You Can Call Me Mrs. Blogger – Back to Blogging with a Vegan Honeymoon Adventure in South America

Well, I am FINALLY back to blogging, after not posting anything for over 3 months. You see, wedding planning is almost like a second full time job, so I had no choice but to neglect my blog. I still cooked great vegan food, however didn’t document much of it. But I do have a backlog of things to post, so I’ll be working on that.

So now I’m a Mrs!! We had an amazing wedding and the hard work did pay off…

bride and groom

After the wedding we went on a honeymoon in South America. It was such an amazing way to unwind after over a year of wedding planning, and to start off our lives as husband and wife. Our trip went something like this: Quito, Ecuador then the Galapagos Islands, back to Quito, then to Otavalo, then back to Quito, and then sadly back home. We definitely could have spent more time in South America; it was an amazing place to visit.

I could go on and on with stories of our adventures, however this is a food blog and I wanted to focus on our experience as two vegan travelers on another continent. Overall, we ate very well and didn’t have many issues. It just took a little effort.

I could tell you being prepared is key, however we were not really prepared for this trip. We didn’t have much time to spare with the wedding planning, so we kind of winged it, but it all worked out. A couple of tools we picked up along the way became very handy – our Lonely Planet guide book we picked up at the airport, and an English/Spanish speaking stranger we met who wrote out a list of “no’s” of what we do not eat as vegans. The guide book listed some vegetarian restaurants and Spanish phrases, and the list clearly defined what we didn’t want to consume in our meals. The list went as follows – no queso, no leche, no huevos, no mantequilla, no carne, no pollo, no pescado. Now try to repeat that one! In Ecuador, meat means only pork or beef – chicken is chicken, and fish is fish. They also don’t know the term dairy, so you have to list cheese, butter, and milk. So it was good to be as clear as possible!

The airlines were an issue. But who ever has a good experience with airlines? We were not fed a single vegan meal as we requested. We ended up being so hungry on the way there that we broke down and ate a vegetarian meal with cheese and probably eggs. But we lived…although I will be sending an angry email to said airline very soon. We learned after this experience and brought a ton of snacks on each flight afterwards.

Eating in Ecuador was quite inexpensive! Our first meal we had was lunch, which only cost us $2.50 US each. We came across a vegetarian Asian restaurant not far from our hotel.

vegetarian restaurant sign

vegan food platter

Not bad for $2.50 – cabbage slaw, rice, veggie mix, soup, lentils, popcorn, and fresh juice!

vegan food platter variety of food

It was delicious and we were stuffed!

We went to the grocery store often to fill up on snacks. Ecuadorians do seem to like their meat, eggs and dairy, but it seemed they eat more variety and less processed foods than in Canada/USA.

bulk bins of legumes

vegan snacks from the grocery store

An example of one of the snack bounties we picked up – sweet potato and plantain chips, peanuts, dark chocolate.

When we visited the Galapagos Islands, we basically lived off a boat so we were served all our meals on the boat. We of course requested our vegan meals when we booked the trip, and they happily accommodated this. The chef did a great job and we ate a lot.

For breakfast it was always lots of fruit, toast with jam, granola, coffee and fresh juice. One of my favorite things about eating in Ecuador is that they always had fresh juice. It was so delicious! I never want to drink juice from a box again. Also, our dessert was always fresh fruit. Here is a fruit salad we had for dessert:

fruit salad

Here are some more of the meals we ate on board the boat:

vegan soup

vegan plate of food

Rice, veggie/potato mix, salad with cucumber and hearts of palm, fried potato & onion patty (so yummy!)

soup with greens

vegan food plate including plantains

Plantains, cabbage salad with avocado, potato cake with peanut sauce, rice

vegan food plate with beets

avacado salsa salad

A part of one of my fav meals on the boat. This avocado tasted marinated in lime juice or maybe in the salsa itself. The whole thing was tasty and filling.

Okay, I just had to share a pic of a visitor to our boat (we also got to snorkel with them and I love these creatures!)

sea lion

And now eats in Quito:

fresh fruit plate

fresh pineapple juice

Fresh pineapple juice, YUM!

bread with jam

Fresh bread and jam. They also have amazing jam flavors in Ecuador!

Manatial Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant sign

We made a couple visits here, their food was amazing!

fruit bowl with granola

Breakfast at Manantial – fruit bowl with granola, coffee with soy milk…

fresh blackberry and passionfruit juice

…and fresh blackberry and passionfruit juice!

spicy mushroom and zuchhini mix with garlic bread

More Manantial eats…this was sooo good! Appetizer – spicy mushroom and zuchhini mix with garlic bread.

salad, avocado, potato cakes, fried tofu, vegan chorizo sausage

My dinner pick: salad, avocado, potato cakes, fried tofu, vegan chorizo sausage.

vegan burger plate

My hubby’s choice, vegan burger. It was wheat based, so probably seitan, and he said it was probably the best burger he’s had!

On to El Maple in Quito:

El Maple Vegetarian Food and Bar restaurant

vegan burrito

Vegan burrito. They removed the cheese and topped it with this red sauce instead. Yum!

vegan burger

My husband said this wasn’t as good as it looked, unfortunately.

And now on to Otavalo, a more rural city about 2 hours outside Quito.

Deli Cafe Restaurant

vegan nachos

These were awesome nachos loaded with good stuff!

vegan burrito

Bean burrito filled with mostly the same thing as the nachos had.

guacamole nachos

The best guacamole I’ve ever had!

Our hostel just outside Otavalo was amazing. If you ever go here, I highly recommend staying here at the Hosteria Rose Cottage. Some reasons:

Rose Cottage Hosteria sign

priviate cabin

Our cozy little accommodations at Rose Cottage. Not your typical hostel!

hammocks with a mountain view

Beautiful, peaceful place to chill.

view at Hosteria Rose Cottage

baby black cow

One of the friends hanging around the hostel.

We showed up to Hosteria Rose Cottage with no reservation. They didn’t speak much English but happily cooked us vegan dishes that were wonderful! We only got a couple nights there but wished we could have stayed for weeks.

Wow, that was quite the post! I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope it will help you eat wonderful vegan food when you travel.

BBQ Sandwiches

THANK YOU to the blog Luminous Vegans for this recipe!! You rock :)

This barbeque sandwich was so delicious and easy too, I’m so glad we tried these! “How does a vegan eat barbeque?” you may ask. Enter the wonderful texture of Green Jackfruit. We found Young Green Jackfruit in the Asian isle at the supermarket.

young green jackfruit in brine

Get yourself two cans of Green Jackfruit in Brine. Green, not yellow! Also get a good, tasty bottle of barbeque sauce. We bought an organic one that was sweetened with agave. It was the best BBQ sauce eva! You’ll also want to preheat your oven to 400 degrees at this time.

green jackfruit

Now you know what Jackfruit looks like.

Jackfruit has a hard core in it which needs to be cut off and discarded. So get chopping and then you have this…

jackfruit with cores removed

Now into the pan…

jackfruit in frying pan

Now bust it up with your spatula! Nothing exciting yet, but take a closer look at the texture.

texture of jackfruit

Time to get saucy. Coat the jackfruit in the BBQ sauce. We used a whole bottle for the two cans of jackfruit. Simmer it in the sauce for about 20 minutes on a lower temperature.

Next, spread it over a baking sheet (covered in tin foil if you want less mess).

baking sheet covered in bbq jackfruit

Bake for about 20 minutes until it gets a bit crispy like this…

baked BBQ jackfruit

Pile the finished product on a bun and enjoy the amazing-ness!!

BBQ jackfruit sandwich

YUM!! Thanks again Luminous Vegans for the tasty recipe!

I’ve Discovered a Dairy-free Yogurt Made From Almonds!

I’ve tried a few different non-dairy yogurts since becoming vegan (soy, coconut..), but there hasn’t been anything I have been overly fond of. I came across a new product when shopping at an organic market – Amande Almond yogurt! I like the flavor and texture; it’s a good find. It’s not packed full of sugar but has a nice sweet taste. You also get a good sized tub for the price, unlike the coconut yogurt. Make sure if it looks liquidy, just give the whole tub a good stir. The good stuff hangs out in the liquid so don’t dump it out!

Just wanted to share my discovery!

top lid of almond yogurt

Front view of almond yogurt container

Yummy Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is a great tasting, healthier muffin I love to make. I adapted this from an old recipe I used to make in my “pregan” days, so this version is eggless, cholesterol free and even more delicious! :)

Ingredients:

  • 9 large bananas
  • 1 3/4 Cups  agave, or you could use white sugar but use a bit more (agave is sweeter than sugar)
  • 1 1/2 Cups unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 Tbsp ground flaxseed or more as desired (optional)
  • Mini chocolate chips, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Mash bananas – I used potato masher

mashing bananas

  • Add agave/sugar
  • Add applesauce

wet ingredients for banana muffins

  • Add dry ingredients

banana muffin batter

  • Mix in chocolate chips

batter

  • Grease muffin tins or use liners instead. Fill up about ¾ with the batter.

muffin batter in tins

  • Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean

muffins fresh out of the oven
banana chocolate chip muffins

These are crazy moist and good, and no oil! The recipe makes a big batch and you can freeze them so you always have something you can defrost and run out the door with.

All Natural Blueberry Iced Tea

Here is a creation of my own! I’ve had blueberry iced tea before, however after a little iced tea research online, I came up with this concoction. If you enjoy herbal tea, I think you’ll like this recipe. My fiance mentioned how he has a tendency to hit up the pop machine at work, so we wanted to try something as a healthy, natural alternative to sugar-and-chemical filled soda.

This is so easy to make and takes so little time and effort. The flavor options are endless really – let me know if you come up with some funky creations of your own! :)

Ingredients:

  • About 3 packets of herbal tea, flavor of your choice – in this case blueberry.
  • 1-2 packets of a plain black tea you enjoy
  • stevia (or agave should work nicely too)
  • ice cubes – I used two ice cube trays full

Instructions:

Get your tea packets out. Don’t forget the lonely black tea packet.

blueberry herbal tea

And stevia.

stevia and tea

Boil a pot of water. Get a jug and fill it with ice while waiting on the water to boil. Such complex instructions, I know…

Once the water boils, add your tea bags and turn off the heat. You can vary the amount of tea used according to how much water you boil and how strong you want the flavor. You want the tea to be strong because you will be adding it to the ice, which will dilute the flavor. In the photo below I only used two blueberry tea bags, however the next time I made it I used 3 and liked it better.

tea added to boiling water

Let the tea steep for about 4 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Add the stevia or sweetener of your choice – start with a little and you can taste it and add more after if needed.

Once you have your sweetened hot tea, it’s time to shock this bad-ass tea in some icy cold ice!! This method apparently does something good with the flavor, according to my research.

jug of ice

This shows the amount of ice used.

Be careful not to burn yourself while pouring…

shocking the tea in ice

Now stir, taste, add more sweetness if needed and repeat until you get the flavor you like. Chill it in the fridge. A great summer beverage you don’t have to feel guilty drinking :)

I Can’t Stop Eating These Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips

I think these might be the cure to my potato chip addiction!! I can’t get over how good these are, and can’t stop eating them! They also taste so deliciously like sour cream and onion, but of course don’t contain any dairy.

The recipe came from Thrive Foods cookbook. I made these in my food dehydrator but you can do them easily in the oven. I’ve included the instructions for both methods.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cashews, PRE-SOAKED in water for 35 minutes
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1 Tbsp cider vinegar and 1/2 Tbsp apple juice – I didn’t have apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch kale (I used some green and some purple kale)

Instructions

Combine the soaked cashews, water, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, salt, and parsley in a blender and process until smooth, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides if needed (this may take several minutes). Set aside.

soaked cashews in mini blender

sour cream and onion mixture blended
Wash the kale to remove any grit, then carefully dry the leaves. Strip the leaves into a bowl, roughly tearing any large pieces. Discard the stems. Pour the creamed mixture on top of the kale, using a small spatula or spoon to remove the mixture from the blender. Using clean hands, massage the mixture into the kale for 1 minute to evenly coat the leaves.

green and purple kale
Oven method:

Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then spread the kale chips over the sheets, as evenly and flatly as possible, to ensure even cooking time. (Don’t overlap them) Bake between 1 1/2 and 2 hours (time varies according to the dryness of the kale), tossing halfway through the baking, until the kale has dried out and is crispy but not burnt. Keep a close eye on the kale at the end of its cooking process, and remove any premature crispy chips from the batch if needed. Enjoy immediately or keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Dehydrator method (which also means this method is a raw recipe):

Warm the dehydrator to 115 degrees F. Spread the kale onto 4 mesh dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for 10 – 12 hours, or until crispy (time will vary depending on relative humidity). We put this together before bed and let them dehydrate overnight!

sour cream and onion kale ready to be dehydrated

kale chips ready to eat

Ready to eat...nom nom nom

I think I just increased my daily kale consumption by 300%.

Nothing But Good Stuff Protein Trail Mix Cookies

I think I will only make this cookie or versions of this cookie from now on. These not only taste amazing but they are full of purely good stuff. They don’t contain flour of any kind (gluten free!), no oil, and low amounts of natural sugar, plus they are packed with protein and other healthy nutrients! I would call this a Supercookie!!

Thanks Peas and Thank You for another great recipe!

Ingredients (12 cookies)

  • 3 T. flax seeds (ground into meal) or buy pre-ground flax seeds
  • 3/4 c. non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened plain Almond milk)
  • 2 c. old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. pepitas – chopped if desired (these are the inner part of a pumpkin seed)
  • 1/4 c. chopped almonds (I pulsed whole almonds in my mini blender)
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. vanilla protein powder (I used Vega One All In One Nutritional Shake powder, Vanilla Chai flavor – has no added sugar and amazing flavor!)
  • 3 T. honey (I used about 4 Tbsp agave)
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • stevia to taste (I used 2 packets I believe which is 4 tsp – but add a bit, mix, taste, and see how you like the flavor. Adjust sweetness if necessary)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine ground flax with milk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

cookie mixture

  • Add flax mixture to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
cookie mixture before forming into cookies

Look at all that whole food goodness!

  • The mixture will seem a bit dry, but will hold together when forming the cookies.
sticky cookie hands

The mixture likes to make your hands pretty sticky. Be patient when forming the cookies, it's worth it :)

  • To make cookies, spoon dough into your hands and pack cookies. Ration the dough so you can make 12 cookies. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly greased.

mixture formed into vegan cookie
cookies on cookie sheet

  • Bake for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are slightly browned. Let them cool completely on the pan before transferring to an airtight container.
finished vegan protein trail mix cookies

They don't look much different when baked, and are super chewy and soft

I hope you enjoy these healthy treats as much as we do!

Ceviche – Raw salad cooked by citris juice

I had no idea what Ceviche was, I  just knew when I read the ingredients on the recipe it looked good! I came across it in my Vegetarian Collection cookbook. The cookbook says it is commonly served throughout Central and South America, but is usually made with seafood in it. You could eat this like a salad or heap it on top of crispy whole wheat pita bread like we did! The ceviche is “zingy” and flavorful. It also has ingredients I normally don’t like raw if at all, like olives and tomatoes, but I gobbled this up! The fat fills you up, and not in the gross “I need to unbutton my pants and let my gut fly” kind of way, so you could have it as a light supper, snack, or appetizer.

Vegetarian Ceviche

  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • half jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 can hearts of palm, drained and rinsed (check the Indian isle of your grocery store)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil until thickened. Stir in parsley and jalapeno.

ceviche preparation

Real men eat plants and know how to make delicious food :)

Cut hearts of palm into thin rings and avocado into 1/2 inch pieces; add to bowl along with tomatoes, onion and olives. Toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, or refrigerated, up to 6 hours (I’m not sure when happens after the 6 hours…this is just what the recipe states).

hearts of palm getting mixed into lime juice olive oil mixture

finished ceviche
While the flavors mingled together, we split whole wheat pitas, brushed them with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic powder, baked them on an oven sheet at 375 for about 5 minutes (this is just a guess – just watch them. They should get brown and crispy but they burn easily, so keep those peepers peeled!)

Nom nom nom…

ceviche on top of baked pita crips

Chickpea and Broccoli Casserole

I think you could make this casserole with just about any veggies you have on hand. I might try it even with a marinara sauce on the top next time. The texture and flavor of this was great! Especially the next day after the flavors have mingled. I love how the chickpeas are mashed, it makes the casserole have a rich texture that doesn’t seem like you are eating legumes (even though I love legumes, this change was a nice way to eat them).

I came across the recipe for chickpea and broccoli casserole posted on the Vegan Mama blog.

  • Two 16-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Roughly 2 Tbsp of powdered garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • A bit of Daiya vegan cheddar cheese mixed into the body of the casserole.
  • I also made a crumb topping–which I highly recommend–made of melted Earth Balance vegan butter combined with whole wheat bread crumbs and a little Daiya vegan cheddar cheese. I don’t know the amounts–sorry–but it’s pretty easy to eyeball and probably largely suited to individual taste, anyway.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas well, using a potato masher or firm fork. It takes about 2 minutes to get the right consistency.

beginning to mash chickpeas

Beginning to mash chickpeas

prepped veggies

Prepped veggies

Add the vegetables and mix well. Add the bread crumbs and mix; then add the oil, and mix again. Finally, add the vegetable broth and salt, and mix one last time.

veggie mixture for casserole

Transfer all ingredients to a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish (preferably glass or ceramic). Press the mixture firmly into the casserole. Top with crumb topping of whatever you like. Bake for 1 hour.

chickpea and broccoli casserole ready for oven

finished casserole

CREDIT: Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz

Hot and Sour Soup

Finally I’m back to blogging after a bit of a break! I’ve had too much wedding related chaos to make any time for myself, or my cooking. But I have some goodies saved up that I will now post.

First I have to show off an awesome addition to my kitchen, thanks to my amazing fiance!! I’ve gotta show off both what a great guy he as, as well as his mad welding skills (he is a welder). I mean, how lucky am I to have a guy that does this for me…and actually not just for me but for both of us because we cook together often! It makes it way easier for both of us to be in the kitchen.

kitchen island

How did I live without this stainless steel beauty before?

That’s the food dehydrator stored at the bottom. A great place for that massive thing which used to hang out on our kitchen table because it didn’t fit anywhere else.

Now…on to the FOOD! I got the idea of making this soup from another blog, luminousvegans. I’ve always wanted to try hot and sour soup but never have! The recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum.

Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup
Serves six?

1 Tbs Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
1 Small Cabbage, about the size of a grapefruit
2 Large Carrots, chopped
1 15oz Can Tomatoes, blended smooth
6 Cups Water
1 Cup Cubed Pressed, Baked Tofu (like wildwood baked) – I changed this and just used firm tofu, couldn’t find baked
1/4 Cup Tamari, low sodium
1/3 Cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar (or if you only have regular rice vinegar like I did – use 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1  1/2 Tbsp sugar and 3/4 tsp salt)
1 tsp Hot Red Chili Flakes (I used Asian hot chilli sauce – to taste)
1/2 tsp Salt
Black Pepper, to taste (a lot!)

Heat a large 5 qt soup pot that has a heavy lid over medium heat. Add oil and onion, and saute until golden.

sauteeing veggies for soup

Meanwhile, quarter your cabbage, remove the core, and shred the cabbage with a large chef’s knife. Add carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and water to the pot and stir well.

tofu cubed

First time using tofu cubed up in something - loved it in this soup!

Add the tofu, tamari, vinegar, chili flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until cabbage and carrots are the desired tenderness.

soup ingredients simmering in a pot

Grind a lot of fresh black pepper over the top and serve.

The flavor in this soup was so great, I am going to make it again very soon. The tofu absorbs the soup flavor and it is melt in your mouth goodness – it’s addicting. This soup is also easy, and you can keep it in the fridge and eat it all week.

This one is a winner – try it out for yourself!