Meal Plan Monday : Half a plan…

I have more holiday spirit than you can shake a candy cane at, but one of the tiny frustrations about the season is not always being in control of what we’re eating.  The Fish Family will be spending a few days with family at the end of the week, and that means not planning the meals, at least not in their entirety.  I will be contributing to the meals, though, and hopefully will be able to get some pictures if it’s not to dark!

In other news, I’m excited to tell you I’ll be doing some recipe testing for Urban Vegan who has a new cookbook in the works.  The next few days will feature some of her recipes, and they sound delicious.

Here’s what I’ve got planned for the next few days :

Monday : Lemon Poppyseed Muffins (special holiday breakfast), Tuscan Bean Dip with veggies and green salad (lunch), Chickpeas with tomato, eggplant & spinach (dinner).  All three of these are tester recipes for Urban Vegan.

Tuesday : Polenta-Spinach Cutlets with Basil Aioli served with green beans (lunch), Old Bay Cakes served with mashed potatoes and green salad (also test recipes).

Wednesday : I’m not sure if we’ll be here or not yet, so today will probably be about eating left-overs to empty the fridge!

My muffins lean to the left, just like me!

Because I’m posting this after breakfast, I can share a photo of these delicious muffins from Urban Vegan forthcoming book.  The sun doesn’t rise until after 8:30am now, so the light isn’t wonderful, but the muffins were. I knew I needed to snap a picture of one before they disappeared!  Beautiful crumb, bright, lemony taste, perfect for a leisurely holiday breakfast.

Not sure what to make for dinner?  Take a peek at the sample menus on the Meal Plan Mondays page for some inspiration.


Meal Plan Monday : The wings that weren’t, and the cookies that were.

I made these beautiful cookies last week :

In the name of science and not wanting to make a flop of the cookies I’m planning on making for gift-giving, of course. These lovelies are the pignoli cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I’ve had Italian pignoli cookies before, but it’s been ages, and I wanted to give them a try.  I’m a big fan of the pine nut – it’s a fatty little bugger, but jam-packed with iron.  I usually add a tablespoon to top pizzas or salads, so Guppy was a bit leery seeing it in a sucré posture, but was won over instantly.  Monsieur-half-French-half-Italian-Fish, however, was not so inclined.  So much for his Italian roots.

As you can guess from my title, the seitan wings didn’t happen last week, and I was rather put out about it.  The beauty of the meal plan is in its non-contractual nature: I’m not going to get in trouble if I don’t stick to it. They’ve been re-slated for this week, however, because I’m not giving up!  Next week I’ll be very pleased to bring you a review of where many of these tasty recipes came from.

Monday : Caramelized Tofu, Brown rice with pineapple and green onions

Tuesday : 2 potato Shepherd’s Pie, green salad

Wednesday : Sushi Rice Balls, Japanese Pancakes and Teriyaki Mushrooms

Thursday :Seitan Buffalo Wings with Super Slaw (hoping!)

Friday : Pizza night!

If you haven’t already, please stop by my friend Ricki’s blog and leave a comment on this post.  She’ll be giving a donation to Second Harvest for every comment left.  What a great way to bring a little food and cheer to those in need this holiday season (oh, and you could also win some Simply Bar yummies, but that’s just a perk).

Carrot, Sweet Potato & Coconut Casserole (with Almost Fat-Free option)

This casserole was one of my post-long run inventions a few years ago when I found myself with no plan and random vegetables in my pantry.  Lucky me it turned out to be a hit with both Guppy and Monsieur F,  and, it’s great recovery food to boot.   Protein from the garbanzos, carbs from the starchy veggies and al small bit of fat from the low-fat coconut milk makes this a wonderful post-run meal.  Sometimes I serve as is, others accompanied with some quinoa or rice.

There is about an hour of cooking time, but the initial preparation is minimal and there is so much you can do during that hour (besides shower and stretch).  Catch up on some blogs, email your mother or even do the dishes!  You’ll need to give it a stir once or twice, so don’t take a nap, or if you do, be sure to assign someone to stirring duty.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get an aesthetic photo of this today.  Yesterday’s photo is much, much better.  Just believe me.  It’s delish.

Carrot, Sweet Potato & Coconut Casserole

530 grams/18.5 ounces cooked garbanzo beans (rinsed if from a can)

1 red onion, diced

2 to 4 cloves garlic, diced

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium parsnip, chopped

1 medium yukon gold-type potato, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, chopped

a large handful of frozen peas, rinsed

400 ml/1 1/2 cups light coconut milk*

200 ml/3/4 cups soy milk*

curry paste to taste

1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)

salt & pepper

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

First a note one the coconut milk : if you want to make this casserole virtually fat-free, go with a non-fat or low-fat coconut milk if you have that in your area.  Another possibility is to use only low-fat soy milk.  The results are still delicious, though we would technically have to change the name. If you do opt to skip the coconut milk entirely, just a few bouillon granules or half a bouillon cube to give your casserole a little zip.

Combine all the ingredients except the peas in a deep casserole dish.  Cover and bake at 190°c/375°f for about 30 minutes, then take it out and give it a stir.  Bake for another 15 minutes, then add the peas and stir again.  Bake for another 10 minutes or so, then serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley.

Now that your belly is full of yummy food, go visit sweet Kelly and check out her amazing give-away! I’m crossing my fingers and toes for this one, but really, I can’t keep the hoping to myself – go leave a comment!  You might win!

Meal Plan Monday : What’s on your plate?

Though I haven’t stopped planning our week’s meals, it’s been forever since I’ve  actually published a Meal Plan Monday, n’est-ce pas? This is a week of trying some new recipes and relying on old favourites.

Monday : Carrot, Sweet Potato & Coconut casserole. (I’ll be sharing the recipe for this family-favourite later in the week.)

Carrot, Sweet Potato & Coconut Casserole

Tuesday : Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Sun-Dried Tomato Biscotti.

Wednesday : Seitan Buffalo Wings and coleslaw.

Thursday : Left-overs

Friday :  pizza night

Has anyone guessed which new cookbook I have?  I need to make a few recipes before I can properly share what I think about it, but I’ve got a good feeling so far.

Also, there’s a holiday sale over at the Thora Thinks store (where you can purchase a copy of the great children’s book I reviewed last week, Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice).  There’s also a free winter-themed colouring page up for grabs as well.

Will you be trying any new recipes this week?

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice

Now that Buy Nothing Day has come and gone, it’s time to start ticking off that  holiday gift list.  If you’ve got any little ones on that list, you’re going to want to pay close attention. What better way to end Vegan MoFo, than to tell you about one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time.

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is the tale of a not-so-typical family, who lives in a not-so-typical house.  Our protagonist, Thora, well, thinks. She thinks a great deal.  She might be called the brains of the family. Her two Viking family members, Aksel and Krog, however,  are less pensive and a bit more physical.  The brawn, if you will.  They get pumped.  Totally pumped, even.  About, well, lots of “stuff” from heavy metal music to kale.  These two “non-hairy Vikings” are reminiscent of Bill and Ted in all the best ways.

They also get pumped about juicing.  Yes, juicing. Thora grows concerned when Aksel and Krog learn about a new ingredient that could make their juice even healthier for them (to get them even more PUMPED!), because what is good for them, well, isn’t good for everyone, particularly for the little beings about to become collateral damage.

There are no good guys, no bad guys, no preaching or judging.  Just a family who wants to do the right thing and be healthy.  Author/illustrator/publisher VanBalen articulates all this and more through a quirky story with off-beat and unexpected characters and a sense of humor.  What could be better?

This book is the synthesis of so much of what I love :

Creativity – Nathalie (can I call you Nathalie?)  not only drempt-up the characters, but she’s  sewn them into  plush doll-protagonists!  This is 3-D creativity, not simply a linear story with a beginning and end.

Art – The drawings, mixed-media illustrations and photos throughout the book are visually interesting, and do more than simply accompany the story – I think they reflect a child’s imagination (and mine) as they use photos and illustration, which dove-tails nicely reality and fiction.

Critical thinking – (ie : questioning the dominant paradigm) – We want to be happy.  We want to be healthy.  We try to make the right food choices, but is eating everything that could be  good for our health a good idea, especially when it harms other beings?

Renegade spirit – Ms. VanBalen self-published and created ThoraThinksPress to do it, taking DIY to a supreme level which frankly, gets me pumped!

Though Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is suggested for readers age 6 and up,  kids of all ages like to colour, right?  I know I do.  Check out these free colouring pages that accompany the book. They’ll keep little ones creating and thinking, too.  You can also read more about Nathalie or find out more about the book here.

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is a visual and intellectual delight – the Dr. Seuss-esque title alone still has me giggling aloud.  It would make a wonderful holiday gift for children of all ages, vegan or not.

And speaking of gifts, if you’re looking for a unique and handmade original  present,  visit the Thora Thinks Store and order yourself one of the characters from the book, buttons, or veggie magnets (I really love the magnets).

And that concludes this year’s Vegan Month of Food!  It was a lot of fun, but whew, am I beat.  See you tomorrow for the winners of the tea and chocolate give-aways!

Vegan MoFo : Apricot Oat (Granola) Bars

Who wants some apricot oat bars? I do!  You’ll have some of everything you need in these babies : fibre, vitamins, even iron from the pepitas! (Libby, I said pepitas!).  I like to wrap these individually in waxed paper and keep the wrapped bars in a sealed container.  Keeps them fresh and ready to go, perfect fuel for a hike or a long bike ride.

Chop your nuts!  This time it’s almonds…

Apricot Oat Bars

110 g Steel-Cut oats/2 cups

100 g dried apricots/1 cup (diced)

50g nuts chopped/1 1/2 tbsp

25g pepitas/scant 1/2 cup

2 tbsp/20g sesame seeds

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp/15g molasses

2 tbsp/30ml oil

3 tbsp/45ml agave

3 tbsp/45g peanut butter

Put all the ingredients from oats to chia seeds in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine.

Seedy Goodness…

Heat the peanut butter, agave, oil and molasses in a sauce pan over medium heat until it gets bubbly, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Resist the temptation to taste, you’ll burn yourself.

Pour mixture into a prepared pan (20 x 25 cm) – you can grease it, but I find clean up and detachment easier when I use parchment paper.  Let this cool about 15 minutes, then cut into desired size/shape (if you wait until it’s completely cooled, it’ll be harder to cut).  Let cool completely before enjoying!

These are a little crumbly, if you don’t like that just add more oil (maybe 2 tbsp more) and a little more agave (same) it’ll help hold it together better.

Vegan MoFo Day XXVII : Soja Sun Steaks de Soja or What to eat in France?


In my continuing series “What to eat in France?” I bring you today one of my favourite convenience foods…

Soja Sun is a brand name to remember if you’ll be heading to France any time soon – they make everything from veggie burgers to soy yoghurt.  We are all fans of everything they make, though they do make some non-vegan things so keep an eye out for the ingredients.

These are just good, honest and true tofu and veggie goodness.  Guppy likes them with mashed potatoes and peas, and I admit if I’m crunched for time  these come in very handy for a quick and nutritious lunch.  They are gluten-free and totally vegan, and so is the sauce that comes with them.  With only 140 calories each, they are very low in fat and have no trans fats, either.  There are lots of different flavours, too.

The best thing about the Soja Sun brand is that it’s very mainstream and you can find their products everywhere.  This is a big advantage, especially to tourists who need food on the fly, but don’t always know what to buy or where to find it.

Bon appétit!


Vegan MoFo Day XXVI : Simple Cinnamon-Berry (or apple) Compote

The other day I found myself with some left-over berries when I made the Berry Scuffins, and whenever I have some berries to spare, I make some simple berry compote because it only takes about 15 minutes and it’s so yummy.  I enjoy adding some cinnamon because it’s so warming, even a little ginger, perfect as the mornings grow chilly.  You can use the same formula with any fruit you’d like (or is in season).

Simple Cinnamon (your fruit here) Compote

About 500 grams fruit – a cup or two, depending on your fruit, chopped up small for larger fruits.

1 tsp cinnamon (opt)

1/2 tsp ginger (opt)

50 g/2 tbsp agave

Put your fruit in a small saucepan over medium, until it’s just bubbling, then add the agave and spices.  Lower heat and continue to leat steam for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

I love this compote on pancakes, scones, yogurt – you name it.

Our drawing winners will be announced on November 30th, the last day of Vegan MoFo. Good luck!


Vegan MoFo Day XXIII : Bjorg Spreads “What to eat in France”

I receive a fair number of  emails and comments from many of my friendly readers asking for advice on what to eat in France.  Or what not to eat.  Or how to say “I don’t want to eat cheese” in French.  You get the picture.

I’m happy to say I’ve always responded individually to these inquiries, mostly because that’s just good manners, but also because as a joyful vegan, I’m more than happy to help out.  It can be intimidating when you don’t speak or read a language but want to eat yummy, healthy food.  I also know that some of you are too shy to ask, so I’m hoping to put a few product reviews up for you kids – we’ll call it the “What to eat in France” series.  Just to be clear, these are not sponsored posts, these are just things I like (or don’t like) to eat and you might like, too!

Today I bring you my favourite quick lunch or snack…

These are my favourite tartines – Wasa toasts with some Bjorg vegetable spread.

Wasa toasts aren’t French, they aren’t even Swedish anymore, but Italian, but they are still yummy.  Full of fibre, low in calories.  I slather them with one of these :

All-natural, all-organic and super yum.  Bjorg makes other flavours, but my two favourites are the terrine forestière and terrine aubergine, “Forest spread” and “Eggplant spread”.  They actually both taste pretty similar, and are made mostly of nutritional yeast and mushrooms, but also have onion, potato starch, garlic tomato purée, etc.  It’s thick and spreadable like peanut butter, and is considered a little stinky by some, but we don’t notice.  Guppy loves these spreads on bread or for a sandwich, so they are kid approved, too.

They come in 125g tins that need to be refrigerated after opening, but if you’re looking for a great quick lunch while visiting the sites just pick up a baguette and a tin of Bjorg spread and you’ll have a great lunch for about two adults.  Round it out with some fresh grapes or other easily-protable fruit from one of the many vendors you’ll see and you’ll be set.

Don’t forget to comment here for some chocolate if you’d like a little taste of France!

Bon appétit!

Amy’s Quinoa CrackersDay XXII : Amy’s Quinoa Crackers

Amy is quackers! Ha!

The lovely and talented Amy posted a yummy quinoa cracker recipe over at Tahinitoo and these babies are fantastic!  She adapted them from Celine’s famous Cheezy Quackers (one of my favourites) but got all crazy with adding cooked quinoa.  That Amy is an upstart and a rebel I tell you.  I’m just happy she took a break from baking brownies to give these a spin.

I made lots of changes like using whole wheat flour rather than spelt, doubling the nooch (addict), using cumin, blah, blah, blah.  Go see Amy’s original recipe and you’ll be able to make it the way you’d like to.

Oh, and did you notice how freaking cute my little leaves are?  I know!  Libby aka Allergy Mom from the fabulous The Allergic Kid blog sent me the cutest cookie cutters and I was so happy to use them.

Now who likes to eat leaves?

Why, your friendly neighbourhood triceratops, that’s who!  Libby’s son is as crazy about dinos as Guppy, and she kindly thought of us when he grew out of his costume.  Libby’s got lots of great recipes, both kid and adult friendly, in addition to loads of great advice and resources for families living with severe allergies.  She’s a working/activist mamma who gets major Fishbowl love!

Speaking of Fishbowl love, don’t forget to comment here for some chocolate!