Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vegan Recipe Videos!

Hello dear blog-babies! Just wanted to link here to Clearly Veg's awesome new YouTube page filled with delicious, easy & vegan video recipes!

Some of the videos include Cauliflower Buffalo Bites (pictured above), Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie in a Jar, Spicy Coconut Pasta, and Vegan Carrot Hot Dogs!

Make sure to check it out and subscribe to the page to get all the latest recipe videos! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chicory Root as a Coffee Substitute

I swear to the heavens above every other day there is some new study about how coffee is either really good for you or the cause of all the problems in your life.

While I side with a much less dramatic version of the latter option, this post is more focused on an option for those who either want to stop drinking coffee for whatever reason, or just want to decrease their overall consumption. Or for those who want to enjoy a cup in the late evening without staying up all night thinking about past mistakes or scenes from horror movies that feature ghosts and/or aliens.

While I used to never drink coffee regularly, due to my time in Armenia and surprisingly Germany, I became a lot more accustomed to a morning Armenian/Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek style coffee (no one can get offended!) and really like adding some cardamom pods in there (Syrian style?). While I never get any of the notorious caffeine-withdrawal headaches when I don't drink it, coffee still usually makes me more hyper (in a negative way), makes my heart beat faster, leaves me super dehydrated, and I become a non-stop peeing machine. 1/84 times I become slightly more focused and productive though, just like in the commercials.
"You gonna die"
I do, however, like the taste of coffee. And since I know many people who feel they are addicted to it, or want to enjoy it late in the evening without becoming an owl, I am going to highlight chicory root as a substitute.

A friend had mentioned chicory root to me a while back, and it always stayed in my head. It is caffeine-free, helps with digestion (stimulating flow of bile), supports healthy intestinal flora via inulin, and is anti-bacterial. Apparently it grows like a weed and is found in Armenia, too!

In terms of taste, smell and even appearance, it is one of the best coffee substitutes I have ever tried and you can modify it easily to make it stronger/weaker/sweeter/more bitter. You can prepare it like a tea or add it to your coffee machine. I've found it at a health food store and in a Russian market a friend recommended for Georgian spices. Here are the types I found:
The first one is similar to instant powdered coffee and has some cowberry and blueberry in there, making it more mild than the second one. You can legit make this one as a tea with no steeping necessary (1 heaping tbsp to one mug, stir, and voila!). The second is from the health food store and requires a little steeping if made tea-style. Both, however, are a-okay for coffee machines.
When I use the coffee machine, I add one spoon for each cup of water (powdered: heaping, non-powdered: a little less) and add cinnamon and cardamom. It is absolutely perfect and although I have had some fails when I go too wild with experimenting, when made right it tastes exactly like coffee. Only my dad did not get fooled but it was because I added too much cinnamon that time and he knew something was up. I will trick him.
You can enjoy it plain like this (look at that colour!) or add what you usually add to coffee. In my case, it is Silk's coconut milk, which I am a little obsessed with (I wish this was a paid advertisement). Soon I will just use oat or almond milk! Not today, though:
So good. And whether you crave coffee for its taste, out of habit, or for the kind of addiction that makes you buy weird coffee-themed mugs, chicory root is the best substitute I have ever come across. Just experiment a little and find your perfect recipe!

Note: When buying chicory root, make sure to check out the ingredients! It is sometimes added to coffee to enhance the flavour, which of course means it is not caffeine-free!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Toronto's Garlic Festival!

Being downtown for a month means that I can finally be less sketchy in attending all of the events that are always happening in Toronto.

With a German by my side, it also means I have to be everywhere on time--if not earlier. Against my true nature, I rebel whenever possible. For the Toronto Garlic Festival that took place on Sunday September 18 from 9 to 5, I convinced Bjorn we should go later on in the day cause no one really wants to smell like garlic at 9am. We arrived around 3 after a long walk, but before entering decided to cool off in the shade and of course play backgammon:
The Little Prince!
We went in shortly after and were impressed right away by the cute stamps, and it took me about four photos to get this one because I am an artist:
It was just $5 to enter for the day, and the crowd was quite impressive, all surrounding the various booths inside and outside:
We were promised garlic shots, garlic popsicles, garlic beer, garlic fudge, and a lot of other garlic-based foods and drinks. We prioritized:
Shortly after, we were offered our complimentary garlic shot. I assumed it would be shots of juiced garlic but boy was I wrong. A full garlic clove was crushed directly on our wrists and we were instructed to eat cilantro and then suck on a lemon sliver, like a tequila shot. We both did it and grew stronger immediately:
After realizing that we missed all the workshops, we went inside to see some of the different booths to try some samples. Bjorn tried black garlic and I tried garlic fudge and we were both really impressed and lived vicariously through each others' experiences. We ventured back outside and I saw the booth selling vegan garlic pospsicles with grapefruit and gamay wine. Absolutely delicious and I even tasted a hint of the garlic in it!
He doesn't look impressed but he was!
After that we just walked around more, checking out the different areas but had to leave shortly after to meet a friend, who we felt bad for since we had both just taken raw garlic shots. The festival was fun and the stuff we tried was delicious and next year I would actually come earlier to make it to some of the workshops!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My Article 'Bring Home Flavours From Your Travels' on FBC!

I am so happy to have contributed to Food Bloggers of Canada! Check out my piece that offers some tips on how you can re-create dishes from your travels at home right here!

North America's First Vegan Butcher Shop Set for Expansion!

I was finally able to visit YamChops, Canada's only vegan butcher shop, and learned about some very exciting news! Check out my review & the upcoming plans for expansion right here!

Monday, June 6, 2016

'Armenia's Horse Whisperers' Published in The Armenian Weekly!

I am so happy to have visited and learned more about the incredible Centaur Hippotherapy Center in Armenia. Check out my article about the center and about the two incredible women who run it, right here!
Photo by Hasmik Hovhannisian

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spotlight: Toronto's Apiecalypse Now!

Being back in Canada means it's time to check out some of the new vegan restaurants and shops that have opened up. On a recent trip downtown with the always awesome Shaghig, we decided to get dessert. She took me to a gluten-free bakery she discovered recently, and said it was one of the few places where their gluten-free chocolate muffins or cupcakes were not super dense, and told me their vegan items were also great.
I went for a vegan chocolate chip cookie since I had been craving them for a long time, and while most of their items are vegan, some contain eggs, but everything is labeled clearly. 
The last one.
The staff was also super friendly and sweet and hyper and there was cucumber water so that's always a plus. The cookie looked simple but was delicious and exactly what I was craving. Shaghig enjoyed her pretty cupcake too!
Pretty photo so it is by Shaghig of course.
But I digress. I found myself hungry and knowing there was the potential of having vegan pizza got into my head and made me even hungrier. While I didn't know Apiecalypse Now! had moved from their Bloor/Bathurst location to Christie, it was still a short walk away so all was good. But they should probably put a sign on their old storefront so the man in the shop above doesn't get too annoyed with confused people asking where the vegan pizza is at.

The new location is right beside a conventional pizza chain, which I mentioned to Shaghig like three times, thinking it was super interesting (it wasn't).
Raccoons for life.
The aroma inside was incredible and made me very happy with my decision. At first glance I saw colourful and super detailed vegan doughnuts, but reminded myself I just had a massive cookie and was here for pizza.
There were a bunch of different pizza options (including a mac 'n cheese one) and I chose the simple pepperoni pizza, and for $3-something dollars, it was heated and given to me. Before even biting into it, I saw that they had nutritional yeast, hot pepper, and vegan Parmesan for toppings, and was quite generous with all three of them, with Shaghig telling me I should just keep a jar of za'atar with me at all times since that is what I always secretly want. No regrets!
I then ate it. It was very creamy, the sauce was great, and the dough could stand on its own feet. I then went to the park with Shaghig, realized I was still hungry and came back for a second, almost feeling embarrassed. While I could have been interesting and tried a different type, I was in boring-mode of "I'll take no risks thank you" and got the same type. I really appreciated how creamy the cheese was and the fact that the bread was made with with spices and those seeds I can never label, but the pepperoni, by the second slice, was my least favourite part cause of its super strong flavour, like the company who made it was all 'WE WILL TRICK THE NON-VEGANS MUAHAHHA'. But it was still very good and clearly made me go for a second slice and do my excited uneven-eye food smile!
I would definitely go back to try some different pizzas, and maybe even indulge in a vegan doughnut. Maple sugar, I am looking at you. And to rocky road. Ok, I will eat them all.