Saturday, 7 September 2019

September Jax Veg Fest

Great morning out at the September Jax Veg Fest! Was a bit sad at the lack of GF options but I'm kind of used to that in Florida! My fave Murray Hillbilly were not there but I did spy one of the owners wandering around in a stellar vegan shirt ;)

Definitely highlight for me was seeing my boy Chef David Cressler Jr of Verdes Garden Fresh, the man is a genius with salad. I'm not normally a salad person (yes in the 20 years I was vegetarian and the last 9 years I've been vegan - I understand it sounds ridiculous) but this man can make even the strongest of non-salad believers see the light! It's not your traditional ingredients and dressing, David sources everything locally, even growing a lot of the produce himself. He marinades and sauces a lot of the salad ingredients separately then lovingly compiles them into a multi level taste sensation! Even my eleven year old daughter who hates mushrooms tasted his mushroom salad and said "your salad dude is a genius" LOL You want to make your kids eat their veggies - this is how! Look out for him at Bull Park Market and Jarboe Park Markets (both Jax Beaches).

Delicious fried rice and "chicken" from the Zen Butcher...

I very much enjoyed some GF vegan delights of Govinda's Cafe and then was dismayed when they said they are in Gainesville (Get out there people of Gainesville and get you some!)

I was excited to see so many GF options from the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant which I didn't even know existed - I will definitely be going there!

Had a delicious natural ice block from Guanabana Ice Pops, I totally flaked on taking a picture though - you have my word they were delicious! I had the guanabana flavor which was kind of like lychee.

And tasted some pretty choice kombucha by Mother Kombucha out of Gainesville (available in Winn Dixie, Publix and Earth Fare). I got the Blue Rose flavor, so good! As you know I like to support my local peeps and I can't get enough of Gnarbucha (loyal for life!) but they were there :( Also if you don't happen to live at Jax Beaches then you can find Mother Kombucha at your local!

A couple of amazing animal organizations were present such as Sage Sanctuary and Gardens for Education, CJ Acres Animal Rescue Farm and Community Unity Animal Sanctuary (go buy some of their awesome vegan t-shirts to raise money for their sanctuary).

Also had a nice chat to a guy from Green Chef which is a food delivery company that delivers ingredients and recipes straight to your door helping people create delicious vegan meals and they cater to a number of dietary restrictions which other companies don't seem to.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Are Your Candles Vegan?

Are Your Candles Vegan? Why You Should Switch To Soy
A contribution from freelance writer Jess Walters...

Most of the candles that you find on the market are paraffin, which is a vegan ingredient extracted from petroleum. Now, that may sound like great news for vegans, but 10 percent of paraffin wax is usually made up of stearic acid, which is an animal-derived ingredient used to harden the wax. Paraffin candles aren’t just (usually) made from animals, they can also be pretty bad for you. Here’s why you should be switching to soy candles.

What’s Wrong With Paraffin Wax?

Not all paraffin waxes use stearic acid from animals. Some use plant oils — though if a paraffin candle isn’t labeled “vegan,” it’s safe to assume that it’s using animal products. It’s easy to see why some vegans still use paraffin candles. After all, because paraffin candles are the most accessible in the market, they’re often cheaper (at least, it seems that way initially — more on this later).

Paraffin candles — even vegan variants — have been proven to emit toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene, which have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. This can be especially harmful to people who enjoy keeping their candles lit for hours at a time, as breathing in large amounts of soot from a paraffin candle is similar to breathing in fumes from burning diesel. Meanwhile, soy candles don’t emit these toxic fumes.

Why Choose Soy Candles?

Each of our choices leaves a mark on the planet, but some make bigger environmental footprints than others. Paraffin wax comes from crude oil. Unlike soy, crude oil is a non-renewable resource — one that’s a known cause of environmental calamities such as oil spills and damage to natural habitats. While soybean agriculture has been singled out for causing widespread deforestation, organisations around the globe have been placing measures to prevent further damage.

It’s also important to note that paraffin candles burn 50 percent quicker than their denser soy counterparts. This is what makes paraffin candles so great at dispersing strong scents. However, some would say that a slow burn that gradually releases fragrance is much better than an overpowering scent from the get-go. Even though soy candles may seem more expensive than their paraffin counterparts, they last longer, which means that they’re often the more economical choice in the long run. In other words, soy candles aren’t just good for animals, they’re better for your health, the environment, and your pocket.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Spinach & Feta Quiche

I used Violife Vegan Feta but you can substitute whatever you like. Basics adapted from Oh She Glows from the Basic Vegan Quiche post. I actually used a bought GF vegan crust this time but usually I use this crust recipe.

Spinach & Feta Quiche


For the Crust:
1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water, mixed together
1 cup whole almonds, ground into flour
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats, ground into flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1-2.5 tbsp water, as needed

For the Quiche:
1 block (14-oz) firm tofu
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
1 leek or yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2.5 cups organic frozen spinach (thawed)
7oz vegan feta cheese (or subsitute)
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart Parmesan shreds)
3/4-1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a round 10-inch tart pan.
Alternatively, you can use a 9-inch glass pie dish if desired.
Wrap rinsed tofu in a few tea towels.
Place a few books on top of it to lightly press out the water while you prepare the crust.

For the crust: Whisk together flax and water mixture in a small bowl and set aside so it can gel up.
In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, oat flour (or buckwheat flour), parsley, oregano, and salt.
Add in the flax mixture and oil.
Stir until mostly combined, adding the remaining water until the dough is sticky (about the consistency of cookie dough).
The dough should stick together when you press it between your fingers.
Crumble the dough evenly over the base of the tart pan (or pie dish).
Starting from the center of the pan, press the mixture evenly into the pan, working your way outward and up the sides of the pan.
Poke a few fork holes in the dough so air can escape.
Bake the crust at 350F for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm to touch.
Set aside to cool while you finish preparing the filling. Increase oven temperature to 375F.

For the filling: Break apart the tofu block into 4 pieces and add into food processor.
Process the tofu until smooth and creamy.
If it doesn't get creamy, add a tiny splash of almond milk to help it along.
In a skillet, add oil and saute the leek (or onion) and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes.
Stir in salt.
Stir in the ingredients you are using. Some you may want to precook, others you may just need to heat through.
Remove from heat and stir in the processed tofu until thoroughly combined.
Adjust seasoning to taste if desired.
Spoon mixture into baked crust and smooth out with a spoon until even.
Bake quiche, uncovered, at 375F for 33-37 minutes, until the quiche is firm to the touch.
Allow to cool for around 15-20 minutes before cutting. Served cold with salad is amazing!

Dry Beans & Lentils 101

Many people buy canned beans & lentils because they are convenient and honestly these days the only time I buy canned is chickpeas for the aquafaba - fresh doesn't doesn't seem to work! Dry beans are only a bit of work and honestly it works out SO much cheaper plus their shelf life is practically infinite! Here are the dried beans I use, the uses and how much I really get out of each batch.

Dry beans are easy to prep and full of protein. Basically just soak in water for a day or so then cook in fresh water till tender, over night soaking is the easiest prep. Sometimes I use a slow cooker, especially for pinto beans since I want them very soft anyway and don't have to keep testing them. I can just let them go all day and the worst case is that they still need longer so I start it up again. Then I drain them, rinse well and put them to good use or freeze!

"Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot!" We've all heard the kid's rhyme and maybe have stayed away but most of this comes down to two things, prep and tolerance. If beans are not cooked all the way they will play some havoc on your system, similarly if you're new to eating beans some people might need an adjustment period

Black Beans

A 1lb bag of black beans will set you back about $2 and from just that one pound I can make the following;

Black Bean Hummus

Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)

Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) are a stable for me because I love hummus and I love falafel. Now for good falafel you need soaked, but not cooked chickpeas which you won't find in a can.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are a staple in our house mainly for refried beans. We eat tacos or nachos and then quesadillas with the left overs at least once a week. 1lb of dry pinto beans will make 2 batches of my refried beans and each batch will feed my family of 5 twice (usually for taco night and then leftovers for nachos or quesadillas). I usually take a full bag of pinto beans to make the refried beans but easily freeze half of it.

Kidney Beans

Great for Latin dishes and adding into mixed bean dishes!

White Beans

White beans come in a four different forms;
  • Great Northern Beans which are nutty and hold their shape so used in stews and casseroles
  • Cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans) which have a nutty/meaty texture and are used in a lot of Mediterranean dishes such as Minestrone.
  • Navy (Yankee or Pea) beans which are round and small and very popular in Boston & Louisiana dishes.
  • Baby Lima Beans (Butter beans) which also come in green color are smooth and creamy and used in a variety of dishes, great to mash with potato or avocado!

Mixed Beans


Red lentils are your friend, they are a great go to as they are the only lentil that you don't need to soak! They cook so quickly they can go straight into your soups and stews!

Red Lentil Dal

Lentil Meat Loaf

Brown Lentils you do need to soak and are much meatier than red lentils which tend to get mushy quickly and lose their form.

Lentil & Rice Meatballs

Warm Pumpkin & Brown Lentil Salad

This is a great one if you're on a budget, it's hearty, filling and healthy but cheap as chips!

Split Peas are in the lentil family but different to green lentils. They are a variety of field pea which is grown specifically for drying. They tend to cook very fast too which eliminates the needs for soaking.

Split Pea Soup

Green Lentils are fairly similar to brown lentils in terms of cooking times and keeping their form. Flavor will vary slightly but they are fairly interchangeable in recipes.

Lentil Patties

Lentil Stuffed Peppers

French lentils are a variety of green lentils (Puy lentils are French lentils but have a slightly different flavor due to the region they are grown). They are smaller than standard green lentils and they hold their shape extremely well so ideal for salads as well as light soups and taste a bit nutty and peppery. I have personally never made anything with these lentils but as I love French cuisine I will have to find some recipes to make!!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Vegan Product Review - February 2019

It's been 5 months so there's a lot of products to get through, I completely forgot to finishing posting this one when I posted the new one so apologies, this is from earlier in the year but you should still be able to find most items! ;)

Well the much anticipate Just Egg was not as great as I was hoping. It was $9, really only 2 servings and I had to mission across town to find a retailer who stocked it. Texture-wise it was spot on, exactly like scrambled eggs but taste-wise it was bland but worse than that had a weird aftertaste, almost chemically. Even black salt didn't help with the after taste. Back to tofu for my scrambles!

I got these Purely Elizabeth GF Vegan oats with crunchy granola in the top from the discount store. I wasn't that impressed. They were very healthy but a bit too bland for anyone in my house to approve.

Not having too much luck with my product reviews this month...These Tofutti All American vegan cheese slices were horrible. Similar to dairy plastic cheese flavor but with a nasty after taste and gritty texture. Binned the lot :(

Hubby brought me this Koia cocoa bean protein drink. It was average, kind of tasted like what it was...healthy chocolate milk.

LOVING L'Occitane's new fragrance just entitled "Rose". Using pure Provencal roses you can really smell the natural botanical. I love the new "Herbae" fragrance as well!

Love these Julie's Organic sorbets in tub and Popsicle form. Kids loved the Blackberry Popsicle while I preferred the creamy mango sorbet in a tub.

Found these No Bull burgers at the NAS Commissary. They were meaty in texture but very lentil in flavor and for $5 for two not so cheap.

Also found these Sol Cuisine Falafel which included a tahini sauce! Very tasty!

This Sonoma Flatbreads GF vegan fire-roasted vegetable pizza was pretty good. Not much competition in the market for GF Vegan pizzas unfortunately!

We found this Oatly chocolate oat milk at the discount store and the whole house went mental. Even my very carnivore husband kept asking me to buy more.

I've mentioned Glutenberg Canadian GF beer before but this is by far the best flavor, if you like stouts of course! Only available seasonally I'm still finding it at Earth Fare luckily!

My love of Violife is real. I will say though the Feta and Parmesan are my favorites. The slices are good but on par with Follow Your Heart and the shred didn't melt well.

Pamela's Biscuit & Scone Mix tasted ok but didn't make the fluffy scones I was hoping for, maybe better as biscuits because the scones were heavy.

This Monteli vegan GF cauliflower crust was so good and stayed firm. Really felt like a regular pizza crust. My hubby bought it for me at Winn Dixie but we have since not been able to find it anywhere. Accordling the Internet it should be at Publix. :(

These Gratify GF Tuscan Herb crackers were another discount store find and they were SO good! I can't wait to find them again!! Reminded me of Ritz crackers.

Got these Jackfruit "crab" Cakes from Trader Joe's, they were pretty good. Didn't really taste like crab cakes but they were decent.

I liked these Luke's Organic Bean & Seed crackers a lot, they tasted neutral, didn't break the second you dip them in your hummus and were a good size for cheese :)

I love these Enjoy Life protein bites, they basically taste like truffles. I tried many flavors now and they are all good! My three year old loves them!

I really enjoyed these Off The Eaten Path Veggie Crisps as a light cracker snack, didn't need anything with them at all!

This mushroom medley from Trader Joe's is great because it has the garlic and herbs already in it so into the pan it goes, great for fry up breakfasts!

Loving these Dark Choc bars from Trader Joes! From Belgium so you know the sugar is most likely vegan ;)

I've been very conscious of buying organic coffee after what i read about the amount of pesticides that are in regular tea and coffee...YUCK! I love buying locally if possible so I was happy when I discovered Sweetwater Organic Coffee Co. from Gainesville FL. So many to choose from and all delicious!!

I'm loving these protein bars;
Raw Rev Glo peanut butter, dark chocolate & sea salt

Pro Bar Superfood Slam not only tastes great it really is like a meal so great for on the go.

I like this Zing choc mint protein bar, tastes like a brownie covered in mint chocolate.

The Hu chocolate was very natural tasting. I liked the ones with the nut butters inside but the plainer ones tasted a bit too bitter for me.

Taza chocolate is done in the traditional style of Mexican chocolate so it is quite raw and grainy but if you can get past that it's very good chocolate. I recommend the chilli chocolate!

This Divine Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle bar was SOO good. Like Ferrero Rocher in a bar!