Sucré Santé: Healthy Holiday Treats

sante-sucre-holidays-treats

The holiday season is wonderful in many ways but incredibly bad for your waist line and your wallet. I don’t even like sweets all that much but if I had a dollar for every cookie, cake or candy that I’ve eaten this month, I’d probably have a hundred bucks. I’m not really into gift giving but I always loved the idea of preparing care packages for my loved ones. This year instead of baking the usual cookies, I’ve opted for a number of healthier options that will still entice the sweeties.

Sucré Santé: my list of healthy dessert recipes for the Holidays

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Natural Sweeteners and no sugar added (with exception of chocolate chips).

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Raw brownies, nutty granola bars and energy balls made with dates, nuts and seeds are just a few of the goodies that I’ve prepared for my sucre sante packages. As I mentioned, I am not a big “sweets” person so these recipes are not my own creations but rather a compilation recipes that are tried, tested and true. They are all from well established (mostly vegan) food blogs. The links to the recipes are included in the list below, ENJOY!

 

Raw Chocolate Brownies

Blog: Oh She Glows

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Raw Chocolate Chipotle Brownies

Blog: Rawmazing

For raw brownies with a spicy twist.

Easy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars

Blog: Minimalist Baker

Simple, filling and really really easy!

Chocolate Peanutbutter Energy Balls

Blog: Gimme Some Oven

Also incredibly easy and a little more on the sweet side.

Or try the Pistachio Cranberry balls for fruitier festive spin on things.

Chickpea blondies

Blog: Ambitious Kitchen

The only actual baked dessert, these blondies are delicious gooey goodness without the flour.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

-Melodie

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Feature: Zengarry Raw Vegan Nut Cheese

zengarrycheese

http://www.zengarry.com/

My thoughts on Vegan Cheese:

How can it be cheese if it’s vegan? By definition cheese is a milk product… A lot of my friends (mostly non-vegans) have pointed out that although they enjoy vegan cheeses, they don’t like the fact that these products are “parading” as something they are not. I understand this sentiment, but I argue that we ultimately live in a “meat-centric” world and need to name food items after their animal based brother for people to really understand. For example soy milk is really a soy beverage but we understand it much better with the name milk. I just prefaced with this because vegan cheese is not real cheese and it really will never be. I’m not a strict vegan so I do eat cheese as well. This Zengarry vegan cheese is super delicious BUT if you are too hung up on wanting it to taste exactly like the REAL thing then you may be disappointed. Don’t get fixated on name, think of it more like a stand alone product – that’s my two cents on vegan cheese.

Zengarry Cheese:

First-off, I love these products. I went to the Montreal Vegan Festival back in September and went around sampling the various exhibitors. I stopped at Zengarry and was practically salivating over their vegan nut cheeses. I picked up a cumin gruyere and my roommate grabbed the sun-dried tomato. I just want to mention that my roommate is from France which may seem irrelevant but you know how the French love their cheese, right?  I’ll admit stereotyping is bad in most cases but my non-vegan French roomie buying the cheese was a auto seal of approval to me. It’s kind of like when you go to a Chinese restaurant and see Chinese people sitting inside, you know? You assume it’s good…no? C’mon everyone does that.

Anyways, the cheeses were about 8 – 10 $ each. It isn’t cheap but it’s hand made, organic and in most cases the main ingredient is cashews which are an expensive nut.

Coincidentally about  a week after the Vegan Festival, I was contacted by Zengarry to try some samples for MTL VEG. Obviously I was over the moon for these free goodies that I already love!

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They gave me three products and I had the fourth remaining from the festival. The products lasted for about 2 weeks and there were lots so I invited friends over to get their remarks, here is what I’ve concluded:

1 – Raw Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Cashew Cheese

This product is absolutely delicious and fairly addictive. Everyone loved this one and although I had tons of it from the week before, I did not get sick of it. Great with crackers, baguette, on a sandwich, added to a pasta dish and more. Yum, yum, yum!

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2 – Gruyere with Cumin Seed

This cheese was probably my second or third favourite but it was not as much of a crowd pleaser. Cumin is not everyone’s cup of tea and the coconut oil in the cheese did not go down so well with everyone. Coconut and cumin are both distinct flavours which were quite subtle in the cheese but not subtle enough for everyone. If you like cumin, you’ll love it. If not, maybe steer clear.

3 – Raw Garlic and Fine Herb Cashew Cheese

In terms of crowd pleasers, this one take second place. It is reminiscent of a boursin with the garlic and herb aromas. It is quite good when added to pasta for a creamy texture, in a wrap, salad dressing or spread over a baguette.

4- Holiday Brie

This lavish nut cheese with pistachios and cranberry is a good for gatherings. It makes a lot of sense to grab one of these for the holidays but it would a little less practical for adding to day to day dishes. I could see it added to a salad but other than that, I see this more as a stand alone product to enjoy with cracker or bread. I  enjoyed all the Zengarry cheeses but the brie was probably my least favourite over all.

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In conclusion, try these cheeses. They really are quite good, I promise. Start with the Sun Dried Tomato and Basil or Garlic and Fine Herb and take it from there. You can find them at a number of health food stores in Montreal including one of my go-to shops: Bio-Terre.

Here are the places that sell them: http://www.zengarry.com/find-us.html

Well that’s all for now, have a lovely weekly y’all!

Mel

Hockey Playoffs – Veggie Style

habmtlveg

As a proud Montrealer, I am ecstatic about the Habs annihilating Tampa in the play-offs. I mean hell yah! Okay, I’ll be honest-I’m not the biggest hockey fanatic, but I’ve always loved the buzz around the city during the playoff season. It’s a pure energy that transcends race, gender or linguistic differences. Hockey truly is one of those special customs that unites all Montrealers to appreciate something bigger, despite our differences. It really is a beautiful thing. So, this year I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon and watching the games in anticipation, at a bar or in a living room with a cold brew and a good pal. And who says I can’t do hockey my way? Veggie-style! I’m compiling a list of my favourite vegetarian and vegan snack foods that would make a great addition to any game night.

1. Seven layered dip – 

Vegetarian or Vegan 

This dip is classically made with sour cream and cheese but can be made vegan-style as well. It features refried beans which are pretty much my raison d’etre, along with a rich guacamole and pico de gallo. Yummy! It’s relatively easy to prepare and I promise your hockey amigos will love it.

2. Garlic Kale chips

This is a MTLVEG original recipe, although kale chips are far from a new idea. These delicious thin crunchy chips make a great snack for just about any event. I am border line addicted to them. The only issue is you’ll need a lot of kale to feed your crew.

3. Roasted spicy chickpeas

How do you pack crunchy, spicy and delicious into one wholesome healthy snack? Make roasted chickpeas! Yes, these are a great finger food that’s a lot healthier than potato chips. Consider serving these goodies for the next game.

4. Hummus 

Okay, hummus is pretty much the veggie equivalent to all snack foods but for a good reason. Veggies and hummus are the go-to vegan choice for just about any event, and it’s easy to see why – it’s a cheap snack and goes with virtually everything. I’ve opted to include a unique, miso & white bean hummus recipe from Keeping it Kind as an alternative to the typical chickpea hummus. Then again, any variation works. 

5. Chard & Cheese on toast

Another MTLVEG original, this is such an easy snack to prepare. Sautee a little bit of onions and Swiss chard, place it on a multi-grain toast and melt some cheddar cheese on top. You could definitely do this vegan style with a dash Daiya or even explore some local vegan cheese alternatives such as Brydsheese. It’s a simple snack but definitely a crowd pleaser.

6. Buffalo tempeh wing dip

Now this recipe from More Vegan Blog is one that I wish I had invented myself. It’s a pure gluttonous treat that really harnesses the power of “good fats” to create a creamy wing sauce that is not only vegan but scrumptious…Not to mention the tempeh is a rich protein source that will leave your gut feeling full just as if you were eating real chicken wings. 

There are endless snack possibilities when hosting a game night as long as you keep in mind one simple rule: Beer should accompany everything! Or at least a white wine spritzer.  GO HABS GO!!!

 

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Hey guys, thanks for following my blog and trying out the recipes. I’ve received some positive feedback so far and I am overjoyed. It’s fun to have a venue where you can talk about something that you love.

Mel's tofurkey

My tofurkey from last christmas

Seeing as it is a week before thanksgiving, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about veggie thanksgiving options! The first thing that probably comes to mind is TOFURKEY! Despite the negative impressions, tofurkey can be a delicious centrepiece for a holiday dinner.

My tofurkey rules:

1. NEVER ever buy store-bought tofurkey! It’s absolutely awful.

2. Tis’ the season to SEASON! Lots of fresh herbs and spices will make your tofurkey tasty!

3. It’s all Gravy! Tofu can sometimes be a bit dry, so gravy is a necessary accompaniment. Just because you don’t have a bird, doesn’t mean you can’t make a delicious gravy out of vegetarian ingredients, like mushrooms!

There are a number of great home-made tofurkey recipes which I’ve listed below. The process is not that difficult but does require a bit of time and dedication. A lot of people don’t really understand what goes into tofurkey. Basically, you put tofu into a food processor with your seasoning to make a tofu mush. This mush is placed into cloth lined colander, weighed down and drained overnight.  Once the tofu is very well drained, you dig a hole to place your stuffing inside. Cover up the stuffing with the remaining tofu and flip the entire colander over onto casserole dish. Bake and baste your tofu concoction for 45- 60 minutes and you’ve got TOFURKEY! Since tofurkey doesn’t produce fat like a real turkey would, you baste with a homemade marinade. The end result should have a crispy exterior.

There is no secret recipe that works best. If you want it to taste like turkey use poultry seasoning. I use a combination of fresh herbs, spices and soy sauce. Some recipes call for nutritional yeast.

Although this video is low quality, it carefully covers the process step by step. It actually shows you how to make tofurkey skin and little legs.  I’ve never gone through that trouble but it could be a fun experiment.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKIrgls-WCw

My favourite tofurkey recipes:

Chef in you – Vegan tofu turkey

Chow – Tofurkey with brown rice stuffing  with Mushroom gravy

Vegetarian thanksgiving side-dishes:

Now that we’ve got tofurkey out of the way, here are a few suggestions for fabulous vegetarian side-dishes.

1. Mashed potatoes or Vegan mashed potatoes

2. It’s Canadian thanksgiving so how about a little maple, eh? Maple roasted sweet potatoes & Maple roasted brussels sprouts

3. Baby spinach & cranberry salad

4. Roasted beet & carrot salad, thanks Martha!

5. Green beans with roasted almonds

6. Butternut squash soup

7. Cranberry sauce 

So yes, holidays don’t have to be all about ham or lamb or turkey. There are some great options out there for us vegetarians too!