Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter treats

I have had another nice weekend visiting family to celebrate Easter. Honorable mentions this time go to my grandmother. Her contribution to the meal was salad and she made sure to get a dressing I could eat. It was very kind and is definitely appreciated. She also gave me first pick on the Easter chocolate to make sure I got dark chocolate. Little things like this make me warm and fuzzy inside.

Anyway, let's move on to the food! There was the typical Easter meal for the omnis. I contributed a Veggie Pot Pie. It was super yummy and enjoyed by most. Only one family member skipped out on trying it. (although one person did 'accidentally' take some not realizing it was vegan). I received good feedback for the pot pie so I am sharing the recipe. It's based off of one from and can be found here. However, I made modifications to it.

Vegan Pot Pie


  • 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 cup of veggies of your choosing
  • 1/3 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cups of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of almond milk
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (check ingredients to ensure vegan-ness)
  • Spices (I used Italian and onion powder)



  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Boil peas and carrots to desired tenderness. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry onion and chickpeas (and other veggie of your choosing) until the onion is translucent or everything is cooked through. Add spices. Stir in the flour, almond milk, and vegetable broth.
  4. Pour filling into the waiting pie crusts, placing one on top of the other. If frozen, allow them to thaw enough that you can pinch the crusts together. Cut slits in the top.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. Check part-way through and cover with tinfoil if the crusts are browning too quickly. (I didn't have to do this).
  6. Cool for ten minutes and dig in!

In my pre-ovo-vegetarian days, I would also contribute a kick-ass dessert. However, this is an area that I'm struggling with. I was moderately pleased with my Vegan Cadbury Creme Eggs but they didn't blow me away. I did receive compliments on them though. I had also used the filling part of the recipe to try to make creme egg brownies. These were not successful. I cut the icing sugar down to make it easier to work with, drizzled it on the brownies, and poured melted chocolate on top. They are edible but you can't really taste the icing so it wasn't worth it.

It's a bit of a challenge for me to provide mediocre desserts since that used to be my speciality. But currently, I just can't compete with contributions made by other family members when they bring oh-so-good butter tarts covered in milk chocolate. I've pictured them here because they are truly yummy and the closest I could get is a picture. They are in no-way vegan or ovo-veg but I wanted you to see the kind of competition I'm up against.

Friday, March 29, 2013

tijya in the kitchen

I've titled this 'tijya in the kitchen' because it seemed friendlier than 'I suck in the kitchen', especially since I typically don't suck that much. Stay tuned for ongoing segments of tijya in the kitchen.Today's installment is below.

I have big plans for my four day weekend. And so far, things are not going as planned. Today's agenda:
  1. Make Vegan Cadbury Creme Eggs (hardening as we speak)
  2. Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies (Attempt #2 slightly better than attempt #1). Attempt #3 will consist of eating peanut butter straight from the jar followed by a mouthful of chocolate chips. Less work *and* less clean-up. I will save that for another day though.
  3. Make Vegan Cadbury Creme Egg Brownies (based off the above recipe). I decided to be lazy and use a box mix...'cause that can't go wrong. Right? Well, welcome to my kitchen. It seemed that they weren't baking through, so I left them in the oven significantly longer than the box said. And now they are less like brownies and more like tooth chippers. They are kind of hard. So much so that I'm not sure the pan can be saved.
I'm persistent though, so I'm on brownie attempt # 2 based on a recipe found on All Recipes. It's great so far. My favourite part is that it calls for a different size of pan, which means I can leave the other pan soaking in the sink (brownies and all) for my husband to clean. Nothing says "I'm glad you are home" like handing him a dish cloth. He's going to be really excited.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Silly Cow Farms Hot Chocolate

You know that 'rule' that you shouldn't go grocery shopping hungry? Well, when you do, you just might come home with some interesting new products.

I was wondering around looking for crackers when I found myself staring at hot chocolate. I do have some already in the cupboard at home but it doesn't count because it contains dairy. The stuff I was drooling over in the grocery store does not. It likely helped that the hot chocolate was in a cool little bottle. I was content to add it to my basket though, since I haven't had hot chocolate in forever (due to the dairy thing).

Anyway, I'm home now and have just finished my first mug. I added the powder to almond milk with nearly satisfying results. The only thing missing was the marshmallows...and I'm sure I can scrounge up a vegan marshmallow recipe somewhere.

But that search will have to wait until after I figure out what to have for Easter dinner. (Feel free to offer suggestions!)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Birthday/Family Celebrations

I had a fantastic pre-birthday weekend. I was out of town spending time with family and it was pretty perfect. I took part of Friday afternoon and all of Monday off from work so I could cram in more stuff. Sorry for the awkward picture layout. I couldn't get them to go where they should.
Check out the stirring action!
Sugar on Snow

Highlights of the awesomeness:

  • I went for two walks with my niece
  • We had sugar on snow
  • We did finger painting (again with the niece)
  • My niece helped me make pancakes
  • I taught my niece the importance of cookies in a well-balanced diet (knowledge for when she's older - the only 'treat' she got from me was banana bread) (and yes, my sister reads this blog so I felt the need to add that little disclaimer)
  • We went to a play centre
  • I tried a few new recipes (which will be posted in a bit)
  • I discussed my diet changes with family and really appreciate some of the support.Especially noteworthy comments/events:
    • My mom asking me about my preferences/restrictions. I told her no meat and that I would be 100% dairy free at home....but if something she made/served had an itty bitty amount of dairy I would which she replied that if I wouldn't eat it at home I shouldn't have to eat it at her house.
    • Family members trying some of the vegan recipes
Today is my actual birthday, and the awesomeness (mostly) continues:
  • I've heard from friends and family....starting at 6:30 AM. That particular call did not elicit a super-excited response (due to the hour) but I put on my game face and pulled it off. And really, the caller likely got the 'best' version of me today because as the day has progressed my throat has felt like I swallowed a fireball and then chased it with a fistful of razors (see why I put 'mostly' up there?)
  • The bunnies wished me a happy birthday with couch snuggles and floor snuggles (from the two that like their paws firmly planted on the ground). Unfortunately, they were not cooperative with going back into the bunny room and have since been their typical bunny-selves. (Yes, Naveen, I'm looking at your linoleum chewing face).
  • The weather was gorgeous
  • The radio cooperated with my 3 hours of driving...except at the end of the day when they played Mumford & Sons...a current favourite of mine. The issue is that the Mumford experience requires cranking the volume and singing along - horribly out of key. However, my throat was too sore to fully enjoy the experience
Overall, things are good.

Cauliflower wings

I was recently talking to my brother about my diet changes and he commented that I've always been a picky eater. I'm not sure if he was taking the angle that I've just gotten *way* pickier (likely) or that he's surprised I'm trying so many new things. It doesn't really matter because I know that I'm trying *tons* of new food and more vegetables are making their way onto my plate.

Cauliflower wings included. And they are so good. I made my own sauce that consisted of BBQ sauce, ketchup, salsa, maple syrup, spices, garlic and onion. I don't measure anything. It's all trial and error and deliciousness.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Huh. Eggplant *isn't* icky

I was away from home recently so I could visit family. My mom is super accommodating with my dietary restrictions and is willing to try new recipes when I visit. She asked if I have ever tried eggplant. I said no, but that I would try it.

Now, I believe I have previously referred to it as 'icky eggplant' on here and I have definitely ruled out recipes based on the inclusion of eggplant. So, I fully expected it to be 'icky'...based on my scientific evidence of assumption.

However, this scientific method is flawed (I know, shocker, eh?). I made Eggplant Parmesan from Oh She Glows and it is really good. So good that it will be making a regular appearance in my recipe rotation. The downside? I have to find other recipes that use eggplant because while my husband tried it and said it was 'ok', he's not quite on board. I likely wouldn't make the full recipe just for myself.

Please forgive the poor picture quality. I was hungry and impatient. It tasted better than it looks. And pretend the (Daiya) cheese looks nice. It got all clumpy the first time and wouldn't spread well so I sprinkled a bit more. I suggest that you check out the actual recipe link for a pretty picture.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Observations and dairy-free results

So, I'm (almost) four months into vegetarianism and one month mostly dairy free. I definitely have more energy and I'm not as winded when I do physical activity. I've also lost a tiny bit of weight. I do plan on amping things up on the exercise front and I'm trying to reduce the amount of wheat/gluten I eat so I expect the positive changes to continue.

I have tested a few different dairy items with not-so-fun results. It turns out that while my taste buds like dairy, the rest of my body does not. Nothing says fun like headaches, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and general ickiness.

And yet, I've gone back and forth on what happens next. I figured I would avoid all direct dairy products and be a little more relaxed with everything else. But then I ask myself 'why'?

Before all of this dairy-free stuff started, I was moving towards limiting dairy anyway for ethical reasons. And the thing is, my ethical values haven't changed. The dairy industry is awful in terms of animal cruelty and it isn't an industry I want to support.

I am glad that I did a dairy elimination experiment. I learned that I *can* live without dairy and that I will feel better for it. And I can make the link between cause and symptoms which will make it easier to skip the cheese.

I left my brain behind

I think I left my brain somewhere over the weekend because it's clearly not in my head. And if it is, it needs to be recharged. Before leaving my mom's, both my mom and my step-dad asked if I had everything. They even listed potential items that I might have left behind. And yet, I still forgot:

  • the charger for my tablet
  • my snack bag of trail mix
  • my tahini
  • my Earth Balance
  • my hummus
  • my chips

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dairy 1, tijya 0

Boo to dairy.

Earlier this week I crossed the finish line of the dairy-free elimination diet and landed (super excitedly) into testing phase. I decided I missed cheese the most, so started with that. Dr. Google suggested that I eat dairy three times and then wait a few days. So, I had two very small servings of Havarti cheese throughout the course of the day. And then I celebrated with nachos later.

This entry was supposed to have a picture of my nachos too. But I was so excited that I forgot to take the picture. Please feel free to imagine a small place of nachos with yummy melted cheese on top.

Immediately after eating the cheese, I felt a bit of a high. I realize that this was all in my head but that's exactly how excited I was.

And then the headache hit. Now, it wasn't awful  but it is noteworthy. Since then, I have also had a bit of an acne breakout and stomach upset that I hadn't experienced since week one of the elimination phase.

Overall, I'm not happy. If I'm reacting this way to cheese, I likely will need to avoid all direct-dairy products. I'm thinking I will be able to get away with food with some dairy in them (like muffins).

But, I'm not done testing yet. I'm a sucker for punishment and have a few other items to try.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Green Beaver Makeup Remover

I am slowly replacing all of my Almay products because (IMO) they are technically no longer cruelty-free since they sell to markets that require animal testing. I'm not a wasteful person, so I didn't throw everything out and am instead replacing products as they run out.

The first item to replace was makeup remover. I had been using Almay's makeup remover pads and I have recently tried Green Beaver's Eye Makeup Remover.

While I like the convenience of Almay's pads, Green Beaver works a lot better at removing my stubborn waterproof mascara. It seems gentle on my skin and does not sting even when I smash it into my eye.

The only not-so-great part is the price. I bought Green Beaver off of for $13.00 versus Almay's pads for $7.59. However, in time I will find out if the Green Beaver lasts longer than what I would get out of the pads (approx 5 weeks).

Unless I decide to try some other product next time, I do like Green Beaver enough for this product to become a regular. The product itself works really welll.....*and* it's cruelty-free, vegan, Canadian, and all natural. Take that Almay!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apple Pie Oatmeal

I am on a cooking kick these days. It's kind of nice, except for the dishes. Anyway, on the weekend I like to treat myself with 'special' breakfasts. This past weekend I figured I would try the Apple Pie Oatmeal since I didn't have the pear I needed for another recipe (which is kind of funny, because I actually do have pears - I just didn't know it).

This is not a recipe I would make again. The flavour is nice, but I didn't like the consistency/texture. I prefer a drier oatmeal and this was very moist and almost slimy. I also found the serving size too large, so I put half aside for the next day. Hopefully it reheats well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes

I made these pancakes for supper the other night to distract myself from the cheese cravings. The recipe says it makes 5 pancakes, but I only got three out of it. I guess my pancakes are thicker or something?

It's a good and easy recipe. However, I would likely omit the chocolate chips or replace with something else. While I like chocolate, I also like pure maple syrup...and the chocolate chips seemed to overpower the maple-y goodness that should come with all pancakes.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Off-topic kitchen failure

Today is my husband's birthday. And I'm a horrible wife. I remembered it but didn't get him anything because he didn't give me ideas. Instead, I offered to take him out for supper and to pay for skiing tomorrow (if he goes). I figure that's not so bad, right?

We went out for supper, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ovo-vegetarian choices. I had been avoiding this restaurant since they don't have an online menu but it all worked out.

After supper, we came home and had plans to have the already baked cake-mix cake. We both prefer cake-mix cakes. They are moist and yummy. And typically, I make chocolate cake-mix cake with pre-made chocolate icing. I go all out, I know. Anyway, this year I had to get a white butter cream pre-made frosting because of the whole dairy-free thing.

This was a bad idea. I'm not a cake person. Mine never look pretty. They are typically lopsided. I just consider it a success if the icing doesn't get too many crumbs in it. Chocolate frosting is much better at hiding the crumbs than white butter cream frosting on chocolate cake.

As I was frosting it, I was laughing and warned my husband of the awful mess of a cake. He couldn't see it and promised that he wouldn't judge. He lied.

Yes, this *is* the finished product
In defense of the finished project, my husband was rushing me to get it ready. And he was slightly drunk...which seemingly has no impact on *my* icing ability....but, uh....Just pretend that it does.

Plus side? I've now ruled-out professional cake decorator as my career back-up plan. Phew. One less thing to consider!

Also, I'm a horrible wife because I forgot to sing happy birthday to him until he was finished his piece. But, hey, when I remembered I did sing with a lot of enthusiasm. It was just very out of tune.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oh the cravings!

I am *so* close to being 3 weeks dairy-free. But today, I would do very evil things for cheese.

Earlier it was milk chocolate causing issues. I solved that by buying Easter chocolate and telling myself it was for later. And I haven't touched it. (this is a miracle).

Right now, though, the issue is cheese. My craving is so bad that:
  • It seems logical to drive 10+ hours to order my hometown pizza
  • I couldn't eat supper with my husband because he had cheese-y leftovers
  • I could smell the cheese from the other side of the house, where I was yelling out to him so we could still have our end-of-the-day chat
  • I contemplated having a tantrum so someone would encourage me to eat dairy
I figure my inner-child is being a pest right now and the best course of action is to strangle her. Unfortunately, I'm not even sure how that would work. So, instead, I decided to try a new yummy recipe. I'm having Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes for supper. Well, probably. Unless I burn them (since I'm typing this as they cook).

I will post a review another day. As long as you promise not to criticize the pictured finished product. Let's just say I cannot flip a pancake to save my life. Maybe my version should be called Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Clumpies.


So, I'm over two weeks in to the no-dairy thing. Overall I do feel better. It has been somewhat difficult to eat out and as a result I have likely eaten a few dairy items unintentionally. (For example, work lunch this week was at Pizza Hut. I had salad, pizza with cheese scraped off, and a macaroni dish with cheese picked out).

I noticed less difference the first week but am now overall feeling less bloated. The not great thing is that it hasn't helped with the migraines. My co-worker has lent me a book that indicates that it may actually be a gluten problem and that gluten problems can cause sensitivity to dairy. Anyway, I burnt the book* and am trying to erase the knowledge from my memory since gluten-free is not something I want to face.

*Ok, I didn't really burn the book since it's a borrowed book. However I wanted to burn the book. I have managed to bend a few pages in my travels and a corner might be bunny-chewed.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Earlier today I went into the rabbit room and was horrified to find red specs on the floor. I freaked out and thought a bunny was hurt. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was tiny pieces of paper that had been chewed off of the bunny room broom.

Later I told my husband that 'his rabbits' were eating the broom. He's like, what?! And I explained the above. His response?

"oh, no. That was me."

He went on to explain something but I still don't get why he was chewing on the broom. I think his explanation had something to do with the vacuum. But then I just stopped listening because it was becoming more and more ridiculous.

I should probably hide the brooms now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


This morning I made vegan flourless chocolate peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I made vegan muffins but those were from a mix and so they don't count. Back to the cookies...mine didn't turn out perfectly. And before they went into the oven I figured it was another failed attempt of vegan baking, which is kind of frustrating because I am a good baker. I guess I just need butter and eggs. Or more practice at this vegan baking thing.

However, the cookies do taste mostly good and I am pretty sure of where I went wrong, so I will make them again down the road. I don't know what they are supposed to be like, but mine are *very* dense with a super chocolate-y and peanut buttery flavour. They definitely taste better than they look. And the husband test came back that they are 'good and better than last week's brownies' (which is pretty good considering he ate all of those brownies without any help from me).

Tonight I am going to try to make vegetarian 'chicken' balls and fried rice. With some vegetables. I will post the results later in the week. Later this week I may also post my review of new-to-me beauty products.