Meatless Monday – A Continental Divide

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I’ll make this quick – I’m on the road in a thunderstorm and the wi-fi could go at any minute! (Oh the excitement of blogging on the road).

A few nights ago I stayed in a university dorm. It is an option for budget accommodation during summer travels. Students are away and the university still needs to make money. For the low price of $42.71 per night I got a private room with shared bath and a full continental breakfast was included too at no extra charge. This week’s Meatless Monday looks at typical offerings for the vegetarian/vegan.

A continental breakfast is usually a light fare of pastries, juice and coffee/tea. Hotels often expand into a full continental and offer an assortment of meat, cereal, bread and fruit along with beverages, breads and pastries.

For the health-conscious plant eater the pickings can be slim. If you are vegetarian you can load up on the eggs, French toast and pancakes or have some cereal with milk or yoghurt. The vegan is usually relegated to fruit, oatmeal and toast. If you want cereal bring your own milk and if you’re going for the breads and pastries, take note that they are usually made with refined flour and contain unnecessary quantities of sugar. Oh yes, many of them are also made with dairy and/or eggs.

This got me thinking about the vegetarian/vegan bed and breakfast that I would like to open some day. On my menu, I would offer:

  • Steel-cut oats, not too watery, served with sliced banana and a bit of brown sugar
  • Whole grain bread (freshly made by me of course!) and a selection of fruit spreads (less sugary than jam) and an assortment of nut/seed butters
  • An egg station for the vegetarians: French toast, scrambled, poached, omelette
  • A fruit salad bar with in season fruit
  • Reduced fat and naturally sweetened muffins
  • Juice, fair-trade coffee and tea (black and herbal)
  • Granola served with your choice of almond or rice milk

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day and should include all of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) along with fibre. This combination will set you up with sustained energy and a stable blood sugar level as you start your busy day of touring.

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – On The Road Again

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Taking a road trip away from the confines of a cosmopolitan centre can seem a little trepidatious. Vegetarian/vegan options may be scarce on the road so this week’s Meatless Monday partners with our sister site Weal World Travel to bring you A Vegabond Voyage, one of our series in Travel & Nutrition.

Though french fries and salad count as vegetarian food, who wants to rely on those as the main sustenance on their travels. Besides being unhealthy and an incomplete meal, it’s boring! And while there may be some great vegetarian/vegan restaurants on the road, who wants to spend precious touring time trying to find them?
Here are some tips so you can eat healthy on-the-road and on-the-go.

Things to bring:

  • Protein to go
    An abundance of good quality plant protein on-the-road may be a challenge to find. Bring protein bars, a small jar of nut/seed butter or a bag of raw/sprouted nuts and seeds. Vegetarians can usually find cheese and eggs to eat. Finding rennet-free cheese may be a bit more of a challenge. When in doubt, desperate and hungry there is always Laughing Cow/La vache qui rit cheese which is usually rennet-free.
  • Supplemental
    You may not be able to get your quinoa sweet potato burger and fancy plant-based casseroles so bring some super food and vitamin supplements to ensure you get enough nutrients on the road. These often come in powder form and usually combine greens like spirulina and wheat grass with vegetable concentrates and vitamins and minerals. Mix the powder with a little lemon juice and water and drink on-the-go as you tour around. Oh yes, a small container of lemon juice is worth packing too in your luggage. Add it to water or tea for flavour or use it on food to brighten up a dish.

    Photo by Kimberley (c)2013

    Photo by Kimberley (c)2013

  • To-Go Container
    Bring a small food safe container and pack all your supplements inside. When it is empty you can use the container to transport any fragile souvenirs you may have bought.

Things to buy:

  • Bakeries are your buddy
    Every town, city and village has one and they are not difficult to find. Opt for the good carbs i.e. whole grains rather than refined flour, individual portions (e.g. buns) rather than bulk (loaves). Ones made with oats, nuts and seeds also help up the fibre and protein content of your selection.
  • Productive Produce
    Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the locals, take some really cool pics and get some fresh produce. If you are stuck, grocery stores are usually easy to find and also carry some sort of edible produce. Opt for items that require little preparation such as apples, bananas, grapes, berries, sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach. Use clean water to wash them and they are ready to go – a raw treat to munch on that provide nutrients and enzymes. Some nut butter and lemon juice can serve as ingredients for a vegetable dip. (Idea: 1 Tablespoon of almond butter mixed with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Tip: A Tablespoon is about the length of your thumb and 1 teaspoon is about one-third that size.)

And there’s always Happy Cow. Check out this Healthy Eating Guide online for a list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants and cafés in your destination. And if you find one not on the list, consider submitting a review to Happy Cow.

 

Canned

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It’s Farmers’ market season and there is a dearth of fresh fruit everywhere going cheap. What’s a girl to do? Get creative in her kitchen of course.

Ontario may be a part of the Great White North but for part of the year she produces an abundance of berries and stone fruit.  Many farms, some organic and some conventional, exist outside of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) with the Niagara region being renowned for its wine and peaches (amongst other things).

Jams, cakes and scones can all be made with fruit but a quick jam, sans canning, is a great way to make good use of the abundant fruit during this time of year.

Canning requires precision and technique – who wants to get botulism from improperly preserved produce? But I’m not talking canning so as to stock up for the winter.  Forgo the official canning process and use the quick cook method instead to turn your fruit into tasty spreadable treats.

  • Cut fruit into bite-size pieces and place into stainless steel pot.
  • Add sugar. This is personal. Apparently there is a rating as to how much sugar classifies a jam versus a jelly versus a spread. Canning authorities will have you believe that a whole field of sugar cane is needed in order to set the jam. Fruit in season is sweet enough. Add a little natural sweetener of your choice i.e. coconut sugar, muscovado sugar, honey, etc.
  • Cook on medium heat to loosen up the pectin (usually found in the skin of a fruit). The pectin is what helps set or gel the fruit spread. I like to use agar agar as well for extra gelling action. Using vanilla flavoured agar (as easy to find as the plain agar) is an ideal choice in this situation.
  • When fruit mixture is bubbling and the fruit is softened (5-10 minutes depending on your heat source) turn heat to low and mash the mixture with a potato masher. Continue on a simmer until most of the liquid disappears and the mixture starts to thicken.
  • Remove from heat and place in clean glass container. Herein lies the tricky part. Good canning theory states that the jar should be sterilized and the product canned immediately with some head space to prevent bacterial growth. Personally I throw my mixture into a clean jar and refrigerate. Consult a recipe book that specializes in canning or take a course to learn the proper method of safe canning procedures.

Properly canned/preserved goods should last a long time while this quick cook method does not. Eat within a week of making just to be on the safe side. (*Any product that looks or smells off should not be eaten-period.)

Uses:

  • Mix with some coconut milk and freeze into popsicle or ice-cube moulds for a frozen treat.
  • Spread on toast.
  • Spread between a layered cake and/or mix in with cake batter.
  • Make sandwich cookies.
  • Mix with melted dark chocolate for the ultimate anti-oxidant spread. However, refrigeration may set this mixture into a paste. In this case, use it as a filling for chocolate truffles.
  • Mix into veggie burgers or serve as an accompaniment to a main meal. Peach chutney anyone?
Strawberry kiwifruit jam & Peach Rhubarb Ginger Jam Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Strawberry kiwifruit jam & Peach Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Meatless Monday – B12 or Not B12

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“You can’t get B12 on a vegan diet.”

 

Words often uttered to us non-meat eaters as people gasp in horror at the fact that we don’t eat animal flesh. It is true that natural sources of vitamin B12 are found in animal products, but they are also found in fortified foods. This week’s Meatless Monday looks at one of the B complex vitamins: B12.

B12 or cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin in the B-complex group. It is most notable for its importance in the formation of red blood cells and proper function of the nervous system. Recommended daily requirements range from 0.4 – 2.8µg/day depending on age and gender of a person. The highest amount required (2.8µg) is for lactating females.

Vitamin B12 can be stored by the body and, as a result, deficiencies may take a long time before they become apparent. Anemia, fatigue and numbness/tingling of the appendages can develop with a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Getting enough B12 in the diet doesn’t guarantee absorption. Certain conditions (advanced age, digestive disorders and heavy drinking) can result in deficiencies even amongst meat-eaters.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians can meet daily requirements by consuming sufficient amounts of eggs, milk and cheese while vegans will have to rely on fortified foods (e.g. cereal, soy milk) and supplements. Fermented foods such as tempeh and miso may contain some B12 depending on the process of fermentation used. Some brands of nutritional yeast, a deactivated yeast cultured on a micro-organism, may also contain some B12.

There are different supplemental forms of B12:
cyanocobalamin – the cheapest and most common
methylcobalamin – the most expensive yet most effective
hydroxocobalamin – used primarily in Europe

It is also ideal to take the vitamin as part of the B-complex group. The natural synergy of complementary vitamins is usually more effective than  individual vitamins in isolation.

Some B12 resources:
Medline Plus via the National Library of Medicine
B12 Deficiency via WebMD
The Right Kind of Vitamin B12 is Vital for Treating Deficiency via The Natural News

Busy Bea Baking…

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What’s cooking in Kimberley’s kitchen?
It feels like I’ve been cheating on blogging with baking as I have been spending more time (lately) in the kitchen rather than on the computer. Here I share with you some of my recent creations along with some useful tips from my experience.

Reduced fat and sugar banana split cake made with an assortment of flours. They are almost vegan – just like me. Except for the white chocolate, there were no animal products used in the making of these cakes. True to moderate eating, I made mini-cakes for those times when you just need a hit of something sweet in an otherwise healthy diet. The big cake was baked in an oblong pan to recreate the feel of a banana boat sundae.
Interesting ingredients you may not guess are inside: green pea flour, tapioca starch and ground white chia seeds. The fiber helps tone down the blood sugar spike that pure sugar can create.

Banana Split Cake  Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Banana Split Cake
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fancy banana cake – once again, almost vegan like me. The white and milk chocolate are the spoilers here. This recipe was made with overripe bananas (quite sweet and the best kind for baking) and very little sugar. The organic dark chocolate used in the cake was quite bitter with a cocoa content of 70% (that’s the healthy stuff !) To balance the bitterness and reduced sugar amount, I made a chocolate glaze (white and milk) mixed with raw hazelnut butter and some agave syrup. The oil and sugar help give the glaze its sheen and ‘sticky’ quality. It is topped with white and milk chocolate curls (which stuck quite well to the glaze).
Tip!: Bananas not only taste great and contain the important mineral potassium, they also make great fat and egg substitutes in ‘healthier’ and vegan baking.

Pre-bake Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Pre-bake
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

Post-bake Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Post-bake
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally the coco bread. I fell in love with this slightly sweet yeasted bread while in Jamaica. Apparently it is used as sandwich bread and can be found in other parts of the Caribbean as well. The original recipe calls for butter and milk, but, as always, I performed my recipe alchemy to make it vegan. Rice milk and a coconut-oil based spread were used. To see original recipe, go to Cook Like a Jamaican – Coco Bread Recipe.  In spite of the dearth of meat on this site, there are lots of easy-to-follow well-tested recipes here that are vegetarian/vegan friendly. With a little tweaking these recipes can even be made somewhat healthy too.
Tip: When searching recipes online or in print, make sure that the author indicates that the recipe has been tested, preferably a few times. When you try a recipe for the first time and it doesn’t work, it is not always your fault.
Note that my dough has doubled in size – the sign that the yeast is alive and kicking!
The traditional shape is that of folded bread. I got creative (well I made a mistake and improvised) and made some crescent shapes and rolls. This dough is sticky and a challenge to work with. Flour your hands well and handle the dough gently.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Meatless Monday – Fair’s Fair

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The T&T Night Market was a bad idea. Dead animals on a stick and a foul smell that permeated the scene greeted me as I walked up to the no admission charge gate.  And speaking of smells…what was with the smelly tofu advertised by so many vendors? According to the lady at one of the stalls it is tofu made with blue cheese. And then there were the Taiwanese smelly fries. I chose not to inquire what those were all about.

Summer time means festivals and fairs and many of these are food based. However, the typical options available for vegetarians/vegans is limited to exotic drinks and desserts. Who wants to walk around in a sugar stupor the whole time? This week’s Meatless Monday brings you a link put together by the dedicated team at VeggieFocus, a website featuring vegetarian restaurants and recipes.

The Top Ten Vegetarian/Vegan Food Festivals Around the World

If you do end up at a food festival that is not vegetarian/vegan friendly, here are some tips to help you survive nutritionally:

  • Eating before you go is always a good suggestion. Have dinner and then just plan to eat dessert at the festival. (That’s probably all you’ll get anyways.)
  • Bring bite-size snacks of nutritious foods for those hunger pangs that aren’t satisfied with simply sugar. (A handful of almonds and whole-grain crackers will help tide you over until you can get more substantial food.)
  • Fruit is a better option than baked goods. The fiber in fruit helps to slow down digestion so you don’t get the same blood sugar spike that refined sugar elicits.
  • Negotiate. Some stalls are set up assembly line style so you can request your food be made meat-free. (“A burger please and hold the meat.“)

 

 

Busy Bea Baking…

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…into the late night. With my regular work in slowdown mode and my mood melancholy I have the need to spend quality time in my kitchen. Culinary pursuits require ingredients, though, so I set out in the early part of the day to a few of many favourite food haunts: Yamchops and Kensington Market.

In such a hurry to purchase my wares and make it back in time to salvage the rest of my day, I forgot to order a small container of the chickpea tuna salad at Yamchops! Luckily I didn’t forget to get a sample of it, so with the taste fresh in my memory and the help of several online recipes for said stuff, I made my own.

The version you see in the photo consists of chickpeas, mustard, vegan mayo, a couple of nori sheets (seaweed), kiwifruit relish, celery seed, finely chopped shallot, salt and pepper. The mixture then got blended and put in the fridge to chill-waiting to be spread on some toothsome bread. (Hmm, a nice rye would be a perfect accompaniment…)

And the verdict? It tastes more like egg salad than the tuna I grew up eating but flavourful nonetheless. Who says chickpeas are just for hummus?

Tips gleaned from my culinary adventure:

  • The hand-held blender is an often used and much-loved toy in my kitchen. If you can only afford minimal equipment then I suggest this one is a must! It can be used in so many applications*, cleans easily and stores well in small spaces.
    *making smoothies, salad dressings, spreads, dips, mayonnaise, purées, etc.
  • A can of chickpeas goes a long way. You can use mash them for hummus and chickpea ‘tuna’, roast them for a healthy snack or simply throw them on salad for a boost of protein and fibre. They also have application in dessert. The Happy Hummus Hut in St. John’s Newfoundland has a Chocolate Hummus Dipper on their dessert menu. I got to try some and it is a filling treat that adequately satisfies the sweet tooth.
    Chickpeas or garbanzo beans usually come dried and require a long preparation time before they are edible enough to be used. They also come ready-made in cans*.  Whether dried or canned these beans have a long shelf life and with their versatility should be a staple item in your pantry.
    *Make sure the can is BPA-free. Eden Foods has a variety of canned beans with BPA-free lining.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014