extra pounds this year, get healthier and move your body, power to you! You can do anything you decide to do! However, keep in mind that a shift for the better need not be drastic and may be more sustainable if approached slowly. You can get healthier by making a few minor changes to start, and take it from there, depending on how you feel.

How about trying a short detox? There are many resources out there to help get you started.

My favorite and the most effective way for me to feel lighter, more energized and detoxed, is juicing. Whether you do it for one day, one weekend or a week (or more!) the benefits of juicing are multiple and profound!

juicing FTB2

Juice fasting, or juice feasting as some like to call it, is essentially taking a break from solid food and only drinking juice and water for a period of time. This allows the organs of the body to rest while the body uses fuel from our fatty tissues. Juicing is a powerful detox method which allows the body to flush out all the impurities we store in the fat cells. We are exposed to toxins every day, whether they be environmental, from chemicals added to our foods, or even our emotions can be toxic to our well-being. Juicing is one method for clearing out all these toxins and thus healing the body.

You can certainly buy a juicing program or find useful links on the Internet, but you can also free-style by keeping a few of these tips in mind:

1) For a base, always use apples or pineapples. This will add a pleasant flavour to build upon.

2) If you are diabetic or concerned about your glycemic index, it is important to juice lower glycemic fruits and veggies. Generally, vegetables that grow underground, like a beet or carrot will contain more sugar than the ones which grow above ground, like celery or cucumber.  With respect to fruits, berries, apples and citrus are lower on the glycemic scale. Juicing greens and apples are great, and then pouring this juice, with added berries in a blender will give you a satisfying smoothie, without blowing your glycemic index through the roof.

3) When juicing greens, depending on which juicer you have, it may be more difficult to extract all those precious drops of nutrition, so bunch up the leaves and include them in the middle of something more “juicy” like chunks of apple.

4) Juice little bunches of greens at a time and test the flavour to make sure it is palatable to you. You can add a little coconut water to sweeten the taste of a juice if you find it too bitter.

5) Drink the juice slowly since you are getting massive doses of nutrients. You don’t want to overwhelm your system.

6) Organic is more important than ever when juicing. When we juice, we usually consume much larger quantities of fruits and veggies than when we just eat a serving of each, like one apple and a cup of broccoli. Therefore, not only are we getting a larger quantity of minerals and vitamins, but also a high dose of pesticides and chemicals, if the produce is not organic.

7) When juicing oranges and grapefruits, make sure to peel them first. The peels will make the juice too bitter. However, lemons and limes work both with peel on or off.

8) Add ginger always, but just a small chunk, or else that is all you will taste. Ginger is a magical superfood with so many beneficial properties.

9) I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how messy a juicer is, however, it is no messier than cleaning up pots and pans after cooking. Use a small, hard brush to help you and rinse the juicer right away before anything has time to dry up and harden, making it much harder to clean.

10) As we remove the pacifying, numbing and comforting effects of food, and replace that with juice and water, be prepared for all kinds of emotions to come up! This is a catharsis! Keep in mind: to feel is to heal. When we supress emotions or cover them up with food, we can never really face them and overcome them. This is a positive and exciting journey! Be ready!

juicinggreenftb

You can also check out the Juice Master, Jason Vale, for more helpful hints.

With these general guidelines, you’re ready to go! Just juice it! All the very best in health and in bliss for this exciting new year!

If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice. ~Conan O’Brien

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Still looking for some yummy, healthy snack ideas to please your guests this holiday season or to snuggle up with for a movie night with your loved ones? I have just that: a recipe for irresistible kale chips!

I have to confess: I have a terrible weakness for potato chips! I try as hard as I can to stay away – we all know how unhealthy they are – but, I do cave at times! My love for chips urged me to find a healthier alternative, so I created a recipe for kale chips.

Kale chips are often made by dehydrating the kale in a dehydrator. I actually do not yet own a dehydrator. Dehydrating the kale instead of baking it allows the kale to retain even more of its powerhouse nutrition. If you don’t have one, baking these chips in the oven is still far healthier than buying a bag of potato chips.

You will be pleasantly surprised by this savoury, crispy treat. Finally, we can indulge in chips, without the guilt!

This recipe is also very versatile in that you can just eat the kale raw with this as a dressing. I discovered this by accident of course, when experimenting with the recipe, I tasted a piece of kale before putting it in the oven and oh my: YUM!

So, as a raw treat, dehydrated, or oven-baked: here is my Crazy Crispy Kale Chips recipe, completely gluten-free, and vegan!

 

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 

Crazy Crispy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

Bunch of curly kale, washed, patted dry, spine removed

1 clove of garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 300˚F.
  2. Whisk all ingredients together, except kale, in a large bowl to form the dressing.
  3. With your hands or knife, cut away the spine from each kale leaf and discard (or freeze them to make broth at a later time). Cut the leaves into large chip-sized pieces. Make sure kale is thoroughly dry.
  4. Place all the pieces of kale in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the kale and with your fingers, rub each piece of kale with the dressing to make sure the pieces are coated evenly.
  5. Cover large baking sheet with parchment paper and line up the pieces of kale in a single layer.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. Turn pieces of kale over after 10 minutes.

 

Swami Prabhupada: Some people say, “We believe that animals have no soul.” That is not correct. They believe animals have no soul because they want to eat the animals, but actually animals do have a soul. 
Reporter: How do you know that the animal has a soul?
Swami Prabhupada: You can know, also. Here is the scientific proof. The animal is eating, you are eating; the animal is sleeping, you are sleeping; the animal is defending, you are defending; the animal is having sex, you are having sex; the animals have children, you have children; you have a living place, they have a living place. If the animal’s body is cut, there is blood; if your body is cut, there is blood. So all these similarities are there. Now why do you deny this one similarity, the presence of a soul? That is not logical. You have studied logic? In logic, there is something called analogy. Analogy means drawing a conclusion by finding many points of similarity. If there are so many points of similarity
between human beings and animals, why deny one similarity? That is not logic. That is not science.

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It’s really hard not to salivate when thinking of lasagna.

Lasagna is a typical main dish for any Italian Christmas lunch, and quite typically, scrumptious, but not so typically, vegan. I will not participate in any religion or religious holiday that harms animals, so, I created a vegan lasagna. Since deciding to go vegan almost 4 years ago, Christmas lunch at my grandmother’s house has never been the same.

I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you this week. It is so delicious and in my opinion, nothing short of revolutionary! I achieved the rich, creamy flavours we love in an authentic lasagna, without any dairy whatsoever. Ricotta, a common and highly coveted ingredient in lasagna is included here in its cruelty-free version: tofu-based. The creaminess is enhanced by my creative and kind kidney bean cream. Oh, and let’s not forget the parmesan! No need to omit it in this vegan lasagna, since I created a completely dairy-free version with the versatile nut: the cashew!

There is quite a bit of work involved in preparing this dish, however, a large lasagna can easily feed up to 10 hungry people and maybe even provide leftovers! Quite a yield for a couple of hours’ investment and just think how much you will be loved once you make this feast for your family!

A few shortcuts are permitted in this recipe, while preserving its deliciousness. You can choose to make either the kidney bean cream OR tofu ricotta, instead of both. The zucchini can also be omitted without disasterous consequences.

Try this vegan lasagna this holiday season and let me know what you think! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Amore’s Vegan Christmas Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package eggless, whole-wheat or rice lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 small zucchini, chopped
4 cups mushrooms (your favorite or a combination of different mushrooms), chopped
5 cups baby spinach, chopped, stems removed
2 cups fresh parsley, chopped.
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted steak spice
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Sea salt. chili flakes or chopped fresh hot pepper and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Prepare tomato sauce (recipe follows).
3. Prepare vegan parmesan (recipe follows).
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms, one teaspoon sea salt, steak spice, fennel and 1 tablespoon of oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender and most of the water has evaporated, about 7-10 minutes. Add spinach and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Continue to sauté until spinach has completely wilted, about 1-2 minutes.
6. In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini, 1 tablespoon oregano and salt. Sauté until zucchini is soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add some of the chopped parsley and stir.
7. Remove from heat and set veggies aside.
8. Prepare tofu ricotta (recipe follows) if desired and kidney bean cream (recipe follows).
9. In a large pot, add water and sea salt and bring water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles as per instructions on the box. Drain and set aside.
10. Spread one cup tomato sauce (recipe follows) in large glass or ceramic baking dish.
11. Line lasagna noodles side by side to form bottom layer. Spread some veggies, ricotta and kidney bean cream over the noodles. Add some tomato sauce and sprinkle some vegan parmesan. Repeat until last layer of lasagna is reached.
12. Over the last layer, spread remaining tomato sauce, vegan parmesan, chili flakes or chopped hot peppers (if desired) and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
13. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake 20 – 25 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and serve warm.

 

Easy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

4 cups strained tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
5-6 leaves fresh basil, whole
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil over low heat in large pot. Add chopped onions, red pepper and garlic. Sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir. Reduce heat to low.
2. Stir in all remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.

 

Vegan Parmesan

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup shelled hemp seeds

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until powdery.

 

Tofu Ricotta

Ingredients:

1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into quarters or crumbled
2/3 cup yellow miso
2/3 cup purified water
½ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

 

Kidney Bean Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups kidney beans, cooked
1 ½ cups purified water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
3 teaspoons hemp seeds
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.

 

“Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for all life is not a true religion or philosophy.”

~Albert Schweitzer

Some people think maintaining a vegan lifestyle, especially when travelling, is hard. You know what, it’s really super easy!

I had the pleasure of being chosen to work on a project in the magical Maui, Hawaii recently. Many of the restaurants we frequented had no vegan dishes on the menu. No problem! I tend to be a quiet person, preferring to keep things low-key, so I easily handled the situations discreetly. Once the waiter or waitress arrived to take my order, I mentioned that I did not eat animals, nor any animal products, and they were always super friendly and accommodating. They often simply made me one of their dishes without the cheese or meat, and other times, wiped up something especially for me.

For example, lunch at the luxurious Four Seasons in Maui at Wailea was a scrumptious, memorable experience. Although their vegan dishes were not on the menu, they happily prepared me a vegan version of their famous Niçoise Salad. The Niçoise Salad is usually prepared with tuna, anchovies and eggs. The vegan version omitted all of that and they served me some yummy tofu and a lovely sauce to accompany the salad.

Smoothies, always plentiful and popular in tropical places are often vegan, so no tweaking necessary. This delicious mango and pineapple smoothie was delightfully topped with an edible orchid!

Mango Pineapple Smoothie with edible orchid
Mango Pineapple Smoothie with edible orchid

One restaurant we went to had a menu with many vegetarian and vegan options. Café des Amis is a delightful place to stop for a delicious meal in Maui. I chose the vegetable curry with basmati rice and mango chutney. Oh my deliciousness!

Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango Chutney
Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango Chutney

Having dinner at the world famous Mama’s Fish House was also an enjoyable experience. Our cheerful waitress explained to us that all the fish on the menu, “were swimming 24 hours ago in the ocean.” Oh that’s great! For me, being vegan, it definitely wasn’t an incentive to eat any of them! I thanked the humble fish (in my mind) for the culinary pleasure they were bringing to all the people dining at this renowned place and told the waitress my situation. She suggested a pumpkin soup and salad and I happily agreed.

The flight too was very doable as a vegan. I was on one of those flights where you have to pay for a snack or meal if you want one. They conveniently had one vegan meal option, which was a tasty hummus and grilled vegetable wrap. I found the airports I frequented were not the most vegan-friendly, but I managed as well. So, really, it was by no means impossible to maintain my vegan ways on this trip to Maui.

There is a distinction for me that I’d like to point out regarding a vegan diet. I made the decision to go vegan based on the knowledge I acquired about how animals are brutally treated in all these food industries. Deciding to go vegan, then, is more than a “diet”. It is an awakening, a decision, a stand against injustice. People like me, therefore, cannot “make an exception” and eat a dead animal every now and then because it is convenient or available. Instead, we just look for alternatives. As you know, those who seek, find, always.

Me & my Mai Tai!
Me & my Mai Tai!

Recipe for the perfect Mai Tai for 2! 

2 tablespoons light rum
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon 151 proof rum
1 tablespoon orange curacao
1 tablespoon almond flavored syrup
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Aloha!

“Sometimes people think it is ironic that the English language only has one word for love, and that is “love”, while the Inuits have more than seventy-three for snow. In Russian there are multiple words for degrees of love. So, too, in Hawaiian there are many definitions for the one word, Aloha, all meaning “love”. Some of the dictionary words for Aloha are “caring”, “affection”, “compassion”, “mercy”, “sympathy”, “pity”, “kindness”, “regard with affection”, even “to desire”. Also, of course, “hello”, “good-bye” and “farewell”.

~Kahuna Harry Uhane and Garnette Arledge, Wise Secrets of Aloha.

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Top image: Vegan Niçoise Salad in Maui

Lord Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles in the Hindu tradition

I began seeing the wonderful Ayurvedic practitioner, Anita Sharma, here in Montreal to learn how the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda can help me live my best health.

Ayurveda is the oldest known system of healing, dating back more than 5000 years in India. In Sanskrit, “Veda” means science or knowledge, and “Ayus” means life. Fittingly, the word, Ayurveda, means the “science of life”. Acknowledging our interconnectedness with nature, the main premise of Ayurveda is the promotion and maintenance of balance in the body through diet, meditation and physical movement.

I met with Anita and filled out questionnaires to determine my doshas. Perhaps, you have never heard of the term, “dosha”. According to Ayurveda, our body is constituted with 3 doshas, namely Vata (the air element), Pitta (the fire element) and Kapha (the earth element). Illness results from a constitution which is not balanced with these 3 elements. Simply put, we look to foods and physical activities to balance the doshas.

People with Vata as their primary dosha are energetic, creative and active. When this dosha is out of balance, they can feel anxious and nervous.

Having Pitta as your primary dosha means that you are a passionate, decisive and focused leader. A pitta imbalance can cause irritability, restlessness and increased body temperature.

If Kapha is your primary dosha, when balanced, you are affectionate and calm. When out of balance, you feel heavy, lazy and a lack of motivation.

If you are curious about what your primary dosha is, you can get an idea by taking a fun online dosha test.

There are various resources online and books you can purchase to learn how we can use food to help us balance our doshas. One fantastic recipe book I have is called, The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amrita Sondhi. This week, I want to share a delicious vegan Dal recipe made with sprouted mung beans I learned from this book. Sprouting beans increases their nutritional value and digestibility, however, sprouting is optional for preparing this recipe. I served the Dal over rice and garnished with chopped green onion and cilantro (I took the liberty of adding this to Sondhi’s delicious recipe). This recipe is calming for all the doshas.

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 

Sprouted mung Dal over rice with a garnish of cilantro and green onion

Sprouted Mung Dal

Ingredients:
4 cups sprouted mung beans
1 ½ cups water
¼ teaspoon turmeric
3 slices fresh ginger
1 fresh green chili
Juice from one lemon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chopped cilantro and green onion for garnish if desired
Sea salt to taste

Method:
1. In a large pot, combine mung beans, water, turmeric, ginger, green chili and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until done, 15-20 minutes.
3. Add a little water as needed if liquid starts to dry out, but be sure than beans do not overcook. When cooked, the green husks will start to come off and the mung will look yellow.
4. Drain and remove ginger slices and chili. Add lemon juice, cayenne and salt. Serve over rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and finely chopped green onion if desired.

“I learned that to be fit and healthy, one has to cook regularly at home, in order to have more control over what goes into our bodies.” ~Amrita Sondhi, The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook

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“For The Love Of Chickens” Casserole

I remember a time when my mom used to make this extremely tasty chicken casserole with broccoli, chicken breast, cream of mushroom and sour cream. We loved the flavours and were completely oblivious to how these ingredients came to be on our plates. We both read Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston around the same time, made the connection, and decided we did not want to participate in the violence towards animals, nor did we want to consume corpses or animal secretions any longer.

Changing our diets to appease our conscience did not mean giving up the pleasant flavours, however. Even for this dish, which included many animal products, I got to work in Amore’s Kitchen and did what I do best: I successfully VEGANIZED the recipe!

I’ve said it before: it’s all about the spices. For this dish, I first made a list of the spices I associated with chicken. This is how I came up with the marinade. The tofu or cannellini beans don’t have much of a taste on their own; they simply act like sponges to absorb any and all the flavours we desire, so really anything is possible.

The grated bread crumbs in this recipe also add to that familiar baked or fried chicken taste – remember Shake & Bake? I chose to make the bread crumbs myself so that I could control what type of bread, and all other ingredients, used. I try to avoid white flour and table salt because they are so refined. I also don’t need preservatives or additives. So easy to make, I share my recipe for the bread crumbs with you below. You can make a big batch and store it in an airtight container in your cupboard for weeks.

I know many people feel they just don’t have time to cook anymore. With full-time jobs, household chores, children, spouses and the multitude of day-to-day activities, finding the time to prepare a meal from scratch can be really challenging! Preparing a casserole like this on the weekend is really convenient because the leftovers can form part of another meal. Preparing 2 casserole-type dishes, and maybe a soup or stew, on the weekend can be all you need so that you have a basis for meals during the week. Toss up a quick salad to accompany the dish, and there you go! We can only do our best, depending on what our schedule allows, however, we must keep in mind that the more time we invest in preparing healthy meals, the less time we will spend in the hospital later. Healthy eating is clearly a worthwhile investment!

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

“You are as important to your health as it is to you.” ~Terri Guillemets

“For The Love Of Chickens” Casserole

Ingredients:

1 package organic firm tofu, chopped into large chunks OR 2 cups cannellini beans, cooked
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cups Cashew-Creamy Mushroom Sauce (recipe follows)
1 ½ cups bread crumbs (recipe follows)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

-Ingredients for (tofu or cannellini beans) marinade (all the following spices are dried, unless otherwise specified)
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon savory
½ teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Method:

1. Marinate tofu or cannellini beans overnight or for several hours by placing all marinade ingredients and tofu chunks or beans in a glass container and refrigerate.
2. Prepare bread crumbs and Cashew-Creamy Mushroom Sauce (recipes below).
3. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and minced garlic for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add chopped broccoli and cauliflower. Add sea salt (about ½ teaspoon) and sauté for about 5-6 minutes or until slightly soft.
4. Pour 1 cup each of mushroom sauce, bread crumbs and parsley into saucepan over vegetables. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat and place into a large glass casserole dish.
6. Using the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and add marinated tofu or beans and chopped celery. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour 1 cup of mushroom sauce and ½ cup breadcrumbs over mixture and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly.
7. The sauce and bread crumbs will stick to the bottom of the pan. When you pour tofu or bean mixture over the vegetables in the casserole dish, scrape the bottom of the pan and sprinkle roasted bread crumbs and sauce over casserole. This will add lots of flavor to the casserole. Mix together vegetables and tofu or beans in casserole dish.
8. Garnish with more chopped fresh parsley and heat in the oven if necessary. Serve warm.

Cashew-Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Cashew-Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups mushrooms, chopped
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon unsalted steak spice
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours in purified water, drained
1 ¼ cups purified water
1 tablespoon miso (yellow or white)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup hemp seeds
½ teaspoon black pepper

Method:
1. Soak cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat grapeseed oil and 1 minced garlic for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Add mushrooms, oregano, ½ teaspoon sea salt, steak spice and chili flakes. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Set aside and allow to cool.
3. In a blender, combine drained cashews, water, miso, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, hemp, pepper and cooled mushrooms. Keep a few mushrooms on the side to add to the sauce whole after blending, if desired. Blend until soft and creamy. Mix in remaining mushrooms.
4. This is a versatile sauce which can be used for casseroles, pasta, quinoa, rice or veggie dishes.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Ingredients:

4-5 slices of bread of your choice, dried and hardened (takes about 2 days)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Method:
1. Choose bread that you would like to grate. Break it into pieces and place on a cooking sheet. Leave it in the oven for at least 2 days to dry out and harden. Do not turn on the oven.
2. Once bread is completely dry and hard, put it in a blender or food processor and grate.
3. Pour into large bowl and add oregano, salt and garlic powder.
4. Use as desired.

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The Bucerias: Maria’s Avocado Soup

This week, I was severely missing my beloved Bucerias, a quiet, quaint, former fishing village in the Banderas Bay of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. For various reasons, I was not in the position to buy a plane ticket, so I did the next best thing: I went to buy some obscenely expensive avocados and I made this superb soup.

Everyone has the same reaction to this soup: “What?! Warm avocado soup?!”  Oh yes, warm avocado and roasted garlic soup is heavenly, just like the small town of Bucerias, where I was inspired to create this soup.

One of the many wonderful things about Bucerias is the fact that avocados are always plentiful and affordable, unlike some other places in the world. Totally in love with avocadoes, and having them in abundance when I was living there, I was always finding new ways to serve them.  This soup is simple to prepare, and yet so tasty and satisfying! I serve it warm, but it’s not cooked, so all of the healthy nutrients of the avocado stay intact. I urge you to try it!

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 Ingredients:

Makes approximately 3 servings

 

3 ripe avocados

½ cup raw walnuts

3/4 cup purified water

½ teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 clove of garlic, chopped

 

Method:

  1. In a small pot, heat grapeseed oil and add garlic. Allow garlic to cook until slightly golden, but not burnt. Allow to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, mash avocadoes with a fork. Add avocadoes, cilantro, walnuts, water, salt and browned garlic (with oil) to a food processor or blender. Blend well until smooth and creamy. If mixture is too thick for your liking, add a little more water.
  3. Transfer mixture to a pot and warm on low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, and more chopped cilantro if desired. Add more sea salt if desired. Serve warm.
My Beloved Bucerias, Mexico

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

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I know I’m a little late for Halloween, but I did manage to perfect that pumpkin spice muffin recipe I was working on and, as promised, here it is!

It’s the season for making delicious recipes with pumpkin and all varieties of squash. These muffins freeze well, so make a few batches, let them cool and store them in the freezer for times when guests pop in.

Since it took me 3 tries before I got this one right, let me share a few things with you so that you can avoid making the mistakes I made.

First, the amount of pumpkin puree you include is crucial: it cannot be more than one cup. Adding more will make the batter too soft, even once cooked. I chose a very small organic pumpkin to make these muffins with this week, but even with a small pumpkin, I still derived 2 cups of flesh when I baked it. So, I pureed it all, used one cup for my recipe and froze the rest for my next batch. Oh, and yes, baking your own pumpkin and scooping out the flesh is highly recommended, so that you can avoid additives, preservatives and refined sugar and salt from the canned variety.

Another little tidbit for baking pumpkins and all varieties of squash I’d like to share: I find them really difficult to cut in half when they are raw. You may not have this issue if you keep an axe in the kitchen, but if you don’t, you can do what I do: bake them whole for several minutes to soften and then chop them in half and place them face down onto the cooking sheet. Also, remember to remove the seeds before baking.

Second, when you add coconut oil to a muffin recipe, make sure that the oil is in its liquid state. Usually, at room temperature, coconut oil is solid, so heat it on the stove to make it melt. I chose coconut oil purely for its nutritional value, so if you don’t feel like liquefying the oil, you may substitute it for one that is already in its liquid format, and doesn’t denature at high temperatures, such as grapeseed oil.

There you go. I think the rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward. Try these yummy muffins. I’m positive your whole family will love them! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins: just out of the oven!

Ingredients:

1 cup pumpkin flesh

½ cup bran

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

4 teaspoons egg replacer

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 ¼ cup purified water

½ cup coconut oil, liquefied

¾ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and bake face down for 30 minutes. If pumpkin is too hard for you to cut, bake it initially for 10 minutes to soften, then cut in half, remove seeds and place it face down on your cooking sheet.  Return it to the oven and bake until flesh is soft.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Leave your stove on at 350˚F since we will be placing the muffins in shortly.
  4. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin (we only need one cup) and place it in a blender or food processor. Add ½ cup water, ½ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ cup maple syrup and blend until soft and creamy. Set aside. If you have more pumpkin flesh, you can freeze it for your next batch. Do not add more than one cup of pumpkin because it will make your muffins too soft.
  5. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (bran, flour, egg replacer, spice, baking soda, baking powder, remaining sea salt and non-dairy chocolate chips). Stir.
  6. If your coconut oil is solid, heat it in a small pot on your stove until it liquefies.
  7. In a small bowl, combine pureed pumpkin, liquefied coconut oil, remaining maple syrup and remaining water. Stir.
  8. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and stir with a spatula.
  9. Line muffin pan with parchment muffin cups. Spoon in batter.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick test comes out dry.
  11. Allow to cool before serving.

 

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

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A successful risotto does have to be rich and creamy, but doesn’t have to contain any dairy. This week, let’s take a look at what makes a delicious risotto.

Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish, usually made with a short-grain, white, starchy rice called Arborio rice. Although Arborio is the standard rice to use when making risotto, you can use any rice you like. If your rice is not a high starch variety, the dish may not be as creamy, however, I will teach you a few tricks to enhance the creaminess of any rice. For example, I chose organic brown basmati rice for its nutritional value when I created this dish the other day, and it was amazingly rich and creamy!

The first trick in creating a scrumptious rice dish is to slightly sauté the rice before adding the liquid to it. This will release its nutty, and to my apparently weird olfactory senses, chocolaty, aroma. Divine scent, really! Then, adding the liquid, either vegetable broth or water, or both, must be done a little at a time to allow slow absorption, while stirring constantly. This method will release whatever starchiness is contained in the rice and hence, the desired creamy texture begins to form.

My last secret weapon in the kitchen for creating an irresistible creamy risotto is adding nutritional yeast and Tahini once the rice is cooked. These two ingredients add to the richness and the nutritional yeast contributes a slightly cheesy flavour, which is typically achieved with parmesan cheese for non-vegans. We have also omitted the butter which is common in conventional risotto recipes. Minus the parmesan and butter in this vegan risotto, but definitely no lack in the deliciousness department. Remember, in the vegan kitchen and elsewhere, just forget the box, and let creativity lead the way!

Indulge in this luxurious, exquisite dish, without any animal products whatsoever! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Vegan Risotto

 

Green Vegetable Sesame Risotto

Ingredients:

2 cups brown basmati rice
4 cups Swiss chard or spinach, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 cups zucchini, chopped
1 ½ cups green Cuban peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups purified water (OR 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water)
1 tablespoon oregano
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Tahini
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 clove of minced garlic. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add rice and stir, allowing the rice grains to be covered in hot oil. Sauté for an additional 7-8 minutes.
2. Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and 2 cups of water or vegetable broth. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed – about 15-20 minutes. Add 2 more cups water. Taste rice and if desired consistency is reached, set aside. If still too crunchy for your taste, add a little more water until satisfactory. Rice should be al dente.
3. Add Tahini, sesame seeds and nutritional yeast to rice and set aside.
4. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 clove of garlic. Toss in zucchini and stir. Add oregano and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Once cooked, add zucchini, including garlic and oil, to rice mixture. Set aside.
5. In your large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 clove of garlic. Toss in Cuban peppers. Add 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and cook another 5 minutes.
6. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to the rice mixture.
7. Add chopped parsley to rice and stir. Heat rice over low heat until warm. Add black pepper and more sea salt if desired. Serve warm.

“They know enough who know how to learn.” ~Henry Brooks Adams

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Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up anything. In fact, you are gaining so much: health, bliss, peace of mind, and a sense that you are helping the whole planet and all its creatures. Being vegan simply means learning new things, like how to make a Caesar salad if you want it, without using anything that comes from an animal. This is possible and I can tell you: any recipe can be veganized!  This week, it is my absolute pleasure to share with you a popular favorite: the Caesar Salad, now veganized!

Vegan Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped

1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/3 cup olive oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon Tamari

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup croutons (see recipe below)

Garnish by sprinkling vegan bacon bits and vegan parmesan (see recipe below)

 

Method:

  1. Place chopped Romaine lettuce in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast, Tamari and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over lettuce and toss. Add croutons, and sprinkle bacon bits and parmesan over the salad.

 

Vegan Parmesan

Ingredients:

¼ cup raw cashews

¼ cup nutritional yeast

Method:

1. In a food processor, combine cashews and nutritional yeast. Blend until powdery.

 

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

3 slices of bread, cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut 2 slices of bread (I used whole sprouted grain bread) into cubes.
  3. Place bread cubes in a large casserole.
  4. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over bread.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt and oregano.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is hard and crispy.

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

November 1st was World Vegan Day and the whole month of November is vegan month. It is a time when vegans like me, a mere 1% of the human race, focus and combine our efforts to bring awareness to the plight of our animal brothers and sisters. November is a month of reflection, in some cultures, the “month of the dead”, so let’s look at the logic behind using animals.

There was a time not so long ago, when the slavery of Africans was justified by the argument that they were inferior to the white man and lacked intelligence. It was claimed that slavery was actually necessary for the economy to run, and without it, the whole economy would collapse. The use of children as cheap labour was also justified with similar arguments. Today, hopefully all of us recognize that these arguments are erroneous, illogical and ridiculous.

Similarly, we must acknowledge that the slavery of animals and all the arguments used to justify their misery is equally erroneous, illogical and ridiculous. We now know that animals are highly intelligent, sensitive and have their own desires for freedom. They form families and have emotional bonds just like us. They express love and affection, just like us. They want to live, just like us.

We can live, in fact, we can thrive, on a plant-based diet, so why don’t we all start transitioning into one now? All protein, even the protein in meat, comes from plants, so why not eat plants directly? One of the problems with consuming animals for food is that it is terribly inefficient and unsustainable with our ever-growing population, estimated at 7 billion at the moment, not to mention, unbearably cruel.  Farming animals uses way more labour, land, water, and fuel to grow not only the animals, but the crops to feed the animals. Eating animal products actually reduces the amount of food available to the human population. Instead of all this waste and inefficiency, why not just farm and eat the plant crops directly? You can feed 10 times more people with a vegan diet, than with an animal-based diet. With so many of us on this planet, we must use our resources as efficiently as possible.

In fact, there is no logic in our attitudes towards animals. How many of us love our dogs dearly, and yet ingest pharmaceuticals tested on dogs? How many of us claim to be animal lovers and sit down for a meal full of animal corpses and animal secretions? How many of us listen to the melodious chirping of our budgies and canaries, while we carve out the entrails of a turkey or chicken? How many of us cuddle kittens while we gulp down cow’s milk that has been stolen from calves and the calves themselves ripped away from their screaming mothers? Tell me, please, where is the logic in these unquestioned attitudes?

The time is now. Let’s start questioning everything. Let’s start speaking up. Let’s start choosing what’s right. Let’s start choosing compassion. Animals, too, deserve freedom, safety, love and tenderness.

The time is now. Evolve or die.

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He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well, it happened. After 3 ½ years of being vegan, and claiming that vegans don’t get “sick”, I got sick! And not just a little nuisance of a cold either – a full-fledged nasty bronchitis, requiring 2 visits to the doctor and prescription medication.  Sadly, I can no longer make the claim: “Since I’ve turned vegan, I no longer get sick.” Hey, it happens to the best of us!

So what can we do to strengthen our immune system at this time of year when everyone seems to be coming down with something? Can the foods we choose help us fight off infection? You bet they can! We can support our immune system by choosing foods high in vitamins C and E, zinc, beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants, and foods with natural antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties.

Most of us have probably already read about the healing properties of garlic, onion and ginger. These are nature’s antibiotic, antibacterial antiseptics. They fight off viruses and keep your immune system in tiptop shape. Also to strengthen the immune system, red and green hot peppers and parsley are amazing with their high vitamins C and E content. An excellent vegan source for zinc is pumpkin seeds.

What’s an easy way to incorporate these immune boosting foods in our daily diet? I like to prepare a tasty little concoction that I use as a raw garnish on anything and everything. Keeping these ingredients raw will maximize their nutrition. Here’s the recipe:

Immune Boosting Garnish

 

Immune Boosting Garnish: Add To Everything

Ingredients:

2-3 red and green hot peppers of your choice, chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

Method:

1. Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt. Use as a garnish over everything!

Vegetable and Chickpea broth, brown rice noodles, organic corn and peas, topped with immune boosting garnish
Kamut pasta with wild mushroom tomato sauce, topped with immune boosting garnish

In addition to this, continue juicing organic fruits and veggies! Make your green smoothies in the morning and don’t forget your wheatgrass! Adding plenty, and a variety of, organic fruits and veggies to your diet will surely increase your beta-carotene, vitamins C and E intake. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are the three major antioxidant vitamins, which support the immune system. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. All citrus fruits and greens are high in vitamin C. Vitamin E powerhouses are broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.

Also very helpful to immune system functioning are mushrooms. Mushrooms increase the production of cytokines, infection-fighting cells. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The most potent cold- and flu-fighting mushrooms are shitake and reishi.

Strengthening your immune system will help you avoid getting sick, make you recover quicker if you do get ill, and will improve many other things like the nuisance of allergies, and increase your energy levels.

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

“It is health that is the real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Orange Cranberry Muffins!

Muffins are so fun to make, delicious to eat and convenient. You can pop them in your bag for a snack any time of day or as I like to do, put them in the freezer after they have cooled and defrost them when a guest is coming over for a coffee! With muffins in the freezer, you always have a fresh, homemade baked treat to enjoy with friends and family!

However, sometimes even just making a simple batch of muffins can lead to failure! I experimented with 2 creations this week: I tried to create a Halloween special, which I called “Pumpkin Spiced Halloween”, but couldn’t quite get it right. The first time I made them, they were not sweet enough and the second time, I corrected the sweetness deficiency by adding a little more maple syrup, and even some non-dairy chocolate chips, but they were just too soft. I know I made one mistake when mixing up the batter: I added the coconut oil without liquefying it first. This created multi-sized, solid clumps in the batter which were difficult to dissolve and thoroughly mixing the batter was difficult. Then, once they were baking, the coconut oil began to melt and created too much moistness for the flour to sustain and this caused them to be way too soft. So there you have it – Pumpkin Spiced Halloween Muffins: Fail! If you want to cook, you have to be prepared to fail sometimes! However, don’t worry, I will make a third attempt and when I get this one right, I will share it, hopefully in time for Halloween.

The other recipe I created worked out very well, so I will share the recipe with you today: Cranberry Orange Muffins. Sweetness from the oranges and a slight hint of bitter from the fresh cranberries creates a delightful balance and pure taste explosion in the mouth! Try them!

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup raw agave nectar
Juice and zest from one orange
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour OR brown rice flour (gluten-free option)
4 teaspoons egg replacer
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup purified water

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. In a small pot, combine cranberries, salt, coconut oil and agave nectar. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add orange juice and zest. Allow to cool.
4. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
5. Once cranberry mixture has cooled, pour into batter and stir.
6. Line muffin pan with parchment muffin cups. Spoon in batter.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick test comes out dry.
8. Allow to cool before serving.

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

“Beethoven rewrote his Fifth Symphony 31 times; in fact, he rewrote everything he ever produced many, many times.” ~Jim Bagnola, Becoming A Professional Human Being

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This week in my class at McGill University, I taught my students how to make a vegan breakfast. Not just any vegan breakfast, but one complete with  an eggless omelette and bacon! Oh, yes, you read that correctly: a vegan can make bacon!

Vegan Bacon!

As I have mentioned before, my goal is to show you that vegan cooking can be easy, fun, healthy, kind, full of variety and delicious! Adopting a vegan diet, or just including more plant-based meals in your routine, will not leave you feeling deprived; on the contrary, you will learn so many new and creative ways to prepare meals without any use for animal products. Even vegan bacon – imagine!

Many people claim that they cannot become vegan because they love bacon too much. Well, vegans can make bacon too! Better bacon that is, because no pigs need be harmed. In our society, many of us are raised to believe that a pig is something that is raised so that we can eat it. Have you ever stopped to question this belief? In fact, a pig is a beautiful, sentient, loving being, just like you and I, only we may have never had the pleasure of getting to know one.  Pigs are social beings who love to play and cuddle. They can even learn tricks, respond to their names and play video games. Why harm them when it is unnecessary?

We used tempeh, a fermented soy product, cut into thin strips, to make the bacon. I thought up of a marinade with smoky, barbeque-type flavours, created by selecting certain spices, like cayenne and paprika.  I had trouble finding liquid smoke, but in the end, it manifested at the last minute and I think it made all the difference.  Liquid smoke is commonly used to flavour or preserve foods. It is produced by passing smoke through a tube from a combustion chamber filled with wood to a condenser. Water vapor is then added to a condenser, where the smoke cools and forms a smoky-tasting liquid.

This marinade was amazing! Perfectly balanced flavours, spicy and slightly sweet, a real treat for the taste buds. I found it so delicious that I plan to use it for burgers too, maybe even oven-baked potatoes.  Try it!

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Tempeh Bacon

Ingredients:

1 package tempeh, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 garlic, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon tamari

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Additional black pepper and sea salt sprinkled over bacon at the end, if desired

for frying pan: 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil  or coconut oil

 

Method:

1. Slice the tempeh into thin, rectangular slices.

2. To prepare the marinade, combine all other ingredients in a shallow dish and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

3. Soak tempeh in marinade for at least 10 minutes.

4. Turn stovetop high heat, add grapeseed oil to the frying pan. Once oil has heated, lay the tempeh flat on the pan. Drizzle a bit of excess marinade onto the pan as the tempeh sizzles.

5. Allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip. Allow to cook for another minute on other side, or until both sides are crisp and browned.

6. Lay tempeh strips on paper towels to cool and to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

 

When a human being kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why then should man expect mercy from God? It is unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

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Thanksgiving brings up mixed emotions for me. There is always so much I feel grateful for and giving thanks regularly comes naturally to me.  However, something about sitting around the table with family members and thanking the Almighty for abundance with a carcass as the centerpiece really ruins it for me. It doesn’t make sense to me to thank God for bounty, while a murdered soul lies in front of me.  I prefer compassion – for all beings, including turkeys, because to me, we are all souls in different disguises. Do you know how that soul lying in front of you lived?

Before I became vegan, I was aware of the death involved, the act of killing even, as an inevitable part of what I was eating, however I really wasn’t informed about the suffering and the torture that animals go through prior to ending up on our plates. In fact, I truly believe everyone should know the truth. Why wait? Get informed, so that you can make informed choices.

There are peaceful alternatives for a tasty vegan Thanksgiving.  Usually I give you one vegan recipe per week, but since it’s Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving is all about abundance, I am sharing several recipes with you this week!  A complete Thanksgiving menu, completely vegan, completely delicious!

How about some yummy hummus and pesto as dips for raw veggies to start with? Following that, I gave you a perfect recipe for a Thanksgiving soup last week: the Three Squash Soup.  Easy to make, this soup is a delightful way to start a satisfying meal. The main course can be lovely baked tempeh strips, topped with a zesty cranberry orange gravy.  To complete this course: serve it with mashed potatoes and baby peas!

Room for dessert? Come on: it’s Thanksgiving! We must have pumpkin pie for dessert! Below I share with you a simple vegan pumpkin pie recipe I created.  Try it!

Live in gratitude. Be kind to all creatures. Be Love.

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Baked Tempeh Strips

Ingredients:
1 package tempeh, cut into thin strips, marinated and baked

Method:
1. Marinate tempeh strips overnight, using recipe below.
2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
3. Cover baking sheet with coconut or grapeseed oil. Place tempeh strips on baking sheet in single file. Bake for 20 minutes and turn over. Bake for another 20 minutes.
4. Serve warm, with cranberry orange gravy.

How to marinate tempeh:
In a large glass container, place sliced tempeh, 1/2 cup purified water and the ingredients which follow. Refrigerate overnight.

2 gloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive OR grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted steak spice
1 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
1 bay leaf

Cranberry Orange Gravy

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 oranges, zest and juice
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Method:
1. Place cranberries in a saucepan. Add orange zest and juice from both oranges. Cook over low to medium heat for 10 minutes.
2. Add maple syrup. Stir mixture to combine and bring up to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Stir occasionally. Taste-test for sweet/tart ratio and add more maple syrup if desired. Turn off heat.
3. Stir in walnuts and ginger. Serve warm over tempeh strips.

Pumpkin Pie

Crust

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups raw almonds
15 dates, pitted
½ teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. Place almonds and dates in food processor and blend until firm.
2. Coat round, shallow baking dish with coconut oil. Place date/almond mixture into dish and pat down evenly.

Filling
Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, baked and flesh scooped out (approximately 2 cups)
1 cup silken tofu
½ cup raw agave nectar
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Place all ingredients into food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Pour mixture into baking dish.
4. Bake for 45 minutes.
5. Let cool thoroughly before serving.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King

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