Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tropical Greens Smoothie with Super Seedy Milk...

I love smoothies, I’m sure you know this by now. I especially love them in the summer, but this summer thanks to two extended vacations and a busy schedule I haven’t been feeling much creative inspiration in the smoothie department. I still drink a smoothie each morning of course but over the past month and a half I’d say I’ve mostly been drinking flax-milk chocolate vega shakes. They’re delicious of course but nothing that really needs to be written about.

Well yesterday I decided to try something new. I decided to make some homemade seed milk. I’d made homemade nut milk before and that was fun and easy, so I thought I’d give seed milk a try. It’s even easier then nut milk because you don’t have to filter out any pulp and it gets super creamy without having to soak the seeds first. Of course the recipe makes quite a bit (3-3 ½ C) so today I wanted to make sure I used up some more of it. Of course the next logical question became “What should I use it on/in?” After a bit of thought I decided a good belly-filling smoothie was just the ticket, and since I’ve been thinking a lot about the glorious combination of pineapple and spinach that seemed the natural choice for the smoothie.

The seed milk on it’s own is a bit bitter, as you would expect from sunflower and sesame seeds, so I wasn’t sure how it would pair in a smoothie. However I figured pairing it with sweet frozen pineapple could only make a good thing better and I was right. This smoothie came out so creamy and delicious, really you won’t believe how creamy it is! The seed milk becomes a subtle flavor addition and the tropical flavors really shine through. A perfect blend, and super filling, which is great for a first day meal.

I know it may sound a bit weird “Seed Milk” but trust me, this smoothie is delicious! And the best thing about it is that this is a super quick and easy way to get in some greens and some seeds. Two food groups I think a lot of us often neglect.

Tropical Greens Smoothie with Super Seedy Milk

1 ½ C Frozen Pineapple Chunks
1 Big Handful Baby Spinach
1 Banana
1 C Super Seedy Milk (Recipe Follows)
½ - 3/4 C Filtered Water

- Place all ingredients into a highspeed blender and blend on high for 1 minute or until completely smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and enjoy with a nice bowl of strawberries!

Note - If desired you can use half frozen pineapple chunks and half frozen mango chunks to give the smoothie a slightly more tropical feel.

Super Seedy Milk

 3/4 C Raw Sunflower Seeds
1/4 C Hemp Seeds
1/4 C Sesame Seeds
4 Medjool Dates
A Tiny Pinch of Cinnamon
2 ½ - 3 C Water (Depending on how thick you want it)

- Place all ingredients into a highspeed blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until the milk is smooth and creamy. Add more or less water for your preferred consistency.

- Store leftover super seedy milk in an air tight container or mason jar in the fridge for 3-5 days. Shake well before using because the milk may settle and or separate when in the fridge overnight.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Restaurant Review: Tera V Burger in Vancouver...

I know I’ve been MIA again and I apologize. I took a sudden and unplanned trip home to Vancouver to visit my family. The day before I left I had meant to post about it to let you all know I’d be gone but in the rush and hustle of work and last minute packing it totally slipped my mind.

Now that I’m back I can’t wait to tell you all about the amazing vegan eats I found while strolling around my home city. Vancouver is of course as wonderful and beautiful as it always is, but there have been a lot of changes in the past few years. 2009 was the last time I was home, and since then the Winter Olympics have come and gone and with them a lot of new construction, and infrastructure, which I think is a really good thing. The city is looking better then ever, and previously scummy parts of town have been cleaned up really nice. My first couple of days back home I felt a bit of a tourist rather then a born and bred Vancouverite not only because of the changes to the city but because of the cultural differences as well. Obviously I don’t ‘fit in’ in Chicago, and I’m not well suited to the American way of life, but after overtime one finds they do get a bit used to it. You expect people to be pushy and rude, you expect stranger to keep to themselves you, expect hustle and bustle and all out chaos. Everything and everyone in Vancouver moves at a much slower pace. No one ever seems to be in much of a hurry, people get on and off busses in an orderly fashion, strangers smile, say hello, and strike up conversations with you. I always jokingly say that people in Maui are on “Maui Time” but this is the first time I felt that the people in Vancouver also experience a similar phenomenon, of “Vancouver Time.” I like that. I like the easy-going rise and fall of the cities life, I like the good natured and laid-back attitude of the people. In Vancouver I’m a different person, I feel entirely comfortable going anywhere and talking to anyone, I’m even happy to go hiking in a 600 acre forest alone. I can’t say I ever feel that way about living in Chicago.

So it was nice to be back home amongst my own people, to converse, commiserate, to talk to, and spend time with my compatriots. It was great getting to visit with my family. I saw everyone on my Fathers side, and my grandparents on my mothers side, plus my parents of course and their spouses and my brother, his girlfriend and their three month old baby girl. I was fun revisiting all my old haunts, and wonderful exploring new places I’d never been before. I did the Grouse Grind twice, hiked through Lynn Valley Canyon, visited Queen Elizabeth Park, hung out at Spanish Banks, road the Seabus for the first time ever - yeah I know, way behind on that - and did a lot of other fun stuff. I also got to try out a good sampling of Vancouver’s Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants. Something I’ve not previously had the privilege of doing, since I wasn’t vegan three years ago.

Everywhere I ate was fantastic too by the way, and I can’t wait to review all of the places I went, but for today I’m going to keep it simple and short.

The first restaurant I’m going to review today is actually one of the last ones I ate at. Tera V Burger on West Broadway. It’s a very small vegetarian fast food joint. Typically I’m not into fast food, and generally I don’t get veggie burgers when I go out because I can make them just as good or better at home but how could I pass up the opportunity to have actual vegetarian fast food. In a place I knew I could order almost anything?

It was a bit out of the way for me to go here for lunch, but since I also wanted to hit up the Vegan Bakery known as Edible Flowers - more on them later - and it’s in the same area I thought it wouldn’t be a wasted trip. As I said the place was small, but it was clean and the staff was super friendly and helpful. Everything on the menu can be made vegan except the Garden Burger. Their menu is small but they have a selection of burgers, wraps, sandwiches, smoothies and salads. They even sell coconut water! And they use biodegradable packaging, how can you not love that?

I ended up getting the No Bull burger which is their tempeh burger. I got it because of the good reviews I’d read of it on HappyCow, and I’m surprised to say it really didn’t disappoint. I got it vegan of course with Daiya and a side of delicious yam fries and a coconut water. The patty was pretty tasty, it was firm, and a little crispy. It even had that grill taste. Actually if I didn’t know better I would have sworn it was beef, it tasted just like I remember a hamburger to taste except it didn’t have all that disgusting grease and saturated fat. It was amazing, and the portion was quite a good size. I left feeling full but not sick.

I would have liked to go back for a second meal but as I ate here on my second to last day in Vancouver I simply didn’t have the time. However next time I go home I’ll be stopping by Tera V. Burger again for the BBQ Tempeh burger that sounded absolutely to die for.

Tera V Burger seems like a relatively new place, and it wasn’t super busy when I was there so I hope they do good business. If you live in Vancouver check it out, if you’re in the area definitely check it out, and if you’re just visiting Vancouver it might be worth a stop. After all we’ve got to support Vegan friendly restaurants not to mention healthy fast food options.

Tera V Burger 
2961 W. Broadway, Kitsilano, Vancouver 
Open 10:30am - 9pm

PS: If you’re taking Public Transportation as I did. Take the number 9 (or was it 99) Alma bus. It goes all the way down Broadway and right past Tera V Burger. Trust me when I say that if you’re near Commercial Drive, or anywhere on E. Broadway you’re way better off talking the bus then walking, because it’s quite the hike especially on a hot or cold day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death...

Normally I don’t post videos, but I came across this one tonight and I felt compelled to share it. Dr. Gregor talks about the top 15 leading cause of death, what causes them and how they can be prevented, and treated. It’s all stuff vegans have known for years backed up by the latest scientific studies and the longest running study on vegetarianism/veganism ever conducted.

It's one thing to read this information in a magazine, book or blog, or to see it on the news or to just ‘know it’ but to see it laid out so blatantly and unobtrusively with facts, figures, charts, and diagrams is quite another. It’s more mind-blowing in my opinion. Harder to ignore.

Though this video is just shy of an hour, I think it’s extremely important that it be watched and shared. Especially if you have a history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, liver disease, kidney disease, COPD, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s etc... particularly if you’re not a vegan or a vegetarian. If you can’t commit to watching the entire video I implore you to at least watch the first ten minutes. They discuss heart disease and cancer.

Some of my favorite quotes from the video

 “Eating just a quarter of a chicken breast can triple your risk of cancer.” 

“Vegans fight cancer 8 times better then non-vegans.” 

“Prescription drugs kill over 100,000 Americans a year from side effects, not abuse or overdose.”


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vegan on Vacation: Germany Part 2 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Neuschwanstein...

Now for the much promised next installment of our vacation.

From Munich we went on to Dachau - the concentration camp - which is not a place I wanted to go as I have a very bad reaction to that kind of stuff and felt quite ill, and anxious the entire time we were there. There isn’t much I want to say about it except to say it wasn’t what I expected. Personally I thought it was too clean and sterile and felt too much like a ‘destination.’ However despite it’s upkeep it is overflowing with bad ‘juju’ which only made me feel sicker. I know a lot of different people travel to these sorts of places for a lot of different reasons but I personally wouldn’t recommend it, it’s not a place I would ever want to go again. I felt embarrassed to be there, I felt like a ghoul, and I felt surrounded by ghouls - everyone feasting on the pain, suffering and tragedy of the past. While in Germany I had zero interest in doing anything WW2 related. Germany is such a beautiful country with so much interesting and amazing history that I wanted to explore. I didn’t want anything to do with that one bleak moment in time.

But it was only for the morning, and then we were on to happier things. We traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen next, which is and absolutely beautiful town in the Alps. I slept most of the way between Dachau and Garmisch because the experience had sucked all the life out of me, but when I woke up I discovered we were very near, and beautiful soaring mountains were all around us. As I stared out the window I felt exactly as though I were back in British Columbia driving to Harrison Hot Springs, Whistler or Alpine Meadows. The beauty and familiarity of the place hit me like a slap in the face and I felt so strongly that I was indeed home that I could have cried. When we got to the town itself that feeling grew even stronger, I told my husband “I could live here.” he said “You haven’t even seen it yet” and I said “I’ve seen enough to know I could live here.”

Our hotel was lovely. It was connected to a restaurant, the restaurant was in front and you walk through it to the back and outside behind it there is a very nice typically Alpine looking building that housed several rooms. In fact because of this set up, and being able to use an alley access when we went from the rooms to the street it felt almost as though we did live there. Our room had a very large wooden canopy bed which I was also quite excited about.

So we spent time walking around exploring the town. We popped in and out of shops, viewed churches and admired all the amazing glockenspiels. They were simply breathtaking. The carvings on them were so beautiful and intricate. Such delicate work that I couldn’t imagine how much time and energy a person must have to put into one to make it look that incredible. I thought a lot about my Oma and Opa while we were there, particularly my Opa as he’s quite the craftsman himself. During our walk we happened upon a wide, rushing river and some very neat old bridges. I couldn’t tell you what any of them were called because we happened upon them quite by accident, but it was lovely to sit in the meadow and watch the river rushing by. Or sit on the rail of the bridge with our feet danging off looking up at the Alps.

We also took a look round the Olympic Grounds and man I have to tell you, seeing that sort of thing in person is a lot different then seeing it on t.v. On t.v. those ski jumps don’t look all that high or scary, but see them in person and you’ll have a completely new respect for Olympic Skiers and Snowboarders. I think I’d break my neck on even the ‘smallest’ of the slopes.

We also did some hiking in the Alps while we were there, and went through some - unfortunately not all - of the Gorge. The Gorge was fantastic and if I could have carved out a little cave in a wall I would have stayed there forever. Roaring river below full of bright turquoise water, gorgeous mountains above, and numerous waterfalls, what’s not to love?

As far as eating is concerned we didn’t do a lot of it in Garmisch. Actually when we were in Dachau - the town not the camp - we stopped at a very cool Organic Grocery and bought provisions for the ride to Garmisch. So we’d eaten a lot of fruit, and nuts, some amazing baked tofu, and even vegan chocolate pudding. However around 10pm or so we finally stumbled tired and exhausted from hiking into an Italian Pizzeria. As far as I know there are no vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Garmisch, but that doesn’t mean you have to starve. We saw signs for an Indian restaurant, and there are lots of Italian places which are always very veg friendly. In fact the one we stumbled into was quite good, and very accommodating. We ordered a plate of Bruschetta for appetizer minus the cheese. Two large green salads with vinaigrette, and my husband ordered a plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce, while I ordered spaghetti with the best pesto I’ve ever had. The pesto was made with only garlic, olive oil, basil and pine nuts. No cheese!  The staff was very nice and so obliging despite our very late dining hour, and Garmisch was actually our first opportunity to speak in our limited German. Aside from our first day in Munich speaking German hadn’t been necessary up to that point which we both found a little disappointed. I kept telling my husband that I wanted people to speak less English to us, and I finally got that wish in Garmisch where the English speaking population seems to be very little. So I was happy.

Unfortunately I can’t now recall the name of the restaurant. But it did have pizzeria in the name and it was along the main drag. It was lovely and delicious, and we were so very grateful since we were starving after all the walking and hiking. As we were leaving there were some very drunk Germans outside watching the football game and one guy dressed in lederhosen and a funny hat was trying to unlock his bicycle. When he saw us he engaged us in excited drunk shouting, laughing and wild hand gestures. My German’s not near good enough to understand all he was saying especially not at the slurred rapid rate in which he was speaking but I did catch the words Deutschland, Fussball, and Anf├╝hrer. So he was either saying something about Germany being the leader in football - they were winning that night - or he was under the impression that he was the leader of German football, ha...

For dessert we stopped in at an Italian Gelato place where they had quite a selection of sorbet, or fruit ice as we quickly learned they call it there. At first communicating was a bit difficult, we tried speaking German to them but the people working the counter didn’t really understand us. After a moment of confusion we found out that they were Italians not Germans and they found out that we were English not Germans. So we spoke in kind of a strange mix of German, English and a few Italian words. In the end we were able to get what we wanted and we were very happy, the fruit ice was fantastic! If I remember correctly I got Himbeere - or raspberry in English. - My husband got Erdbeere. - Strawberry.

When it came time for breakfast in Garmisch we were fortunate enough to have it included in our hotel, and the spread was quite nice. Lots of bread and fresh fruit and tea. Some pickled vegetables like olives and beets and things of that nature. Some outstanding muesli which I was absolutely over the moon about because I love muesli and there was something a bit novel about eating it in Germany. No soy milk though, but that was okay because I quite enjoyed it dry.

Our next stop on the trip was Neuschwanstein Castle, which is absolutely lovely and like something out of a fairy tale, but oh so touristy. Now that I’ve seen the castle once I’d probably never go again just because of the hoards of tourists all pushing and fighting and pulling and being generally rude. I would however go back to that area. I would have loved to take the time and explore the town, and do some hiking in the mountains there, and swim in the lake if it’s allowed. There were several lakes in the area and many mountains. We did get to do some hiking while we waited for our Castle tour - the only way you can see the castle by the way so make sure you actually plan your visit rather then just show up like we did. - and the hiking was actually my favorite part. It was peaceful and relaxing and it felt good to be out there in nature surrounded by so much outstanding beauty. We hiked a bit on the mountain and a little in the gorge and then we went down to the river and cooled ourselves in the Alpine water. Washing our hot faces and hands and arms and the backs of our necks in the icy water. That was a beautiful moment, sitting on the hot rocks with the lovely blue water rushing by. So refreshing and once we’d had enough we felt ready again for anything.

The castle itself was beautiful and amazing. However as it was never finished and since it wasn’t lived in for very long because poor King Ludwig died there aren’t so very many rooms inside to see. I could probably have spent a lot of time there looking at the intricate paintings and architecture but as you’re on a tour you really only get about 40 minutes. Though our guide was very nice and very knowledgeable and you could tell she had real passion for the history of the castle as well as for the story of King Ludwig. That always makes it entertaining. The thing I found most fascinating about the castle was how modern it is. It was built in the 1800's and for it’s time it was the height of modern. It had a telephone system, and central heating and a very new pristine and modern kitchen. The amenities are so modern in fact it makes you think these things were updated in the 20th century but they weren’t. Also the stories of how difficult it was to build such a castle on such a steep slope back in those days was very interesting.

As for eating since we had a large breakfast at the hotel and still many provisions left over from our jaunt at the organic grocery we didn’t eat at Neuschwanstein. We decided it would be best to hold out and eat at our next destination, but I’ll tell you all about it in the next Vegan on Vacation entry.