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A while back I found myself in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) with my family for the weekend. This meant investigating the veggie eateries in town! We ended up eating at the super swanky looking but spectacularly vegetarian unfriendly hotel restaurant for lunch on the first day (not kidding, there were zero vegetarian options, not even the usual paltry side salad) but fortunately Edmonton redeemed itself by brunch the following morning at Padmanadis. We were quite the group that headed out that morning; a vegan, a vegetarian with a bunch of food restrictions (no gluten, peanuts, soy, dairy, corn, and a couple of other things I think), a diabetic allergic to spinach, and three omnivores with varying levels of veggie acceptance. Fortunately for all of us, we had a most enjoyable time and better yet, everyone loved their food!! Two thumbs up for that! 🙂 When we were there the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy (Sunday for brunch) and while I didn’t take any pictures of the actual restaurant, it was nice,spacious and bright with fun pictures (apparently of staff and frequent patrons) adorning the walls. My good friend who resides in Edmonton, called Padmanadi’s the hip place for Edmonton vegans and I can definitely see why, that being said I think it has a good balance between hip and modern and ‘hippie’. My parents felt comfortable dining there (unlike some of the other vegan/veggie establishments we have been to in the past, which have garnered some comments about the waitstaff etc.) and my father even talked about suggesting it to a business associate who coordinates work meetings and dinners. Also, fairly irrelevant, but I LOVED the taps in the bathroom! They were basically a glass bowl with a glass disk held above it, which water ran onto and over into the bowl, creating a little waterfall effect.

So about that food, eh? As I mentioned, we came for brunch so that was the menu we ordered off of. We had an extremely helpful and chipper waiter who was happy to answer our (many) questions about ingredients etc. and was happy to offer suggestions on what to order which was much appreciated by me the indecisive among us. In my defense, this is actually the first entirely vegan restaurant I have ever been to, and it was quite novel to be able to choose absolutely ANYTHING off the menu!! So, what did we end up ordering?

Up first is the hot rice cereal with coconut milk (one of the few options that my friend with all the food restrictions could have- as an aside, she said previously when she ate there, off the dinner menu, there was basically nothing that she could eat, however they were open to whipping something up for her) My dad also got a small side dish of this, they both thought it was fantastic and quite decadent (akin to rice pudding).

My Dad also got the French Toast (banana coconut french toast with mango compote). This was a big hit; he loves tropical flavours and french toast so this checked quite a few boxes for him!

My brother got the spicy eggplant omelette. He was iffy about the eggplant at first but I convinced him to order it anyways and I think he might have a more favourable opinion of eggplant now. Also, this came with Daiya cheese, and as one of the omnivores in the group, I was pleasantly surprised to hear nothing of the lack of real cheese flavour. I always figure that vegan stuff probably tastes ‘real’ to me because I just don’t remember what the dairy/meat product tastes like, but I would say this is a firm vote for the authenticity of Daiya.

My mom and her college roommate (the diabetic) both got the traditional eggs benedict. I think at first the non-vegan names threw them for a loop (they kept asking if the ham, cheese, egg etc. was ‘real’) but they both enjoyed it and had a fun time dissecting the dish to figure out the various components (the ‘egg’ had a butternut squash ‘yolk’ etc.).

Lastly, I got the Thai Benedict, which I was assured was not spicy, and sure enough, it was well within my tolerable level of heat (aka, basically not spicy at all). I loved the flavourings of the dish, although really with peanut and cilantro, I’m not sure how you can go wrong! 🙂 Most of us also got the house root vegetable fries on the side, which were lovely (not greasy at all which was a pleasant surprise!) and contained taro root (the white with purple flecks right near the little bowl of salsa), which was a new veggie for many of us (and which our waiter happily gave us the name of). Since then, I got myself a taro root and chopped it up and baked it in the oven with sweet potatoes-very tasty!

That’s not all though, we splurged for dessert too (I was especially excited about this even though I really wasn’t hungry for it at all, but who can pass up the opportunity to actually order and eat dessert!?)

There was rice pudding, chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (oh yes!), and panna cotta ordered. All were deemed delicious, with much discussion on how one would make the recipes vegan etc.

All in all, I thought Padmanadis was fantastic, great food at reasonable prices, great service and great company! I would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Edmonton. I also really enjoyed the opportunity for the omnivores in the group to try vegan food in a relaxed atmosphere (they really don’t push the vegan aspect, which I think probably serves it well in Alberta, which isn’t exactly the most vegan friendly province! ;)) and the discussions about the food, ingredients, and preparation that ensued. Here’s hoping we all went away with a little more open minds and full, happy bellies. 🙂

Kathleen

I don’t know about you, but I am quite the chocoholic! Thus when I came across both of these products I knew I had to give them a shot. First up, Silk’s Dark Chocolate Almond Milk:

What I love about this product is that it still has all of the nutritional additives that the plain almond milk (and soymilk) has. I always like it when I can tell myself good reasons to have a delicious treat (50% of your B12, go ahead, have another glass ;)). The fact that it is the almond milk is also really appealing; while I don’t have any real problems with soy, I would rather get my soy from products like tofu, edamame, and tempeh than from soymilk so I love that Silk has made that possible (a lot of the other almond milks don’t have the add-ins that Silk does – that may not be a deal breaker for you but I don’t take supplements so I like knowing that my morning milk substitute provides a good amount of calcium, B12, and vitamin D) and hey, I would never complain about having the additional choice of chocolate! 😀

As for the actual product, it is sweetened, but I didn’t find it overpoweringly so, and that along with the chocolate, brings up the calorie count to over double that of the original TrueAlmond (60kcals in the TrueAlmond and 130kcals in a cup of the Chocolate) so that is something to consider, if you are a calorie minding individual. That being said, they aren’t lying when they call it dark chocolate, so much so that I was happy to mix it half and half with the plain and still have a yummy chocolatey drink. I also took to heating it up and adding a drop of mint extract for a yummy mint hot chocolate experience. Mmmm!

So five gold stars, two thumbs up etc. from me for the Dark Chocolate Silk TrueAlmond. I definitely suggest picking some up if you see it in your store.

Next up, Vega Shake & Go Chocolate Smoothie mix.

This is actually not the kind of product I normally purchase, mostly because of the prohibitive cost. A bag of this is usually betwen $20-$25 around here and it contains ten servings, not exactly the most budget friendly product out there. I purchased this while I was out travelling, unsure of what kind of food I would find, so I figured having something like this that you can just add to water was a nice safeguard against living off of side salads, er iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots for 10 days.

Compared to the other flavours offered (Vanilla, Berry, and Tropical), the chocolate has more calories, but it also has more iron and calcium, two things I am generally concerned about how much I am consuming, and hey, it’s chocolate, so I really need any other reasons to choose it! 😉 The other thing I love about it, and all Vega products, is the impressive ingredients list:

Organic green pea protein, natural flavours, organic coconut palm nectar, flaxseed, hemp protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic green food blend (alfalfa grass, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, organic broccoli sprout, spirulina), xanthan gum, digestive enzyme blend, and dairy-free probiotic blend (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum).

By itself, the mix does have a bit of a ‘healthy’ taste, but nothing too strong (I still though it was yummy mixed into almond milk). I would definitely suggest using it as an add-in to a regular smoothie rather than having it on it’s own, I thought it was quite a tasty addition to a frozen fruit and spinach smoothie.Aside from that, I also found it to be quite sweet, and initially thought it was sweetened with Stevia (which I find sometimes has a bit of an aftertaste) but the ingredients indicate otherwise. I also used it as a chocolate flavouring for the waffles I made in the hotel, stirred it into oatmeal with pears (mmm, chocolate pear oats), and mixed it into almond milk for a healthy hot chocolate; all tasty uses of the product.  

Overall, I would say it is a good product, although perhaps best used as suggested by individuals who aren’t epecting their ‘smoothie’ to taste like Nesquick. Mixed into a full fledged smoothie, I think it would be happily consumed by most and for the ingredients, I would say a good way to sneak greens into the smoothie of an otherwise reluctant greens drinker. 🙂 Really the big negative is the cost. For 10 servings, it doesn’t go far if you are using it regularly, and while the ingredient list is impressive for a packaged product, you can eat your greens fresh for much less than that.

-K

Recently, we were contacted by JK Gourmet, a Canadian company that produces high quality almond flour and gluten free/grain free baked goods, including biscotti, muffins, and granola. They don’t sweeten anything with refined sugar, and are looking to expand their line to include agave-sweetened vegan products! Very exciting! We were offered a bag of their finely ground blanched almond flour to sample, and since I am gluten free all the time, K and I decided I should receive it. I had never tried almond flour before, and I must say, the baked goods that I’ve made with this flour have been incomparable in their rich flavour.

Upon opening the bag, I was surprised at how light and fluffy the flour was. JK Gourmet is so fine that the little bit I sampled alone almost melts away in your mouth. It is slightly sweet and nutty, with a mild and delicious almond aftertaste. Along with the sample of almond flour, I was sent a recipe for an apple galette recipe from the Grain-Free Gourmet: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living cookbook. It was dark when I pulled the baked galette out of the oven, and although this isn’t a great photo (nor is my galette particularly photogenic), it was demolished (I had help!) before I could snap a better shot! I’ll admit that I was concerned that the almond flour would turn into a puddle of almond soup in the oven, but instead it baked into a delicious golden crust. The almond flour pastry remained very tender and was so flavourful – perhaps slightly like marzipan? My boyfriend, who adores apple pie above all else was more than happy to help me polish this off in record speed.

Next up, I knew exactly what cookies I wanted to bake with my almond flour! I had been eyeing this recipe for chocolate chip cookies from Elana’s Pantry (not veg.) for ages. Made with almond flour and sweetened with agave, these were much healthier than the average cookie. Despite that, they were the richest tasting cookies I’ve had a long time. The JK Gourmet almond flour created wonderfully dense, moist, and chewy cookies – so different from the usual crumbly gluten free cookie! As an aside, JK Gourmet almond flour is one of the few brands that Elana of Elana’s Pantry recommends – clearly, she knows her almond flour! I’m already thinking about my next almond flour cookies – maybe snickerdoodles? Yumyum!

If you would like to purchase JK Gourmet almond flour, you can click through to see a list of their Canadian retailers here, or you can purchase it online. In Canada, it seems to be fairly widely distributed, so keep your eyes peeled! 🙂

Thanks for the sample, JK Gourmet!

-Eve

Last year K was kind enough to gift me with a holiday Kiss My Face Moisturizer/Body Scrub duo in Cranberry Spice. Although the Kiss My Face website doesn’t appear to have this particular gift set online, I’ve seen it in stores again this year, so I thought I’d post a review for anyone looking for some festive body products.

First off, let me just say that I love Kiss My Face products – except for the odd bit of honey and beeswax (boo!), they are a fairly extensive line of plant based personal care products. I’ve used many of their products – (lotion, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner…), and they are consistently effective and high quality.

My favourite part of this gift set, the moisturizer, is like all other Kiss My Face lotions in that it is light and non-greasy. I hate when I feel like I have a layer of cream on my hands, so I really like how this stuff gets absorbed very quickly, leaving your skin wonderfully soft. The body scrub is thick and creamy with fine pumice scrub – perfect for dry elbows! Of course, the best part of these products is the scent – the only way I can think to describe how Cranberry Spice smells is that to me, it’s the smell of christmas. If you’ve ever walked into a craft store around the holidays, that wonderful spicy sweet scent is exactly what this gift set smells like. I adore it!

Kiss My Face also offers the holiday Cranberry Spice scent as a foaming soap, which I have used and enjoyed in the past. There is also a festive Vanilla Sugar gift set, which I haven’t tried but sounds delightful!

Now, if we could just get some snow…… 🙂

-Eve

Vegan Mofo

A while back I was lucky enough to win a box of Simply Bars from Ricki of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. This was the first contest I’d ever won, and I was so happy to win a box of these bars – I love having things that I can stow away in my purse in case I get hungry, but nutritionally sound food bars can be expensive! I’ve finally tried all five flavours that came in my generous sample box (15 bars! wow!), so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

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First off, the flavours are AMAZING – Cinnamon Raisin, Lemon Coconut, Cocoa Peanut Butter, Cocoa Coffee, and Cocoa Raspberry – the ingredients are high quality (often organic), and each flavour is better than the next. If I had to choose, I would say that I especially enjoyed the Cocoa Raspberry, as there was tonnes of berry flavour.

The base of the bar is a soy crisp/agave nectar/brown rice syrup blend, which means that the bars are specifically vegan (hooray!), high in protein, and reasonably low in calories. I’m not one for watching protein content, but I DO appreciate that one of these bars keeps me full for a couple hours. The taste of the soy crisp base is reminiscent of those soy nuts that used to be (still are?) popular. I have to admit I wasn’t too keen on the underlying flavour of the crisps themselves, although the delicious added ingredients of each bar did a pretty good job of masking the flavour. And, for a chewy, low calorie bar, I think this is a fair trade off. Something else I really love is that each bar has 20% of your RDI of iron. I know, as a woman, I try to be particularly aware of my iron intake. I had blood drawn a couple years ago and learned that although my iron levels were normal, I had very low stores (I think this actually makes sense for veg*ns, since plant based iron is only absorbed if we need it), so I’m pretty careful about making sure I eat iron rich foods every day.

I know I’ve seen Simply Bars in my local grocery stores in Ontario, but I’m not sure if they are available in the states or even in every province. If you do see them, definitely check them, as they’re a great alternative to the standard fruit and nut bar!

If you haven’t already, be sure to enter our Crazy Rumours Lip Balm giveaway!

-Eve