Welcome To It Ain't Meat, Babe!

Welcome To It Ain't Meat, Babe!

Find My Favorite Recipes, Funny Stories & More


Recent Posts

Notification: My Trip To OZ – Australia With Lots Of Photos

Notification: My Trip To OZ – Australia With Lots Of Photos

Hi everyone!

It’s been a busy weekend and quite a lot is going on in my private life right now (nothing bad, don’t worry). As a consequence, I can’t fall asleep. What do bloggers do when they can’t sleep? They add a new post to their blog.

But this post in going to be a bit different, because I wanted to let you guys know that I added a new page to IAMB, which features lots of photos that I made on my trip to and around Australia.

You can find the photos including some more information about my journey here and there also is a new link in the main navigation of my site.

Clean Water For Your Kitchen & Healthy Spring Salad Recipe

Clean Water For Your Kitchen & Healthy Spring Salad Recipe

Hey guuyyys and welcome to my new 2-part post about clean water for your kitchen plus a refreshing and healthy spring salad recipe that I created a couple of days ago.

In the first half of the post I’m going to ramble a bit about how important it is to use clean tap water for cooking and how you can get an unlimited supply of it. In the second half of the post I’m going to present to you my new recipe for a healthy spring salad, which is so refreshing and delicious and can be done in under 10 minutes; easy as pie!

Part 1: Clean Water For Your Kitchen

Living in Canada, I somehow always expected that our public drinking water would be superb. Very recently though, I found out that it’s not. It REALLY isn’t. Agricultural fertilizers and heavy metals in our tap water; how is that even possible? Pesticides and herbicides; I thought that stuff was “only” in our food. You’ve got to be kidding me!

The only good thing about this is that we’re not living in the “best-in-the-world” country south from us, where the situation is clearly far worse (I told you that I was going to ramble)…

Okay, let’s be real here for a second. What’s the state of the affairs?

  • Pesticides that were banned in Europe were found in Toronto’s tap water.
  • Every year, 300,000+ Canadians contract a stomach bug by consuming municipal tap water.
  • A few years back, thousands of Canadians were warned to not drink their tap water. 2 reasons for this were that it may have been contaminated with E. coli and inadequately disinfected.

To be honest with you, I don’t like the sound of this. When did our precious Canadian tap water get so bad? Did I miss a meeting? The situation seems to be out of hand and it’s getting worse each week. What is our government doing about this? Not much as far as I can tell.

Anyway, it is what it is and as long as it doesn’t change, you have to get active yourself. If you want to protect your family from dirty drinking water like I do, I recommend you to do the following: Filter your tap water. It’s the only solution.

You could buy bottled water for drinking, but then there still is the problem that you also need a lot of water for cooking. Otherwise, what water are you going to be using to boil your potatoes or your whole-grain rice? It doesn’t stop there. How are you going to wash your carrots and apples and pears and beans and peas? You would have to place a big water tank right in the middle of your kitchen, if you don’t want to be using water from your tap.

But I’m getting a bit lost here; sorry! To get back on track, I want to talk about the only solution for this imminent problem, which I already mentioned and which is filtering your tap water yourself. If you do this right, you won’t have to worry about E. coli, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers anymore. The approach is pretty straightforward, because there is only one type of water filter that can eliminate all these dangerous substances in our water. They are called “Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems”.

You can be rest assured, the most complicated thing about them is their overlong name. You can find them literally everywhere online, they are affordable for the average Joe and if you have a husband who’s fingers are not all thumbs, he will be able to attach it to your home’s water system in less than a day!

I’m already about 650 words into this post, so to keep things short, I’m not going to write about what exact filter systems I like, how much they cost and where you can by the. What I’m going to do instead is give you this list of resources that’ll allow you to do your own research on the topic.

Please understand that this is not a buy-and-forget-about-it issue. This is about your health. If you don’t want to be using polluted tap water in your kitchen anymore, you have to sacrifice next Saturday or Sunday or another day off and read up on this stuff. When you are done, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What contaminants do you want to remove from your tap water?
  2. What is the best reverse osmosis water filter system for the job, what does it cost and where can you buy it?
  3. Is it possible to self-install the system in your kitchen?

I think we can agree that improving the quality of your tap water by means of a filter is no rocket science.

Okay, enough on tap water. Now it’s time for the fun part!

Part 2: Healthy Spring Salad

I had the idea for this refreshing and healthy salad when I came back from the gym earlier this week and didn’t feel like eating a lot of calories. I mean, I just burned some of my belly fat, so why put it right back on?

I had some salad, spinach and cucumber left in the fridge as well as 1 avocado that was almost overripe, so I added everything together and put a nice dressing with extra virgin olive oil, some seeds and fresh herbs on top. Viola.

Healthy Spring Salad

  • Crispy green lettuce
  • Spinach
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Cut the lettuce, spinach and cucumber and add into bowl. Cut avocado in half and spoon out. Cut into tiny cubes and add to bowl.

Chop fresh herbs and mix with seeds and your oil of choice. Add dressing into bowl.

Enjoy!

Prepare For Getting Outside And Into The Garden

Prepare For Getting Outside And Into The Garden

Hello everyone!

The weather is starting to get just a tiny bit warmer and I’m looking forward to be getting outside and into the garden to grow all my favorite herbs and veggies this year.

The prep is coming along quite nicely. I’ve ripped up my back yard, which involved a lot of hard work, to make room to plant all those tomatoes, beans, peppers, radish… you name it.

If you have no idea about when to plant different veggies in the Ottawa area, here’s a little guidance for you:

Late Winter

Feb:

  • 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost you should start to grow stuff inside, onions for example

March:

  • 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost you should start to grow everything that takes a long time to germ

Early Spring

Mid March:

  • Cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers

April:

  • If it’s already warm, which is not always guaranteed at this time of the year, you can start planting radish, spinach, peas, all sorts of lettuce, beets

May:

  • Time for potatoes, beans, cucumbers. Possibly tomatoes (check weather forecast first).

Summer + Autumn

June/July:

  • If you like kale, you can put it into the ground now. The same goes for sprouts, sweet potatoes, your peppers, tomatoes.

September + October:

  • You should have harvested most by now. Plant up what will be overwintered and take cuttings. Polytunnels are great for fall crops. If father frost turns up, remember to put plants inside over night.

All in all, there are many different sources that will tell you different things about when to plant, grow and harvest what kind of crops. And the weather also varies from one year to another. So take these instructions with a grain of salt and always do your own thinking about what would probably be the next move going forward.

The Community Garden Council of the Waterloo Region has also created this really cool planting calendar, which tells you exactly when to plant seeds in Ontario – or Southwestern Ontario to be even more precise.

It has literally saved my crops many times over the years and has prevented me from planting too early or too late. The calendar also tells you when to start indoor and outdoor seeding, when it’s time to transplant any how many grams of seeds you are going to need for growing carrots, garlic, pumkin, delicious cucumber, cauliflower…

Why Planting Your Own Vegetables?

Here are a couple of reasons why I plant vegetables in my own garden and why you should do so, too:

  • Lawn is pretty much good for nothing, except if you have kids and they want to play outside. Veggies and herbs feed your family and they are much more healthy than stuff from the supermarket, unless you stick to buying organic food only.
  • What better way is there to get access to food with all the nutrients that you need on a daily basis and without pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals.
  • Bees are endangered and they love diversity. You are doing them a huge favor.
  • In the grocery store the offer is usually very limited.
  • Planting your own vegetables is also great to learn new stuff, teach your children about it, and have a great conversation starter with your neighbours.

Enjoy!

J.

Staying Vegan In Japan And Reading Japanese Food Labels

Staying Vegan In Japan And Reading Japanese Food Labels

Hey guys,

at the moment I have a lot of things going on in my life, which is why I don’t have the time to find and try out new recipes to post them on my blog. Sorry for that!

But I’d like to share something else with you today…

I’d love to visit Japan this year! I’m super interested in the Japanese culture and I’ve heard a lot of great things about Japanese food.

But doing some reading online I realized that if you are a vegan and want to keep it that way, Japan might not be the best travel destination that you could choose.

Food labels in Japan are written in, guess what, Japanese! And as I don’t speak a word of Japanese, that could become a big problem for me. So what to do?

Get some help online, of course!

I stumbled upon this great blog which provides a lot of useful information on living in Japan as a vegan. One of the blog posts teaches you how to tell if a product is vegan.

Here are a couple of things that I’ve learned from the post:

  1. Of course the best solution is to learn how to read Japanese food labels. That doesn’t mean that you have to learn the language itself, but know what kanji symbols to look out for.
  2. Asking people about a product isn’t always helpful. If something contains emulsifier, a cashier might tell you that it’s not vegan, although the majority of emulsifier in Japan is made from soy.
  3. Japanese food labeling is not consistent, which makes it even harder for a foreigner like me to find something suitable.
  4. Google Translate is your friend. Use a smartphone to quickly find out what a label says.

I also found out that many times manufacturers do not have to add all the ingredients of a product to the ingredients lists. That’s a very strange rule and I really don’t like it.

It looks like I have to spend a lot more of my time reading up on this topic than I expected. Things were so much easier in Australia, but I want to visit Japan and other parts of Asia so bad, that not being able to read a food label won’t hold me back from doing this journey!

Be that as it may, I’d like to thank you for taking the time and actually reading what is going on in my brain right now. I hope I didn’t bore you and promise that I’m going to publish another super delicious vegan recipe sooooon!!!

Until then,

J.

I’m back and I’m here to stay!

I’m back and I’m here to stay!

Hey folks, it’s me J. I decided to re-launch my blog and from now, I’m planning to post some of my new recipes every once in a while. How often? I don’t know yet. Maybe once a month, maybe less. This mainly depends on how much spare time I have. I also wanted to thank everyone who’s been following “It Ain’t Meat, Babe” for the last couple of years and would like to invite you guys to, again, follow me on my journey.

As you also may have seen, the site has had a little makeover. Nothing too fancy, but it looks much nicer now and it’s also much easier to handle in the backend. Also, page load time has improved a lot and according to an expert friend of mine, this is something that search engines really value. Apart from that I’ve also published some of the receipts from the old blog, those that were most popular. Feel free to take a look…

What else is there to say? Nothing that I can think of right now. Except, I’m working on my first receipt at the moment. It’s going to be a modification of one of the earlier receipts I had on the old blog. So, stay tuned and I’m trying to post it as soon as I can.

J.

I say goodbye. I say hello.

I say goodbye. I say hello.

Heeeeeeey, everybody. So, it’s been a while. Maybe you’ve wondered what happened to this blog or what happened to me. Good question. Well, mostly what happened is that I had a second child. Yes! He’s amazing. His name is Joey and he’s now almost two and hilarious and sweet and can’t sleep through the night for anything. Milo, Mr. First Kid, is now almost four and smart and fun and also hilarious. But hey, who knew two kids under four would be such hard work? Everyone, I guess. The number one thing people say to me when I tell them the ages of my kids is, “Wow, so you’re BUSY.”

Yes I am busy. Too busy to write recipes and blog and take photos. But, thankfully, not to busy to cook, eat, and use Instagram. So, please, if you still want to see what I cook, and especially if you want to learn expert ways to hide vegetables in meals, come follow me on Instagram. I’m there as “itaintmeatbabe”. No recipes, but lots of ideas and maybe some griping here and there.

xoxoJ.

Vegan Donuts and Bike Rides (and no, we’re not in Portland, OR)

Vegan Donuts and Bike Rides (and no, we’re not in Portland, OR)

Last week Ottawa had its first “Tour La Nuit” as part of Capital Velofest (Bikefest for you anglophones). Tour La Nuit was basically an hour-long evening bike ride with a bunch of major roads in Ottawa closed to cars so the cyclists could take over. I went with my friends Magi and Krishna (and their three terriers who love riding in a bike trailer!) and since they were good enough to pick up my ride pennant for me, I made some donuts for us all to eat before the ride (well, for the humans to eat, anyway.)

I baked the donuts in my handy donut pan, which meant, as the Man of Science pointed out, they were basically just pieces of cake with holes in them. However, the pan gives them do a nice firm edge all around them and their cuteness can not be underestimated. Plus, if you use the right recipe (hold tight for that) the cakey part of the donuts will turn out dense and not overly sweet, and the frosting will add the perfect sugary compliment. Listen to me, going all Food Network on you. Really all you need to know is that these are VEGAN CHOCOLATE DONUTS! Make them. That is all.

Chocolate Baked Donuts

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Egg replacer for 1 egg (normally I use ground flax seeds, but I was out. I used Ener-G instead)
  • 4 tbsp vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and salt.

Over medium-low heat, combine all other ingredients, stirring gently until the margarine has melted and everything is smoothly combined.

Mix wet ingredients into dry, don’t over mix.

Pour batter into lightly greased donut pan. Working with a donut pan takes a bit of practice, but the most important thing is to ensure that the dough is distributed evenly around the ring, otherwise you’ll have wonky donuts that are thicker on one side.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until donuts spring back when you poke them.

I put quite a bit of batter in the pan for each donut, and ended up with 8 donuts total. I think I might have been able to get 12 if I’d been more conservative with the dough.

For the frosting I melted about a 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips with one tablespoon of coconut oil and dunked the top of each donut in that mixture, then let them sit on a sheet of parchment paper until the frosting cooled enough to be solid, not sticky. If you want to add sprinkles (like some kind of overachiever) then you’ll want to do that before the frosting cools.

Some Notes (Ottawa Edition):

  • Ottawa people who want to know where I got my donut pan (and there are many of you apparently, judging from Twitter messages) can go find your own at Kitchenalia in Westboro. It’s one of my favourite kitchen shops in the city, even though the service is a bit snotty. I’m willing to overlook that because the store is so well stocked.
  • The other thing I’ve gotten a few questions about lately is where to find pre-made seitan in Ottawa. I’ve never bought the pre-made stuff, since I usually make my own (using the Vegan With a Vengeance recipe). But I do want to report that I saw pre-made, unflavoured seitan (by the Noble Bean company) at both the Wheat Berry and at Market Organics.
  • Hey, do you live in Ottawa and like Punk Rock? Then you want to check out The Ottawa Explosion this coming weekend. Four days of awesome bands (like The White Wires, Statues, The Johnnies, Zebrassieres, The Visitors, and so many more) and fun with lots of good people and lots of good beer.

J.

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

I grew up in the nineties, a time when canned mushroom soup reigned supreme.

If you ask most people who grew up in that era, they can name at least one dish they ate at the family dinner table involving canned cream of mushroom soup as a main ingredient. I can name two. One of them was a dish of what I think were egg noodles and homemade meatballs, topped with a mushroom soup-based sauce. I remember liking it. But the second dish, I remember loving. It was a chicken, mushroom and wild rice casserole. I loved it so much that, even after I tried to go vegetarian in high school, I would still eat the casserole whenever my mom made it. It was actually good enough for me to ignore the bird parts within. Eventually, though, I became an actual vegetarian and stopped eating any meat at all, no matter how delicious I remembered it being.

I’ve been trying, on and off, to make a vegan version of the dish for a while. At first I thought I could just veganize my mom’s recipe, but that didn’t work. There was definitely something lost in the translation. It’s hard to find vegan cream of mushroom soup, and when I did find some, it was of the virtuous, organic, healthy variety. All fine and good, but lacking in the intense 1992 taste of the standard non-vegan variety. That, along with the generally bland “no chicken” soup stock and the how-will-this-behave-when-heated? mystery of vegan sour cream made for a disastrous interpretation. Back to the drawing board.

What needed to happen, I discovered, was more of an interpretation and less of a copy. I needed to pinpoint what I liked about the dish and work from that, using the kind of ingredients I’d normally cook with.

Success! Success-o-rama, actually. I had the same reaction to this vegan version of the casserole that I used to have when my mom made the chickeny one. I had multiple helpings, and then hoped that there was enough left over for lunch the next day. There was. There was actually enough left over for two lunches, and I found myself standing in front of the fridge holding both containers of it in my hands, wondering if I should bring both for lunch, just in case I wanted two helpings. I didn’t. You have to stop somewhere.

So really, you should make this. The recipe may look long, but none of its components are complicated, and it comes together fairly quickly. It is comfort food at its finest. Warming, tasty, creamy, filling. It might even make you feel like a kid again.

Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole

  • 2 cups uncooked rice (a wild rice/brown rice blend works the best)
  • 4 cups vegetable soup stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, chopped small
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped small
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped small
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cashews, ground finely in a food processor or blender
  • 1/2 block silken tofu (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tsp of salt
  • a couple grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 block firm tofu (approximately 1 pound) cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • a few shakes of salt and pepper

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Bring the soup stock to a boil, then add the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Let cook until all liquid is absorbed.

-While that’s happening, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add leek and mushrooms. Let cook until the leeks start to become transparent, then add carrots, celery, sage and thyme. Cover, and let cook until all vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

-In a food processor or blender grind cashews if you haven’t already. Then add the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp olive oil.

-Process until smooth, then slowly add the water. You’re shooting for a mixture that has the consistency of cream of mushroom soup. If you need to add more water, go ahead.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Toss the firm tofu with olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, then saute over medium-high heat until the tofu starts to brown.

-Mix rice, vegetables, and tofu in a large casserole dish, then add the sauce and mix well until everything is coated.

-Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. If you’d like a crusty, browned top layer, take the lid off and turn the oven to broil for the final five minutes of cooking.

Serves four to six people.

Enjoy!

p.s. I think this is even gluten-free! Can someone more versed in gluten-free-ness correct me if I’m wrong?

J.