Raw Pasta Bolognese (with walnut meat, pine nut parmesan, basil pesto)

By Megan Stulberg

(Posted in advance on our Instagram here)

I grew up eating wheat pasta 2-3 nights each week, on average. My mum would regularly whip up spaghetti with ground beef, tomato sauce and mozzerella cheese…and a loaf of buttery garlic bread, of course. I haven’t had it in years but remember it vividly. When I think of comfort food, that is what instantly comes to mind.

Here’s a similar (but clean!) pasta alternative that’s cruelty-free to both animals and your stomach:

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GROUND WALNUT “MEAT” WITH SAUCE:

Ingredients…

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp pink crystal Himalayan salt
  • Dash of water, if needed

Directions…

  1. Combine walnuts, seeds, almonds, fresh tomato and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor or high-speed blender until loosely incorporated.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and incorporate by hand. Be careful not to over-blend.

PINE NUT “PARMESAN”: 

Ingredients…

  • 2 cups pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp pink crystal Himalayan salt

Directions…

  1. Pulse food processor to coarsely chop pine nuts. Transfer to large bowl.
  2. Add nutritional yeast and salt. Use fork to combine. Set aside.

BASIL PESTO: 

Ingredients…

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 2 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pink crystal Himalayan salt

Directions…

  1. Process all ingredients until smooth and creamy in consistency.

FINAL STEPS:

  1. Use a spiralizer (click here for a useful guide) to turn 4 medium zucchinis into a big bowl of zucchini noodles. If you don’t have access to a spiralizer, a similar effect can be reached by slowly slicing each zucchini lengthwise into VERY thin strips.
  2. In large bowl, toss zucchini noodles in with half the walnut meat and half the basil pesto. Note: there will be extra, so use sparingly and store unmixed leftovers in the fridge.
  3. Plate zucchini noodles. Top with pine nut parmesan and additional basil leaves for garnish.

Makes 4 entree-sized servings.

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PROBAR Review

By contributor Alexandra Courts

Alright folks! We’re about to introduce you to one of the tastiest nutrition bars on the market, assuming you haven’t smartened up by trying them yet.

Facts: PROBAR is one of the leading providers of vegan, organic and non-GMO energy bars that are tasty, convenient, and healthy. They have a variety of products that range from energy chews to full meal-replacements. All vegan, most gluten-free. They have a wide variety of products to suit your individual preferences perfectly, and it’s easy to purchase them in local grocery stores or order online at www.theprobar.com.

PROBAR base bars have 20 grams of plant-based protein each (!!!) and come in a variety of delicious flavours: Cookie dough, brownie crisp, mint chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, and super greens. How good do those sound?! They’re disguised as desserts while actually being packed with healthy ingredients like flax seeds. These seemed to sit fairly heavily, so we’d definitely recommend having one after a workout.

PROBAR bite bars are a great on-the-go snack option that will give you the midday pick-me-up that your body is craving. Flavours include: Peanut butter crunch, chocolate cherry cashew, coconut almond, mixed berry, super fruit and greens, and peanut butter chocolate. Additionally, bite bars are soy-free.

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We were so excited to give the PROBAR base and bite bars a try! In terms of texture: the bars were not at all dry, like some of the nutrition bars that are currently on the market. Each one left the tastebuds delighted, satisfied hunger cravings, and provided energy to the body that lasted throughout the day.

Special thanks to the kind people at PROBAR for sending these delicious treats our way to review.  

3 Day Cleanse with CEDAR JUICE: Review + Promo

Earlier this month Alex, Aine and myself participated in a 3 day juice cleanse. That’s right! No food, no coffee, nothing but juice. We chose Cedar Juice, a company making cold-pressed juice that is never pasteurized and uses only organic produce and superfoods. They ship across Canada and the juices will arrive at your doorstep 48 hours after placing your order, free of charge! 11004469_10155205299640316_1894869177_n 10927972_10155205299650316_121023331_n We’d all been mulling over the idea individually for a while but were a little nervous, so having each other for moral support definitely helped. To prepare the night beforehand we did a major fridge clean-out to prevent any temptation to cheat — but more importantly, to make room for 54 bottles of juice. Fifty four! Holy heck! That’s six bottles a day each for three days.

If you’d like to try a 3 or 5 day cleanse, use our promo-code “BG-vegangirlfriend” while ordering Cedar Juice online and receive 10% off! Offer is good until the end of February.  10356627_10155181921720133_424205602_n

MEG’S REVIEW: 

How I prepared for the cleanse: I’m a full-time university student so I went through my daytime planner and found a break between midterms where I’d be able to sleep properly and avoid overexerting myself.

Past cleanse experience: I’ve done week-long raw food cleanses every few months for the past two years to aid with digestion and generally look after my body. Because of this and my 100% gluten-free vegan diet, I likely experienced less severe detox symptoms than most would.

Day One Summary: I had been out drinking the night before, which was an awful idea because it resulted in detox symptoms hitting me very quickly. I felt light-headed and the extreme cold weather just made that worse. I spent most of the morning worrying that I made a huge mistake spending money on a cleanse that I wouldn’t be able to stick to. As I pushed through juice after juice throughout the day, my body adjusted and I felt a lot better. I was surprised by how good the juices actually tasted. I immediately appreciate how Cedar Juice set up the drinks to be consumed in a specific order so that a sweet taste followed a vegetable-based one. 

Day Two Summary: No more detox symptoms! I felt a bit nauseous first thing in the morning, but I’m assuming that was from hunger as it stopped immediately after my first juice. I had made sure to sleep a lot the night before, which helped with my caffeine withdrawal the following morning. My stomach stopped growling by midday and I started thinking about food less. I was sitting on the train that evening and a small child gasped and pointed at my bottle of beet juice. He turned to his mother and said, “I didn’t know vampires drank blood with straws!”. I looked pretty tired and my teeth were stained red, so I’m sure I gave that kid quite a scare. 

Day Three Summary: By the third day I felt very confident that I wasn’t going to give into any cravings. I had fallen into the routine of a liquid diet very quickly to the point where I felt comfortable with it. I switched up the suggested order a bit to avoid drinking beet juice in public like I had the previous day. Additionally, I made plans to go for brunch the following day with a friend to have something to look forward to. 

Main Symptoms: Bloating, headaches, cravings.

Best part: My head felt SO clear by the second day, and has ever since! I have a history with anxiety and related mental health issues, so I was pleasantly surprised that this helped my mindset. 

Worst part: I experienced beeturia (an actual thing!) which is when beetroot passes through your system and alters the colour of your urine. It looked like I dumped the entire bottle of beet juice directly into the toilet, which is probably what most teenage boys think an ordinary period looks like. It didn’t cause any physical pain, but definitely caught me off guard. 

Favourite flavour: #6 “Cracked it” by far was my favourite! It felt like I was rewarding myself with dessert after a hard day’s work (of not eating) and I’m a sucker for vanilla bean. 

Did I cheat? Nope! Not even a little.

Again? I would definitely do this cleanse again! I found myself wishing I was still on the cleanse a few days later, after something I ate had given me a stomachache.

Additional notes: It’s hard balancing school and work, but I wish I’d done this cleanse when I could have been on a break from both! I have a labour-intensive job and worked all three days. It was tough, but manageable. If you have a busy schedule like I do, carry your juices in a backpack and keep them refrigerated throughout the day if possible.

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AINE’S REVIEW: 

How I prepared for the cleanse: Three days before the cleanse began, I consumed mostly raw food. I took hot baths to aid in relaxing my body as much as possible. I ate an entire bag of tortilla chips the night before to prevent myself from giving in and eating them during the cleanse.

Past cleanse experience: None! I tried to do a week long raw cleanse while Meg was doing one last year, but at the time I was having issues with blood sugar so I only lasted a day.

Day One Summary: Oh boy. It was rough. I couldn’t sleep well the night before and had a 10 hour school day ahead of me. I go to school for comedy performance, so my days are physically exhausting with rehearsals. I could barely think straight during a midday meeting with a professor! By the time I got home, I was feeling pretty light headed so I went to bed as soon as I could. 

Day Two Summary: I started the second day fighting awful cravings to stress eat, but I knew that I would feel less stressed after eliminating toxins from my body. Although I was a bit sluggish physically, I was extremely mentally alert. I did a 6 hour rehearsal and focused the entire time. It felt great! That night I was so tuckered out from all the hard work I went to bed as soon as I got home.

Day Three Summary: The final day was a breeze. I worked a 9 hour shift and was initially worried that being surrounded by food all day I’d go crazy, but I didn’t find myself craving anything but the juice, which I sipped happily throughout the day. The day went by quickly and I felt fine. I actually bought a few bottles of Cedar juice from Bolt Fresh Bar on my way home!

Symptoms: Upset stomach and a bit of dizziness, but nothing horrible. 

Best part: Catching up on my sleep was wonderful! My dreams were insanely vivid and fun, and I woke up both mornings with ideas for new sketches. 

Worst part: Being busy!

Favourite flavour: My favourite juice was #4: Lemon’s Your Lucky Day. It tasted great and provided the perfect midday energy boost.

Did I cheat? I ate an avocado on the second day before bed, and washed it down with some organic lemon juice. I also ate some plain quinoa on the final night. I was overworked and scared I was going to faint.

Again? I’d do it right now if I could.

Additional notes: Stay hydrated! Anytime I felt hungry and it wasn’t time for another juice, all I had to do was drink water and I would feel fine. Plan ahead! Learn from my mistake! I would have enjoyed the cleanse more than I did if I wasn’t so busy. Ease out! The first day off the cleanse I ate nothing but raw foods and juices. Even two weeks later, I still find myself choosing smoothies over solid foods.

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ALEX’S REVIEW: 

How I prepared for the cleanse: The day before the juice cleanse I wanted to help my body deal with the transition from solid food to juices, so I made sure to drink plenty of nutrient-rich smoothies. I knew that the first day of the juice cleanse would be slightly exhausting with work/school, so I made sure to get enough sleep so that I was fully rested.

Past cleanse experience: None! As a gluten-free vegan I already have a daily clean/wholesome diet that incorporates whole foods regularly.

Day One Summary: I started the cleanse with a positive mindset. By midday I was feeling a little tired and hungry, but then I remembered how important it is to keep hydrated between juices. After drinking some water I started to regain my energy and the hunger subsided until it was time for my next juice. It wasn’t until about 8pm where I felt like I was starting to experience detox symptoms such as nausea and weakness. I started to miss the motions of eating. I wanted so desperately to crunch down on some almonds. After finishing all the juice, I drank some water and went to sleep early. 

Day Two Summary: After my first juice of the day, my body felt a little stronger and I had enough energy to get me through the day. I studied in a coffee shop for a while and was seriously distracted by everyone around me sipping on lattes and munching cookies. At this point I knew I was so close to finishing the cleanse and was so happy and motivated to keep strong until the end, but I was longing for a big bowl of hot hot soup.

Day Three Summary: On the third day I was looking forward to each one of my juices. They kept me satiated and energized as I went through my busy day and I successfully avoided taste-testing the vegan cheesecake I made for Valentine’s Day. I was feeling more and more full with each juice consumed. At midnight I broke the fast and treated myself to a vegan/gluten-free treat from Bunner’s Bake Shop.

Symptoms: Nausea, weakness, dizziness.

Best part: My body felt refreshed and energized!

Worst part: The initial feeling of nausea on the first day of the cleanse. I thought I would feel sick throughout the entire thing, but it subsided by the next day.

Favourite flavour: “Pineapple Head”. It tasted like a piña colada!

Did I cheat? Nope!

Again? Absolutely! I feel like maybe next time I’d like to push myself and try the 5 or 7 day cleanse instead.

Additional notes: I would like to possibly eat raw the day after the juice cleanse finishes to help my body have an easier transition into solid foods again. I jumped straight into food post-cleanse and am curious as to how my body would benefit from going with this approach. Next time around for sure!

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Meatless Lover’s Pizza: Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free

By Megan Stulberg

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I don’t like to admit that I’m materialistic, but in a lot of ways I am. Part of me would love to be the kind of person that can fit their whole life into a backpack, but I know how agitated I’d get if I didn’t have daily access to my blender, food processor and dehydrator.

These mini raw pizzas were a snap to make! As always, raw food preparation is very time consuming so make the crust a day in advance.

Ingredients.

Dehydrated Almond Flax Crust

  • 2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups flaxseed meal (I had store-bought meal on hand, but you can make your own with standard flaxseed in a food processor)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Pinch of raw salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Raw Tomato Sauce

  • 1 standard tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Pinch of dried parsley
  • Pinch of dried basil

Toppings: Your choice! Mine are listed below.

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Directions…

1) Soak the raw almonds in water for 3-4 hours and then drain. Add almonds to food processor and process until a flour-like texture is reached.

2) Combine almond meal, flaxseed meal, water, olive oil, herbs and spices in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too watery, add more flaxseed meal.

3) Form small pizza crust discs from the “dough”. Try to make them as round as possible and relatively thin. Depending on the shape and size of your dehydrator, feel free to make larger crusts instead.

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4) Line dehydrator with wax paper and place crusts on top evenly spread apart. Dehydrate at 130 degrees for the first hour or so, then reduce the heat to 100 degrees and dehydrate for approximately 8 more hours. Feel free to remove the wax paper and flip the crusts over after the first few hours.  

The crusts should end up looking something like this:

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5) Next, combine the chopped tomato, garlic and herbs in a small bowl and mash thoroughly to create a paste. Spread tomato sauce evenly on pizza crusts.

6) Top with your favourite raw vegetables! I used cauliflower, mushroom, zucchini and tomato. If desired, add nutritional yeast for a cheesy taste.

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Ta da! Raw pizzas. If there are leftovers, freeze extra crusts in an airtight bag or container.

Makes about 8 mini pizzas or 2 “personal” pizzas.

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