Alexandra’s Favourite Summer Smoothie Recipes

By contributor Alexandra Courts

Smoothies are a healthy and refreshing way to start your day. The right combination of fruits (and sometimes vegetables) will give your body the fuel it needs to push through that dreadfully long morning.

Here are some of my favourite smoothie combinations! Just pop all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend away until a desired consistency is reached.

STRAWBERRY WATERMELON LEMONADE SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients…

  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • 8 cups watermelon chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

MIXED BERRY SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients…

  • 2-3 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and blackberries)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries

ORANGE MANGO SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients…

  • 3-4 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup fresh orange segments
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup orange juice

CHOCOLATE BANANA SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients…

  • 4-5 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder

TROPICAL GREEN SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients…

  • 3-4 frozen bananas
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup orange juice

GF Vegan S’mores Breakfast Pastries

By Alexandra Courts

Trips to the grocery store make me miss some of the token junk foods that you just can’t find gluten-free vegan versions of, no matter how hard you try. Twizzlers? Dunkaroos?! DORITOS?! Pop-Tarts top that list. They made early mornings so much easier.

Well, whatever. If you can’t beat ’em, make your own.

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S’MORES BREAKFAST PASTRIES

(Note: This recipe has been adapted from www.momables.com)

Dough Ingredients…

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan “butter”
  • 6 tbsp cold water
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp flax meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients…

  • 1/2 bag Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup gluten-free vegan marshmallows (I used Sweet and Sara brand)
  • 1/2 cup Artisana raw chocolate coconut butter

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk all dry dough ingredients together. Add vanilla extract, vegan “butter”, applesauce and water. Combine. Use hands to work dough and ensure all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Roll dough into large ball. Add more water if necessary. Place dough ball in fridge to chill for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Roll out chilled dough into thin layer. Cut into rectangles with large knife. Rework and repeat for rest of dough.
  5. Place half the cut rectangles on parchment paper for bottom layer of pastries.
  6. Combine filling ingredients in bowl, then add dollop to centre of each rectangle.
  7. Wet a finger in cold water, then run finger along edges of pastries. Top each pastry with remaining rectangles.
  8. Press seams together with fork. Poke small hole in top to allow for steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are slightly golden.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!

Makes 12 servings.

No-Bake Mocha Brownies

By Alexandra Courts

We’ve done it! We’ve figured out a delectable and healthy way to satisfy your chocolate cryings!

These no-bake babies are free of any oils, artificial sugars, gluten or animal products. We replaced all of these nasty ingredients with dates, which provide the body with a variety of vitamins and minerals. They’re killer sources of energy, natural sugar and fibre.

Behold:

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(Recipe has been adapted from The Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients…

  •  2 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 cup chopped raw walnuts, pecans, or nut of your choice
  • 3/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp finely ground organic direct-trade coffee
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Directions…

  1. Pulse almonds in food processor until finely ground. 
  2. Add raw cacao powder and ground coffee to mixture and continue to combine with food processor. Set mixture aside in separate bowl. 
  3. Process dates separately, then add mixture back to food processor and pulse until a dough-like texture is reached. Stir additional nuts, coconut and vanilla extract into batter.
  4. Pour batter into a lined square cake pan. Spread evenly.
  5. Chill brownies in fridge for 2 hours or freezer for 1 hour. Serve cold.

Enjoy! Makes about 12 brownies.

Easter Weekend Dessert Series: Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

By Contributor: Alexandra Courts

The first in our Easter food series! Why spend time decorating eggs when you can bake treats instead?

Buy a doughnut pan. Seriously. It will change your life…or at least the way you think about homemade doughnuts. Ditch the deep fryer and opt for a light and cakey version that is both vegan and gluten-free!

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This plain doughnut recipe that I’ve adapted from bonappetit.com is so simple, yummy, and healthy that you will ditch that love affair you might have had with your local bakery.

The recipe is as follows for these little cinnamon sugar babies:

Ingredients…

Doughnut Batter

  • 1 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (Melt a little extra to coat the trays with to prevent sticking)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions…

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush doughnut tray with coconut oil and set aside.

2) To make a “flax egg” (egg replacement) mix 1 part ground flax (1/2 tsp) with three parts (1 1/2 tsp) hot water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

3) In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Once combined, add flax egg, melted coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract and remaining hot water.

4) Spoon about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into each doughnut mold.

5) Bake for 8 minutes, flip, then continue baking for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Let the doughnuts sit for 10 minutes before removing from tray.

6) Whisk together coconut sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut lightly into the sugary coating before serving.

Yields 12-15 doughnuts. Enjoy!

Onigiri: Vegan & Gluten-Free

Post by Aine Davis

Like most people who grew up in the ’90s, I watched a lot of anime as a kid. What I remember most vividly was the food the characters ate.  I salivated while watching my favourite characters bite into delicious dumplings, sushi, maki rolls and cakes.

But as a young vegetarian, I knew I’d never be able to bite into a delicious Japanese savoury pork bun.  So I did what any mature seven-year-old would do: I moved on.

Recently, I rediscovered my love for anime…oops! But this time, I had more tools at my hands, and I came up with a recipe for one of the most delicious Japanese foods: onigiri! “Onigiri” is the Japanese term for triangular rice balls traditionally wrapped in seaweed.

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What I love and admire about Japanese food is that most dishes are fresh and healthy. Minimal ingredients are used without using many spices or herbs, which allows each ingredient to shine.

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VEGAN ONIGIRI

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of cilantro, to taste
  • 2 scallion leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 standard avocado, cubed*
  • 1/2 standard cucumber, cubed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce, optional

Directions for Preparation:

  1. Steam rice. I used this helpful guide for the perfect sushi rice. Do not stir rice until fully cooked.
  2. Once rice has steamed, pour in rice wine vinegar. Move rice to a larger bowl and set aside. Let cool.
  3. Dice garlic, cilantro and scallions, and cut cucumber and avocado into small chunks. Immediately dress avocado with lemon juice so it does not spoil. *See photographed guide below photo guide below on how to properly cut an avocado.
  4. Toast sesame seeds. Place on a baking tray and put in oven at low heat. Let toast about 10 minutes or until seeds become fragrant.
  5. Once rice has cooled, begin to assemble the onigiri!

Use the photos below as a guide.

Directions for how to extract avocado:

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Cut avocado around the seed, split halves and extract seed with knife. Throw seed away. Slice squares into the avocado halves, but be sure not to break through the skin.

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Using a large spoon, slide spoon between the avocado meat and the skin. Scoop!

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Pop the avocado out of the skin. Boom!

Directions for Onigiri Assembly: 

  1. If the rice mixture is not sticky to touch, add a splash more rice vinegar.
  2. Spread out a large piece of plastic wrap evenly on cutting board.
  3. Add a large spoonful to the middle of the plastic wrap.
  4. Layer avocado, scallions, garlic, cilantro and red pepper flakes. Add another spoonful of rice on top of vegetables.

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5.  Fold the four sides of saran wrap upwards, like this:

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6. Pinch the top in one hand…

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7. Spin the rice ball until the cling wrap is tight and the rice is closely packed.

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8. Shape the ball into a triangle. Unwrap from cling wrap carefully and roll in sesame seeds.

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Ta da! Serve with gluten-free soy sauce if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Raw Energy Balls

Post by Alex Courts

It’s the middle of the day. Too late for lunch and too early for dinner.

You’re hungry and you’re faced with the decision of what you should have without spoiling your dinner.

Chips? Cookies? Candy? No!

Opt for something natural, nutritious, and filling! These little babies are vegan, gluten-free, and raw!

Good news is that these are quick to make and can be stored and enjoyed later on!

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Yield: approx. 2 dozen snack balls

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • 1/2 raisins
  • 1 cup sliced raw almonds

Directions:

  1. Run the first four ingredients through a food processor for a full minute (or until well-combined).
  2. Add the almonds and process for another full minute.
  3. Place mixture in bowl and start forming (squeeze and roll) and form 1 tablespoon into a ball.
  4. Repeat process until all the mixture is used.
  5. Suggested: Roll the balls into any remaining shredded coconut.

Store any uneaten balls in the freezer for up to a month.

I ♥ ICP <3

Post by Aine Davis

Let’s face it, Toronto is filled with coffee shops. Choosing which caffeine oasis is for you is a lot harder than it should be. There are just so many options! As an aspiring coffee shop entrepreneurI often find myself wondering how some of these tiny, almost unnoticeable cafes can thrive the way they do, and how great of a struggle it is for those that do not.

That’s where the Indie Coffee Passport comes in. Making things a little easier…

“ICP ❤ is a new twist on a cool concept. It is [the] Indie Coffee Passport for coffee shops younger than 3 years. Since 2010, The Passport has introduced you to many wonderful independent coffee shops – new and old – around the city. The idea was that once you discovered places you loved, you’d return to them even without your Passport. With ICP<3, we’re introducing you to some of Toronto’s newest and best independent coffee shops. We hope you’ll enjoy discovering the new places while returning to those you already love.”

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Once you get your Passport, you’re entitled to one free drink from a designated menu at each cafe. Sound like a dream? It gets better. It’s only $22 for 22 drinks. You can purchase your very own Passport at any of the cafes included on the Passport, listed below:

I’m so excited to start using mine! Keep following Vegan Girlfriend for coffee-related updates as I hit each of the 22 cafes. Challenge accepted.