Meet the most decadent, delicious, yet healthy skin food

When the main ingredient in this creamy, decadent dark chocolate mousse is the richest source of Vitamin A, you can happily lick your glass without guilt and your glowing skin will thank you too!

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups steamed sweet potato
  • 1/3 cup nut milk (nut-free version: substitute with hemp or rice milk)
  • 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

You can customize your mousse by adding the following ingredients to your mixture: 

  • 1-2 Tbsp of nut butter or
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Liqueur of your choice or
  • 1 Tsp of orange zest or
  • 1 Tsp of fresh basil or rosemary 

Directions:

  1. Place the steamed, cut sweet potatoes with the remaining ingredients in your Vitamix and blend until smooth. 
  2. Adjust the sweetness to your liking. Always start with less sugar and add more if needed.
  3. Place your mousse in the fridge for several hours to thicken.
  4. Enjoy it with fresh fruits, caramelized nuts...or in my case: homemade dark chocolate covered sweet potato chips

Brunch heaven - Mediterranean Chickpea Socca

We served this delicious, moist, satisfying Mediterranean Chickpea Socca at Katherine's Meditation in Motion Retreat at Nectar Yoga B & B on Bowen Island. Looking at this food heaven, it won't surprise you that there weren't any leftovers. :-)

RECIPE

for 4-6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly ground Grain's Chickpea flour (I used my Vitamix dry grains container)              
  • 2 cups water                                                                                                                                        
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil                                                                                                                                    
  • salt & pepper to taste                                                                                                                            
  • 1 bell pepper, cut in stripes                                                                                                                                        
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half                                                                                                   
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced                                                                                                                                  
  • 1 red onion, cut in cubes                                                                                                                                 
  • 2 gloves of garlic, chopped                                                                                                                                  
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped thyme, oregano, rosemary

Directions:

  1. Whisk the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Let it rest for a couple of hours or prepare it the night before to give the flour time to absorb the water.
  2. Sauté vegetables with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs in a pan over medium heat until tender.
  3. Once the batter has rested, add the cooked vegetable mix to the socca batter, mix well to combine.
  4. Preheat oven to 450ºF and place a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or pie dish in oven while it preheats . Remove the skillet when the oven is to temperature, add about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil swirl around in the pan to get a nice even coating all the way around and up the sides a bit. Pour the chickpea-vegetable batter in the dish. 
  5. Bake 30 minutes until the socca is firm, the edges are set and golden brown. Use a knife or toothpick and insert it into the center, to see if it's cooked. It's ready if it comes out clean, with no streaks of batter. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot or cold.
  6. Bon Appétit! 

How to start your own food blog - Interview with The Simple Green

Images by The Simple Green

If you don't already know Heidi and her beautiful blog, The Simple Green, then I'm grateful for the privilege to introduce you to her! Like me, you will find very quickly many reasons to fall in love with her. Besides her endless kindness and love for food (two non negotiable requirements to be on my blog and well, in my life), she is a talented self taught photographer, gardener, mother and baker! 

I asked her to share with us some insights on how to run your own successful YouTube channel and blog. Enjoy! 

Q: First of all, what inspired you to start your own blog The Simple Green?

It was definitely a combination of several things, but mostly internal motivations.  Overall, my love of plant-based recipes inspired everything; that love initially started as a small blogger.com page back in 2008. I didn’t post much and eventually, it fell to the wayside. The desire to blog never went away though, and it wasn’t until 2015 that I found myself really inspired to do what my heart was asking: to create a platform for my recipes, my passion, my heart and, ultimately, my creativity. Several years in a high stress and very demanding career left me depleted and devoid of creative expression; cooking and baking always soothed me.  And eventually, my heart just spoke louder than the doubts and stresses in my mind…I really had no choice but to do it; it just felt so right.

Q:For someone who visits your blog for the first time, is there a particular post or recipe that you would say is a must read/try? 

I think all of them are, *wink*.  However, if I had to name one, the Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Lavender Frosting post. It was recreated in the Vitamix Test Kitchen and they loved it. Chocolate frosting made from cashews and no refined sugar is perfection in my eyes; it’s one of my more popular posts for a reason. It’s also the 1 year anniversary post, so I share a few emotions about the ups and down of creating from the heart. 

Q: Are there other blogs from which you draw your inspiration from? 

Yes definitely, blogs and YouTube channels. In 2015, I happened across a Japan based YouTube channel by Ryoya Takashima (a.k.a. Peaceful Cuisine); his work is one of my deepest inspirations and I want to inspire others the way he inspires me (Thank you, Ryoya).  The First Mess’, ‘Wholehearted Eats’, ‘The Green Life’ and ‘Hey Modest Marce’ are a few fellow Canadian food bloggers that also inspire me with their beautiful photographs, engaging storytelling and amazing recipes. I’m also a big Martha fan; she will always inspire me like she has since I was 8 years old.

Q: Could you give us some helpful tips on how to start a blog?

If you have a desire to blog, just do it.  There really is no perfect time to start. It seems overwhelming and confusing at first, but there are so many helpful guides written by other bloggers that tell you exactly how to do it step by step.  Secondly, stick with it.  You don’t become an expert blogger, food photographer or writer overnight. My blog is constantly evolving and improving every week; it’s a process of growth which is so utterly rewarding.

Q: Looking back to when you started your blog, is there something that you wished you would have known back then that you do now? 

Plenty, ha! After many long nights, I’ve managed to design a look and feel that I am happy with; however, I wished I had researched more all the web hosts and platforms available today. Wordpress is popular for a reason and with Pinterest being a main driver of traffic to food blogs, I would have chosen a platform with advanced Pinterest plugins available. 

Q: Like in fashion and in the kitchen, I'm sure there are some "Don’ts" one should avoid when blogging. Can you name yours? 

Don’t try to be perfect. Imperfections are what make us human and relatable. Unfortunately, I was born a perfectionist, so it’s something that constantly weighs on me. When I first started blogging, I was constantly discouraged by my photography and writing. However, if you look at any successful food blogger, they all started from roughly the same place. It’s so endearing to see their early work. I’ve only be blogging for a year and a bit, but I hope one day people will look back on my early posts and feel inspired and encouraged by those “imperfect” posts.

Q: How much impact do social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have on your blog? Which one is the most beneficial one for you?

If you ask any blogger, social media makes a huge impact for your blog and brand.  Initially, Facebook was the main driver of traffic to the blog; traffic mostly consisting of supportive friends and family.  Eventually, I started an Instagram account and it quickly became one of my biggest resources for traffic, inspiration and networking. I continue to reach a much larger audience via Instagram and make amazing connections with fellow bloggers and companies looking to work with me. I also have a YouTube channel, which is in dire need of updates. I hope to return to video production shortly, but with my son being not even two, he’s just not old enough to operate the camera yet (I jest). Despite the lack of new videos, YouTube still generates a good chunk of traffic to my blog thanks to just one of my 14 videos.

Q: What are your future goals for The Simple Green?

To continue to inspire more and more people to include plant-based recipes in their day. I’m also a lover of gardening, sustainable and zero waste living; I may include more sections on the blog dedicated to those topics. Of course, I would also love to continue working with professional brands that I love. I’ve been very fortunate lately to be able to work with some amazing companies, one of those being Vitamix International; it was such a surprise to hear from them and I am so grateful for that opportunity.  Maybe one day I can write and photograph a cookbook and create more recipe videos for my channel. I’d also love to open an online store for my husband’s woodworking; he has crafted so many of the props seen in my photos, from hand carved spoons, handmade paring knives, cutting boards etc., all of which get many loving comments asking where I found them.


Heidi's Blueberry Chai Creamsicles

Sweet summer blueberries and chai spice come together to form a lovely combination of frozen flavours in a creamy coconut milk base.  The perfect summer treat!  

| makes approx 7 - depending on the size of your popsicle mold |  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 400 ml can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews (unsoaked)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chai spice (recipe here)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Puree the thawed blueberries in a small blender, or small food processor (I like to use a handheld immersion blender for this part).  Set aside.  
  2. In a full sized blender, combine the coconut milk, cashews, chai spice, lemon juice, sea salt, agave nectar and vanilla extract.  Blend on high until smooth(about 30 seconds if using a high powered blender like a VitaMix).
  3. Pour the coconut milk mixture into your popsicle mold, filling only half way.  Pour several spoonfuls of the blueberry puree into the molds.  Pour the remaining coconut milk mixture into the mold, making sure to leave a about 1/2 cm at the top for the popsicles to expand during freezing. Using a chopstick, gently swirl the mixtures together to create a marble effect. 
  4. Insert the popsicle sticks as per the directions for your mold and place in the freezer for 6-8 hours.  

For more wouthwatering recipes, please visit her website here. 

Ordinary is EXTRAordinary

Why do we feel the constant need to seek “the extraordinary”? Does it have to do with the fact that we have this urge to document everything in our daily lives, or that we think the unfiltered, unretouched and real version isn’t good enough anymore?

It took me a while to realize that I’m actually the happiest in those ordinary moments. Those unpretentious, real times when I am myself, at peace and truly content. To feel this way, as it turns out, I don’t require much from the universe. Take a glimpse at this beautiful watercolour custom piece Jenna painted for me and you will see I’m the happiest if you give me a handful of nuts while I sit in the sun and watch ladybugs and bees crawling on lilacs. I bet if you listen to your soul, you too will prefer the simpler ingredients in life.

Luckily I have had my fair share of extraordinary moments in life. Those moments that are so big, you don’t realize they are actually happening, and it can take your soul a few days or even months, to catch up.  Usually by then, this “bigger than life” moment has passed and all you have is that memory which now feels more like a dream.  These days, you have social media to remind you of those moments and sometimes isn’t that the reason why you choose to experience “the extraordinary” in the first place? To showcase it to the world as proof that your life is anything but ordinary? The question is…WHY?

I’m writing this to remind myself, and myself only, that ordinary is pretty cool (if you feel like this speaks to you too, then even better). Because it’s these simple, ordinary moments, like watching the sunset on your balcony while drinking your homemade kombucha, that are the ingredients for my happiness.

What are your ingredients to your happiness?

… and guess what, once you add up those ordinary moments, you realize that life can be pretty extraordinary!

What is TEMPEH?

As a vegan nutritionist living in Vancouver, I have to remind myself that I’m blissfully living in a health bubble. While the answer to my question “what is Tempeh” may seem obvious to me or you, most still don’t know what it actually is, and what great benefits it offers. Thankfully Richard from the Vancouver, family run “Tempea” is here to give us all the details on that fermented protein superfood from Indonesia. 


Q: Is it true that you went all the way to Indonesia to learn how to make tempeh?

Absolutely! A few of us in the team were born and grew up in Indonesia so this is not as big of a feat as it sounds. 

Before we started the company, we had already learned the methodologies of producing tempeh from the existing literatures, and we were already successful in producing pretty good tempeh. However, we felt like we could not ignore 400 years of history and expertise of making tempeh directly from people who have dedicated their whole lives to the art, so off we went to tap into that knowledge. When we got back, we probably have yet to absorb anywhere close to half of their expertise as we could spend years learning from them, but the result of learning directly from the masters even for a brief period of time upgraded our tempeh to a whole other level.

Q: What’s the story behind your unique brand name “Tempea” and who is behind the brand?

Andrew and Ariela were on their last semester of the BCIT Food Technology program when they and a couple other classmates joined Pulse Canada’s Mission ImPULSEible competition. They won the provincial competition with a chickpea-lentil tempeh that was dubbed Tempea. Ever since then they decided to start a company together to produce tempeh, and the name Tempea stuck around.

Q: Can you share with us how your tempeh is made?

Of course! Our process is quite typical in terms of general tempeh production. We follow the traditional Javanese method as that was where we studied how to produce tempeh, and that is the type of tempeh that we grew up eating and loving. 

The biggest difference with the traditional Javanese methods versus what many other companies in North America uses, is that the Javanese ferment their beans twice. The double fermentation creates a deeper flavour and further breaks down complex molecules making the tempeh even more digestible. However, parts of this method is not allowed in North America because it is really difficult to properly control the fermentation without introducing bad microbes, which is why a large number of companies take a shortcut by using vinegar. We have developed a process by which we can control the fermentation to completely prevent the growth of bad bacteria under the double fermentation process. 

For the whole process, first, the beans gets soaked and cooked to soften it up. Then we start the first fermentation, which we call the wet fermentation that breaks down the complex components in the soy bean and also sets the perfect condition for the growth of the tempeh mold, Rhizopus oligosporus. After spending some time fermenting, we dehull the soy beans, and then cook it a second time before drying and inoculating with Rhizopus oligosporus spores. Then we pack the beans in a perforated bag, and ferment it in a precisely controlled environment for roughly 2 days. 


Q: For those who have never tasted tempeh before, how is it different from tofu?

The similarity between tempeh and tofu ends at soy bean. Where tofu takes the soy milk, coagulate the protein, and then gets pressed to form tofu cakes, tempeh uses whole soy bean and it gets fermented. As a result, there is a significant difference in flavour, texture, and nutritional content between the two products. 

Tempeh in general has a meatier texture, even more so with fresh tempeh. The mycelium from the live culture in fresh tempeh helps bind the beans together and prevents it from falling apart while the bean itself provides a more toothsome bite compared to tofu. 

Flavour wise, whole soybeans provide a nutty flavour reminiscent of soy milk or sesame oil. The fermentation process produces elements of umami that remind you of soy sauce, miso, and even natto. We don’t like calling our tempeh as fake chicken/pork/beef, but some of the comments that we have heard from first time tempeh tasters is that it tastes like bacon, chicken, pork, and even fish, and that is thanks to the fermentation process that unlocked a whole bunch of flavour and nutrients 

Q: What is your favourite way of preparing and enjoying tempeh?

Each of us have our favourites here at Tempea. However, one of our universal favourite is the classic Indonesian street food style: deep fried served with sambal or a birds eye chili on the side. Not the healthiest preparation for tempeh, but so comforting because of the crisp exterior and the tender interior. For Canada Day, we made an awesome one where it was simply marinated with soy sauce, white miso, and maple syrup, and grilled to allow it to char and caramelize on the outside. 

Q: Where do you see Tempea in the near future?

We have some plans in the works that we will unveil in the near future that we think fans of tempeh, vegans, and even foodies in general might find super exciting. I know you absolutely loved the idea when we shared a sneak peak of it. Stay tuned and follow our social media to find out! 

Q: Congratulations, you recently celebrated your 1st anniversary of the company. Can you share with us one of your most rewarding moment from this past year?

Thank you! We started selling our tempeh at the beginning of last summer at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market at Dude Chilling Park. That first day of sales was already one of the most rewarding moment! The neighbourhood was super excited and elated that we have brought fresh tempeh to Vancouver. We sold out before noon. 

Now fresh tempeh is not the easiest product to work with by far since it requires a lot of care and finessing, but every time someone comes up to us, tell us that they love our tempeh, makes all the late nights and early mornings monitoring and babying our tempeh so rewarding. 

Q: Where do you get your soybeans from?

We use certified organic and non-GMOsoy beans and we always prioritize on getting Canadian sourced beans first. These beans come from either Manitoba and Ontario because the BC climate is far too humid to grow beans. However, sometimes the source for our Canadian beans do run dry, at which point we have to go down south of the border for our organic non-GMO soy beans.

To get delicious tempeh recipes and more info, please head to their site! Enjoy!!

Nuts about NutMeg Mylk

I'm so excited to feature a fellow nut mylk lover and MAKER (!!) on my blog. After meeting Megan in person, I realized very quickly that not only do we share a passion (some would call it an obsession) for plant-based mylks, but we love the good food and nature of beautiful British Columbia. 

As I'm writing this post, I'm enjoying a chilled glass of Megan's creamy nut mylk in celebration of two important milestones in her life. Not only is she officially launching her nut mylk business this month, but she just got married last weekend!!

Please take the time to get to know this inspiring entrepreneur. Find out why Megan thinks it's important to choose "the real deal" over the mass produced imitation and why introducing nut mylk into your life can have an important impact on your health!

Enjoy!

Q: First of all, congrats on your official launch Megan!! What made you actually decide start your own nut mylk business?

I have been dairy-free for quite some time now and did not like the taste of store-bought almond mylk nor did I like all the chemicals, preservatives and long list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. So, when my sister in law posted she was doing a nut mylk work shop I was super excited to learn to make my own. From there I was having a ton of fun experimenting with different nuts and flavours and learning ways I can make the mylks healthier and tastier. I was giving them away to friends and family simply because I loved the joy of giving something away that I made and seeing how much they loved it, it was such an amazing feeling. With some encouragement from a couple of friends I got to the point where I was like “yeah I can do this,” so I did.

Q: Besides the obvious difference in taste, can you share other reasons why we should choose homemade nut mylk over the mass-produced product we find in the supermarket? 

Firstly, choose handcrafted Nut Mylk for your health. Not just because you avoid the harmful chemicals, preservatives and gums that are in store-bought almond mylk, but also because of all the amazing health benefits. Our mylk is made with 25% almonds rather than 1%, you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients that these amazing nuts have to offer, including Vitamin E and Vitamin D and Omega 3’s.

Secondly, another reason is for the environment. The closer you can buy your products from the less emissions were made in transporting products across long distances. We also use a bottle deposit program for our glass bottles to help eliminate waste.

Lastly, opting for local handmade products helps support your local community by investing in the people of your community, not only economically but also helps builds relationships within the community.


Q: What are the nutritional benefits when we choose a glass of your nut milk over a glass of cow's milk? 

What I like about handcrafted Nut Mylk is the high level of vitamins and minerals. Although dairy milk has some great sources of vitamins such as vitamin D and calcium, so does Nut Mylk. Our Mylks are chalked full of healthy fats! The other nutritional benefit of almond milk, especially when you’re sourcing local, is you know exactly what you’re getting. There are no hormones or additives in the mylk just wholesome, healthy ingredients.

Q: What kind of changes did you notice in your overall health when you switched to plant-based milks?

I’ve been drinking dairy-free milk for a long time, so I can’t say I’ve been attuned to a change in overall health. But what I will say is I’ve noticed a significant improvement since I’ve stated drinking handcrafted nut mylk. The ingredients incorporated like cinnamon and maca have significantly helped regulate my hormones, for a while I was skipping periods, which has not happened since I’ve included these foods in my mylk and diet in general.

I’ve also noticed a huge improvement in my skin, there’s a glow that I didn’t have before, its also softer, smoother and more clear than it’s been in years.

Q: How did you come up with these unique nut milk flavours, like "The Indie"?

I love getting creative in the kitchen, many of our recipes were derived from days spent in the kitchen trying out different nuts and flavor combinations. I knew I wanted to make a variation of a golden mylk with turmeric as I love all the amazing health benefits of turmeric, but I’ve also been loving bee pollen and this combination of flavours just seemed to click.

Q: Most people use nut milks for their coffee and cereals in the morning. Can you suggest other delicious ways to incorporate nut milk in our meals and drinks? 

Many people don’t realize just how much you can do with Nut Mylk, you can pretty much use it wherever you would use regular milk. My absolute favourite is to make banana pancakes using Nut Mylk, the almond Mylk adds an amazing flavor and you will not miss the dairy milk!  Chia puddings and overnight oats are great especially with the flavoured Mylks like lavender honey. You can also use the Mylk in currys I’ve made an amazing red curry using our Signature Almond Mylk. Smoothies and smoothie bowls are my go to quick and easy snacks and breakfasts using our Nut Mylks. The list goes on and on!

Q: What advice do you have for the nut milk beginners out there?

For people making the switch to plant-based milk I would say just to have an open mind try different types of nut mylks, flavours and brands until you find what’s best for you and opt for fresh Nut Mylk whenever possible.

For those who start to make their own nut mylk I would say just to have fun and experiment. Some of our best flavours have come from having fun in the kitchen and learning what types of nuts and flavours work well together and what doesn’t. Also, I’ve found following fellow plant-based bloggers (like you Vanessa ;)) help in inspiring people to get creative in the kitchen!

Meg's Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cup of almond flour

1 ½ banana

1 ½ Tbsp of baking powder

2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil

1 Tsp of salt

1 Tsp vanilla

1 cup of Nut Meg Mylk’s "The Tahiti"

Coconut oil for the pan

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add the melted coconut oil, vanilla, and nut mylk. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix together.
  3. Place a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet, and heat over medium low heat.
  4. Once the pan is hot, spoon the batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes low and slow, it may take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once the pancakes are done around the edges, flip them over. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes more, then remove from pan.
  5. Repeat with remaining pancakes. Top with your favourite chocolate or nut butter, sliced banana and coconut flakes