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Archive for the ‘Recently Reviewed’ Category

Curry in a Hurry

In Food, Glorious Food, Recently Reviewed, Recipes on February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

While we love Indian food, if you’ve ever made curry from scratch you know, it can be a long, time-consuming process. To cut corners, I sometimes use ready-made sauces but it’s really hard to find prepackaged ones that not only taste good but are organic, not to mention vegan, gluten-free and nut-free.

For the most part, I find that store-bought sauces or mixes often need a bit of embellishment to make them more flavourful – so I end up having to add a ton of spices just to make them palatable. How happy I was to recently discover a new line of sauces that step up to the challenge! These sauces are made in small batches and are full of flavour on their own.

Ingredients

3          large potatoes, peeled and chopped

1          small cauliflower, chopped

1          large onion, diced

1          can chickpeas, rinsed (398 ml)

2          cloves garlic (2-3 tsp) minced

1          jar (485 ml) Perfect Chef Veg Curry

avocado or coconut oil

salt & pepper

Slower Method

Chop potatoes into bite-size pieces. Boil in salted water about 15 mins., until tender. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are boiling, heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid, add chopped onions and sauté on medium heat about 5 mins. Mix in garlic and cauliflower. Cover with lid and allow cauliflower to steam about 5-10 mins.

Once cauliflower has started to soften, stir in chickpeas and cooked potatoes. Add sauce and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. If curry is too thick, add a small amount of water or unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy, rice, coconut or almond milk work well for a creamier sauce) to desired consistency.

Replace lid and continue cooking, stirring regularly, until sauce beings to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 mins., until all vegetables are heated through. Serve with cooked basmati rice and flatbread or naan. Enjoy!

Make ahead tips:

The trick is to make parts of this meal ahead of time. Any prep you can do beforehand will cut down your overall cooking time.

Some suggestions:

-Boil the potatoes as above. Drain. Cool and store for later use.

-Wash and chop cauliflower, then store in container until ready to use. Or while you are boiling the potatoes, toss cauliflower with oil until lightly coated and roast in oven at 400°C for about 15 mins., until lightly browned. Cool and store for later use.

-Prechop garlic and store in a small amount of oil (or cheat and buy minced garlic).

-Sauté onions in oil until lightly browned.

Speedy Method

If all or most of your ingredients are cooked and ready to go, it’s a quick and simple assembly. Simply heat oil in Dutch oven, add onions and stir in garlic. Mix in cooked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are heated thoroughly.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Relief in a Wrap

In Body Fantastic, Recently Reviewed on February 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Version 2

Been shovelling much? With all the recent snowfall, my back went out of whack… it was a lot of snow after all! Not one to take pain killers, I came across these heatwraps some time ago and in sharing my snow shock with others discovered that many people still don’t know about them. Well friends, suffer in silence no more!

Heatwraps with ThermaCare by Robax. Consider it a form-fitting hot water bottle or imagine a toasty, electric blanket on your back (or neck if you get the other style). PRODUCT NOTES The wraps come in individual packs, which makes them easy to transport and store as you never know when a simple bend, twist or lift can suddenly cause one of your body parts to flare up. Only open the package when you’re ready to put it on or you won’t enjoy the full 16 hours or so of relief. Yes, they really stay warm for that long! BOTTOM LINE Put pain on notice. Once you’ve test-driven these tried-and-true back aids you’ll always want to have a package on reserve to pull out just as those first few snowflakes start to fall. Get the jump on spring and stock up early before the cleaning season starts. Now gotta get back out to the shovelling…


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Granola Made Good

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on January 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm

We’ve tried a lot of granola bars in our household over the years so we know something good when we find it – particularly when it’s organic, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan. Although my daughter is now in university, she still takes snacks just about every day. Both my husband and I like to have quick-and-easy items to grab and go, too especially when you’re on the road or running errands.

 Version 2Granola Minis by MadeGood  If you’re searching for a healthy snack the kids will love, look no further. These tiny little morsels are filled with – believe it or not – vegetables! And yes, the pickiest kid will enjoy them not just because they are fun to eat but they taste great. PRODUCT NOTES So many good flavours to choose from – strawberry (pictured), mixed berry, apple cinnamon, chocolate chip and chocolate banana. The hard part will be deciding which one to try first. The granola bars are simply larger versions of the minis. BOTTOM LINE Perfect for school (or work) lunches, these may cost a little more than your regular snacks but the better-quality ingredients make it worth your while.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Crazy for Kombucha

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on January 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm

There’s been a bad flu bug going around. Particularly during this past holiday season when most of us were getting together with family and friends. If the flu didn’t get you, perhaps the drinking, overeating, rich foods or sugary treats all took their toll.

While I was out shopping one day, I noticed a woman grabbing this item from the fridge section and was intrigued. Ginger remedies tend to be my go-to when I have stomach upset or cold symptoms. So I thought it might be a good one to try as something different while we had holiday guests. I’m sure glad I did!

kombucha

Kombucha Gingerade by GT’s. I’ve never seen this line before but the fact it was organic, non-GMO, vegan and gluten free made it appealing. As you know, I am always eager to try new organic and vegan products. PRODUCT NOTES In a nutshell, it’s probably the strongest ginger ale you will ever try – with real bits of raw ginger in it. My mother didn’t like it at all but the rest of us really enjoyed drinking it. BOTTOM LINE Both my sister and cousin had a bit of stomach flu and found it helped them to recover. Plus, there was a day or two when I was also feeling a bit queasy and it immediately made me feel better! I’ll have to keep my eye out for the other flavours. If they are as good as the gingerade, it will definitely be worth the search.

A Day For Celebration!

In Book Reviews, Food For Thought, Recently Reviewed on August 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I’m very excited and pleased to announce the launch of my first children’s ebook, My Father’s Nose. Now available though Amazon’s Kindle Store. I hope to have other formats available soon and will let you know when that happens.

51OosWASH+LWhen I was doing the upload the other day, it occurred to me that my ebook would probably go live on Aug. 3, which was my father’s birthday. I thought that was an interesting coincidence. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since my father passed away. When I did the math, I figured if he was still alive he would have turned 77 today. Funny how we get caught up in our lives and then all of a sudden some realization like this comes to you and gives you pause for reflection.

While it was certainly not planned or part of my intention, somehow through some serendipitous coincidence the date and lucky numbers lined up. For many people, the number seven is considered auspicious – let’s hope it’s an omen of good things to come!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

The Herbal Goddess Within

In Book Reviews, In the Garden, Recently Reviewed on June 5, 2016 at 9:57 pm

UnknownNow that the warmer weather is upon us and our gardens are beginning to awaken and explode with life Herbal Goddess, by master herbalist and yoga instructor Amy Jirsa, reminds readers how the earth provides us with everything we need. While many of us have forgotten the once common wisdom that knew which plants were used for specific medicines, according to Jirsa, “herbalism is our cultural heritage.” And she believes we all still carry this instinctual insight on how to heal our selves – we only need to find the path back to that knowledge.

Jirsa makes it easy – she’s plowed through the plant world’s overwhelming amount of information and culled the vast array down to 12 of her favourite healing herbs. No home apothecary should be without these select go-to herbs for day-to-day living. No doubt, most of us will recognize popular herbs such as chamomile, rose and lavender, which made the list for their well-known calming properties. And stay the spade: those dandelions and nettles you thought were weeds are also included! You might be surprised to learn that both plants provide valuable nutrients, and can serve as amazing detoxifiers.

While the book can be read in any order, it’s divided into individual sections. Each short chapter focuses on one of the 12 herbs, and includes beautiful photographs so you’ll be able to identify the herb when you come across it. Also provided is basic herb terminology, details on what part of the herb is used, how to harvest it, and preparations such as drying blossoms. There are featured recipes in every section for making teas, body care products, and special dishes plus themed yoga poses.

Whether you’re a total novice or an experienced herbalist, Herbal Goddess inspires you to dig deeper into the world of herbs. Jirsa suggests starting slowly and simply. Her advice is to take about a month’s time, and get to know each plant, one by one. With this type of close examination, you’ll really begin to understand the natural properties and effects of each herb. With these valuable tools firmly rooted, we may once again be able to take charge of our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Unleash the herbal goddess within yourself!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Time to Try Tempeh

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on April 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

tempeh

Recently while I was in Owen Sound, I visited one of my favourite cafes – The Bleeding Carrot. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend dropping by. Everything I’ve tried on their menu has been amazing. So when I asked the owner what was one of the most popular sandwiches he said, the Maple Tempeh Sandwich — it’s like a BLT but uses tempeh instead of bacon. He was quite convincing because for one, I’ve never really liked bacon so have never ordered a BLT, and secondly hadn’t tried tempeh, so I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Glad he urged me to do so. It was so good, I asked him what he used and he was kind enough to show me the package.

Marinated Tempeh by Turtle Island Foods. The people who brought you Tofurky, have also created an entire line of tempeh products. The Smoky Maple Bacon is the one I enjoyed in the sandwich so when I was in the store and saw the Sesame Garlic, I grabbed that one and the Coconut Curry, too.  PRODUCT NOTES Just like bacon, the tempeh comes in strips that need to be fried up. Some, like the Coconut Curry, are heavily coated in marinate, which makes them a bit sticky when you’re peeling them apart. While we’re big fans of curries – the seasoning in this one wasn’t up to par, so much so we were afraid to try the others. Thankfully we took the plunge. BOTTOM LINE As for the flavours – Smoky Maple Bacon and Sesame Garlic – they were winners all around. Great in sandwiches, stir-fries and just as a side dish as part of a big breakfast.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Tour Top-Rated Vegan Restaurants

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

TheHappyCow_webThink you’re a picky eater? Try being a vegetarian or vegan, if just for a meal or two, and you’ll discover a host of difficulties served with a side of limited options when eating out. Add travel to the mix, where you’re not familiar navigating the local customs, language or terrain, and you might as well prepare for a culinary crisis. But wait – vegans everywhere can now rejoice! Let The HappyCow Cookbook, by Eric Brent and Glen Merzer, take you on a guided tour of top-rated vegan restaurants around the world. As the title suggests, even if you’re not leaving the comforts of home to jaunt off somewhere in the near future and are only venturing as far as your kitchen, this fabulous resource contains recipes from far and wide that will have you going back for seconds.

In the foreword, actress and fellow vegan Emily Deschanel cites many different reasons why people choose to become vegan, and stresses the need for like-minded individuals to reach out to one another in their common purpose. She credits the HappyCow website for helping to establish an international veg community to which she is happy to be part of. If you’re not familiar with HappyCow, it’s an online resource started in 1999 by founder and director Eric Brent, who is also co-editor and author of the book. Back in the 80s Brent, then a vegetarian, discovered first-hand how hard it was to find places to eat as he backpacked throughout Europe. By 1999 the avid traveller had become vegan, and had grown so frustrated, and practically starved in his search while abroad that he was inspired if not compelled to start HappyCow.com as a handy site to help other travellers find “safe food.” Today it is fueled by user-generated content, whereby once you’ve signed on to become part of their community you can post reviews and recommendations, however sweet or sour, of the places you’ve eaten and shopped. It’s refreshing to see so many successful vegan venues taking root among the vast plains of mainstream restaurants, diners, eateries and markets.

If you’re one of those people who avoid animal products, it no longer matters where you plant yourself. With just a few clicks of a mouse, you can easily find a variety of places that will not only welcome you but also share in your views. Unlike standard restaurateurs, these are people are enlightened to the cost and cruelty involved in consuming livestock, and are committed to making changes into what we enjoy when we sit down at the table – one meal at a time. As Dave Loan, owner of ZenKitchen, points out: “Diners are becoming more health-conscious and aware of factory farming and other cruelty issues while demanding more flavorful food. It’s up to us to step up to the plate –- the dinner plate — and offer our supporters the full dining experience while still respecting our values.”

Thanks to the book’s selection of go-to places you can now travel the world and dine on international cuisine from haute cuisine to fast food simply by flipping through a few pages. Each listing features photographs of the establishment, so you’ll know what to look out for if you’re visiting, plus a brief interview with the proprietor and one or more of their popular recipes.

Heading down south? Plan to make a pit stop at Cornbread Café in Eugene, Oregon and enjoy some southern-style hospitality. What started out in a parked food trailer has since grown into the present day diner thanks to their ever-popular Chicken Fried Tempeh topped with cashew gravy, Skillet Cornbread and Frozen Peanut Butter Pie. Not only does a local gardener pick up their food scraps, driven in a car fueled by their used cooking oil, but the café also offers discounts to patrons who walk or ride the bus when they drop in for a bite.

Should you find yourself across the pond in York, England or Malaga, Spain and are craving a bit of Spanish flair, head over to one of El Piano’s locations and tuck into some Peruvian Leftovers Pie and Granada Chai. Taking a trip to our own Canadian capital? Raise the flag for Ottawa’s ZenKitchen, an upscale and award-winning gourmet vegan restaurant known for its Polenta Fries and Eggplant Parmesan. Fancy salad? Prepare for a salad showcase as their Tasting of Beets celebrates the root vegetable with its selection of boiled, roasted and pickled beets.

If you’re up for something more substantial, Coox and Candy in Stuttgart, Germany should hit the spot. Owner and chef, Kathrin Friedrich, shares one of the lessons she’s learned: “It’s so much easier to explain the vegan lifestyle if you offer somebody a delicious meal, a sweet dessert, and good coffee, instead of talking to a person in the street showing him bloody pictures of dead animals.” Well said, indeed, as the latter certainly doesn’t do much to whet the appetite. For goodness sake, give them the dinner, the coffee and cake. As a popular chef who keeps customers coming back for more, Friedrich knows a thing or two about good food. Fans of hearty German fare will find themselves right at home enjoying her creative reinterpretations of time-honoured classics like schnitzel with dishes such as Celery-Breaded Cutlet With Wild Rice and Mixed Vegetables. It’s also one of the few places where you can find a traditional homemade vegan Schwarzwälder-Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sounds like a wonderful meal that you can really sink your teeth into. Bon appétit!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Fight Signs of Aging

In Natural Beauty, Recently Reviewed on November 13, 2014 at 10:07 am

Looking for a natural, non-invasive way to look younger? Phytogenics has introduced a new anti-aging cream aptly named Phyt-Age, and claims it works as well as Botox but without the toxic injections. While there’s no shortage of anti-aging creams on the market promising to turn back the hands of time, few of them offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t see results in 30 days. In fact, Phytogenics is so confident you’ll love their Phyt-Age cream, they even challenge you to take a simple 15-minute test to see the difference. Then, if you’re impressed with what it can do in that short time, imagine the results with ongoing use. (I certainly won’t be returning my sample!)

According to Phytogenics, the reality is our skin shows signs of aging and becomes susceptible to sagging, wrinkles and injury due to various factors such as decreased skin thickness and dehydration. But Phyt-Age cream has been specifically formulated, with a combination of seven naturally occurring ingredients such as argan oil, topical vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) and hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate), to target these causes and restore skin to a healthier and younger-looking state. These ingredients contain bio-molecules designed to give you optimal anti-aging results by stimulating collagen production and brightening skin tone. For those individuals who wish to avoid certain preservatives and are highly sensitive or allergic to fragrance and perfumes, take note – this rich cream has no fragrance, and is paraben-free.

Known for its secrecy, the beauty industry has a history of closely guarding product formulations and limits many ingredient lists in the fine print – if you can find them at all without a special request. So it’s refreshing to see Phyt-Age is clearly labeled, and even details information and research about the efficacy of the active ingredients it contains on the Phytogenics website. They even welcome customer feedback and have posted numerous testimonials. For more information on Phyt-Age visit http://phytogenicinc.com/

Lovely Lavender Cleansing Milk

In Natural Beauty, Recently Reviewed on August 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

cleanser

As you navigate the sea of mainstream cosmetics out there, with so many chemical-based products vying for your attention and dollars, it’s nice to land upon a product that not only lives up to its claims but also surpasses your expectations. Fresh out of facial cleanser, I waded through the aisles of my local health food store and struck gold with this cleansing milk.

Avalon Organics CoQ10 Repair Facial Cleansing Milk. Lured by the promises of wrinkle smoothing hydration and cell renewal, I was pleasantly pleased to find a quality, performance product that is certified organic, paraben and sulfate free. PRODUCT NOTES Attracted by the handy pump dispenser, which I think is a great feature, I thought it would be similar to the many watered-down, liquidy cleansing milks I’ve used before. Surprisingly, a little goes a long way. So go easy with the pump as it dispenses more of a thick cream — almost like a cold cream in terms of texture and consistency. And while it says it “contains White Tea and Sunflower,” it’s hard to miss the punch of pure lavender it exudes. BOTTOM LINE. It’s hard not to love this rich cleanser. My skin really does feel smoother and look firmer after using, so I’m excited to explore other offerings in this new-found product line. Well done Avalon.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.