Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Good Karma Diet: Vegan Banana Ice Cream

The Good Karma Diet: Vegan Banana Ice Cream: "My boyfriend got me a KitchenAid Food Processor for my birthday last week, and I have been using it daily! I cannot believe I have gone this..."

Vegan Banana Ice Cream

My boyfriend got me a KitchenAid Food Processor for my birthday last week, and I have been using it daily! I cannot believe I have gone this long without it!  One of my new favorite desserts and recipes to make in my food processor is this raw, vegan ice cream that was inspired by, Muddy Spoon and Choosing Raw. It is honestly SO delicious and surprisingly healthy!


1-2 frozen bananas (I highly recommend peeling and slicing the banana before freezing it)
1-2 tbs of a non-dairy milk, I love So Good Coconut Beverage for this
Dash of real vanilla extract (optional)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
Blend all ingredients in the food processor until it is a smooth, creamy consistency. Anything can be added in here, other fruit, peanut butter, chocolate chips etc. I like mine with chocolate syrup, made of equal parts cocoa power and agave nectar mixed well together.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A Day at the Market

So much delicious food!

I love food!  And I love the Halifax Farmer's Market.  If you haven't been yet, I suggest you go...soon!  The new market space at Pier 20 is wonderful. .  The best part about the market is being in direct contact with your farmer.  You can ask questions about the life of your food and where it's come from, if it's been sprayed, what variety it is, and even cooking ideas.  If you're like me, you could even go to the cheese counter and ask them to explain about the life of their cows.  Everyone is happy to talk about their product at the market because no one has anything to hide.  It's a wonderful feeling of being surrounded by people who are proud of their product and to know that there has been very little 'damage' (environmentally, ethically and morally) in the process of getting that product from seed to grocery bag.

The market is going to be open more often now which will allow us to be a step closer to natural food sources.  Instead of buying apples from New Zealand at the grocery store we can pick up some Nova Scotian varieties from the market.  Better to buy what's local, less travelled and more nutritious and support our provincial farmers. 

I bought basil, which I made into pesto, purple potatoes which I hallowed out after boiling and then baked them until crispy and finally filled with the pesto, collard greens which I steamed and tossed with the pesto and orange cherry tomatoes which I tossed in a hot pan until they were ready to burst.  With the potato filling I mixed in some pesto and mashed it together forming patties which I then fried.  It was a superb meal and one that I could use each part of with other meals, appetizers or sides.  For a more detailed description of what I made, be sure to look at My Little Vegetarian Kitchen blog in which I post some recipes and show you my cooking experiments.  

Remember to find enjoyment in food.  Look at it as an energy source and question which energy it has developed in.  Use it to nourish your body and entice your taste buds, and slow down and enjoy the process of shopping, creating, cooking and eating. 

Day Tripping by Andrea Lussing

Republished with permission from Andrea Lussing  

What better place to head to for a few hours on a misty, overcast, warm, fall day in Nova Scotia but the Valley. Spotted with wineries, farm markets and and farm animals, the Valley is one of my favourite places to go. There's such a sense of home-grown goodness there. Stress levels plummet as you drive past the one and only fair trade and organic 'Just Us' coffee roasting house, the Tangled Garden with homemade jams and jellies from their garden and the beautiful Grand Pré winery nestled just outside of Wolfville. The Valley helps you make a connection with the earth.

The businesses that line the main streets of Wolfville and surrounding areas feature local arts and crafts, produce, coffee, wine and meat. Touching the grapes on the vine at Grand Pré, then enjoying a glass of their finest really takes you from seed to table and makes you feel like part of the cycle. The beef in my friend's lunchtime hamburger came from local, grass fed cows that had surely enjoyed the beautiful summer, grazing the fields overlooking the Minus Basin a few short weeks ago. The feta cheese in my salad came from the Fox Hill cheese farm down the road, and I enjoyed a cold pint of 100% Nova Scotian, Keith's beer as I waited for my lunch.

Eating local and buying local is our way of saying that we appreciate the land, our land, that surrounds our communities. It means helping your neighbours put food on their tables by supporting their businesses, and it means using fewer resources and less energy from the earth. In a word, it means respect.

I encourage anyone to start to read the labels and stickers on your food and goods. Ask yourself where the item that you may purchase came from and how long ago it was in its natural state, and what was the process of getting it f from that state, to your bag. Choosing local is a small effort that can make a major change in our world in areas of your health, to the environment, to global finances. Wherever you are, enjoy what is there to be offered, in all its glory.

The Walk for Farm Animals

Reposted with permission by Andrea Lussing

On Sunday October 3rd, 21 compassionate citizens of Halifax joined together for the international 'Walk for Farm Animals'. Throughout Canada and the United States in September and October, different cities hold their fundraising and awareness building walks to promote compassion for farm animals and awareness of factory farming.  Myself, above on the right, and my friend Aime on the left, also holding the banner on the right below, donated some money, got a T-shirt and some posters, and walked with our small group down the Halifax Waterfront.  For the first year of this walk in Halifax, I believe it was a great success.  Men, woman and (one) child shared stories and bonded over their compassion towards animals and the ethical treatment of them.  Surely next year will be bigger and better, and slowly, change happens.  For more information on the walk, or for information about the Farm Sanctuary, the United State's leading farm animal protection agency, and factory farming,

Cookies and Brownies Inspired by the Happy Herbivore

Black Bean Brownies from The Happy Herbivore


15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
2 whole bananas
 cup agave nectar (I used brown rice syrup)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup raw sugar (optional)
¼ cup instant oats
I also added vegan chocolate chips and chopped walnuts and drizzled the baked brownies with melted chocolate.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and 8x8" pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. Chef's Note: if you find these brownies are too soft or too fudge-y, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

Butter Bean Cookies from The Happy Herbivore
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
a dash of ground cardamon (optional)
½ cup canned white beans, liquids reserved
(I used chickpeas)
½ cup raw sugar
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup vegan chocolate chips
a dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a large cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer 3/4 cup of the oats to a food processor and pulse, about 15x, until crumbly but not powder. Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamon. Whisk to incorporate and set aside. Transfer beans to processor then add applesauce, sugar, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of the bean liquid. Whiz until smooth. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir about 10 times. Add chips, remaining 1/4 cup oats and the rest of the bean liquid, stirring until combined. If the mixture is too wet, add more oats. If it's too dry, add a little water. Drop tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, leaving an inch of room between each. Bake 15 minutes, until edges are just turning light brown and middles are firm. They will firm a bit more as they cool. Check the bottoms to make sure they are golden brown. 

Per cookie: 61 calories, 0.7g fat, 12.4g carbs, 1.4g fiber, 5.2g sugar, 1.3g protein

My Interview with the authour of The Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixon


Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on TheHuffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at LaSamanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at

 How long have you been cooking for?

You know, I'm not entirely sure. I was always drawn to cooking in a way, but I was never all that good at it -- at least when I was an omnivore. In college the two meals I tried to make were so bad my roommate nearly broke her teeth eating one. Then when Scott and I were first together, he did all of the cooking because I was so intimidated by it. However, once I went vegan, I realized if I wanted to eat, I'd have to make it myself. That forced my hand, and in the process, I really fell in love with the culinary arts. I was always such a picky eater as an omnivore, that no one was more surprised than me when I turned into a foodie as a vegan.

Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?

It's sort of a mix of trying to find ways to recreate foods I used to love, responding to fan requests and inherent inspiration. For example, I might notice I've totally neglected a certain food, like say kidney beans, so I'll try to develop a recipe that uses them.
(That’s how the Rajma Masala in the cookbook was born!)

 Is cooking a full time job for you or do you work outside of the home as well?

It's a full-time job right now. When I'm writing cookbooks, I can't work because I need a lot of time to create, test, develop and photograph recipes. When I'm not writing I consult for magazines, and a restaurant locally, and work for an online company (my "day job") which is really great about letting me take time off to write. I'd love to one day only focus on cooking.

I have recently heard a lot of news that soy is unhealthy due to high levels of phyto-estrogens. What do you think about this? Do you use many soy products in your cooking?

I think it's important to remember that people have been eating soy for a really long time, and those cultures don't have a medical crisis on their hands the way we do in the U.S. Not that I think soy is a "miracle food" or anything; I just don't buy into a lot of the negativity.

Of course, I do think that excess is probably bad; no one should eat tons of soy and I think that edamamesoymilk, tofu and tempeh are way healthier than processed soy foods, which probably should be avoided anyway.

What a lot of people don't realize, though, is that soy is in a lot of food, particularly convenience foods and processed foods. Even people who swear off soymilkand tempeh, are probably eating a lot of soy unknowingly.

Half of my cookbook is soy-free (there is an icon for it) and of the recipes that do use soy, most of them use a tablespoon of soy sauce or miso paste. I have very few tofu recipes, one recipe for edamame and one for tempeh.

There is more and more publicity about vegetarianism and veganism, it seems like every week a different CEO or celebrity is becoming a vegan. What are your thoughts on this? Is veganism just a trend?

I think veganism is trendy right now, but I don't think it's a trend like a fad diet or hammer pants. I think that all the efforts people have been putting forth over the years to get the word out there, are finally paying off. I think more and more people are seeing the benefits of a vegan diet, are becoming more educated about it, and are getting on board with it. I understand the argument why all this buzz is not great, but personally I think it's wonderful. The more coverage the better. The more we talk about it, the more people can learn. A lot of lives can be saved.

 Many opponents to the vegan lifestyle claim a vegan diet is unhealthy because it is lacking nutrients that only meat can provide? How do you ensure your diet is nutritionally complete?

What people often fail to realize is that if someone, regardless if they are vegan, omnivore or vegetarian, doesn't eat a well balanced diet, they will run into health problems from nutrient deficiency. I had an omnivore friend who kept having low iron, but when she went vegetarian, she "cured" herself with diet alone. I currently have two friends that have Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 deficiencies and they are meat eaters. (B12 is the vitamin most people use to argue against veganism). Anytime a meateater asks me where I get my protien, I ask them where they get their fiber and water-soluble vitamins. ;-)

I eat a varied diet, and I do eat some foods that are fortified, and thankfully, I've never had any sort of deficiency. I know a lot of vegans and omnivores who take multivitamins, and that's probably a good practice for most people.

 What is next for The Happy Herbivore? TV show? New cookbook?

I just signed on two write two more cookbooks, but I still want my own show!

Recipe from The Happy Herbivore

Red Lentil Dal (serves 4) - Dals are essentially thick stews made with lentils and traditional Indian spices. This dal is easy, delicious and cheap. Make it once and it will never leave your regular rotation, I promise.
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 c dried red lentils
2 c vegetable broth
1 tomato, chopped (save juices)
3 ounces tomato paste (5 tbsp)
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
Line a medium pot with 1/4 cup of water and cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add turmeric, cumin, paprika, and ginger, and cook for another for another 2 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Add lentils, broth, tomato, tomato paste, and coriander, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are cooked and orange-ish. Add garam masala, stirring to combine, and let rest for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Note: if tomatoes are out of season, use 1/4 cup tomato sauce or two peeled canned tomatoes.

Easy, Warming Black Eyed Peas by Andrea Lussing

Reposted with permission by Andrea Lussing

The weather is most definitely changing.  I'm disappointed to admit that I'm seeking warmth these days- warm sweaters, wool socks, hot baths and now a hot soupy bean stew.  This creation is verging on chili, but has a totally different, Thanksgiving inspired flavour and I've used dried organic black eyed peas versus canned beans that I usually use for chili.  Even with the dried peas, it was ready in about an hour.

You can see from the photo that I often make more than I should for just one person, but it's great to have something healthy and satisfying to take for lunches and eat for dinners for a few nights in a row and not have to worry about cooking... though I think it's safe to say that I never 'worry' about cooking.  Maybe that will change when I have a whole family to feed every night of the week.

So, for this meal I used dried organic black eyed peas.  I rinsed them and tossed about 2 cups of dried peas into plenty of unsalted water and brought it all to a boil and boiled for about 10 min.  At the same time, in a large soup pot, I used what was in my fridge as a veggie base. You could mix it up with any veggies you have, but I cut up one onion and sauteed it on med. heat until soft, then tossed in a few cloves of minced garlic and 4 peeled and finely cubed carrots.  After the carrots and garlic were on the stove for about 5 minutes, I cubed 3 green tomatoes and let those saute too.  I would have put in a pepper or two, maybe some celery or even zucchini or kale, but this is what I had! Be creative!

I added veggie stock cubes (about 4), 5 bay leaves, about a tablespoon of dried thyme, oregano and rosemary to the sauteing veggies. I'd chop up the rosemary sprigs cause they can be a little bitter and tough if you chew down on them.  Fresh herbs would be great, but I used all mine up for my Thanksgiving creations. I drained the water from the beans in the first pot and rinsed them off and then tossed them into my larger pot with the veggies and spices.  Then I added enough water to cover the beans by a few centimeters.  I let that simmer for about 45 min. and then everything seemed to be soft!  I added a large can of diced tomatoes to add a little sweetness and freshness at the end and served the whole thing with lots of real Parmesan cheese.  You could add salt but I found that it didn't need it.

This was a very casual, roughly made dinner that worked out really well.  My parents stopped in last night for a cup of tea and I 'encouraged' them to taste it and they enjoyed it.  I also got a few "that looks delicious" comments at the lunch table at work today which is always a good sign.  I'd say be loose with this, create a consistency that you want, play around with some flavourings and enjoy the goodness of healthy black eyed peas!

Portobello and Kale 'Bake' by Andrea Lussing

Reposted with permission by Andrea Lussing

This was a creative little baked mixture I made using leftover brown rice and Parmesan cheese as a 'crust' on top and some healthy veggies inside with some crumbled organic tofu for some protein.

For the topping, I used a food processor to blend previously cooked brown rice, olive oil to bind it together and salt and pepper.  I put that aside and started working on the filling.

In a frying pan I sauteed in olive oil chopped onions, and 5 min. later, some chopped garlic. (Garlic takes a short time to cook so it's best to always add it a few minutes after your onions are in.  You never want garlic to burn so don't cook it on high heat. As well, if you chop garlic a few minutes before you need it and let it rest for a bit, more of the beneficial enzymes and compounds are readily available for your body to the experts say.)

To the onions and garlic, I added chopped kale (I used purple kale, and I almost always use only the greens and leave the stems behind). After letting the kale soften for a few minutes, I added cubed potobello mushrooms, chopped rosemary and thyme and a veggie stock cube.  After this cooked for a couple minutes, I added about half a cup of water and let the mixture steam and soften for about 10 minutes on low heat.  When it was finished, I added roughly half a cup of hand crumbled, firm tofu and mixed it together.

I put the mixture into a square baking pan and topped it with the 'crust' I had already prepared, patting it down with my hands. I baked it in the oven for about 15-20 min at around 350oF.  About 5 minutes before it was done, I sprinkled on Parmesan cheese and returned it to the oven until it was golden brown.  This meal comes out with a bit of sweetness from the herbs and a really warm, fall/winter feeling. It was a really nice creation!

As an alternative, you could put this in a pie crust and add a whisked egg and some milk to make a quiche type pie, topped with some feta or goat's cheese.  Lots of options!  Have fun!  

Healthy Root Vegetable Chips

I absolutely love the farmers market in Halifax, and I make it a priority to wake up early and go every Saturday. I bring reusable bags and about $30, and buy more than enough produce and other yummy goods to last Mike and I for the week! Going to the market saves me money, supports Canadian farmers, helps the environment by eating locally, in season and mostly organic, and also gives my body a wider variety of nutrients as I  try to buy a new vegetable every time I go!

Last weekend, among many other items, I came home with a bag of root vegetables. Tonight I made root vegetable chips. They were much healthier than a standard bag of potatoes chips and they were very tasty!


3 beets
1 sweet potato
2 Parsnips
1.5 tbs. of finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of salt, more to taste
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs of finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)


1.     Preheat the oven to 425° conventional bake
2.     Line 2 large baking sheets with tin foil and olive oil spray
3.     Mix the garlic, rosemary, salt and oil together in a large bowl
4.     Thinly slice the parsnips and yams, toss them in the garlic mix and place on   the pan in a single layer
5.     Repeat with the beets
6.     Cook for 20- 30 minutes or until they brown along the edges, flip half way through.
7.      Sprinkle on the parsley.

Farmers Market Fall Soup

My friend, Andrea Lussing, cooks fabulous, healthy, vegetarian meals! She is always telling me that she does not like using recipes and rather use her own skill and taste to develop her masterpieces. She has inspired me to be a bit more daring in the kitchen and put aside the recipe books!

The thought of going with out a recipe is both a bit terrifying and liberating, as I am not extremely confident with my natural cooking abilities. But, going without a recipe allows you the freedom to use what is in season and available to you!

My friend gave me a recipe for adzuki bean soup that she highly recommended, but I could not find half of the ingredients. Here is my compromise. All the produce is organic and most was bought at the Halifax Farmers Market!

1 Butternut Squash- pealed, de-seeded and cubed
2 white onions- peeled and finely chopped
5 carrots- chopped
312g of spinach
450g of Jacob’s Cattle Beans (or any other available dried bean)- soaked overnight
2 tsp of turmeric
2 tsp of cumin
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
4-6 tsp (depending on taste) of Vegetable stock mix
3 cups of cooked brown rice
2 liters of cold water
*Parsley and Romano cheese (optional)

1.     Boil the soaked beans, cook according to package. Drain and rinse cooked beans.
2.     Place cooked beans, vegetable stock and cold water into a *large pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
3.     Add the vegetables, cumin, turmeric and simmer for another 15-20 minutes
4.     Add the cooked rice, cinnamon and cumin cook for 1-2 minutes
5.     Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Take off the heat, as the vegetables will continue to cook even while the heat is off.
6.     Sprinkle with a bit of Romano cheese and parsley

·      I use Romano cheese, as it is full of flavor so there is no need to have more then a couple of teaspoons per serving.
·      This makes a lot of soup. If you do not have a very large pot I suggest splitting the recipe in half or dividing it between two pots. I like to make a lot and then freeze it in individual serving sized containers.

Lunchtime Blues Vegetarians? Not at Rangoli by Alyssa Dawson

Reposted with permission by Alyssa Dawson
Well I’m going to narrow down those choices for you.  If you have a 30 minute lunchbreak and need a great bite to eat to keep you inspired for the rest of the day, check out VJ’s sister restaurant, Rangoli.
I went today, and was in and out in under 10 minutes, but I never felt rushed.  Even on a to-go order like mine, service was fantastic.  I was taken to a comfortable seat to wait and brought water (as if I wasn’t already salivating enough with the unbelievable fragrant aroma).  And then before I knew it, my food was brought to me with a smile.  I now know that smile essentially said ‘This is your new addiction. You’ve been warned.’
Portobello Red Pepper Curry @ Rangoli
When I got back to my office and opened up the paper bag, I saw beautifully vibrant colours that completely pulled me into the dish: a portobello, red pepper curry with a beet salad and naan bread.  I have successfully polished it off now, and I can tell you, you get your $13.50 worth; it did the unthinkable – my bottomless pit (a.k.a. my stomach) is full!  The beet salad offered up a crisp texture and palate cleanser for the curry filled with huge chunks of portobello mushrooms, red bell peppers, and creamy paneer (Indian cheese which tastes quite a bit like cottage cheese believe it or not). Truly a fantastic dish for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  The only bit of criticism I could throw in would be that the naan bread was slightly rubbery, but seeing as it was 20 minutes until I got back to my office, I’ll give Rangoli the benefit of the doubt and put that one on the traveling Cuisine Queen.
All in all a fantastic lunch excursion in Downtown Vancouver.  (4.5/5 Crowns)
Location: 1488 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
If you have any tips, questions, or fab finds of your own, let your local Cuisine Queen know! xx


The Good Karma Diet, is a diet and lifestyle that involves choosing, cooking and eating food that is good for you and the environment! Keep checking back for restaurant and cookbook reviews, delicious recipes and other helpful tips!
Bon Appetite!