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Crispy Pecan Tofu

February 12, 2013

I’ve realized that tofu is overrated. It’s literally just a curd to me.

I love a good play on words! :) Although funny, the above statement is far from accurate. I have become a super fan of tofu lately. I am craving it raw, even! Totally crazy, because I used to hate it so much! I think that a big part of why I’m such a fan now is because I now know how to prepare it well. Tofu is an art, my friends.

Lots of you have expressed fear about preparing tofu and disdain at the thought of eating it. Some people totally avoid it because of the soy new 031debate. But I am a convert, and I seriously think that after this recipe, you will be too. If you avoid soy for medical reasons, don’t try this. But if you have been curious about preparing a tofu-based entree, this is the one to use! I will probably do a ‘cooking with tofu’ type of post in the near future, for those of you who are totally new to this food.

This is a modified recipe that I got from a friend. He found it in a magazine; it was originally a chicken recipe, and not gluten free. But with a few adjustments, he prepared it for me, and I loved it! Here’s the deal with this recipe: it calls for honey. If you are opposed to the use of honey, by all means, use a substitute. I used agave nectar and just reduced the quantity a bit, and upped the dijon mustard quantity a bit, as I find agave to be sweeter than honey, and I wanted to account for that. But I am posting this recipe with the honey in it, as I feel that most people are more likely to have honey on hand than agave nectar.

     Crispy Pecan Tofu: (makes four servings)

new 0173 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
4 servings of extra-firm, pressed organic tofu
1/2 cup of pecans, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. dry gluten free bread crumbs
**(If I am in a hurry, I usually just toast a piece of bread, chop it into tiny pieces, and use that. Otherwise, I dry out a piece of bread in the oven. You can save any left over crumbs for another day in an airtight plastic container).
2 tsp. Earth Balance or Smart Balance Vegan Butter Spread, melted (I used the light/reduced fat version of Smart Balance. It’s not a large quantity anyways, but it’s what I had on hand, and I do try to cut down on excess fat where it’s not necessary!)

      Method:
new 015

-Preheat oven to 375 f.
-Mix mustard, honey, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

-Perforate tofu with a knife or a fork to allow sauce to seep in, adding flavour.

-Coat the top and the bottom of each piece of tofu, place in a glass baking dish, and allow them to sit.
**(I allow to sit overnight if I have the time. If not, just let in sit as long as possible. You should have some of the sauce left over.)

 

 

 

-Once tofu has marinated, remove from glass dish and coat with the rest of the sauce. Combine thenew 019 pecans, the gf bread crumbs, and the vegan butter.

-Replace tofu in glass baking dish.

-Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over tofu, and press into tofu to secure. Bake 20-25 mins, until tofu is cooked and crumb mixture is crispy.

The end result? This delicious, high protein, gluten free, vegan entree. It’s the type of dish that’s hearty enough to be a comforting winter dish, and light enough that if paired with a salad, would be summer appropriate as well.

new 030I know it’s been a lot of posts this week! It’s not really that I have had a lot more time for blogging, but I have had a couple of draft posts (like this one!) sitting in my dashboard, just waiting to be published. So I figured maybe I would post them!

Let me know if you try this recipe. You won’t be disappointed!

xoxo,

Jill

Product Reviews and Customer Care Teams: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

February 11, 2013

Hey guys!

I know, another post so soon?! Crazy! ;) For those of you in B.C, happy Family Day! I am so excited about this new holiday!! I think it’s important to have a day dedicated to celebrating family, and having some time to reconnect with one another. So I am going to keep this short; gotta get back to the fam! :)

ChipinsSo…wanted to let you know that I heard back from Popcorn Indiana. If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I had a very negative experience trying one of their products. I did note that I think that a big part of that may have been due to their freshness, or lack of. So, I sent them an email, just to let them know about it. I actually really WANT to like these. They are much healthier than regular chips, they are certified GF, and they are all natural.

I received a really nice email from their customer care team this morning. They are going to send me a coupon to retry them. I was really impressed with the quality of customer care that they demonstrated. So, I am going to retry them (maybe a new flavour?!) when I receive the coupon and I will keep you posted!!

I think the reason that I was so impressed here was because I recently had to contact a different company regarding a faulty product, and the response could not have been more different. (I should mention, before last week I have never contacted a company with a complaint! I’m not usually that person!) But after reading some glowing reviews, I purchased Oscar Blandi’ s Lacca hairspray. Normally, $30 on a hairspray would seem a bit unreasonable to me, but I was looking for a really great product, and I figured that with THAT price, it must be good! And I had heard some good things about it, including that it is gluten free.

I actually can’t comment on the product itself, because the bottle is faulty and doesn’t spray. I have tried a million different things. I shook it up. I ran the nozzle under warm water. I twisted it around. I tried to pry it off. By the end, I was so frustrated, I just wanted to get the can open in any way I could, because the product is supposed to smell suuuuper nice! But no luck. Nothing worked.

I purchased the hairspray in the city, about two hours from where I live. I considered taking it back, but realized that would be a major waste ofblogentry 022 time, gas, etc. Also, I feel like the store itself shouldn’t really be responsible for replacing it, since it is a faulty nozzle. Shouldn’t that be dealt with by the company? I sent an email to Oscar Blandi customer care, explaining the situation, and sent along a photo as well to demonstrate the problem. All I asked was whether or not this was a common occurence, and if there was some way for me to buy a replacement nozzle. After all, this was a pricey product. I still really want to try it. I figured if I could spend just a few dollars on a new nozzle, then at least I could try it, and it wouldn’t have been a total waste of $30.

I got a message back soon after. Kudos on the quick response time! But there was nothing they would do. They didn’t answer my questions about whether or not this is a common problem (which is kind of important, because if it wasn’t, I would’ve considered trying their other products!) and they didn’t address at all whether or not I could get a replacement nozzle anywhere. Super disappointing. I guess I just have to toss it, which is really unfortunate. But I wanted to let you guys know about this. If you HAVE tried this product, let me know how you like it. I am particularly interested in how you think it smells, because I have heard it smells yummy!  If you haven’t, I would proceed with caution, haha. Because apparently it is their policy to NOT stand behind their products if they were not purchased from Oscar Blandi directly.

Anyone have any other good hairspray recommendations? I love the Sebastian Shaper spray…but a friend of mine told me that the smell reminds her of old people. I actually like the smell, haha, but since it’s apparently offensive to others, I am considering switching it up. I just found out they have a zero gravity one as part of their line…so maybe I’ll try that!!

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend!!

xoxo,

Jill

New Product Finds-Reviewed!

February 10, 2013

Hey everyone!!

Today’s post is not going to be typical…it’s more of a review. A product review. Usually I like to tell you guys about products that I love and can’t live without…I feel that with GF foods, it’s nice to get a flavour, texture, and consistency review before purchasing, since there are so many out there that are suuuuuper gross. But today I will talk about two products: one that I LOVED, and one that I really couldn’t stand. Hopefully this review will save you guys 1-time 2-gagging and 3-money! Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions. They are unsponsored, and simply my impressions of the products. So, here we go!

So… to start with. The product that I loved!! Backstory: I have some pretty cool friends. Friends who see GF/Vegan products and, thinking of me,Powerplant Fruit Bar pick them up for me to try. Isn’t that so sweet?! We all know that GF foods aren’t cheap. And it’s really nice to be thought of and remembered. :) So, recently one of my best girlfriends gave me two bars that she found while grocery shopping. They are RAW, VEGAN, GF, organic, and just delicious! The brand is PowerPlant. I tried the Coconut one (reminded me a bit of an Almond Joy!) and the Fruit one (which I loved but my friend didn’t). If you like the taste of raisins/dates, you’ll probably like the Fruit one. Both were coated in a semi-sweet cacao coating. I couldn’t find a website for them (there seems to be another brand with the same name!) but I did find their facebook page!https://www.facebook.com/powerplantwholefoods. I would say that if you are new to healthy eating, try the coconut one first! But I loved both. And the fact that they’re made locally? Win!

Now on to the product that I didn’t like. I should start by saying that I am not a ‘chip person.’ But the other day I was headed into the city for an appointment, and though I usually pack food, I forgot. So there I am: on the open road, tummy grumbling. Nothing ahead of me but long highway. Nothing behind me but…long highway. I became a bit worried. I started rationing my agua (more due to lack of facilities than actual survival, but still!) and trying to recall my list of edible plants. But what luck! In the distance, I could see a gas station! Not ideal, but it would suffice!

As I pulled up, I felt a bit uneasy. It was one of those old, delapitated, sketchy gas stations. You know the type. Dusty, deserted, tumbleweeds blowing by. Like in horror movies? Yep, that was pretty much it. Inside was much worse. Nothing fresh or perishable in sight. I actually blew the dust off of a few products to check the ingredients. What’s a celiac to do?! I began walking dejectedly up and down the aisles, praying for a miracle. It was out of sheer desperation that I wandered into the chip aisle. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this bag. Popcorn Indiana Chipins. Hmmmmm. Gluten free, you say? 100% natural, you say? Reasonable calorie cost, you say? Sold! What was the actual cost for this, you might ask?! $7.55. Yep. You can feed a third world child or an adopted panda bear for a week for that! :s I cannot explain my actions in paying this ridiculous price for a bag of chips. Hunger makes people do ca-razy things.

ChipinsThey had just one flavour…buffalo wing. I haven’t ever had a buffalo wing. In fact, I’ve never eaten anything from a buffalo (high five if you get the reference!) But seriously, I have no idea what buffalo wings taste like. I hoped it would be a hybrid of All Dressed and Barbeque. No such luck. I opened them, and could tell instantly from the smell that they were going to be repulsive. And they were. Also, despite the fact that they had a full TWO days left on their expiry date (this place DOES have fresh food after all!) they were suuuuper stale. I can’t say for sure whether the flavour was tainted by time as well. I may just not be a fan of buffalo wing flavour.

I’m not usually a complainer. So you gotta know how awful these must have been. Despite their supposed expiry date, they were not fresh. Or tasty. Or worth $7.55 (personal opinion-no chip is!) I actually wrote to the company to explain this quality issue. Hopefully it was just a one-time thing, and not the norm for this company. I will let you know if I hear back from them.

So, hopefully these reviews help you to make some educated choices in terms of what’s good and what’s gross in the gluten free world these days!! And definitely let me know if you have found any stellar or less than amazing gf products lately! :)

xoxo,
Jill

Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Whipped Topping and Crushed Candy Cane Garnish

December 9, 2012

Hey guys!

Wow, it’s been a reaaaallly long time! I had actually planned on not continuing with the blog; recently I have been super busy, not really doing a lot of cooking, and just focusing on myself and my health, so I haven’t had the time to dedicate to blogging that I would like. But, honestly, I have really missed it! And I have had so many requests recently to a-unlock the older blog posts and b-do more posts, particularly with dessert recipes. So here I am, back on the blog after months of absenteeism. Thanks everyone so much for your continued support and interest! :)

Today I have a holiday inspired recipe that I have been wanting to recreate for awhile now…Peppermint Hot Chocolate! It’s totally delicious, warm, and comforting. Also, it’s sweet and chocolately, like a dessert, but much healthier!

I wish that I’d had more time to work with the photos on this one, because it was really a nice looking bevvie! But the soyatoo was melting Peppy Hot Chocky! 572quickly, and I had to snap a few shots before that happened. So forgive the poor photos, but it’s really the quality of the recipe that counts, right?? Right! :) This recipe was adapted from an ‘All Recipes’ recipe. I really love it, but if you want to use just a vegan hot chocolate mix, and add the sugarfree peppermint syrup and Soyatoo and crushed candy cane bits, you’ll get a similar result. But if you have the time, I would highly recommend making it from scratch.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Whipped Topping and Crushed Candy Cane Garnish: (makes two!)

2 1/2 cups soy milk (or your favourite non-dairy milk). I would recommend NOT going for a fat free milk here. The creaminess of a regular fat soy milk is really an important part of what makes this recipe so delicious!

3 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder (I use Hershey’s Unsweetened, because that’s what I use for baking and have in the house, but I’ll bet that a really rich Dutch cocoa powder would be incredible in this!)

3-4 Tbsp. Sugarfree Peppermint Syrup (you can add more or less, depending on preferred level of sweetness- I use 4).

1-2 Tbsp. White Sugar or Sweetener of Choice (I usually use 3 packets of Truvia, but as I’ve said, I like things sweet. Start low and add more, depending on your preferences!)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Candy Cane

Optional: Cinnamon, Soyatoo whipped topping

Peppy Hot Chocky! 577Method:

Unwrap one candy cane (most are vegan and GF, just double check to be sure!) Put it in a ziplock bag and smash into bits. One candy cane will easily top 8 drinks, so either load up the two drinks that you have, or store it in the ziplock bag until next time!

Bring the soy milk, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, peppermint syrup and cinnamon, if using it, to a simmer in a pot over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Remove from the heat and whisk until frothy. Pour into 2 mugs, and top with soyatoo and crushed candy cane pieces. Serve immediately.

A thought on Soyatoo: I used to really love this stuff. Now, not so much. The same has happened with Daiya shreds. I am just not a fan anymore. So if you do like it, go for it, and enjoy! If not, this hot chocolate is good on it’s own, it’s just that the whip makes a great vehicle for those candy cane bits!! :)

I’m going to be doing a few more posts in the next few weeks. I have the most amazing tofu recipe to share….I know that a lot of you are hesitant about preparing tofu, but I promise that this recipe will change your mind! That’s all from me for now! I hope that you are all well….leave a comment to let me know what you are up to! :)

xoxo,

Jillian

P.S- A shoutout/huge congratulations to one of my besties, who just celebrated her birthday AND got engaged! <3 Yippee!!

Vegan Chocolate Covered Strawberries-Effortlessly Epic!

July 12, 2012

Hey all!

It’s been another long time! Sorry I’ve been MIA! Life is crazy busy! And it’s so hot here in B.C, I haven’t been doing any baking! I keep meaning to post a GF Vegan meal recipe, but every time I take the time to make something that looks halfway decent to photograph, I forget to actually take a picture. My meals tend to be messes. But that’s ok, it’s all about the flavour!

I do have a delicious recipe to share with you guys! Actually, technically its so easy that it really shouldn’t even be called a recipe. But it makes for an amazing appetizer or dessert, and can be customized in a million and one ways, so I wanted to share it! You’re gonna have to excuse the quality of the photos…but I was workin’ with the iphone! :)

White and Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries:

1/2 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips

12 medium sized strawberries

Additional Options: Coconut (highly recommended!) or chopped nuts

Method:

-Wash strawberries

-Melt white and dark chocolates separately using double-boiler. Because I can’t be bothered to buy fancy kitchen appliances (or am still feeling guilty about spending having spent so much on a Vita-Mix, lol) I do it the old fashioned way:

-Bring a pot of water to boil. Melt the chocolate chips separately in a metal bowl over the pot. And….done. (If you are finding your chocolate to be too thick when melted, I would suggest adding small amounts of SoDelicious Unsweetened Coconut milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency)

**I think that you could probably melt the chocolate in the microwave. But I always seem to overcook them…like they get all crispy and smell like burning. Maybe I am the only one who this happens to. So, if you are smart enough to work a microwave, micro away, my friends!! ;)

-Line a baking sheet, or your counter, with parchment paper

-Dip strawberries in chocolate

-If using an optional addition, roll the just coated strawberries in coconut, nuts, or other favourite topping before it hardens

-Place strawberry on parchment paper and allow to harden

DONE!

I personally like to refridgerate these for a few hours, then take them out an hour or so before serving to allow them soften up a bit. But they are so easy, and such a delicious summer snack. And considering the fact that they have only two-three ingredients, and take only a few minutes to throw together, they look pretty fancy.

That’s all I’ve got today! Hope it’s hot where you are and that you are having an awesome week!!

xoxo,

Jill

I’m Baaaaack….kind of…with a Vanilla Ice Milk dessert recipe!

April 16, 2012

Hey guys!!

I know I have been away from the blog for a loooong time! Things have been crazy busy for me! I am still undergoing medical treatments which take up a lot of my time every week. And even though I have a ton of down time while I am at the hospital, I worry that I don’t really have anything noteworthy to blog about, so I tend to just not blog while I am there!

I am so appreciative of the fact that you guys still send me messages and comments, and want you to know that I read all of your guys’ blogs daily! (like I said, I have a lot of down time!)

I wanted to post a dessert recipe today, but it is kind of a revised dessert recipe. It makes a great, healthy recipe if you are having guests because it is easy, delicious, and presents itself well. I have found that all of my friends love the Best Brownies Ever, so I have been making those, topped with a Vanilla Ice Milk. If I am looking for a more diet-friendly option, I make my Three Bite Chocolate Brownies, which are really good as well, but quite a bit healthier, also topped with the ice milk, sundae style ;) I don’t think that I made this Vanilla Ice Milk recipe up…I think I must have just adapted a bunch of other similar recipes that I found.

Vanilla Ice Milk: (totally customizable in terms of flavour!)

(50 calories, 5 grams fat, gluten free, and vegan!)

1 cup non-dairy milk (I prefer So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk for this recipe, because the creaminess lends itself well to the ice milk texture, making it seem rich, like regular ice cream would be!)

Teeny tiny pinch of salt (like reaaaallly tiny)-but don’t omit!

1/3 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Sweetener of choice (I use 1-2 packets of Truvia, but you could use any sugar substitute, or even regular sugar. But sweeten to your own tastes-you can try to milk mixture before it is frozen to determine if it is sweet enough!)

Method:

-Mix the ingredients well in a small bowl

-Pour into ice cube tray and freeze

-After frozen, pop ice milk cubes out. Drop into Vita Mix or other high powered blender. If you are not using the Vita Mix, I think you may need to thaw the cubes for a few minutes before blending. Blend them up until you have a thick ice milk.

-Once this is done, you will have a thick, creamy ice milk. I sometimes pour the ice milk back into a deep container and put it back into the freezer for a little bit, then use an ice cream scoop to serve it, because it looks prettier. But truth be told, if I am not serving it to someone else, I don’t usually bother with the presentation/style steps!

You can top this any way you like; I like it with the brownies, and even though I put some chocolate sauce on it for the photo, I usually just eat the two together without anything else. But you could add sauces, Soyatoo, melted peanut butter, anything really!

I am hoping that I will be able to post more frequently, but if that’s not the case, I will be back with recipes as often as I can! I have a cupcake recipe all ready to share with you guys, so I will probably be posting that soon!!

xoxo,

Jillian

Honoured…and the new direction of the blog!

February 10, 2012

I was recently very honoured to have been nominated for blog awards by two of my favourite blog friends! I was nominated twice for the Versatile Blogger Award, once by Elizabeth, and once by Eliza. When I started blogging, I wasn’t sure if I would really find a place where my blog would fit in; it’s kind of a mish mash of gluten free, vegan, desserts, random facts, and mostly healthy recipes. I sometimes wonder if I should tone it down a bit and focus on just one of these topics. But I do like the versatility that it offers. I thought that my blog would fit nicely into the niche of healthy living blogger, but it hasn’t really been noticed by many other HLBs. Maybe because I don’t have the word ‘run’ in the title?! ;) As a result, my readers are all incredibly diverse. Thank you, Elizabeth and Eliza, for thinking of me!

So, I think how the process goes is that I share 7 random facts about myself, and then nominate 15 other bloggers. Many of you probably read my post about the ten most embarassing facts about myself. So I will have to come up with 7 new things!

1- I am definately an old person in disguise, given my proclivity towards knitting and napping (in my defense, I have only needed naps since I got sick, but still!) and my passions for pudding, old foreign films, and 60′s music. Best foreign film of all time: The Bicycle Thief. Best 60′s band of all time?? Hard to pick just one…I love the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bobby Darin, the list goes on and on!

2-I am a squash addict. So much so that sometimes I seem to be turning a little bit orange (woohoo for natural tans!)–kidding! But my love for it is further described here. However, I know it’s not healthy to eat the same thing all the time, so I do limit my intake of it. It’s all about variety!

3-Celebrity crushes:

Dr. Mike Dow. Yep. Freaky Eaters is the greatest show of all time. I am assuming that one day my family will nominate me because of the squash thing (kidding, I’m totally not that bad!) But I love this guy!

Harry Shum Jr-aka Mike Chang. Adorable fact: apparently he found a stray dog on the set of Glee, and decided to adopt him and name him Charlie after the character from All Dogs Goes to Heaven. Sigh!

4-Couldn’t decide what to study in university, so the result: 8 years of post-secondary education and a multi-discliplined degree made up of Criminology, English, Spanish and Russian. I’m just well-rounded like that! ;)

5-Recently welcomed my third niece into the world, and am now the aunt to three perfect little girls whom I absolutely adore!

6-Even though I love animals (enough to make the transition to veganism), I am terrified of a lot of them; in particular moths, mice, spiders, ladybugs, snakes and worms, bees, big dogs, big cats, and siamese fighting fish. To name a few!

7-I feel like I am getting old. But the other day I wore my hair in two french braids and someone guessed my age as being 17. Pretty much made my life!

So that’s it for the random facts! As for the nominations, I actually can’t come up with 15 blogs that I love. So I am just going to list my top ten or so. In no particular order, here are my nominations…

Quick Disclaimer: Please note that just because I link to a particular blog or site, it does not mean I endorse, promote, or agree with all of the opinions, information, themes, and ideas that they contain. I read a variety of blogs, some for the recipes, some for the fashion, some because they are funny, and some simply because I am friends with the blogger and like to stay updated on their life! This list is just to share with you the ones that I enjoy, for one reason or another.  

Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous- written by a graduate student who is studying natural products and how they can prevent and treat disease. I love learning all about the toxins in certain products and the immense benefits of others.

Elizadolly- Eliza is one of the funniest people I know! Her blog makes me laugh, out loud. She also has excellent taste in blog formats! ;)

Macheesmo- This guy is a culinary genius! His recipes aren’t necessarily vegan or gluten free, but simple substitutions can be made quite easily. Genius, pure genius!

Char@ Char’s Kitchen- This girl makes the most delicious vegan food; a great balance between savoury and sweet recipes. She is also just a really great girl, and such a beautiful person! Her photography is top notch, and the fact that she’s Canadian?! Yay!

Carly Love- Carly doesn’t blog too much anymore, as she’s taking a break from it, but I still love it! She’s such a sweet girl and we’re practically neighbors, which is cool!

Heather Eats Almond Butter- I have been reading this blog forever. In fact, its probably the first blog I ever read. She has great recipes, and balances wholesome nutrition with sensible exercise! Win!

Nicole and Gwendolyn-Nicole may be the most fashionable girl I know! I love reading all about the adventures of her and her dog, Gwendolyn. Bonus: she posts adorable videos of Gwendolyn. So cute! Happy Birthday, Nicole! <3

Alex @ Spoonful of Sugarfree- lots of great recipes here! Its always a good reminder that too much sugar is really not healthy, and that sugarfree food can be totally delicious!

Elizabeth @ The Spiral Upward- Elizabeth found my blog first and I am so glad that she did! One of the kindest souls I know; I feel so lucky to know her.

Coeliac Diagnosis-Gluten Free OMG!- follows the author’s journey through the first 365 days after being diagnosed as Celiac. Now that the year is up, I still like to read, because it’s well written, informative, and a good reminder of the dangers of continuing to consume gluten if you are diagnosed as being Celiac.

So there they are! Thank you again to Elizabeth and Eliza for the nominations!

So I wanted to give you all a heads up that the blog may be taking a bit of a new direction. I have had some requests for really healthy, low fat, low carb, gluten free and vegan recipes. I am going to try to post mostly these for the next little while, as the last few recipes I have posted haven’t necessarily been ideal for someone on a reduced calorie diet! Also, I am trying to continue to move away from processed foods in favour of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, and that may be reflected in the recipes as well!

xoxo,

Jillian

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