Friday, 20 April 2012

happy cannabis day! an eBook, facts and videos.

Today, my friends, is April 20th.

It is 420. You know what that means? International celebration of the wondrous and ancient herb called Cannabis Sativa. From it are two wonderful and infamous varieties - marijuana and hemp.

To celebrate hemp, I have this link to an eBook from Purely Elizabeth, an organic whole food company dedicated to sustainability. It's a FREE DOWNLOAD. There's tons of yummy hemp recipes, great facts about nutritional benefits of hemp... and, you might notice... I'M FEATURED IN IT! Very, very exciting for me.

Among some other great uses for hemp: it's a super sustainable, low energy material to grow for clothing, rope, paper, even fuel. Read for yourself (this article is short and to the point). It's so efficient because it's a weed, hence why the other variety is called weed. This means it can grow practically anywhere, with totally different climates. It also doesn't need much water. Cannabis forests can be found all around the world.

P.S. - hemp DOES NOT get you high. I think it's less than 1% THC.

Now moving on to the more controversial variety of Cannabis - marijuana. The plant has been enjoyed as medicine and for fun for thousands of years. It has healing properties and has never killed a soul. It's funny the number one killers in the U.S. are directly linked to poor diet. I say white sugar should be illegal - not a plant. Anyway that's my two cents and I won't rant about it. I can wait, because it's only a matter of time before it's decriminalized here in Canada.

 Here's a short video I've shown before about the benefits of RAW cannabis.

Let's also keep in mind that marijuana is prescribed as medicine - for everything from depression, anorexia, and glaucoma to insomnia, ADHD, Alzheimer's, cancer and IBS. Yes, the potency has been increasing a little too rapidly, but this can easily be reversed if the industry would become legal and government monitored and managed. Again - I won't rant.

Yeah, it looks pretty dangerous...

Okay lastly I wanna share these two videos. The first one is for Gorilla Food - my fave Vancouver raw food eatery. Man, if I belonged anywhere, it's here. The atmosphere is so chill and accepting, there's always new art on the walls and lots of dreadlocks.

And this super short but informative one is from Michael Pollan - you should read his books if you haven't already. I loved In Defense of Food. The Omnivore's Dilemma is also great.

Okay, okay - I lied. I have ONE MORE to show. This is a full documentary also from Michael Pollan, based on his book about how plants - like apples, flowers and marijuana - seem to be able to manipulate us to their advantage. "Huh?", you say? Watch it and see for yourself.

That's all for today, folks! I'm gonna go make my green smoothie elixir WITH HEMP SEEDS, and some avocado chocolate hemp pudding ;) Then I'm going downtown to celebrate 420 with my city!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

aged pine nut cheese with garlic & rosemary

Oh so creamy. Oh so delicious. Oh so dairy-free. You need to make this... oh so soon. 

After learning from my first go at nut cheeses, I have improved the recipe. I used half pine nuts, put it through the Vita-Mix and didn't freeze it (still smacking my forehead for that). It ended up being SUPER creamy and full of flavour. I let it age for 3 days this time and warmed it in the oven for about an hour, which developed the flavour and rind ever more.

My mom, who used to be a cheese lover and has practically given up dairy now, says that she loves this. Greg said he liked it too although "it's nothing like cheese". I have to agree. Don't expect cheese when you eat this - it's not! It's delicious cashews, garlic and rosemary. Enjoy the incredible flavour and texture for what it is. I guess you could call it Nut Pate if you want. Anyway - it's tasty and good for ya.

Aged Pine Nut Cheese with Garlic & Rosemary: makes 1 wheel 
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup cashews
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of a lemon 
1 tbs sun dried tomatoes 
2-3 tbs whole rosemary 
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup water
2 tbs favourite oil 
Soak the nuts for around 2 or 3 hours. Blend all ingredients in high speed blender or food processor (blender really makes a difference though) until smooth. See if you like the taste. Change it until you do.
Line a colander with a cheesecloth and put it in a bowl. Transfer the cheese mix into the colander and set it in a warm place for 1 or 2 days. Then leave it in the fridge for another day. You can dehydrate it or put it in your oven at a low temperature for maybe 30 minutes so it develops a crust. Enjoy!

In other news: I watched A Night At The Roxbury a few nights ago and my love of disco has been reborn.  I downloaded the album, and as I wrote this post I was listening to this:

And this...

Besides, the music videos are freakin' amazing. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

vanilla bean cheesecake

You know you want it.

This is basically the same recipe I've used before, and it's become hugely popular! This time I made a simple vanilla bean cheesecake. Vanilla is underrated, don't you think? I've always loved it myself but people tend to categorize it as "plain". That's a shame (and a rhyme).

Vanilla Ice is also underrated...

That was joke. But I won't lie here - I have memorized the lyrics to this song. YOU LOVE ME, OKAY.

Ooooooh boy this is just plain freakin' delicious. I love the sour you get from the lemon, just the right amount to pair with the sweetness and richness of the maple syrup and cashews. This time I put coconut chunks in the crust and they added another texture. NOM.

Like I've said, this and the chocolate banana coconut cream pie are my family's two faves. If I were you, I'd trust their judgement. Now - if you're one of those people who are worried about many calories are in a slice of this heavenly creation... STOP IT! Who cares? You're not eating the entire thing, and all that's in it are raw nuts, dates, maple syrup (or agave) and vanilla beans.

I really just don't worry about calories. When you are eating whole plant foods in reasonable amounts - you shouldn't either. What do you think is healthier? A 100 calorie pack of Thinsations, or a 200 calorie Larabar?

I really hope you said the Larabar. 

Let's compare the ingredients, shall we?

Thinsations: enriched wheat flour, sugar, glucose-fructose, canola oil with TBHQ and citric acid, cocoa, corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, salt, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate, colour and artificial flavour.
Larabar: nuts, dates... LOL! 
Anyway the point I have to share is that "low calorie" is not necessarily synonymous with "healthy".   This is a really important fact that I think too many people in North America don't understand or think of. The corporations have drilled into us that as long as it's low calorie - it's guilt-free! Ya know what, aspartame is low calorie and it causes blindness (it also turns into formaldehyde when it enters your blood). For Pete's sake, cement is low calorie. Getting my message?
If you'd like to email me about this, please do. Back to cheescake bliss.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Almond Crust: makes 1 cheesecake 

1 cup dates
2 cups raw almonds
Surround the inside of a cake pan with wax paper or plastic wrap. Pulse dates and nuts together in food processor until you get a rough, sticky mixture that you can pat down with your hands into the bottom of the cake pan. Do so. Set in fridge.

3 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked for 3 to 4 hours)
3/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Blend all ingredients, EXCEPT coconut oil, together until smooth and creamy. Add coconut oil and make sure it blends completely. Taste it. Yes. Pour onto crust in cake pan and set in the fridge until it has the hardness you want (probably 3-5 hours or overnight). Take out of cake pan holding the wax paper or plastic wrap and put on your favourite plate. Slice and enjoy, or eat it like a wild animal.  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cheese, seeds, and a lecture.

Yesterday night I put some cashews and pine nuts in water to soak overnight, so today I could make nut cheese and cheescake! They are both ready to roll now. I think I'll let the nut cheese age for 2 or 3 days, and we will eat the cheesecake tomorrow. I can't wait. 

Mom borrowed the gardening book The Zero Mile Diet today, and also bought some organic seeds to plant! We like West Coast Seeds. They're totally organic, and local! So my mum got the idea we could actually go and visit where they harvest their seeds - it's a short drive from our home.

 Everything in the title is right.

The post today is short but - if you take the time to watch this video - informative! It's a "lecture" (I don't like using that word) on why you might want to consider a vegan diet. It should be a more popular video because it's one of the best I've heard, to be honest. 

The guy is easy to listen to, understandable, uses simple logic that no one can really debate, and doesn't try to preach. He lays down the FACTS, and you can do with them what you will. 

This actually convinced my previously vegetarian friend to try veganism! And several other people have told me it got them seriously rethinking their diet choices. Woot! Open minds!

(after the 1st minute it gets interesting)

This guy stole all my best points though >=(

If you're vegan already, watch this and remember why =) If you aren't, watch this and learn about the effects of your lifestyle and ask yourself if you are comfortable with them. Show this to everyone you care about! 

I really believe the key to success is knowledge - pretty obvious huh? So success on a vegan diet is the same! Get informed. Get knowledgeable. Most importantly - OPEN YOUR MIND. Leave all convictions at the door. The facts are out there and they will help you see that a vegan diet is in fact more sane than a non-vegetarian one.  
Vegans are the NORMAL ONES! =)

Please - just watch the video. And have an amazing day!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

a new garden!

Over the long Easter weekend, we put our garden reno plans into action.

My mom has been wanting to install raised beds for awhile now; it maximizes your garden space, sunlight and it's more efficient for watering and picking - especially compared to our old garden. It was lovely, but frankly-speaking it was a big patch of dirt with a stone path winding through it.

So it begins...

We are the definitive do-it-yourself family... I would explain further but really, we just do everything ourselves. My dad is an engineer and has always loved creating and building stuff, I take after him and usually I'm the one helping him with projects. We built the Zen Den together, for example.

 One box, two box...

... three box, four!

On top of installing FAB-PRO new raised beds from beautiful wood, we laid a brick pathway between each box as well. It's so pretty and now it looks like we are hard-core gardeners. 

Which we are. 

Once it's summer, I'm going to paint on the end of every box; decoratively labeling the contents like "herbs", "vegetables", "greens" and what not. Should look uber cute. 

I am very excited about this new garden, mostly because I have WAY more room to plant my greens and berries. I will be planting loads of - you guessed it - rainbow chard, dinosaur kale, and spinach.
My favourites <3 Plus some strawberries (YES!)

We're also gonna plant carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, beans, zucchinis, etc. Ya know. West Coast schtuff.

All and all - it was a bit of hard work to get the garden done but now that it is, I think we're all really looking forward to the improvement once it starts producing. Besides, it's so pro-looking now, even with no plants in it, it looks stellar.

If you are thinking of renovating your garden, GO FOR IT! Even if you don't have the space we do (we are blessed with a gorgeous, enormous yard) you can still have your own garden sanctuary. Buy a planter for your window and grow flowers, herbs or berries. If you have enough room for a patch of dirt - grow food in the patch of dirt!

There is nothing like walking barefoot into the garden, picking a few leaves of kale, going back inside and adding them to my smoothie, then coming back out and sitting by the kale still growing - while drinking it in. Ultimate connection. 

Tonight I have been making some nut cheese, and I'll let it age for about 2 or 3 days. I am betting it will be way too delicious for words. I'm also making another CHEESECAKE! Get ready =) You guys know you love it. It's definitely a favourite around here.

Much love - Em.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Today, friends, I start my 5 day weekend! Easter weekend plus I don't have class on Tuesdays. Rather excited.

Amber is coming over tonight and we're gonna chill in the Zen Den and make some raw pasta ;)
I might make something to do with chocolate and peanut butter too... you know of my obsession.

Anyways today's post is just sharing some stuff: a song, a book and a video.

I shared this on the Facebok page but in case you didn't see it - listen now! And if you did hear it... listen to it again. It makes me so happy!! Reggae is sick on it's own, but when you make it about being vegan - well. It just can't get any better."Immaaa veeegggann!"

Next I will tell you a bit about the book I'm reading. Unlike the song, it doesn't have much to do with eating plants at all. But it's FASCINATING, MIND-BLOWING, and really well written. You feel smart, but you're laughing out loud at the same time.

The book's called "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. It's basically what it sounds like, with an emphasis on scientific discoveries. Apparently, normally he doesn't write about topics like this but he should! It's great so far... and I'm only a few chapters in. Here's the description on the back:

"I didn't know what a proton was, or a protein, didn't know a quark from a quasar, didn't understand how geologists could look at a layer of rock on a canyon wall and tell you how old it was, didn't know anything really. I became gripped by a quiet, unwonted urge to know a little about these matters and to understand how people figured them out. That to me remained the greatest of all amazements - how scientists work things out. How does anybody know how much the Earth weighs or how old its rocks are or what really is way down there in the center? How can they know how and when the universe started and what it was like when it did? How do they know what goes on inside an atom? And how, come to that-or perhaps above all-can scientists so often seem to know nearly everything but then still can't predict an earthquake or even tell us whether we should take an umbrella with us to the races next Wednesday?
So I decided that I would devote a portion of my life-three years, as it now turns out-to reading books and journals and finding saintly, patient experts prepared to answer a lot of outstandingly dumb questions. The idea was to see if it isn't possible to understand and appreciate-marvel at, enjoy even-the wonder and accomplishments of science at a level that isn't too technical or demanding, but isn't entirely superficial either.
That was my idea and my hope, and that is what the book that follows is intended to be."

It's easy to understand and deeply intriguing material. I share it with you because I figure... who WOULDN'T want to know about the place they live? I highly recommend reading this book. It'll probably make you smarter than all your friends, and perhaps provide an epiphany or two. Actually... it looks like this is the full text PDF online, but it's better in physical form. Use your library, people!

Lastly I want to share this video about raw cannabis with you. I enjoyed watching it =) Keep an open mind! Remember how funny yet frustrating it is that white sugar is in everything, and the government puts chemicals, poisons and hormones into the food our children eat - yet this innocent little plant that has been enjoyed for thousands of years is illegal. Let me know what you think!


chia-mel tarts

Get it? Caramel + chia seeds = chia-mel! I'm proud of the cleverness. Don't judge me.
Something else I'm proud of is the fact that these aren't primarily chocolate! However, I couldn't resist and put a little cacao in the crust.

They're super tasty, and super nutritious. Think of the healthiest, most delicious granola bar - this is like that in dessert form I guess. The crust is mostly almonds and prunes, while the center is pine nuts, chia seeds, dates, maple syrup and cinnamon. Oh... and I added a little peanut butter.

I actually used my caramel recipe, using chia seeds. But instead of almond butter and tahini, I used peanut butter =} And instead of Brazil nuts I used pine nuts. Equally as delicious. I had leftover filling so I ate it with a banana for breakfast - yom. I could also eat balls of the crust... it might even be better than the filling.

Either way, make these for a healthy snack and get your dose of EFA's, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, plus a bunch of other goodies.

Chia Caramel Tarts: makes about 3, if you can resist eating the ingredients while you're making it

Handful each of walnuts, almonds & coconut chunks
1/3 cup prunes and/or dates
1 Tb agave/maple syrup
Dash of salt, cinnamon
1 heaping Tb cacao

Handful Brazil nuts
2-3 Tb raw agave/maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
7-10 dates, soaked for 30 minutes or so if you can - but don't dump the water!
3 Tb almond butter
2 Tb tahini
2-3 Tb coconut butter, melted 
1/2 t cinnamon
Pinch salt 
Water as needed (preferably the date water)
1/6 cup or so coconut flakes
2 Tb chia seeds gelled with water (see note)
Crust: pulse nuts, dates/prunes and coconut together until they become very fine pieces, stating to stick together. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until it forms a ball. Press into tart tins and set in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling: process Brazil nuts into fine pieces, add all other ingredients EXCEPT coconut flakes and chia seeds. Process until it has a caramel-y consistency. You may need to add some water or more of the other ingredients. Try it. Your mind should be exploding now. If not, continue tampering until it reaches the mind-blowing stage.

NOTE: Now if ya want, add the coconut flakes and gelled chia. This basically just dilutes the sweetness and gives you more. I did this to make the filling of the b-day tart. It's up to you, depending on what you're gonna use it for. Personally, I could just eat it all straight-up.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


I love noodles. 
So it makes perfect sense that among desserts, raw pasta is one of my favourite meals. I prefer it made with zucchini, although bell peppers, yams, carrots and other veggies work well too. I also love it with a creamy sauce and a bit of spice.

It's so satisfying, nutrient-dense, low-calorie and RAW, in every sense of the word. 

I don't really use recipes when preparing raw food (as you probably know by now) so for the following recipes, feel ABSOLUTELY FREE to play them with them as you like. There's endless possibilities for sauce ideas - just like for smoothies and salads. The combinations are infinite.

For the pasta: use any wide, fairly long vegetable - zucchini is the perfect example - and slice it on your spiral slicer or mandoline, into noodles. Set aside. Now for the sauce =)

Avocado Hemp Sauce

1/2 avocado
1 clove garlic
3 Tb tamari
Water or non-dairy milk, as needed
Salt & pepper, add other spices if you wish
2 Tb hemp seeds

Blend all ingredients except hemp seeds until smooth. See if you like the taste and consistency. Stir in hemp seeds and pour over noodles. Let them sit for a few minutes, then enjoy! I like to add hot sauce and raw marinated veggies.

Garlic Miso Sauce:

2-3 Tb miso
1 clove garlic
2 Tb tamari
1-2 Tb rice vinegar
1-2 Tb almond butter
2 Tb black sesame seeds
Water as needed

Blend all ingredients except sesame seeds until smooth. See if you like the taste and consistency. Stir in sesame seeds and pour over noodles. Let sit for a few minutes then eat it up! This recipe is good with broccoli. 

Spicy Asian-y Sauce: 

1 Tb mustard
1 Tb miso
1 Tb nut butter
2 Tb nutritional yeast
Salt & Pepper 
A few drops of hot sauce
1/8 t cayenne/chili powder
I also add hemp seeds and other spices if I want

Blend all the ingredients until smooth, adding water as need to make it creamy. This time, I added black sesame seeds at the end to add some contrast. Do whatever floats your boat!
Here's some more pictures that have recipes linked to them. Noodles 4 EVER!

this also best choice to make beef bourguignon if you are have party