My Quest for the Best Plant-Based Cheese

Just over 5 years ago, my relationship with food changed. I went on a vacation to Costa Rica and while I was there attended a raw cooking workshop (total life changer). Previous that that I had been a picky pescatarian for the majority of my life. 

During the workshop and in the year that followed, I learned a ton about food, nutrition — and really got comfortable experimenting. I tried new plant-based recipes, raw cooking, every different type of nut, and spent a lot of time with my food processor. I didn’t get hung up on diets or allergies, instead I just focused on whole foods and paying attention to what made me feel good (and what didn’t).

Since then, I’ve been on a plant-based journey, and these days Elliot and I prefer eating plant-based to anything else. Vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts and grains for the win.

One thing I had to figure out early on was how I would replace cheese (the dairy kind!). I used to love cheese, but I knew it didn’t agree with my gut. Back then, I turned to Daiya cheeses. I didn’t like it at all, but at the time, there wasn’t a ton of options on the market.

Since then, plant-based companies have exploded in Canada! From coast to coast, there are a ton of plant-based lovers and artisan creameries bringing dairy-free cheeses to our community. 

Best Plant-Based Cheese in Vancouver

I pretty much buy every dairy-free cheese I can get my hands on. I’ve been on the hunt for the best. :) In 2017, I crossed the border for cheese, attended a cheese-making workshop,  filled my suitcase with Italian nut-cheeses, participated in Blue Heron’s pre-order cheese subscription, and continually refreshed Vegan Supply’s website for new products in stock. 😅

So, here you go…

The Holy Grail of Plant-Based Cheeses: 

Note: I’m crossing my fingers that Black Sheep Vegan Cheeze will be available in Vancouver soon. The “voursin” looks amazing & it will no doubt hit the holy grail list. 

Making Plant-Based Cheese at Home

Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

Plant-based cheese sauces are super easy to make at home. Hard cheeses are a bit tricker – and definitely require more patience. One of my favourite toppings is nutritional yeast — love the cheezy flavour! It’s great sprinkled on popcorn, roasted veggies and buddha bowls.

If you’re keen to whip up a plant-based cheese or three, my favourite recipes are:

Parmesan cheese is also super easy to make. I combine brazil nuts (a handful), a clove of garlic, and a wee bit of salt, then blend it up in a food processor. It stores well in fridge for a few weeks or the freezer for a few months.

Happy New Years. May all your 2018 cheese dreams come true.

Eat Clean – Best Recipes of 2015

CaptureBack in 2013 I posted my favourite recipes from the year! That was a big year for me in the kitchen, as I was super curious and really just getting into my groove with (mostly) dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian cooking.

Since then, I have fallen in love with a couple new blogs, Hot for Food and Minimalist Baker.  Of course I’l always be a loyal Oh She Glows fan too. :) #OhCanada

This past year has been rather fast and furious. We got into a good meal planning routine — and then would shift into chaos — and then back into routine. (That’s life I think!). As much as I love spending a couple hours in the kitchen cooking away, this past year the focus has been easy and breezy recipes!

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Fuel Your Body

legs up the wall

My running soul sister is named Nicole {learn more about her here}. She’s not my sister and I’ve never met her, but damn, I’m attracted to that mighty fine soul of hers.

I’ve been following her online and watching her grow for 4 years — that deserves a holy cow. How time flies. Anyways, Nicole has been involved in a number of cool projects over the years, but these days she’s coaching runners from 0 to 13.1 {miles!}, building out badass online resources and truly living… a life less bullshit.

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Eat Clean – It’s Salad Time!

One thing I’ve learned about eating well is that it is WAY EASIER if you are organized. The only way I get through a week with balanced meals is if my house is stocked with the basics, I hit up the grocery store for all that I need and I plan out the week. 

Lunches can be tricky. I’ve always been a big fan of salads — easy to throw in your bag and a quick, delicious mid-day meal. With that said, salads can be mega-boring. Unlike some, I’m not someone who can eat the same thing, day in and day out. My go to basic salad is arugula, mixed greens, roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and raw caesar dressing {see below!}. When I’m wanting to switch it up though, I scour the internet for the best of the best.

My Evernote recipe vortex is super full these days, but in order to save YOU a pile of time, I’ve pulled out my favourites:

And a few fabulous dressings:

Happy salad-making! Happy Sunday!

PS – Shout out to Joanne at The Healing Cuisine for passing on the best caesar dressing of all time!  Combine 4 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon or lime, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp dijon, 3 cloves garlic (pressed), pinch salt… and blend!

Eat Clean – Best Recipes of 2013

Avocado ToastEver since cutting out dairy and wheat {mostly}, I’ve spent A LOT more time in the kitchen. It can be tricky eating out — and almost always stressful when you are starving at your desk at 2pm with chocolate and latte cravings. When I eat crap, I feel like crap. When I eat dairy or wheat, I feel disgusting. So, about a year ago, I made a commitment to myself to pay more attention to what I put into my body and start making clean eating a priority.

I’ve learned that I fuel my body with the best when I’m organized. For me, this means having a plan of attack before heading into a new week, thinking through meals, weekly grocery shopping and finding new recipes that I’m excited about. I’m very much a learner and have thoroughly enjoyed stepping outside of what I know and experimenting with the unfamiliar.

For the most part I eat vegetarian, no dairy, no wheat. Every so often I eat fish or seafood. Why? I like it.

Throughout 2013, I tried a ton of recipes. Lot of wins, some failures. When I’m looking to try something new, I tend to check out: Oh She Glows, The Kitchn, Elana’s Pantry, Edible Perspective and Vegan Yack Attack. Pinterest also has many gems — Whole Foods does a great job of curating content.

This year I learned that… you have to add banana to a green smoothie in order for it to not to taste like ass; it’s super easy to overcook rice pasta — set a timer; you need to rinse quinoa {high five!}; overnight oats make for healthy {and efficient} breakfasts; sorrel is a tasty green; and that I love avocados more than any other fruit or vegetable. Obsessed.

These were my favourite recipes of the year:

…. um, YUM. The strong majority of them get 5 stars, a few get 4/5 stars, all are worth trying them out.

I’m not going to pretend that trying out new recipes doesn’t take time. It sure does! My advice to you would be stock your kitchen with the ingredients you always use {for me, this would be grains, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, vinegars, almond milk and coconut milk}. Then, buy the fresh veggies, fruit or meat you need weekly {or daily or whenever!}.

I never ever EVER eat well every day of the week. Something will happen in my week that throws me off track and the next thing you know I’m at Starbucks having an Awake Tea Latte for “lunch.” Heh. I almost always take time over the weekend to think through lunches for the week and find a few new recipes to try {usually 2 max}. The more recipes that you try, the more often you’ll be able to wing meals. With a large recipe rolodex in my head now, I’m a lot less dependent on recipes and often couple “winging it” with new recipes and a bit of the basics.

Never forget about the basics. I’m pretty sure my favourite snack on this planet is avocado on {gluten free} toast with crushed roasted red peppers and sea salt. I  love rice pasta with olive oil, garlic, lemon and sea salt. Pancakes are my best life. Love love love.

When brainstorming basics, think about mexican {tacos are simple and amazing}, italian {pasta with veggies — easy peasy},  thai {stir-fry with basmati rice} or a simple salad. Any of them can be whipped up in a pinch!

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

Interested in salivating a little bit more? I save all recipes I find {and fall in love with} in my Evernote vortex. It’s public — no need to have Evernote, to view them! Although, I highly recommend you get it. :) It’s an awesome way to keep life organized!

Got a fave recipe that you’ve tried this year? Share it with  me. I’d love to try something new!

Major gratitude to Joanne at The Healing Cuisine for always teaching me a new thing or two about nourishing your body with good. If you are ever in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, look her up! Her cooking classes are off the hook!

PS – Be mindful that your  meals are balanced — ensure you have calcium, protein, iron, vitamin B12 and omega 3’s in your diet!