Five Things Friday: Waste-Free Soap Bar,Vegan Butter Recipe, Stationery Biking, Soap Nuts, Podcasts

Welcome to my third instalment of Five Things Friday! You can read the previous two here and here. In this weekly post, I try to talk about cool stuff that’s on my radar that would be of interest to my audience.

I have to be honest that I haven’t gotten up to much other than work and (attempted) essay writing this week, but there are still definitely five things that I want to bring to your attention! Let’s get started.

Waste-Free Soap Bar: // Yesterday, I wrote a full blog post sharing my thoughts on the Soap Works shampoo bar. My verdict? It’s not bad; I’m actually pretty happy with it. I will probably continue to try different soap bars, but I plan to finish this one, and I don’t dread washing my hair with it, the way that I did with the LUSH shampoo bars (I tried two of those—hated both because they were wayyy too drying for my hair). Read all about it here. And guess what? It costs about $2–3 and it lasts a really long time (I have long, thick hair and after four or five washes, the bar still looks almost completely unused). You can buy it here.

Vegan Butter Recipe: // I’ve been resisting vegan butter for the longest time, using coconut oil or vegetable shortening instead (I can buy them in bulk so it’s “waste free”) and not getting the same results you would with butter. Then I decided to look up vegan butter recipes, and this one looks promising. I’m thinking, weekend project. I will let you know how it turns out. Seems simple enough, and I already have most of the ingredients, such as olive oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and a few others.

Soap Nuts: // It turns out you can do your laundry with a completely plant-based detergent alternative that is also unprocessed. Soap nuts look like nuts (thanks, whoever named them), and they’re a berry shell that naturally contains soap! I can buy them in bulk at Bulk Barn, and so far I am experimenting with them. You are supposed to be able  to reuse them in several loads of laundry, but my experience hasn’t been that! I will write a whole post when I figure out exactly what does and doesn’t work with regards to soap nuts.

Stationery Biking: // Change of plans! My seldom used stationery bike is now near my workspace, so I hop on to pedal a little every so often throughout the day. It’s great! One of the biggest “pros” of working from home is being able to actually move and exercise during breaks, even if they’re only five minutes long. This isn’t the biggest calorie-burning hack, though I do rack up 100–200 extra by the end of the day, but it’s just been good for the way I feel. I would really recommend it; there’s so much more to exercise than the calories we burn doing it.

Podcasts: // I am a bit of a podcast fiend, and I love listening to new podcasts, even if ultimately I’m pretty picky about which I “keep” on my regular podcast rotation. I’ve been listening to and liking a podcast called Elise Gets Crafty lately. If you’re hoping to make a living from a creative pursuit without actually losing the creativity side of things, I recommend exploring this one. It’s a bit eclectic in that there isn’t one specific theme or motif that carries from episode to episode (other than creativity—duh!). It’s a weekly show, and I love the interviews that Elise does with people who’ve managed to turn their creativity into something financially sustaining and value-giving. Check out her podcast here.

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Making Plant-Based Cheese, First Time

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Good evening, beautiful people! Thank you for visiting my blog, and choosing to spend a few minutes of your precious time with me. I really mean that, and I wish I could thank you in person because while this blog is about my personal journey with a hobby (which I would hope to undertake with or without a website) it’s so nice to connect with others.

Today I want to tell you about a cheese success story! I made vegan cheese for the very first time, and it was so easy. I wasn’t planning it, but it just occurred to me that I had an open bottle of wine in the fridge, some nice dried fruit, and all of the ingredients for a cheese recipe that I’d watched on Youtube weeks ago.

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So I went ahead with it. I used one of Anja’s recipes from Cooking With Plants. If you click the link, it will take you right to the video I followed.

I did make a few adjustments, and I think that’s why my cheese turned out a lot softer, but it was still great, and I look forward to trying again one day with the right ingredients and measurements. Namely, I used almond milk instead of soy and didn’t quite measure everything properly.

And if like me, you have agar flakes instead of powder, use a little more of the flakes. So the equivalency ratio is 3 to 1. Three parts agar flakes equals one part agar powder. Agar flakes tend to be much less expensive, maybe for this reason. I wish I’d looked this up before because actually I only used three tablespoons of flakes in place of two tablespoons of powder when, apparently, I should have used six!

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Anyway, absolutely no regrets! This was a creamy and delicious cheese. I added salt-free Italian spices, some paprika and garlic powder as well. One thing I’d do differently is add a little less salt. The recipe calls for salt and miso paste, and I found that it just turned into a little too much sodium for me. But that’s a personal preference, I suppose.

I ate the cheese with dried apricots and figs, Mary’s gluten-free crackers (which are good even on their own), alongside a medium Riesling. I’ll be honest, I haven’t the slightest idea which fruits go with which wines and cheeses, but I will exempt myself this time.

I did notice that with the strong flavours from the cheese and fruit, I really couldn’t taste this delicate, fruity and flowery flavours of this beautiful white wine, and that was a shame!

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Making and setting this vegan cheese took about one hour. It’s all very quick. If you’re toying with the idea of eliminating dairy from your diet, try one of Anja’s recipes out! They are not the only ones, either, so feel free to find others.

The dairy industry is cruel, and we’ve come to a time of abundance when we no longer need to abuse and use animals for our benefit. We don’t need to get preventable chronic illnesses. Imagine, we are so blessed in developing nations that most people die from preventable illnesses! Most people aren’t dying from hunger, from a horrible virus or disease; they are dying from the consequences of eating too much of the wrong foods, exercising too little, worrying too much, sleeping too little.

That’s great news because those things can be fixed.

I hope you’ll join me in trying this cheese and a plant-based lifestyle. Trying is all I do—I’m not perfect. And it’s all I would ask of anyone else.

 

Fifteen Indian Vegan Recipes I’d Like to Try in March

Hi, everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog. Today, I decided to come up with a challenge to cook a number of recipes in March. I compiled a list of 15 Indian recipes, though  I realize that’s a high and unrealistic number, considering how busy I am for the rest of March.

The list does also include French toast, decidedly not Indian, but I just couldn’t take it out. It looked too good! All of the recipes are from Vegan Richa, about whom you can learn in a recent post, and on her website you can also find high quality photos and detailed instructions for each of the recipes, in addition to a little bit of historical or cultural background about the dish, which I enjoy.

Here are my picks—each recipe is linked below:

Vegan Methi Malai Paneer Tofu

Indian Butter Tofu Paneer I’ve tried this one before.

Almond Fudge This sweet looks amazing and kind of looks like Persian halwa.

Ginger Turmeric Root Tea

Chickpea flour fudge To see if it’s better than the almond fudge. If you haven’t had chickpea flour desserts before, try this or some others. It’s something that’s used in dessert-making in parts of Iran, and it’s really flavourful when paired with sugar/sweetness and cardamom (which I don’t know if this recipe contains).

Cauliflower Kofta Curry

Hemp-Tofu in Rich Pasanda Sauce Okay, this one requires hemp-tofu, supposedly tofu made from hemp seeds. I’m never heard of it but I’ll make a trip over to Whole Foods, and if they don’t have it, the Big Carrot.

Vegan Banana French Toast  So I can listen to Banana Pancakes and eat them (close).

Naan (I’d like to make the garlic kind)

Baked Samosas  I may have signed up to make samosas for friends in the near future. I might as well practice. These ones are baked. I can’t imagine deep frying something at home and then finding the courage to also eat it!

Palak Tofu Paneer Palak paneer was my favourite Indian dish before I gave up dairy because of lactose intolerance. I still sometimes eat dairy (though I’d like to move towards a fully plant-based diet this year) but I need to take Lactaid to do so, and I guess I’ve just never had any on hand when ordering Indian food.

Carrot Halwa This is such a popular Indian dessert that I feel it should be in my Indian recipe try. I used to love it when I ate dairy, and I haven’t had it since, as I believe the traditional version contains either of cream or milk.

Vegan Mango Lassi The first and only time I had mango lassi, another hugely popular Indian recipe, was at an Indian restaurant with a friend. We couldn’t drink ours because I suspect the mango was too unripe and the whole thing tasted sour.

Gobi Broccoli Makhani

Vegan Mango Burfi

 

Healthy Easy Vegan Lunch: Tofu Avocado Toast With Stubb’s BBQ Marinade

Today was a study day, so I didn’t fuss or spend much time in the kitchen. I decided to make some easy healthy vegan food.

I wanted to make a quick but still healthy lunch, and something that would hold me over until dinner. Et voila: I made avocado toast.

Of course, there’s a very high chance you’re already sick of avocado toast (I mostly am; it’s a pretty lazy content idea, let’s be honest). BUT this is a twist on avocado toast! (Anyway, that’s what I’m telling myself.) Read on.

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I toasted two slices of Glutino’s gluten free toast, which is so easy to digest. This is especially important on days where I need all of my wits about me and have absolutely no time for that heavy food feeling.

On top of my two slices of toast, I mashed one whole small avocado and added some sauteed cubed extra firm sprouted organic tofu (the whole brick costs $2—it just sounds fancy) marinated for a few minutes (but leave it more longer if you have time) in Stubb’s Texas Steakhouse marinade.

Et finit! Qu’est-ce que c’est? Easy healthy vegan food.

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I haven’t seen this idea before, even though it’s so simple. The toast is good for carbs, the avocado for fats, and the tofu for protein. It’s especially important for plant-based diet adherents to make sure they ingest enough omega-3 fats and whole proteins (tofu* is one).

This meal is adjustable: you can make more or less of any of the ingredients without adding a significant amount of time, and with carrot or cucumber sticks, it would pass for a complete meal in my books.

Hope you try it!

*Disclaimer: I do limit my tofu intake to prevent any potential hormonal effects, whether with sex hormones (estrogen) or thyroid hormones.

p.s. Check out my easy vegan burrito lunch post.

For more easy healthy vegan food ideas, I personally love the vegan recipes on Budget Bytes. They are cheap and (relatively) easy recipes. My favourite of Beth’s recipes (the recipe developer and blogger behind Budget Bytes) is the Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup.

Healthy Vegan Dinner in a Pinch With Amy’s Kitchen

Amy’s Kitchen is a company that offers vegetarian, organic and non-GMO convenience foods. The company was started by Andy and Rachel Berliner in California in 1987, and it was named after their daughter, Amy. Their canned and boxed soups, frozen entrees, and frozen wraps are widely available at supermarket chains in Canada.

What I like about Amy’s Kitchen is that they use real, healthy ingredients, many of of which are organic, and their products are priced reasonably. Today I want to share how to create a healthy lunch or dinner with my favourite Amy’s wrap.

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You will need:

1 gluten-free Amy’s Kitchen frozen bean and rice burrito ($3.99)
1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mild salsa

For the salad:
Two cups washed and cut lettuce
Handful of baby spinach
1/2 ripe avocado
5–10 grape tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

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Toss salad ingredients and set aside (outside or in fridge depending on how you cook the burrito). Unwrap Amy’s Kitchen burrito and warm up according to instructions, either by microwave oven or conventional/toaster oven. Take out before it’s ready ( 25–30 seconds with the microwave, and 15 minutes with the conventional oven).

Flatten the top side of the burrito by gently pressing down with a fork. Then arrange most of the cheese on top. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or microwave for 15–20 seconds. Take out and flatten with a fork again. Place mild salsa and the rest of the cheese overtop. Place in the oven for another 5 minutes or microwave another 10–15 seconds.

You will love this. 🙂

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