Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review of Coffee Flour [+Vegan Christmas Cookie Recipe!]

Hello everyone! Christmas may have come and gone, but you can never have too many holiday-themed cookies during this time of year--and Armenian Christmas is still coming up!

I have made Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies twice so far, and both times it was absolutely delicious and exactly what I wanted in a double-chocolate chip cookie. I was looking for an excuse to make them again since I generally don't like baking, so when kindly sent me a bag of coffee flour to try out, I decided it was a good enough reason to experiment.
I loved the packaging
I had never heard of coffee flour before, and the website explains it as follows:
"Coffee flour is a food with a mission. Every year, billions of pounds of coffee fruit are discarded as a byproduct of coffee production. Instead of leaving the fruit to rot as waste, coffee flour was created to convert the leftover fruit into a tasty, nutritious flour that can be used for baking, cooking and making beverages."
In baking, it is recommended to substitute about 10-25% of the flour in a recipe with coffee flour, especially the first time to get a feel for the taste. Another reason I was excited to use this product was for the nutritional profile, which I think is a great thing to add into recipes using white flour:
"A one-tablespoon serving of coffee flour contains only 34 calories, yet packs a whole lot of nutrition! This small serving provides over five grams of dietary fiber, including soluble and insoluble fiber to support digestion. Coffee flour is extremely rich in potassium and iron. Depending on the serving size, it can also supplement your diet with a good source of protein and antioxidants. Plus, coffee flour is sodium-free, fat-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan-friendly. Coffee flour has all your dietary bases covered!"
Sounded good to me! The smell and taste were definitely not what I expected and it tasted like dried red cherries to me on its own rather than coffee. Because the powder is quite dark, I thought it would be a great fit for the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe since it's all going to look chocolate-y in the end anyway.
While I was 100% inspired by the original recipe, I made a few tweaks to it so I'm noting the changes below in bold:

What you need:
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar (original calls for 2)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon whole flax seeds
1/2 cup soymilk (unsweetened)
1&2/3 cup flour 
1/3 cup coffee flour
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2-3 teaspoons peppermint extract (optional but super festive)

Other than the above tweaks, I followed the recipe & directions, which you can find here. Then, I used Christmas-themed cookie cutters for some cute shapes! After baking, it looked like this:
I sprinkled a few of the trees with some powdered sugar for an extra Christmas-y touch and voila! I tried one right away after it cooled and it was so delicious, and I couldn't even taste anything extra other than the peppermint oil. They were a huge hit with my family--especially my nephew, and the only difference I really noted was that they were a little bit more dense than the original, but in a good, filling way. I plan to keep using coffee flour in my chocolate-based baking for an extra kick of fibre, and also in my smoothies!

To learn more about it or order it for yourself, visit this link. Happy baking! :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Anoushabour (Անուշապուր) Recipe! [+Video]

Hello dear blog babies! I am excited to feature a recipe for a vegan-by-default Armenian dessert: anoushabour (անուշապուր)!

Anoushabour is essentially a sweet barley-based "soup," with a consistency similar to rice pudding. It's always a staple during the holidays since it is meant to bring good fortune & prosperity. Here is the recipe for those interested in trying it out, and the video is at the bottom!

What you need:
-1/2 cup pearl barley
-7 cups of water (+1-2 more if needed)
-1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in half
-1/4 raisins (golden is best, sultan can work too!)
-2 TBSP rose water
-1 cup sugar
-Cinnamon (for topping)
-Pomegranate seeds (for topping)

-The night before you make it: rinse the barley very well, add it to a pot with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, remove all foam, turn off heat, leave the lid on and let it soak all night
-Morning of: Keep a kettle of hot water handy in case you need to add more
-Bring the barley to a boil again, once it does, remove any foam and reduce the heat to medium
-Cook for about 50 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally
-Cut your dried apricots in half & soak the dried fruits for 10 minutes
-Drain them and add them to the pot, add more water if necessary
-Boil for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Add sugar and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring more often
-Add rose water, cook for another 5 minutes, and then turn off heat
-Transfer to a bowl (or bowls) and let it cool completely
-Sprinkle on cinnamon with nuts OR pomegranates!

Enjoy! And you can see it all in action here:
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bourma (Armenian Rolled Baklava) Recipe + Video!

Hello everyone! Only one person who guessed what my next recipe for Vegan Armenian Kitchen was right--the answer is bourma!

I opted to make bourma since it's another great dessert to add to your holiday-themed sweet treat table, and is much easier to make than baklava since it's rolled rather than layered. In the video I made a small batch, so I just ended up using four sheets of phyllo/filo dough, so the measurements listed below are for that.

What you need for syrup:
-3/4 cup of water
-3/4 cup of sugar
-1 TBSP lemon juice

What you need for bourma:
-4 sheets of phyllo dough (I have yet to see a type that is not vegan)
-2 cups of walnuts, crushed or processed
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp sugar
-1 cup of coconut oil, softened or melted (double boiled is a good option)

-Make syrup first so it cools in time for when you need it. Combine water and sugar in a pot and without stirring, put it on high on the stove
-Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium, letting it cook for another 15 minutes
-Add the lemon juice, let it cook for another 5 minutes and remove it from heat. It has to be completely cooled so make sure to make it in advance
-Add cinnamon and sugar to the walnuts and stir well
-Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
-Brush coconut oil all across the phyllo sheet generously
-Pour about 1/3 cup of ground walnuts onto the lower half of the phyllo sheet, spreading it out as best as you can
-Use a wooden thin pole (you have one, trust me) to roll up the bourma
-Once you reach the halfway point, brush on more coconut oil
-Roll up 3/4s of the way, and brush more coconut oil on (the more generous you are now, the juicier the result will be later!)
-Finish rolling, and brush coconut oil on the bourma, making sure to get the side where the opening is
-Place your hands at either side of the wooden pole--make sure they are not on the actual bourma, just right beside it
-Squish the bourma towards the center until it looks nice and wrinkled
-Slide it off the stick onto your baking tray
-Cook for about 30 minutes, until the bourma is golden brown
-Immediately pour the chilled syrup over the individual bourmas, which will cause a fun sizzling effect!
-Let the bourmas cool completely and once they do, cut them diagonally
-Keep them in a container in the fridge, they will taste incredible once they sit overnight
-You can keep the bourmas for about a week in the fridge!

You can watch the full video recipe here:
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Teaser for Next Vegan Armenian Kitchen Video Recipe!

Hi friends! I'm currently editing my next Vegan Armenian Kitchen video and after seeing this shot, thought it was a good little teaser 😄 Can you guess what I'm making from the photo?

The video will be up next Wednesday, so make sure to subscribe to my channel to stay updated! I also bit the bullet and got myself an Instagram account, so if you are so inclined, follow me there as well!

See ya next week ;)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Vegan Powderies (Armenian Tea/Coffee Cookies) Recipe!

I am dedicating my second YouTube video to powderies, also known as Armenian tea or coffee cookies! I will include the video at the bottom of this post, and below is the recipe for easy baking:

What you need:
-1/2 block of vegetable shortening
-2 cups flour
-1/2 cup crushed walnuts or almonds
-1/2 cup powdered sugar + extra for coating
-1/2 shot ouzzo (optional)
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 TBSP lemon juice

-Soften block of vegetable shortening with hands
-Add sugar and work it in the mixture
-Add some of the flour (you add it gradually throughout the process) & keep working it in
-Add the ouzzo, mix it in and add more flour
-Add the lemon juice to the baking soda, stir it, and pour it into your dough
-Mix it well and add more flour
-Add walnuts and mix them in very well and then add the rest of the flour
-Gather all of the dough from the sides of your bowl and work it in a final time--you should be able to form shapes without it falling apart
-Preheat oven to 350F
-Roll the dough into circles or ovals (or whatever shape you prefer!)
-Place them all on the tray, lower the oven temperature to 250F and cook for about 35-40 minutes, checking around the 35 mark. The bottom of the cookies should be somewhat pink in color
-Let them cool completely (I forgot to mention that in my video). Otherwise they will melt the sugar you coat them with!
-Add powdered sugar to a bowl or container, and place the cookies in, coating them generously
-Set them aside--they taste even better the next day!

I hope you enjoy this recipe a much as I did! Below is the video that includes a mini how-to on Armenian coffee and coffee cup readings:
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hey Jan, Ghapama/Ղափամա....Recipe! [+ANNOUNCEMENT]

Hello dear friends far & wide! I have a recipe for you all as well as an announcement, and I'm very excited about both!

After many months of thinking about it, getting intimidated by video editing, and still somehow deciding to follow through with it, I have launched my own YouTube channel, called Vegan Armenian Kitchen!

I plan to feature recipes for both vegan-by-default and veganized Armenian dishes, as well as dishes from other cuisines that have become staples for Armenians. I have a long list of recipes that I plan to tackle, but am always open to suggestions, so feel free to get in touch with your ideas!

To kick things off, I am featuring a recipe for ghapama, which is a delicious and festive stuffed pumpkin, perfect as a centerpiece for the holidays! While it seems like it would automatically be vegan-by-default, the recipe tends to include both butter and honey, so I will just be swapping those out with vegan alternatives. You can watch the video recipe at the bottom of this post:

What you need:
-1 medium pumpkin
-2-3 TBSP coconut oil (for coating pumpkin and for rice)
-1.5-2 cups of long grain rice (better to have more than not enough!)
-1/3-1/2 cup of each: dried apricots (chopped), cranberries, raisins and walnuts (you can use dried plums instead of cranberries)
-1/3 cup maple syrup (can adjust depending on your sweet tooth level)
-2 TBSP cinnamon
-1 TBSP ginger powder (optional)
-1 TBSP clove powder (optional)
-1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
-5 TBSP boiling water
-3 pinches of salt

-Cook rice with a touch of salt
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
-Cut pumpkin open and remove pulp, saving the seeds to bake later
-Coat pumpkin in 1.5 TBSP coconut oil and a few pinches of salt
-Mix remaining coconut oil into the rice and stir (it will melt since the rice is hot)
-Add in your spices and stir
-Add in your dried fruits and walnuts and stir
-Drizzle your maple syrup and stir
-Stuff pumpkin to the top and add the boiling water
-Seal pumpkin and place it on a tray in the oven
-Bake for about 1 hour, but make sure to poke it with a knife before removing it (it should be very soft when ready)
-Cut the pumpkin in slices and top with fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
Ghapama is such a delicious and easy recipe, and really looks beautiful as a centerpiece! Remember, it must be good if there's an entire song dedicated to it! ;)

You can check out my first (aka be nice) recipe video below: 

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

GoGo Quinoa Super Grains Pasta Review

When GoGo Quinoa asked if I would be interested in doing a review of their latest creation, Super Grains Pasta, the name alone had me very excited.

The Laval-based Canadian company, which sells everything from grains to cookies, was named the Globe and Mail's #1 gluten-free pasta in 2014 and has now launched a "game-changing" pasta made from a "blend of chia, quinoa, sorghum, and amaranth super grains."

As a result, the product boasts 8g of protein and 6g of fibre per cup, and is also a good source of iron. I have no digestive issues with gluten, corn or soy, but for those who do, the Super Grains Pasta is free from all of those ingredients. I was sent a package of the pasta, along with a box of the new double-chocolate quinoa cookies:
You had me at double-chocolate
The pasta is described as having an "al dente texture" that "goes well with all sauces." Challenge accepted. I decided to prepare it as a pasta salad, cooking it per the instructions and then pairing it with some veggies and a dressing. The pasta itself is really pretty:
I cooked it for about 10 minutes, and gave it a nice rinse in a strainer under cold water. I sampled the pasta alone before mixing it in with anything, and the description is correct--it has a perfect al dente texture, which I usually miss the mark on when I am cooking regular pasta. In terms of taste, I didn't see a huge difference when compared to conventional pasta, which is a good thing since I love conventional pasta. It was between white pasta and whole wheat pasta, the latter of which I enjoy, but can always spot. This definitely seemed like a good compromise. 

I mixed it in with some spinach, tomato, onion and celery, and then added a mustard/lemon/vegan mayo dressing, topping it with my dwindling supply of Marash pepper:
My pasta salad was absolutely delicious. I tend to group myself--to the disappointment of all Italians--in the "soggy pasta lovers" category, but I did appreciate the texture and how the pasta held up in this salad. Two thumbs up from me. Next up was dessert:
First things first, I wish the company didn't individually wrap all of the cookies. They're all going to end up in the same place (my stomach), so it really isn't necessary. The cookies, once unwrapped, were nice and firm, and really good. They tasted like a mix of cookie and cake batter, and the extra chocolate chips were a very welcome touch. This particular flavour was the newest addition to the now three-strong cookie line, and I have a feeling it will become very popular. I felt full after just a few (they are quite small), and I am chalking that up to the protein and fibre, thanks to the quinoa and chia.

For those interested in trying GoGo Quino's Super Grains Pasta, it is currently exclusively available in Costco stores in Eastern Canada, but as of November, it will make its debut in both supermarkets and health food stores!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review of Roubi's Vegan Mante/Մանթը! [Yerevan]

Adding the hearts took an embarrassingly long amount of time.
I mentioned in this post that last year I finally attempted to make my all-time favourite dish, mante/mantı/մանթը*, 100% vegan. I cannot find the photo of it (it was blurry anyway), but it turned out incredibly delicious, and it was exactly how I remembered it growing up. Basically, a mante food coma was had by all.

While I still plan to re-make and post my recipe here, when I found out that Yerevan-based vegetarian/vegan chef Roubi Nalbandian not only made mushroom-based vegan lahmajoun (review here), but also mushroom-based vegan mante, I was excited to try hers since I really enjoyed the lahmajoun she prepared. However, I was traveling a lot in Armenia and ordering vegan mante remained in perpetual "to-do" purgatory.

On my last weekend in Armenia (aka the Areni Wine Festival), Roubi let me know that she sweetly prepared mante for me, as a gift. I picked it up from her a few hours after returning to Yerevan, and decided it would be my last meal in Armenia before going to Canadaland. It was hard not to snack on it:
Roubi made me the dumplings as well as the broth to cook it in!
After running around all day doing last-minute errands (aka buying all of the cognac and dried fruits), it was time to come home and eat what was awaiting me. I cooked the mante in the liquid, which seemed to be tomato paste, water, garlic and salt, and let the dumplings soak up that sweet, sweet broth, and just added dried mint, red pepper and sumac to the mix:
It smelled incredible already and I was getting flashbacks to the vegan mante I made, which gave me flashbacks of my mom's and nene's mante growing up. Because I have to over-do anything and everything, I added more mint just to make sure the photos looked weird (#winning):
To no one's surprise, it was absolutely delicious, just like Roubi's lahmajoun. The dumpling dough was particularly good, and was definitely much more accurate compared to my version (I suck at dough/bread/baking/life). The mushroom filling was cooked really well, although I think it could have used just a tad more spice to mimic the original a little more. Coupled with the broth, it was a such a great final meal in Yerevan, and I definitely did not miss the garlic-madzoun sauce in this case!

For those interested in trying Roubi's vegan masterpieces, you can contact her directly on Facebook right here!

*I know some people pronounce it manti/մանթի, but not I/most people I know. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My Jermuk "Magic School Bus" Experience Featured on Taxidio!

Taxidio recently published a roundup titled "27 Travel Bloggers Take a Trip Down Memory Lane" and my Jermuk experience was featured!
That Jermuk experience (and entire trip) was definitely something to remember, and I keep meaning to dedicate an entire blog post to it ("Jermuk Unplugged") but am overwhelmed with how much there is to include. Until then, this snippet will have to suffice!
I'm #12 on the list and you can check out the entire post right here. Hope you enjoy my "magic school bus" experience!
*All photos (in this post) by Elizabeth Audrey!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review of LUPIN Boba's Vegan Green Tea Matcha Bubble Tea [Yerevan]

When repat Alexander Azizyan (real last name) told me he was thinking about opening a "boba shop" in Yerevan, I wished him well, pretending to know what boba meant.

When he actually went ahead and opened the shop, I finally understood that boba was just a fancy name for bubble tea. He told me when I came to Yerevan he could make me a special vegan option and I took him up on it on one of the hottest days in August.

I went with Bjorn and Zofia, my favourite blonde Polish woman who lived in Yerevan, and we decided walking to the underpass at 38/2 Komitas in the scorching heat was the best option. We eventually arrived, sweaty and in desperate need of refreshments. There were already two guys there chatting away but Alex was ready for us:
Out of our sweaty way, please!
LUPIN boba has a lot to choose from, including smoothies, and Alex told me he could veganize the Green Tea Matcha for me since the powder was already milk-free. Although he uses honey to marinate the tapioca pearls, he used maple syrup for mine, which I appreciated immensely as a Canadian.
We put in our orders and the vegan option came to 2200 AMD (soy milk is of course more expensive in Armenia). I was pretty excited.
Such a good advertisement for Joya!
I took one sip and before Alex could ask me how it was, I proclaimed it was delicious. It was super flavourful and refreshing--especially perfect for such a hot day, and although I know these drinks do tend to have a lot of sugar, it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet.
I'm no bubble tea expert, but the handful of times I've had it in Canada, I would always finish the tapioca pearls ahead of the drink (greed). LUPIN boba aka Alex is very generous with the tapioca pearls and they lasted me all the way to my last sip!
Alex let me know that the Thai Tea could also be veganized, so although I loved my Green Tea Matcha boba, next time I will try that!
Fun fact: LUPIN boba has a fake fruit bowl and some guy tried to take a bite out of the apple, which is now there to serve as a warning:
Pro-tip: Message Alex in advance to let him know if you want the vegan option so he can marinate the tapioca pearls in that sweet sweet maple syrup!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review of Roubi's Vegan Lahmajoun [Yerevan]

I'm often asked if I miss meat. Besides soujoukh (not the sweet one obviously), I don't miss meat, I miss specific meals with meat in them, aka lahmajoun and mante/manti.

I made a delicious vegan mante last year and put into practice the theory that it's all about the spices, broth and seasoning. Lahmajoun had to be similar, and before I even had a chance to tackle that dish, I saw a post in a Facebook group that vegan/vegetarian chef Roubi Nalbandian was making it in Yerevan. I messaged her about one month before I actually got anywhere near Armenia, basically telling her to "get ready" for me (not a threat I swear) and counted down the days.

One disgustingly hot day in August, I went with Bjorn and Arpine to Marilda Restaurant on Pushkin Street, where Roubi used to work, and ordered three lahmajouns at 350 drams each. I waited for a chi gareli comment from the waiter, but after I mentioned Roubi's name, all was well and the order was placed. We also ordered hmoz and beer because it was one of those days, and waited. About 10-15 minutes later, our food arrived:
I was beyond excited and immediately fell in love after first bite, as did my guests. I got into annoying detective-mode and loudly proclaimed that the mushrooms, parsley, garlic and salcha were what made this vegan lahmajoun so delicious. The seasoned mushrooms gave the entire meal a nice juiciness that perfectly mimicked minced meat, and the parsley and spices gave it that familiar and distinct flavour lahmajoun is known for.
I think any version I attempt will pale in comparison to Roubi's creation, so I am happy (as long as I am in Armenia) to get my vegan lahmajoun fix directly from her! For those interested in joining the not-so-secret vegan fight lahmajoun club, Roubi can be contacted directly on Facebook right here!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Blog Featured in 'Top 50 Food Travel Blogs That Will Leave You Salivating'

I received an e-mail letting me know that The Traveling Chamelian has been included in Taxidio's 'Top 50 Food Travel Blogs That Will Leave You Salivating.'
I'm #38 on the list and am glad that my little posts about Armenian, Middle Eastern and Georgian food have caused people to salivate ;)

You can check out the entire list here

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review of Twelve Tables' Vegan Cake & Ice Cream [Yerevan]

Once my favourite person Gohar told me that cafe/restaurant Twelve Tables in Yerevan had vegan chocolate cake, I kept plotting my visit. I was slightly skeptical, but still began my notorious over-hyping process that can never be contained.

After a full day out and about one sunny day last week, I came back to Yerevan needing to get some work done, and decided to couple staring at my computer aimlessly pretending not to be on Facebook with said vegan chocolate cake. It would be a match made in heaven.

I walked into Twelve Tables, immediately reminded of how adorable the set up and decor was, which always makes me feel like I'm in the cozy house of a friend I am secretly jealous of.
There is a separation based on smoking preferences, and as I made my way to the non-smoking area, I immediately saw these signs in all of their sweet glory:
I didn't even have to ask if they really had it. It was right there, advertised on the walls, along with another option (ice cream) I didn't even know existed. I had a big decision ahead of me--did I order both vegan options to celebrate work I had not even started yet? My dictator of a sweet tooth decreed yes. I confirmed with the waitress that both options were legit vegan and was surprised to find out that the cake was raw and packed with almonds, flax and sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut oil, and my all-time favourite sweetener, dates aka khourma. I added an ice coffee to my late afternoon dessert-fest because apparently I enjoy staying up all night thinking about scary movie scenes (ghosts and/or aliens) permanently etched into my memory.
You did this.
I have to admit, while I was impressed that the cake was raw, my expectations of it immediately changed and I assumed it would taste like a "healthy" dessert, which of course can still be delicious, but does change the overall vibe. However, when it arrived, even the appearance challenged my pre-conceived notions:
It had a base (I assume where all the nuts/seeds went) and was topped with a super creamy frosting/mousse. After just one bite I was in chocolate-heaven:
I couldn't believe how decadent this raw vegan cake was, and regretted ordering anything else because I didn't want to take my attention away from it. It was so rich and although the base was delicious, the frosting was out of this world.
I cleansed my palate with a swish of the coffee that would result in the following day's dark under eyes, and tried the ice cream:
It was really good--very refreshingly light with its avocado/banana base, perfect for Yerevan's relentless heat.
While ice cream tends to be my favourite sweet treat, this time the cake took the cake was definitely the highlight. I cannot wait to go back for round two.

On my way out, another super sweet (vegetarian) waitress* asked what I thought about the desserts and told me that she is bringing in more vegan options to the menu, including a vegan burger once she finds good vegan burger buns. Review of that will hopefully be up soon...the things I do for you people ;)

*She also told me I should get Instagram. Must I?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders Review

I have been away from this blog for too long! But before I begin with all of my Greece and Armenia posts (so much to write about!), I figured I should quickly do my mini-review for Gardein's Seven Grain Crispy Tenders (Chick'n).
Long story short, Canadian company Gardein discontinued a bunch (17?) of products in Canada, and put out a statement about it. I don't buy mock meats/substitutes very often (see them more as treats and try to make my own instead), but I remember really liking this chick'n option I had at a restaurant once. I didn't realize the chick'n was actually called Seven Grain Crispy Tenders, so when I checked the list of remaining products in Canada, assumed it was not included, and frantically bought a package during a trip to Florida, feeling mischievous.
Exactly how I looked when I spotted the package.
I now realize they are still available in Canada (yay!) but am going to do my review anyway. Long story short round 2: they are so good. I cooked them in a toaster oven rather than in a conventional oven, and followed the directions on the package. They could have been a bit crispier but the taste was so good that I didn't mind. I coupled them with a salad and hmoz, and was in food heaven:
There's a reason so many restaurants use Gardein as their mock meat option, and it was great that the product was also delicious on its own, and not only as a result of a restaurant cooking/seasoning it in a special way. In fact, I chopped a few of the strips and mixed them in a salad once, but they are so delicious, I prefer them on their own so I can really appreciate the flavour.
So if you are looking for a great alternative to chicken (in Canada, too!), make sure to try this option! Here is the nutritional info for those interested: