Veganism

My favourite vegan dining options in Halifax Regional Municipality, 2020

I thought it would be useful to provide an updated list of my favourite vegan dining options in HRM especially since, as I’m delighted to report, these options have increased over the past year. I won’t provide too much information for the locations for the sake of efficiency. My focus is on establishments that are either completely vegan, or have a large range of vegan options (one veggie burger or the dreaded and cliched falafal wrap won’t suffice).

Wild Leek Food and Juice Bar: At Wild Leek the focus is on seasonal local ingredients made into familiar vegan comfort food. Everything is made in house daily using whole natural ingredients and our juices and smoothies are made right before your eyes! With fresh and flavorful daily specials, vegan breakfast served everyday. We strive to create delicious food that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy.

Envie: A Vegan Kitchen: Our mission is to inspire people to choose a healthier, sustainable and more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating by making information and education accessible, so that we can create a healthier community and planet.

Heartwood: Vegetarian. Most of the dishes have vegan options.

Springhouse: Vegan grocer. We’ve got lots of locally-made goods, frozen meals to-go, fresh produce, body care products, groceries and specialty items you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Some products are made here in-house, and the rest we thoughtfully curate from top-notch suppliers. We’re also a little take-out restaurant, with a tasty lunch menu.

Real Fake Meats: A small Vegan Butcher Shop that includes take-out and delivery.

The Wooden Monkey: Omnivore menu, but vegan options are available for many of the menu items.

M&J’s Eatery: Separate omnivore and vegan menus.

Copper Branch: Serving our community whole foods, plant-based, good for you and our planet.

The Nook: Several vegan options.

G-Street Pizza: Several vegan options for pizza, donairs, burgers, and appetizers

Syd Delicious: All vegan sweets. Amazing cinnamon buns

Recipes, Veganism

Navy bean spread

Ingredients

1 cup dry navy beans, cooked

Finely chopped green onion

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Water, as needed

Assembly

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add as much water as needed to make your desired consistency. I like a thick consistency that can be spread on bread or crackers.

Adjust seasoning, lemon juice, and nutritonal yeast to taste.

Recipes, Veganism

Tofu ricotta

Ingredients

1 package extra-firm tofu

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Dried basil

Salt (and pepper)

1 teaspoon white miso paste

Water, as needed

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Add a little water, if necessary, if the ricotta is too dry
  3. I don’t like pepper, but feel free to use it if you do.
  4. You could add some garlic to the ricotta; I prefer not to, I like the more delicate flavour without it, which is closer to the taste of original ricotta.
Recipes, Veganism

Vegan bangers and mash

I treated myself this weekend to an old classic: Bangers and mash. I used Montreal-based Gusta’s Italian seitan sausage, as well as Yukon Gold potatoes mashed with Becel vegan margarine and soy milk. I added lots of caramelized onions, as well as peas. At this time of the year, fresh peas aren’t available, but frozen do well. I sauteed the peas with the onions after the latter were caramelized. I topped this with a simple gravy, which is a combination of water, flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, gravy browning, and a touch of soy sauce.

Absolutely delicious.

Veganism

Local vegan pastries

I’m very glad to have found a local bakery that makes two vegan tarts: Cherry and coconut lemon. Dinah’s Sourdough is a bakery located in the north end of the city. I’ve not been there in person yet, but I’m very happy to see that the bakery has been offering online shopping and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am looking forward to my first order of both tarts today. They are destined for the freezer, as I like to discipline my consumption of baked goods; these will be Saturday afternoon treats with espresso or herbal tea.

Recipes, Veganism

Creamy chocolate custard

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine the cornstarch and water to form a paste.
  2. Mix together the cocoa powder and sugar.
  3. Pour the soy milk into a pan over medium heat. Although you can use other plant-based milks, soy milk works best for custards, as it thickens well (almond milk for example, does not), and does not impart a strong flavour (unlike oat milk or cashew milk, for example).
  4. Stir the cocoa powder and sugar gradually into the soy milk. I find a balloon whisk works well for this.
  5. Add the vanilla extract, to taste. I like to use a full teaspoon.
  6. Add the cornstarch paste.
  7. Whisk the milk until boiling point. It’s important that you stir constantly, as you don’t want any lumps to form.
  8. When the milk boils, remove from heat.
  9. Pour into individual containers of your choosing. The custard will continue to thicken.

My preference is to eat the custard when it’s still warm and a crust has formed, but it’s equally good cold. It will be thicker when cold.

Veganism

Health benefits of tofu

Image source

I’m a huge fan of tofu and eat it almost daily. When I was first introduced to tofu many years ago, it was the silken kind, which I hated. I convinced myself that I didn’t like tofu until I came across the firm and extra firm versions; it was love at first bite. This article discusses some of the primary health benefits of tofu. The article discusses as well some of the potential concerns about food processing, although it provides no citations to support these statements, which I take with a pinch of salt. I think there is a lot of misinformation about GMOs in general, based often on scare tactics and an assumption because something isn’t “natural” it must automatically be bad for you. Many GMO foods are perfectly harmless and also nutritious; their sale is regulated in Canada. This same fear is often extended to all processed foods, even though they are not necessarily harmful. Ultimately, it all comes down to balance. This article provides the nutritional breakdown of 100g of tofu and its role in helping to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. This article discusses the potential impact of tofu on Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

Tofu is an important source of protein and calcium for me, and adds substance to green salads, rice dishes, and so forth. My favourite way to eat tofu is to marinate it in a simple sauce, usually teriyaki, and then to saute it. I also like to grill it with barbecue sauce. This site has some suggested vegan tofu recipes.

Recipes, Veganism

Cauliflower bake

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The main ingredient in this dish is cauliflower. I added two other vegetables to the dish for extra texture and flavour, but this isn’t necessary.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets.
  • Broccoli florets
  • Fresh (or frozen) peas

Cheeze Sauce

  • 1 peeled and diced potato
  • 1 peeled and diced carrot
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups plant milk (soy milk works best)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp miso
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

  • Boil or steam the cauliflower and broccoli until tender. Set aside.
  • Boil the potato and carrot until tender.
  • Placed the cooked potato and carrot in a blender and add the remaining ingredients for the cheeze sauce. Blend until smooth.
  • Place the cauliflower, broccoli, and peas in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce, making sure to cover the vegetables completely.
  • Back at 350F (177C) for 20 minutes.

 

Recipes, Veganism

Carrot top pesto

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I bought a bunch of fresh carrots on Saturday from one of our local farmers’ markets and was inspired to make carrot top pesto, which is something I read in one of the Zero Waste communities to which I belong. In the past, I’ve always just composted the carrot tops; this recipe is an excellent way to combat food waste.

Ingredients

  • Carrot tops (the green leafy parts) of a bunch of carrots, chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil. I didn’t measure closely, but I think I used about 3 tablespoons
  • A handful of cashews (walnuts might work better, but I didn’t have any on hand)
  • Salt, to taste.

Method

  • You can blanche the carrot tops if you wish, but I kept them raw. Make sure they are well rinsed.
  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. I used my Vitamix.
  • Blend until everything is smooth. You decide what texture you lie; if you want a smooth pesto, blend for longer; if a chunkier texture, just pulse. It’s really hard to pulse with a Vitamix so mine comes out smooth.
Veganism

Vegan pizza in Halifax

Healthy-Vegan-PizzaImage source

I love pizza. I could happily eat pizza every day, including for breakfast. I often make my own pizza at home, but I do like to indulge in the occasional takeout. Neopolitan pizza is my favourite, but since this pizza requires a special oven to bake for the requisite maximum of 90 seconds, it’s not something I can make at home. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the vegan pizza offerings in a variety of Halifax restaurants. Please note that I’m not reviewing the quality of the food.

An option any vegan can follow, of course, is to simply order a pizza that contains no animal-derived ingredients, including cheese. My focus in this post is on restaurants that offer pizzas or ingredients labelled specifically as vegan. Traditional pizza dough is vegan, as it contains yeast, flour, sugar, and oil.  Let’s explore below.

Piatto Pizzaria + Enoteca has the special oven needed to make the Neopolitan pizza I love; I believe it’s the only restaurant in town with such an oven.  Piatto offers the “vegano”, which features sautéed portobello mushroom, garlic marinated tomatoes,  grilled zucchini, and topped with arugula. Piatto does not offer any vegan cheeze, which is a mark against them, as such alternatives are readily available.

Bramoso Pizza was, I believe, the first pizza restaurant in Halifax to provide a vegan cheeze alternative. Bramoso does not offer a specifically-labelled vegan pizza, but you can opt to create your own pizza and ask for their home-made vegan cheeze topping, which has the texture of ricotta. If you prefer cheeze that melts and has a gooey texture, as I do, this ricotta style may take some getting used to. The company states specifically that its white and whole wheat crusts are vegan.

Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria makes their own vegan cheeze topping which, like Bramoso’s has a ricotta-type texture. You can assemble your own pizza and ask for the vegan topping.

On The Wedge Gourmet Pizza, which operates in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford, offers the vegan-labelled pizza “Roasted Rocket,” which has roasted eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, fresh tomato, rustico sauce, and sauteed mushrooms. Sadly, the company does not provide any vegan cheeze alternative.

Boston Pizza does not have a vegan-labelled pizza, but it has very recently provided vegan cheeze, so you could assemble your own pizza and ask for this alternative. The company also provides a vegan cauliflower crust.

Pizza Pizza provides three vegan alternatives: vegan pepperoni, vegan crumbles, and cheeze, which can be added to a pizza of your design. The company also provides a vegan cauliflower crust, and states that its regular and thin crusts contain no animal ingredients.

The Wooden Monkey offers a “veggie pizza” that contains olive oil basil, tomato sauce, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and goat cheese. You can order vegan cheeze instead of the dairy versions.

The Heartwood offers the “Classic Vegan” pizza, which consists of tomato sauce, mushrooms, garlic, tofu, artichoke hearts, spinach, peppers, and nutritional yeast topped with a vegan caesar dressing. The restaurant normally carries Daiya cheeze if you wanted to add that as well.

As you can see, there are plenty of choices for vegan pizza.  Remember, I’ve listed only those restaurants that have pizzas labelled specifically as vegan, or which provide vegan cheeze alternatives. If I’ve missed any, please let me know.