Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Ovenly)

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Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Ovenly)

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Ovenly)

 Some of the lovely Lunis who attended my birthday/house warming party, including Andrea!

Some of the lovely Lunis who attended my birthday/house warming party, including Andrea!

First off, I need to thank the lovely Andrea Rubin, for being the person who introduced me to this recipe in the first place! She brought them to my birthday/housewarming party a couple of years ago and EVERYONE LOVED these cookies... including my boyfriend, who is not a sweets person.
Since then I have made these cookies for many occasions and they are a hit EVERY SINGLE TIME! So here it is... With all my little personal notes and tricks (and Andrea's). :-)
The original recipe comes from Ovenly: https://food52.com/recipes/39132-ovenly-s-secretly-vegan-salted-chocolate-chip-cookies

Makes approximately 18 cookies (I almost always make a double batch because they're so good!)

Ingredients:

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip ingredients
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1  1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (I use 60% - 90% dark chocolate bars and chop them up. I like 70% best personally, but a mix is also nice! Be sure to check that there are no milk ingredients!)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp canola, grapeseed, or any other neutral oil (I use the liquid coconut oil pictured here)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp water
  • Coarse-grained sea salt or flaky sea salt like Maldon, for garnish (I use fleur de sel, as per Andrea's suggestion!)

    Directions:

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture and toss to coat.
    2. In a separate large bowl, whisk the sugars briskly with the canola oil and water until smooth and incorporated, about 2 minutes. Note: Use fresh, soft light brown sugar. If there are clumps, break them up with the back of a spoon or your hand before whisking.
    3. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, and then stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until just combined and no flour is visible. Do not overmix.
    4. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Do not skip this step.
    5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. (I find that my oven is hot so I set it at 325° F instead)
    6. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Remove dough from the refrigerator and use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to portion dough into 2-inch mounds. We recommend freezing the balls of dough for 10 minutes before baking as the cookies will retain their shape better while baking. (I do not do freeze my dough and I find that it turns out fine... I do the ice cream scoop trick to make sure that all the cookies are more or less the same size.)
    7. Sprinkle the balls of dough with coarse-grained sea salt (if freezing, remove balls of dough from the freezer first), and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the edges are just golden. Do not overbake. (I like my cookies moist and soft so I only bake them for 8 minutes)
    8. Let cool completely before serving. (I cool them on a cooling rack)

    I like to heat up one or two cookies in the microwave and eat them with 1-2 scoops of So Delicious vanilla ice cream on top. It's an extra special treat, and it keeps me from eating all the cookies!

    Enjoy!

    - Frances Vicente

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    Vegan Banana Coconut Muffins (recipe from Coco Loco Eco-Resort)

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    Vegan Banana Coconut Muffins (recipe from Coco Loco Eco-Resort)

    Vegan Banana Coconut Muffins (recipe from Coco Loco Eco-Resort)

    While on our Yoga and Surf Retreat at the Coco Loco Eco-Resort in Nicaragua, we got to enjoy some of the most delicious food! One morning for breakfast we were served the most incredible, moist, flavourful banana coconut muffins and I looked at the woman behind the counter with the most serious expression and told her: "I need that recipe." She saw the intensity in my face and went straight the kitchen to take a picture of the recipe.
    So for the last week of our #SpringChallenge and also to bring back a little bit of our Nicaragua experience, I made them for both my Luna classes! I got several requests to share the recipe, so here it is!

    Ingredients

    Ingredients: (makes 28 muffins)

    • 4 cups of flour
    • 2 tsps baking powder
    • 2 tsps baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 8 ripe bananas
    • 1 cup of brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 2 tsps vanilla extract
    • 2 cups of dried coconut

    Directions:

    1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt)
    2. Mash bananas and mix in brown sugar and coconut oil first. Once well blended, mix in coconut milk, vanilla extract and dried coconut.
    3. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet.
    4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 minutes. (Try 18 minutes first, and keep in for longer if needed... It depends on how hot/efficient your oven is!)
    5. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. 

    Enjoy!

    - Frances Vicente

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    Cocoa Date Bliss Balls

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    Cocoa Date Bliss Balls

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    Wellness should include a little joy now and again and these sinfully delicious energy balls are just that  - little balls of bliss. Easy and flexible to what you have on hand, this recipe can be adjusted to whatever size or dietary needs you have.

    Makes about 15 balls (depending on size)

    4 pitted dates
    3 tbs cocoa powder
    3 tbs nut/ seed butter  - Tahini or almond butter work well!
    1 tsp maple syrup
    1 tsp vanilla
    pinch sea salt

    • Place all ingredients in a mini chopper, and pulse until all combined and dates are pulverized
    • Make balls whichever size you desire, but a simple tsp can be used to scoop out amount and roll into ball.
    • Roll in various ingredients such as coconut flakes, ground nuts, seeds, cocoa, etc - or leave them naked!

    Enjoy!!

     

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    Luna Yoga and Surf Retreat in Nicaragua

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    Luna Yoga and Surf Retreat in Nicaragua

    LUNA YOGA AND SURF RETREAT WITH FRANCES & FRANCESCA IN NICARAGUA

    Heart open Frances and Francesca
    Francesca and Frances Surfboards

    We really couldn't have asked for any better for our first yoga retreat together... From the beauty of the location, to the easy-going yet efficient running of the Coco Loco Eco-Resort, to the wonderful group of yogis who joined us on this adventure... Francesca and I kept grabbing each other, looking into each others' eyes and saying, "I can't believe this is really happening!"

    Class
    Francesca and Annie surf


    The yoga studio space had a beautiful view of the trees and we could hear the birds and the waves of the ocean in the distance as we practiced.  Every morning they laid out a spread of fresh fruits and granola for a light early breakfast as of 5 a.m.; we had the option of catching some waves with the instructors as of 6:30 a.m.; we had morning practice from 8-9 a.m. and then a more substantial (and very delicious) breakfast after class. We had various activity options for the rest of the day throughout the week: Stand Up Paddle boarding, kayaking, chocolate-making, salsa dancing... We also had the option of getting pampered with a good, strong massage after all the yoga, surfing and all-around adventuring!
    Lunch was at 2 p.m. most days, evening practice around 5:30 p.m., just as the sun was setting, and a delectable dinner was served right afterwards which always included a sweet, refreshing treat for dessert!

    We dedicated one afternoon mid-week to volunteer for Waves of Hope, a charitable organization that the owners of Coco Loco (Earl and Jamie) created to get involved in and to support the surrounding community. It was such a heartwarming and humbling experience to be able to spend an afternoon re-painting an elementary school classroom and making cement to apply to the back of the schoolhouse.
     

    Taping Caro and Frances
    Painting Charlie and Frankie
    Cement Gen and Michelle

    The location of Coco Loco itself was of picturesque perfection! There were plenty of hammocks all along the grounds for us to relax and read a book, or sip on a margarita; there were lounge chairs by the beach for us to enjoy the sound of the waves while catching some sun rays; there was a lovely pool space area to cool off with a nice dip in the water; and there was a welcoming dining hall/lounging space where we could sit with a cool drink and grab a light snack while journalling or sending a quick message home. 

    Reading on the beach
    Hammock Meriem
    Dining hall

    And the beautiful sunset... We began the week by congregating on the beach the first night after dinner to watch the sunset and we ended the week with a walking meditation on the beach to watch the sun go down before our evening class.

    First night sunset
    Mid-week sunset
    Walking meditation

    Francesca and I would like to thank all the yogis who shared this wonderful experience with us and the entire Luna Yoga family for their support. We extend our sincerest gratitude especially to Jenn, for creating Luna Yoga to begin with, and for giving us the opportunity to host the most magical retreat for our community.

    See you there next year? ;-) (Luna Yoga & Surf Retreat 2019 is tentatively set for March 16-23. Stay tuned!)

    - Frances Vicente

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    Earth Day

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    Earth Day

    Thinking of what to do this Earth Day? Make this Sunday earth-friendly with these great activities to celebrate our beautiful planet.

     

    • Prepping for the work week ahead? Check out Lunch-a-Porter for great reusable lunch packaging ideas and options.
    • Going shopping? Buy local, Eco-friendly products. Luna’s Boutique is filled with Canadian-made, organic and Eco-friendly products.
    • Support our local farms. Lufa Farms will be celebrating Earth Day with an Open House Event.
    • Try one of Montreal’s amazing Eco-friendly restaurants that support healthy lifestyles, sustainable farming culture and local seasonal produce like  Lov, Robin Des Bois, Aux Vivres, and La Recolte
    • Going for a walk? Pick up and recycle any debris you find along the way. 
    • In the mood for a Netflix night? Check out An Inconvenient Sequel,  Planet Earth, Chasing Coral, A Plastic Ocean, as well as the long list of great documentaries on the food industry like Food Inc,  Sustainable, Food Choices, 

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    —Margaret Mead

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    Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry

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    Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry

    From The Spruce Eats
    Submitted by Bram Levinson

    Here’s one of my favourite recipes that is clean and healthy, and is even better when the water the rice is boiled in is replaced by coconut milk or even coconut water!

    What You'll Need 

    • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced OR 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms and 1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
    • 2 tsp canola oil or other high-heat oil
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or, use tamari or
    • Nama Shoyu or another substitute to keep it gluten-free)
    • 1 bok choy, chopped (or 2-3 baby bok choy if you prefer)
    • 5-6 scallions (green onions), sliced
    • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
    • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

    How to Make It 

    Sautee the garlic and mushooms in oil for 3 to 5 minutes then add in the soy sauce, the bok choy and scallions, and cook for a few more minutes.

    Reduce heat to medium low and add vegetable broth and ginger. Simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes.

    Finally, stir in the sesame oil and the optional sesame seeds and remove from heat.

    Serve your bok choy and mushroom stir-fry hot over rice, quinoa, noodles (there should be a little bit of sauce) or just enjoy it as is as a simple vegetable side dish.

    Or, add in some fried or baked tofu to add protein and make it a main dish.

    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories105
    Total Fat7 g
    Saturated Fat1 g
    Unsaturated Fat3 g
    Cholesterol0 mg
    Sodium365 mg
    Carbohydrates9 g
    Dietary Fiber3 g
    Protein4 g 

    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

    https://www.thespruceeats.com/bok-choy-shiitake-mushroom-stir-fry-3378425

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    Vegan Upcycle Muffins

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    Vegan Upcycle Muffins

    VEGAN UPCYCLE MUFFINS

    Upcycle: to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item

    Is there anything better than warm muffins on a cold day? Yes, warm VEGAN muffins! 

    I, like many others, have little time to bake so I often look for the most simple recipes I can find. I also hate waste, and have a few recipes that can use up and upcycle your pantry items!

    This recipe will do away with at least 4 rotting bananas that are sitting on your counter, waiting to be made into something delicious. 

    Better than Basic Banana Muffins

    These are moist, one-bowl muffins that you can make in a total of 30 minutes. I have timed it, and you can throw everything together in 10, throw them in the oven, run and take a shower, get dressed and be back before you have to take them out of the oven!

    • 2 flax eggs (each flax eggs =1 Tbs + 2.5 Tbs water)
    • 4 ripe bananas
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1.5 cups whole-wheat flour 
    • 1/2 cup rolled oats
    • optional: 1/4 cup nuts, cocoa chips, etc

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and lightly grease muffin tins with coconut oil or oil of choice.
    2. Prep flax egg in a large mixing bowl. Let set for 5 minutes.
    3. Add banana and mash, leaving just a bit of texture.
    4. Add brown sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk.
    5. Stir in vanilla, melted coconut oil and mix.
    6. Add flour, oats and stir until combined. Lastly, fold in optional ingredients.
    7. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling a generous 3/4 full
    8. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until toothpick or knife comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, remove from muffin tin. Once completely cooled, store in a covered container in the fridge. Can be frozen.

    Squash Muffins

    Have you ever made a big meal and have leftover sweet potato, butternut squash or maybe leftover pumpkin from making a pie? This recipe is crazy-versatile in that you can use any up any of the root veggies if you’re sick of turning them into soup!

    • 1 flax egg
    • 1/2 cup squash puree (pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash have all worked well)
    • 1 cup non-dairy milk 
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 2 Tbsp grape seed, canola, or  even coconut oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
    • Optional : 1/3 cup nuts or cocoa chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and lightly grease muffin tins with coconut oil or oil of choice.
    2. Prep flax egg in a large mixing bowl. Let set for 5 minutes.
    3. Add pumpkin puree, almond milk, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract and stir. Then add salt, baking soda and powder, and cinnamon and whisk.
    4. Add flour and lightly mix so all ingredients are incorporated.
    5. Lastly, fold in optional ingredients.
    6. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling a generous 3/4 full
    7. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick or knife comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, remove from muffin tin. Once completely cooled, store in a covered container in the fridge. Can be frozen.

    - Shannon Cleary

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    Peanut Butter Cauliflower Bowl with Roasted Carrots

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    Peanut Butter Cauliflower Bowl with Roasted Carrots

    Prep Time 10 mins ~ Cook Time 30 mins ~ Total Time 40 mins

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    Peanut Butter Cauliflower Bowl with Roasted Carrots. Cauliflower tossed in peanut butter sauce and roasted, carrots tossed in hot sauce and roasted. Vegan Recipe, Gluten-free option.  

    Course: Main Course   Cuisine: Gluten-free, Vegan   Servings: 4   Calories: 306 kcal Ingredients       

    For the Peanut Sauce:

    • 1/2 cup peanut butter , use sunbutter to make it nutfree
    • 1.5 tbsp lime juice
    • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce , use tamari to make gluten-free
    • 2 tbsp maple or sugar
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 2 tsp  hot sauce or sriracha or sambal oelek , to taste
    • 1 inch ginger
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • generous pinches of salt and black pepper , and 1/4 tsp pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1 to 3 tbsp flour , use rice flour for gluten-free
    • 1 small or half a head medium cauliflower chopped into small florets

    For the Carrots:

    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp hot sauce or sriracha
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • a pinch of salt
    • 4 or 5 carrots sliced

    Bowl:

    • Greens, lettuce, or kale
    • crunchy veggies like peppers, cabbage 

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

    2. Blend everything under peanut sauce. Taste and adjust flavor. Keep a quarter of the sauce for drizzling, transfer the rest to a large bowl. Add flour to the bowl to thicken the sauce so that it sticks to the veggies during baking.

    3. Take cauliflower florets one at a time, dip in peanut sauce and place floret on the lined baking sheet. Tap to remove excess sauce before placing. Some sauce might be left in the bowl, use as dressing later.

    4. Toss carrots with the ingredients under carrots and mix in. Spread on the sheet.

    5. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender

    6. Prepare the bowls with lettuce or greens of choice. Add some bell pepper and apple or pear. Add the cauliflower and carrots, dress generously with the peanut butter sauce, some pepper flakes and scallions or basil. Serve with cooked grains like quinoa/rice, or spiced chickpeas for a hearty meal. 

    Recipe Notes

    Variations: Add some pressed tofu, broccoli or tempeh to the sauce and bake with the cauliflower

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    High Protein Vegan Breakfast Burrito

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    High Protein Vegan Breakfast Burrito

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    I wanted to try this amazing recipe from Oh She Glows, mainly because I wanted to see if pressing tofu really made a difference. I think it did, and it wasn't that hard. I simply wrapped the tofu in a clean tea towel, pressed it down with a large can of chickpeas and let the water evaporate for 20min to an hour.

    Yield Four 3/4 cup servings     
    Prep time 20 Minutes
    Cook time 20 Minutes

    Ingredients:

    • 1 package extra-firm tofu, rinsed and pressed
    • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 cups diced onion (about 1 medium)
    • 1 cup diced potato (~115 grams or half a medium potato)
    • 1.5 cups sliced mushrooms (I used portabello)
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • 3-4 tbsp minced basil
    • 2 tbsp minced parsley
    • 1-1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt  + black pepper
    • For garnish: chopped salsa, avocado (or guacamole) green onion

    Directions:

    1. Press tofu: Rinse the tofu with water. Wrap the tofu in tea towel and press a can into the wrapped tofu. Let sit for at least 20 min to 2hrs to soak out the water. 
    2. When you're ready heat a large skillet with 1 tsp oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion and then add diced potato and stir. Finally add mushrooms and sauté for 15 minutes, reducing heat if necessary and stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
    3. Remove tofu from towel. It becomes quite crumbly, making it the perfect texture and size.
    4. Reduce heat to low and stir in the nutritional yeast, crumbled tofu, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on low until potato is cooked through.
    5. Serve tofu mix with warmed tortillas with bowls of salsa, guacamole, green onions, and whichever condiments you like. and let everyone make their own customized breakfast burrito!

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    Green & Clean: Options to Help You Breathe Easier

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    Green & Clean: Options to Help You Breathe Easier

    Is winter over yet? Like many Montrealers, I’m ready to breathe again. I packed up my winter clothes and I opened my windows that have been shut for months, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I opened my eyes and as my lungs filled with fresh air, I looked around and all I could see was how dirty everything looked. 

    Spring brings a need to clean. Every year at this time, we like to start with a clean slate. Detoxes in mind and body are underway and we start thinking about spring cleaning but before you reach for that commercial cleaning product under your sink, lets talk about options.  I’m not a big fan of using things that have labels with skull and cross bones on them.  The amount of toxins in commercial cleaning products is staggering, they’re expensive, and are almost always packaged in plastic.  There has been no better time to go green. 

    Being the founder of Audre Leigh Beauty, I obviously believe in the power of plants, so naturally, I clean my living spaces with essential oils.  With their antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, they don’t damage my health or the health of my loved ones, they don’t damage the environment and they most often work much better than the mass marketed cleaning products you can find at your grocery store chain. And did I mention the aromatherapeutic benefits? 

    The most common essential oils to use is the brilliant Lavender — the most essential of the essential oils — strong, yet gentle, there is little it can’t do. It can sanitize floors, countertops and my fella loves it when I spray lavender floral water on our sheets, making slipping into bed even more divine after a long day.  

    Not a fan of lavender? Neither am I. The great thing about essential oils is there are so many scents to choose from. If you prefer herbal scents, try peppermint, tea tree,thyme, eucalyptus, lavender. And if you prefer spicy scents, there’s cinnamon and clove and the citrus scents, like lemongrass and orange are always favourites.

    Once you choose your scents, here’s a great basic recipe that can be used for everything from cleaning floors to countertops:

    Makes about 20 ounces

    • 15 ounces distilled water
    • 5 ounces white distilled vinegar
    • 1/4 cup lemongrass essential oil
    • 1 tbs clove essential oil
    • 1 tsp peppermint essential oil

    No time to make your own cleaning products? Montreal has a growing list of retail stores that offer eco-friendly cleaning materials and some like, Klova on St Denis offer refills, so you can bring in bottles and refill them, limiting the amount of waste, while supporting our local businesses.

    This season is a great time to try new things. Inhale deeper than you have ever before this spring with greener air and cleaner habits that won’t only benefit you, but the world around you. Breathe easier. Essentially, the time is now. 

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