Recently, I’ve been blogging about our time in Italy. My impression is that some readers still think I’m there. It may come as a bit of a surprise but we’re actually back in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where there is snow on the ground (it’s -25°C today) and weekends are for laundry and going skating on the Rideau Canal. We’ve gone around the world and made it back to home. The Italian adventures you’ve been reading about happened about five months ago. Yep, I’m way behind. It’s going to take me awhile to finish writing about our 2010 travels. I still have to cover Egypt, India, Canada and the US.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to start a Vegan Backpacker At Home feature, where I blog about what I’m doing (eating) now. This is the first one, so let me know if you like the idea…
Meals with Friends
We’ve been home for a few weeks and gone straight back to hanging out with our old group of friends, getting together for meals, movies, drinks, dancing and more. Some of our friends are vegan but most of them are not. We were super excited when an impromptu potluck brought together a few of us for a lovely vegan meal where all of the dishes (except our store bought sushi) were made by our non veggie friends. Not only did they make vegan food, they made great vegan food, including a very successful first attempt at vegan mac & cheese and chocolate cake. We were impressed!
After being away for a year and finally making it back home, we had a lot of people we wanted to see. We decided to host a party, but not just any party… a welcome back waffle party! We had a Sunday waffle brunch and about 20 people showed up to chow down on our homemade vegan waffles. We made two varieties, one with whole wheat flour, almond milk and chocolate chips, and one with all purpose flour, rice milk and blueberries. They all turned out great thanks to our favourite waffle recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I also made some blueberry syrup using a recipe from SimpleBites.
It seems we just can’t get enough of our friends and home cooked food. This past weekend kicked off with an Indian feast of mushroom curry, chana masala curry (using some of the spices we brought back from India), whole wheat zatar bread and baked veggie samosas (store bought). Good food and good friends…that’s the life…
Back in the Kitchen
Now that we’re back in our very own kitchen, I’ve been making lots of new things. I was given an Easy Sprout Sprouter about two years ago but only used it for the first time last week. I made a batch of alfalfa spouts that are chilling out in the fridge right now. And now there’s a batch of red clover on the grow. The only problem is I don’t really know how I can use spouts in recipes. I know I can add them to salads, sandwiches or smoothies but what else? I’m thinking of making some nori wraps with sprouts and a yummy dip. I’d love some other ideas and recipe recommendations that would allow me to eat a bunch of sprouts at the same time and make them taste good.
Last week I started another new kitchen project: nut cheese! I really enjoyed the Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese we had in New York City and wanted to create something similar at home. I made a batch of macadamia and cashew cheese, using the recipe from The Raw Chef’s Recipe Series Cheese eBook by Russel James. After soaking and blending the nuts, I wrapped them in a cheese cloth and applied pressure.
It’s been about a week and my cheese rounds have developed a nice rind. I haven’t tried them yet but I’m looking forward to having some friends over for wine and nut cheese.
Winter time means hearty, warm meals for us. One of my fave winter recipies is Sweet Potato Lentil Chili (recipe online via Alive Magazine) from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. I made a huge batch last week and shared it with some friends who came over for a girls night dinner.
For the girls night dinner, one friend made a batch of roasted veg that she dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with a few dried herbs and put in the oven for 40 minutes. It was a simple mix of portobello mushrooms, eggplant and bell peppers but tastes fantastic.
Last week I was craving muffins and whipped up a batch of chocolate walnut muffins. I’ve been using this recipe by Baking Bites for years and they’ve always turned out great. They’re made with wholewheat flour and without sugar, instead calling for maple syrup. Give them a try!
My juicer! Oh how I missed my juicer! We’ve been drinking some tasty celery, beet, carrot, ginger apple juice, and lots of tea.
Back to the Gym and Yoga Studio
2010 was an active year for us. We moved around a lot while traveling and exploring new cities but didn’t spend much time working out in a traditional sense. And really we didn’t need to. It wasn’t until late December that I stepped into a gym for the first time all year. Now I’m trying to get back into a regular workout routine of heading to the gym during lunch hour.
However, I have to admit I haven’t been very consistent with my gym workouts because I’ve been doing more yoga. I’m now seven days into a 40 day challenge where my goal is to do yoga everyday, mostly in the hot room. I don’t want to get worn out so I’m doing fewer gym workouts and leaving most of my extra energy for my yoga practice. So far it’s working well and I’m feeling strong.
New to Me
We lived most of 2010 without access to health food stores or specialty shops. It’s been a real treat to return to our local stores and find new products. One new product that surprised and delighted us was this new line of organic fair trade chocolate bars by Cocoa Camino. They’ve recently come out with dark chocolate snack bars that are filled with a thick layer of almond butter, peanut butter or peanut butter & raisins. They’re all good but the peanut butter one is my favourite. Keep an eye out for these. They may be a Canada only thing, which means we have a total of one awesome product that you can find here but not in the USA. OK….not really but it sure feels that way sometimes.
Another new product I recently tried for the first time and really liked were these lip balms by Hurraw. I won them through a giveaway on Feather Love. They’re raw and vegan. They hydrate my lips, taste great and come with this darling reusable tea bag for loose tea. How cool is that!?!