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Hi Folks. Please catch up with us on our new website: http://serendipitousvegan.com/. Can’t wait to see you there!

The Serendipitous Vegan is getting a makeover! We are currently working on an updated version with more bells, whistles and pizzaz! Stay tuned for more recipes and wellness tips.

I thought I knew the difference between yams and sweet potatoes until I started looking at information on them for this blog post.  Yams were the orang-y colored large potato-looking things that tasted delicious as fries, roasted, or baked.  Sweet potatoes were a bit smaller with yellow-y flesh and a sweeter flavor.

Well who knew that technically I didn’t know what was going on!  In North America, yams and sweet potatoes are actually the same thing, just a different variety (they are technically both sweet potatoes). Real yams are actually starchy root vegetables grown in the Caribbean and generally imported to North America.  Sweet potatoes are generally grown in the United States and Canada.  Check out this picture.  I don’t think I have ever even eaten a “real” yam.

Sweet potatoes have many nutritional benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, high levels of beta carotine (which is an anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogen and good for the heart), magnesium, zinc and vitamins B and C.  They are also great for digestion as they are easy on the intestines as they are mainly a starchy food.

Here are two recipes featuring the North American yam/sweet potato.  They are also Wild Rose Cleanse friendly and gluten free.

Millet with Greens and Lemony Dressing

2 cloves garlic

1/2 small red onion, chopped

2 small zucchini, chopped

1 sweet potato (any variety you want)

2 large tomatoes

mixed greens + dandelion greens

fresh rosemary, basil, dried or fresh thyme (the amount is up to you)

1/2 cup oilive oil

1 lemon, juiced

2 cups uncooked millet

Cook milet with 4 cups of water until fluffy. Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic until translucent.  Add the zucchini and sweet poato and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes and herbs at the last minute, and warm until thoroughly incorporated.  When the veggies are done, combine with the millet and mix well.  Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice in a separate container, and then drizzle on top of the millet/veggie mixture.  Toss until coated.  Plunk your greens down in a bowl or on a plate, and top with millet mixture and salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy while warm.

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp (ish, depending on how curry intensive you like your soups) curry

1 sweet potato, chopped

1 head of cauliflower

1 cup almond milk

4-6 cups of water

Cook onions with oil until translucent.  Add your curry and mix well with onions, around 5 minutes.  Toss in the sweet potato and cauliflower and cook for around 8 minutes.  Add milk and cook for a couple more minutes.  Incorporate your water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Come back with your hand blender and blend it into a soup of creamy deliciousness.  Add salt and pepper and any other spices you like.

Sources:

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-sweet-potatoes.html

http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-vs-yam.html



We were privileged to be  a part of the Social Bites progressive dinner last night, vegan style!  Essentially, the idea behind Social Bites is to meet people and enjoy delicious food prepared by hobby chefs in Vancouver.  When I found out through the Vegan Project that Social Bites was having a vegan excursion, I basically stalked the Social Bites website waiting for tickets to go on sale. The event sold out in an hour, and was a huge success.  We met a lot of great people and enjoyed some fantastic food.

At the first house we met Michael and Christi, who were our chefs for the night.  Michael is the auther of the Granville Online blog, Sustainance

First up, the Aperetifs!  Shown here are the Bloody Mary appetizers, which were a gelatinous concoction contained in a celery stalk with shredded daikon, sea salt and chili spice mixture.  We also had herbed potato chips.

Next up was a Barley Risotto with Mushroom Jus.  This was a lovely dish!  Richard must have been enjoying the dish so much he forgot to capture it on film!

We refreshed our palates with a Cashew and Date Ice Cream, with a hard caramel accompaniment.

 

Mushroom Scallops finished off the meal with Sunchoke Puree, Caper Sauce, Caviar and a Nutmeg Cloud.  C’est magnifique!

We took a quick walk around the block to aid in the digestion process before re-fueling at our next stop.  Our next gracious hostesses were Julie and Celina.  Julie is a self-taught whole foods chef, educator and instructor.  Her blog and website, For the Love of Food, explores how to make every day easy dishes that are affordable, convenient and quick.  Celina will be starting the Holistic Nutrition program with me next week, and from what I understand, makes delicious raw vegan desserts.  Julie and Celina served us the most tantalizing, delicious, flavorful and satisfying raw dishes I have ever tasted.  Our fellow dinner companions will be opening a vegan shoe store in Vancouver (Nice Shoes), mentioned in one of our previous posts!

Upon arrival, we were provided with some delicious kefir with lemon and mint.  Next we had Zhugetti with lemon thyme sun-dried tomato sauce, topped with basil pesto.  Raw pizza followed with ricotta cheeze, mushrooms, pineapples, basil pesto and sun-dried tomato sauce.  Buckwheat crostini rounded off the evening topped with ricotta cheeze, walnuts and orange fig jam drizzled with balsamic maple reduction.  In the meantime we nibbled on barbeque and/or cheesy kale chips.



Following our two scrumptious meals, we headed to the Forsya Boutique and Gallery for some cheesecake and socializing.  Sprout Vegan Bakery supplied the cheesecake – which was seriously EPIC!!  The group voted on the winners of the evening, which were Michael and Christi! 

The two other hobby chefs were Bridget and Jessica of the Vegan Project, who served up some delicious sounding Cauliflower Soup and ratatouille made of layered lentils, wild mushroom ragout and topped with a whipped potato cream.  Malloreigh and Kaylie of Vegan Mischief also prepared handmade vegetable ravioli with olive tapenade and mushroom cream served with arugula and nuts tossed in a light vinaigrette.  Their dishes sound so yummy, I wish we could have made two more rounds last night to try it all!

Thanks to Annika of Social Bites for including us vegans in her repertoire.  Maybe one day we will try out the hobby chef thing…

Sigh… February.  The dark rainy month sandwiched between January and March with no hope for a long weekend in sight.  Our coastal weather has been blistery and cold, and the result: cravings for comfort food.  Chef Chloe to the rescue!  We have probably made reference to Chef Chloe on this blog before, but in case you didn’t know, she is the winner of the Food Network’s program Cupcake Wars.  I am super jealous of her, as she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts in NYC, and because she rocks at vegan cooking.  She has the best vegan Mac and Cheese recipe I have tasted so far, and I love it because it doesn’t contain a lot of soy.  Here is her original recipe.  You can find the revised version on her blog, but we prefer the original.

This recipe can be gluten friendly if you use gluten free pasta and flour.

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni pasta (we found corn and quinoa at Whole Foods)

1/4 cup soy free Earth Balance

1/3 cup flour

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp miso paste

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

2 cups non-dairy milk

1 cup fresh/frozen broccoli florets* (if using fresh, steam for about 5 minutes or until al dente)

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

* You can use basically any veggie you want in this recipe, but the green ones taste the best.  We used green chard last night and it was pretty delicious.  We have also used spinach and kale with great success.

Instructions:

1. Cook pasta!

2. In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt earth balance and whisk in flour until a thick roux is formed.

3. Add tomato paste, tahini, miso, nutritional yeast, milk and whisk together.  Add broccoli and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Generously season with salt and pepper to taste.  If sweeter flavor is desired, add agave.

5. Toss with hot pasta.  If you want it saucier, add more milk and turn up the Marvin Gaye.

Enjoy!  Food for thought: what vegan mac and cheese recipe you swear by?

Happy Hump Day!

I have been overwhelemed with vegan goodness lately!  Here are some happy things to get you to the end of the week.

Vancouver’s first ever vegan bakery, Edible Flours, is opening soon!!!  Great news for those practicing a vegan diet, or with allergies to dairy, soy and/or gluten, or limiting their sugar intake.  The bakery will be located at 2280 West Broadway.

Vancouver will also be welcoming a vegan shoe store to its repertoire.  Nice Shoes opens on March 1 at 3568 Fraser Street at East 20th Avenue.   We are looking forward to checking out the vegan footwear and accessories.

Here are some awesome local-ish vegan blogs I stumbled across recently.

Epicurvegan – a lovely local blog

Sweet on Veg – super uplifting with great daily quotes, images, recipes and love!

Living Kitchen Wellness Group – a duo of ladies from Toronto running their own holistic nutrition business.  The cooking classes look amazing, too bad they aren’t a bit closer!!  Check out their blog for some great looking recipes.

Book review!! 

The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone

I am totally embarassed to admit that I had never read this book until recently.  The library had a few copies available and I had heard good things about it, so I dove right in.  One of the great things about this book is that it has a place for non-vegans and practicing vegans.  Ms. Sliverstone divides it into Flirting and Superhero sections, based on your current practices.  I really enjoyed the fact that she incorporated a lot of macrobiotic tips and tricks into her recipes, something I haven’t seen a lot of so far.  It really perked my interest in macrobiotics (more about that later).  I am looking forward to trying more of her recipes.

Most favorite thing so far: toast with avocado and sauerkraut.  Make sure it is raw sauerkraut though, not with vinegar, as raw has great probiotic benefits and makes the belly happy.

Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr

I had been anticipating this book since I saw the article about Kris Carr in the recent VegNews magazine edition.  I was super excited when it arrived.  So I haven’t actually read the whole thing, but the first few chapters are so good!  The forward by Dr. Dean Ornish, Founder and President of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California/San Francisco, is super interesting and informative.  His research has revealed that a whole foods, plant-based diet, moderate exercise, stress management techniques such as yoga and meditation, and learning to give and receive love more fully could often reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, early-stage prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, depression and other chronic diseases.  He also addressed the genes v. lifestyle argument regarding disease.  Love this guy! 

Kris Carr is so energetic, cheerleading the reader through the epic lifestyle change and journey the reader is embarking on.  I can’t wait to share some more knowledge and try her delicious recipes (and green juice… ah!).

My favorite thing so far: warm almond milk with cacao and agave.

Finally… here are the recipes of the week! 

Vegetables in Thai Red Curry – from Vegetarian Times, September 2009

This recipe has been a staple for us.  We tried it with broccoli, mushrooms and bok choi recently.  Instead of following the recipe, we switched it up and steamed the veggies and made the curry separately.  Then we joined them together.  For some reason there was a lot more curry, which was great.  We had it on a wild rice medley.

Granola, modified from Get it Ripe

After realizing that Capers has been stealing entire paycheques from us (ok maybe stealing isn’t the right word…), we decided that bulk dried beans and bulk grains and pasta were the way to go!!  Granola can be quite pricey and cooking up your own is definitely a cheaper option, not to mention you can switch up the ingredients every week to keep things interesting.  We also made this yogurt-y concoction from Green Lashes and Fashion, which was pretty delicious.

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup oat/spelt bran

1/4 cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil or sunflower oil

2/3 cup brown rice syrup or barley malt

Now the rest of the granola is up to you.  We did one version with mixed nuts, figs, cranberries, and coconut.  In another version we did pumpkin seeds, dates, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of molasses.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil a casserole dish.  Combine all ingredients in a lage bowl.  Transfer to casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes.  You may stir a couple of times for even baking. 

It can store in an airtight container for a month or more.  My guess is that it will be gobbled up well before then!

Happy Vegan Valentine’s Day!!!

So… this evening starts out with Richard being a super genius before he even knew it!  For Christmas he purchased a gift certificate for Ash to Tojo’s Restaurant after seeing Tojo on Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations.  Ash decided to make reservations there for Valentine’s Day and, BOOM!, two gifts for the price of one!  Like I said, super genius.

Omakase:  To entrust. 

In this case, we entrusted Tojo to choose and make our meal for us.  We chose the vegetarian option and asked them to cut out any dairy that Tojo might want to sneak in there.  We ended up with a five-course meal… as we finished one plate, the next one would be left at our table. 

We started off with a trio of appies!  Gommae of some sort, some marinated veg, and grilled veg.  So good.  Already nothing we make at home comes close.

Next up was the seaweed salad.  Greens, sea veg, noodles such as the ones you find in a sunomono salad, and a drizzle of mustard wasabi.  MMMMM!!!!

Potato Karaage.  Mashed potato and mixed veg rolled in batter and fried.  Again, the mustard wasabi and a teryaki-type drizzle all over it!  I did my best to lick my plate without getting stared at.  So good.

Now it was time for the mushroom something or other (wow, we should have really paid attention when they were telling us what we were eating).  There were at least five types of mushrooms in this soup ish dish.  There was a vinegary awesomness in the broth.  WordPress doesn’t believe me that these are words btw.  Vinegary awesomness is a perfectly adequate description.  Deal with it.

Best veg roll ever, inari with special surprises inside (ummm I think it was a rasin and slice of green onion), and a roll wrapped in cucumber with pineapple.  Yummy!

Pineapple-ginger sorbet.  Best idea ever.  I could have gone for a second one for sure.

I’m fairly certain that the server to guest ratio at Tojo’s was 1 to 1.  So much help from a super friendly staff.  Sure, it was a little pricey, but if you “plan” it like me you almost get it for free!  Sort of…?

Since six courses are better than five, we rolled on down the road to Organic Lives.  We finished off the night with a vanilla chai tea and strawberry cheesecake.  But wait, cheesecake?  Yes.  Delicious, and the healthiest cheesecake in the world (unofficially).  Made only of almonds, dates, strawberries, and coconut, it’s a desert you can have and feel better afterwards.  Awesome.  We should have brought a few more slices home with us for breakfast!!

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