Monday, 30 January 2012

my vegan poutine with tofu and veggies

Saturday night I really wanted some poutine. I'm not a person who loves poutine, but for some reason I was craving it and how can one go wrong with it? Potatoes, yum! ( we had sweet potatoes so even better) Gravy with mushrooms, yum! vegan cheese, yum!  I have to say that it really turned out pretty good. I made extra potatoes thinking that I made too many people but nope, we polished it off. We couldn't just eat poutine, so also made a side dish of tofu with veggies.

-2 sweet potatoes baked for 45 minutes (seasonings include garlic, rosemary, cajun, hot chill flakes and salt and pepper to taste)
- gravy ( 1 onion, 3 different types of mushrooms including cremini, portobello and king oyster, vegetarian broth and chickpea flour for thickener, oh and a bit of red wine)
- daiya cheese ( mozzarella of course)

tofu and veggies:
- florets of broccoli
- florets of cauliflower
-1 bok choy ( cut in 8th)
- 1 carrot
-1 tofu

put all ingredients in a skillet and sauté with a little soy sauce


India- Jaipur & Pushkar

Oh India, how I miss your craziness. Our next two cities are Jaipur and Pushkar. Jaipur is a vibrant pink city with beautiful palaces to visit-we visited quite a few that I can't remember all of them. While Jaipur was a nice place to visit, Pushkar was one of my favorite cities to see and stay.

It's a very religious city  and as a result do not allow any vehicles so it was nice and quiet, at least quieter than other cities. Pushkar has an amazing market where you can buy so many things- that's where we bought most of our gifts for family and friends and for ourselves, plus its a great place to haggle. The people in Pushkar were some of the nicest we have met during our entire stay in India, very friendly and they didn't stare at you. There are so many things to do in Pushkar, shopping, visit the temples which are absolutely breathtaking ( there is one that is on top of the mountain that is being graded by monkeys and goats, I'm not joking!). The food was also amazing, there was once restaurant that we liked a lot and we ate all our dinners there ( 3nights). The best was their garlic roasted eggplant- amazing, I can still taste it! Breakfast was also really good, we found a place that was completely vegan and the chef made amazing baked good that were prepared on an oven that is heated naturally so the goodies were really amazing. Pushkar was a great break from all the craziness that we went through so far and it also made us see the beauty that India has to offer.

inside one of the many palaces- wall made of mirrors

just like in the movies- music and snake

one of the great "stores" in Pushkar

one of the temples in Pushkar

just some of the monkeys that were guarding the temple

Thursday, 26 January 2012

India Trip- Delhi and Agra

When we finally arrived at the hotel in Delhi, we had such a culture shock. The bathroom was very small and open concept (no actual shower room, all in one), the room was nice and big but the bed was not the most comfortable, but that's not why we went to India. Conrad was able to fall asleep but I was tossing and turning until he woke up. That day we did a lot of things including booking our transport to Agra and other places by train. Biggest mistake: not booking our train tickets in advance. It took us a good hour to figure out the first few days of our trip and we had the worst seats ever!! the lowest class which meant sharing a bench 5 people, that's right 5. Did I mention that these were the cheapest tickets, meaning we sat with poorer people who smelled! ( we weren't able to get better tickets, they were all sold out). After that was done, we decided to walk around. I have never held on to Conrad's hand so tightly before in all the years that I know how. Everyone, and I mean everyone was looking at us. I felt like I was going to be harassed or assaulted. I remembered our friends Julie and Patrick saying that they will be looking at us and that is normal behaviour for them.  We were so thankful that Julie and Patrick shared their stories with us as that made us more prepared for the trip.

This was also the first day that we got into the rickshaw. I was so scared at first but after a few minutes, I realized how much fun it actually was. That's right, I said FUN! We were told by our friends that in India you have to haggle for everything, especially with the rickshaw drivers. So that is what we did and I have to say I became an expert by the end of our trip at haggling for everything, from the drivers to the stores we went to and I loved it.  The rickshaw driver brought us to a few different stores and locations to see in New Delhi and at first we liked that he stayed with us but after a while he became very pushy so we decided to walk. So here we are, our first day in India and we ditch our driver (don't worry we paid him for the time he spent with us) and decide to walk with only one map with thousands of Indians around us looking at us and every taxi/rickshaw driver stopping to ask us if we wanted their services.  Even though it was a crazy thing to do, it was also the best because that's how we realized that we were good map readers and that even though New Delhi was overwhelming it was also beautiful. We also realized that a lot of people are willing to help you, especially with crossing the streets of India. There aren't many stop signs or lights so you have to push yourself and cross the street whenever you see a big crowd of people.

The first day was amazing but we had to go to bed early as our train was leaving early next day and guess what happened. I couldn't sleep! Because of the time change and the culture shock and the noise and the smell, I just couldn't fall asleep. So after a night with no sleep and 3-4 hours on the train to the Agra, there we were standing in front of the Taj Mahal. What a beauty! Absolutely breathtaking. Seeing it on picture and seeing it with your own eyes are two very different things. That being said, being right there was not the only amazing thing that happened to us that day. We realized that people, especially young kids were amazed with Conrad because he is tall (6'4) and most Indians that we saw were shorter. People were constantly asking for pictures with us which made us laugh during our entire trip. We didn't spend a lot of time in Agra because that same day (late afternoon) we had to leave again by train to another city. Of course, our seats were again the cheapest. So after no sleep for 2 nights, we spent 5-6 hours on the train sitting on a bench with 5 people. I was ready to leave and go home!  Here are some pics of our first 2 days. More to come.
our first night

walking in Delhi

Conrad with some of those kids

inside the Taj Mahal

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

This past weekend was really great. My parents came over for a 2 day visit from Montreal. It was so nice to spend some time with mom and dad. I am such a family girl and I often miss my family and friends that are there. Sure I have met some amazing women who have become wonderful friends of mine but I still miss my oldies (ha ha , I said oldies). We didn't do anything spectacular, went shopping in China town, Kensington Market and stopped at some other great stores, including panacea (they are having 30% off right now) and starsky's for some great Polish candies ( my parents always pick some up for their friends and co-workers, especially the chocolate covered plums, they are sooooo amazing!). While we were in Panacea (health food store) we came across some friends that my hubby and I made at the vegetarian fair about a year a half ago- Julie and Patrick (if you are reading this, hi guys!). After talking to them for a while and finding out that they went to India we were sold. That is how we decided to go. So let me tell you about India.

The hubby and I have always loved the Indian culture -the people, the colours, the music and especially the food (amazing restaurant on Queen street called Little India, we actually went there for dinner on Saturday evening with my parents) and we have always talked about maybe going to India for a trip. But you know how it, you talk and talk about it but you never do it. Well it all changed after meeting Julie and Patrick. When they started sharing their stories about India, Conrad (that's my hubby's name by the way) and I just fell in love even more.  One day I started searching online for good deals on flights to India and guess what? There was an AMAZING DEAL that we just couldn't say no to. So in that spare moment, we lookout our visa card and paid for a trip to North India - Rajasthan region. When we told our parents they were so surprised and excited at the same time ( I think they were also a little scared for us, but I guess that's normal). Our friends were also surprised by our decision to go to India: Why are you going to India for? they would say. Because we love everything about it!

So the trip lasted 15 days with 2 of those days being for travel ( 19hours going there and 21 hours coming back, I'm sure you can imagine that this was a lot of fun especially with my 6'4 husband sitting right next to me). We were very eager to see as many different places so we went to Delhi, Agra, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jairpur and Jesulmer. That's right, 7 cities in well 13 days. Crazy I know!!!! I have to let you know that we did not plan anything during our trip except for the first night's stay! that's right, we went to India with NO PLANS, except for knowing which cities we wanted to see. Driving from the airport in Delhi to our hotel was the SCARIEST moment in my entire life. I honestly thought I was going to die. Yes, die. The driver was going left and right, with no signals, at very high speed and my thought were  that I am going to die in India, of all places, India. That evening we also rickshaws and I told Conrad that we are not going to use those during our entire trip- no seatbelt, no doors, everything opened, crazy drivers. And guess what happened? We ALWAYS used the rickshaws and actually loved them!

Since I don't want to make my posts too long, I am going to write the continuation of our Indian trip next time. Don't worry, I will write tomorrow.

Here are some pictures of India to entice you to come bak and read

Taj Mahal in Agra


Royal's rickshaw

Indian architecture

market place

Friday, 20 January 2012

It's Friday

I know there are no good excuses for not having written during the entire week but if there were any good ones they would be 1-busy with work and 2-it was my birthday. As we all know, we should never ask a woman her age but the one thing I will share is that I am in my 20's. I had a really great birthday. My boss surprised me with a day off, which has never happened to me before and I certainly did not expect such a nice surprise. So I spent my day relaxing reading a French book(les enchants de la liberte), having a a nice soup for lunch (home made of course), and then my hubby took me for a nice drive to one of our favorite bakeries (vegan Danish) where we shared two cupcakes (vanilla with strawberry frosting and chocolate with chocolate frosting) they were both very yummy! I was suppose to work late this day so my hubby reserved the restaurant for the next day so we went over to his parents place for a nice cooked meal. As for the dinner reservations, we went to raw aura a great raw restaurant in Mississauga, yum! After eating so much good food, I am so happy that I go to the gym every day. Some people may think that going every day is crazy but I feel so good when I go. It has become so much a part of my daily routine that if I don't go-which is only when I am sick-I feel like something is missing. Every day I do my cardio and some strength training
, I am not one of those people who has an amazing body with killer abs and arms but I do feel much stronger since I joined the gym about 4years ago. I have a few friends at the gym who are very strong and do amazing workout routines and I use them as my inspiration. They do different types of plankes and leg exercises which I try to do as well but I am not as strong as they are so I can never do as many reps as they do. I often look at my body and think that I should lose more weight or at least tone up more around the belly ( that is my problem area) but at the end of the day I have to remember that I do have a good body. I think that us women often have image issues and want to have the perfect body like famous people do but that is soooo unrealistic. We can't work out everyday for 4-5 hours like they do. And you know what I do enjoy my cupcake and sweets and nothing will stop me from having one once in a while and not feeling bad about eating it. I guess that's enough for now, until next time ... P.S. it's the weekend so go have some sweets and enjoy it!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Another weekend...

And just like that another weekend has just come and gone. Weekends are never long enough, there's always lots to do and this weekend was very busy. I had to work on Saturday till around 2 in the afternoon so my weekend felt even shorter- I did have Friday off but it just isn't the same. I had to go all the way to Sutton (in Ontario, not Quebec) close to Lake Simcoe to do a workshop for some young adults. Luckily for me, the weather was nice on that day but the drive was long (1hour and 30 minutes). Even though I had to work for half of the day, I ended up with having a gerat evening out with the girls. Went out for a nice dinner and some great girl talk- you know what I'm talking about ladies. Our wonderful topics ranged from men, jobs, life and good old-fashioned gossip. What a great way to end a Saturday evening.  
Sunday was going to be day spent just with my hubby. So of course I got up early to go to the gym for 8am (I rarely miss a day- unless I'm sick) and next thing you know all the girls were there so of course I didn't get home till around 11 o'clock.  After having a nice lunch at home with the hubby we decided to go for a drive and we ended up in Port Credit at the Planet Organic health food store. It's a great store but a bit on the pricey side. We then ended up at Whole Foods- we have never been there before so we wanted to check it out. Wow, what a big store. A lot of organic, vegan and gluten-free foods which is great! We bougth a few things that we have never seen before- some vegan snacks (I totally had a pig out after dinner, does that ever happen to you guys? I usually have one or two of these a week but that's why I go to the gym every day! My saviour!). 
Since I'm on the topic of snacks, I always try to be healthy even when I snack. My snacks usually are natural peanut butter with jam on the spoon of course (no better way, right?), fruits with maple syrup (loads of both), pieces of dark chocolate (nothing like it, forget about the milk chocolate!) and one of my favorites, small rice cakes with vegan cream cheese and honey on top. I could eat those the entire day and because all the ingredients are low in fat, carbs and no cholesterol I eat a bunch of them. Usually about 5 crackers on a sitting. And of course there's those days that you just wanna eat some good barbaque chips or chocolate chip cookies. Yum! that sounds good. No, I am being good today. Can't have two days in a row of snacking.  Enough talk about snacking, here's what we had for dinner last night. PIZZA! Two different types

Spinach and red pepper pizza

zucchini and asparagus pizza

Friday, 13 January 2012

First snow fall this season

So Toronto finally had it's first snow fall of the year. Finally! Coming from Montreal, I love when it snows, sure the slushy part isn't fun, but it looks so pretty and there are so many fun activities that you can do. Skiing- downhill (which I tried 3 times and almost killed myself each time, so not for me) or cross-country (which I love, I use to go with my mom all the time on weekends) , skating- which I always did with my dad and have such great memories, snowshoeing, sledding and let's not forget the most fun activity, shovelling the snow. I know, I know it sounds crazy but I do enjoy shovelling the snow. Don't ask why, but I do. It relaxes me for some reason.

So after shovelling for the first time since last year, I decided to look at some other blogs and  I came across one blog that shared a segment of the show "the Drs" which I found was interesting.  In this segment, the dr.'s are talking about the vegan diet and sharing their information on it. What often bugs me about people who share their thoughts about something they don;t know much about it is that they only see it from their point of view. I'll let you watch it and let you have your own opinions.

I have to share, can't keep it in. First, the gynaecologist seemed very defencive to me stating that pregnant women do not get enough of vitamins from just a plant source diet and that they need to eat meat. Did you ever think about where these cows, pigs and other animals get their food? Well let me tell you. Grass and grains! Yes some animals hunt, but the ones that we mostly eat eat grass and grains, which is what again? A plant based diet. Interesting? Do you see where I'm going with this? Then there was Gillian saying that she tried the plant based diet and that it wasn't good for her and that she is very healthy and has a lean body. It's not about only being lean, it's also about being healthy and eating the right type of food.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying that everyone should become vegan. All I am saying is that people should be more open-minded and should really do their research before stating something on national television. Everyone should look into this. I think people would be really surprised.

On a lighter note, I want to share with you my dinner from last night that my hubby helped me with.

                                          Sweet Potato Latkes with stuffed portobello mushrooms


Sweet potato latkes:
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 green onions or 1 onion
- 2 tablespoons of flax seeds
- 1/4 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of flour ( I used chickpea flour)
- salt to taste

- blend the flax seeds with water until you have a thick consistency
- grate the potato and the green onions or onion
- mix the flax seed and the potato mixture together
-add the chickpea flour, mix properly with your hands
- fry them on medium heat (be careful they burn easily)

Stuffed portobello mushrooms
- 1/2 cup of mashed chickpeas
-1 onion
-2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup of ground almonds
- 1 grated zucchini
- 4-5 cremini mushrooms
-7-8 large portobello mushrooms
spices: 1 teaspoon of each turmeric, hot chill flakes, ground garlic powder, marjoram , salt and pepper to taste

- in a skillet, heat up your onions with the garlic
- add the mushrooms
- after 5 minutes, add the chickpeas, ground almonds, and zucchini
- add the spices
- once ready, stuff the portobello mushrooms with the mixture
-add daiya cheese and a tomato