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.

Vegan pizza in Halifax

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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.

 

 

Vegan treats in Halifax

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A friend of mine asked me about vegan sweet treats she could take as a hostess gift, which got me thinking that this would make an ideal blog post. I’ve focused on locally-made vegan treats.

Rousseau Chocolatier provides some good vegan options for chocolate bonbons. Dark chocolate is usually vegan, and those filled with nuts or fruits would be fine. Another option is the dark chocolate bars.

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Springhouse makes exclusively vegan products. For sweet goods, the following would all be suitable:

  • Cashew cheesecake: strawberry, Blueberry, Mango Pineapple, Mocha or Maple Almond. The cheesecake is usually sold by the slice, but you can order a whole cheesecake.
  • Chocolate almond bar: one of their most popular products.
  • Caramel brownie bar
  • Lemon bar
  • Mint chip bar

Sweet Hereafter Bakery always has one daily vegan cheesecake. I’ve tried every vegan option, and all are delicious. The cheesecake is sold by the slice, but you can order a whole cheesecake. Their vegan options are plentiful:

  • Vegan Amaretto
  • Vegan Black Forest
  • Vegan Carrot Cake
  • Vegan Chocolate Oreo
  • Vegan Chocolate Raspberry
  • Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut
  • Vegan Oreo
  • Vegan Macaroon
  • Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Vegan Strawberry Vanilla

Humani-T Cafe has a good variety of vegan gelato that you can order by the pint. The cafe makes a good chocolate vegan cake that you can order in advance.

Vandal Doughnuts has a large variety of vegan doughnuts. This bakery is extremely popular and often has long queues of customers waiting outside the door, and for good reason, as their doughnuts are delicious. Vegan options include:

  • Vegan cookie monster
  • Vegan raspberry lemon
  • Vegan Oreo twist
  • Vegan apple fritter
  • Vegan homer
  • Vegan Boston cream
  • Vegan chocolate and peanut butter
  • Vegan strawberry vanilla
  • Vegan harbour fog
  • Vegan lemon square
  • Vegan cinnamon twist
  • Vegan blueberry fritter

The Petite Baker is run by a friend of mine. Elizabeth can make custom vegan cakes for any occasion.

Luscious Desserts is an exclusively vegan bakery that makes a variety of cupcakes, cakes, macarons, and chocolates.

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Big Life in Dartmouth makes a variety of vegan cookies, including:

  • Vegan spelt date squares
  • Vegan spelt raisin cookies
  • Vegan spelt chocolate chip cookies

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Wild Leek has a variety of vegan baked goods that you can order, including brownies, cupcakes, and cookies. Wild Leek is exclusively vegan.

The Heartwood restaurant has a variety of vegan desserts and treats. I’m not sure whether you can order in advance, but a quick phone call should sort that out.  Options include:

  • Cocobanana pie
  • Carrot cake
  • Mocha almond cheesecake
  • Peanut butter cheesecake

 

Lasagne roll ups

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I decided to forgo the usual “ricotta and tomato sauce” approach to lasagne in the recipe below. Roll ups are convenient, as I find it easier to control portion sizes.

Ingredients

For the filling

1 finely diced onion

3-4 diced garlic cloves

Cooked sweet potato, mashed

1 block extra firm tofu, crumbled

Finely chopped greens. I used collard greens, but you could easily use spinach, swiss chard, or kale.

Crushed tomatoes

Red wine (optional)

Dried basil and oregano

Topping

Tomato sauce

Shredded vegan cheese. I used Gusta, but any brand you like that can be shredded will do

Instructions

  1. Saute the onions until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the crumbled tofu and saute, making sure to distribute the onions and garlic thoroughly.
  3. Add the sweet potato and greens.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes. The filling needs to be thick, so add only enough tomatoes to achieve this consistency.
  5. Add herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add red wine, if desired. I used a lovely local rose, which gives the filling a subtle flavour.
  7. Simmer for about minutes, stirring frequently.

To assemble

  1. Boil the desired number of lasagne noodles until al dente. I used six.
  2. Lay the cooked noodles flat on a towel or cookie sheet.
  3. Place the filling along the entire length of each noodle. Be generous with the filling.
  4. Roll each lasagne noodle.
  5. Place the filled noodles in a baking dish. Make sure the noodles are tightly packed so that they don’t lose their shape.
  6. Cover the roll ups with tomato sauce and grated cheese
  7. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow split pea soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced. I used a purple sweet potato this time; the flesh is white.
  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
  • Enough vegetable broth to cover
  • Dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the diced onion and carrots until softened.
  2. Add the peas, sweet potato, and sage
  3. Cover with vegetable broth. Don’t add too much broth, or the soup will be too thin. You can always add more broth if the soup becomes too thick.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours.

Real Fake Meats

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Real Fake Meats is Halifax’s first vegan butcher store. I have been there a few times since it’s opened and plan to be a regular customer. I don’t generally buy too many faux meat products, as I prefer to use vegetables and grains, but I am very partial to seitan bacon. Although I can make seitan at home, it can be a long process, so I do like the convenience of buying it ready made.

The store has a variety of plant-based deli items such as turkey, seitan bacon, donair meat, cheeses, and desserts. There is a rotating deli menu as well; there isn’t a lot of seating in the shop, so most people take the food to go. The image above is of the Philly cheeze sandwich, which is delicious. The seitan bacon is divine, and I’ve never managed to make it home before eating any of the desserts. Also worth mentioning is the tofu feta, which is fabulous.

My one concern about the store is the plastic packaging used: The cheeses and desserts are packed in lidded plastic tubs, while the meats are in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. Happily, however, I spoke to the owner about whether I could bring my own containers, and she said they would be happy to oblige.

Whenever I’ve been there, which has been in winter so far, I’ve seen a few people come in wearing down coats or leather bags, so the clientele does not consist of only vegans. The staff told me that, in fact, many of the regular clients are omnivores who are looking for vegan alternatives as a way to reduce their consumption of animal products. Naturally, I was delighted to hear this, particularly since it’s a way for omnivores to understand the many delicious plant-based alternatives available to them.

Pure Anada cosmetics

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My hunt for a high-quality, zero-waste, and vegan makeup line might have come to its end. I have been using mineral makeup for years, and find it works very well with my skin, which is very sensitive and easily irritated. I have used a number of different products over the years. I had narrowed the products to three companies. The first company, Cosmic Tree Essentials, is locally made in Nova Scotia. The products are of good quality, although I have not liked all of them, especially the lipsticks, which tend to be too “glittery” for my taste. The makeup products come mostly in plastic packaging, and the selection of products in local stores is rather limited. It’s possible to buy the products with reduced packaging from the farmers’ market in Wolfville, but since I don’t own a car, I can’t get there too often, and when I have, it’s often been a little hit and miss as to whether the stall for the company is available. Ordering from the website  is not the best experience, as it does not provide clear swatches for the eye colours.

I very much like the ZuZu Deluxe pressed mineral foundation, but I am concerned about the plastic case it comes in, complete with mirror. The company does sell refill foundations that you can insert in the case but, sadly, these refills are not sold in local stores, and buying the refills online from the US retailer is prohibitively expensive.

The leader of zero-waste vegan makeup in Canada  is Elate Cosmetics, which is well known internationally as well. Many of their products are sold as refillables;  the eye colours and pressed powders, for example, come in metal pots that fit into a refillable bamboo container, as shown below. The individual pots come in a compostable paper container.

The Elate products are generally of good quality, although I’ve been very disappointed with the Bamboo palettes, as the hinges are very fragile, and have broken in two of palettes I have purchased. The pressed foundation comes in limited colours, and I haven’t found one that suits me. I need a shade between the two lightest shades, as one is either a little too light, while the other a little too dark. I sound like Goldilocks. The eye shadows and blushes are perfectly fine, and the mascara is excellent.

I have lately been using Pure Anada, another Canadian product that I think has been around for longer than Elate. Pure Anada sells many of its products in refillable containers; you can buy pressed foundation, eye shadows, and blush in small pots that fit into a palette. Even better, you can buy refills for loose mineral powder, which is something not many companies do. Another bonus is that Pure Anada products are about half the price of Elate.  There are different palettes available at very reasonable prices. I’ve had a lot of success with their products, as explained below.

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Pressed foundation. Pure Anada has three light shades. I wear the second lightest, which is called Very Fair. This shade is warm toned, which is perfect for me.

Loose powder.  I like to carry a small travel pot with loose powder in my handbag, as it takes up far less space than a compact. There is a good selection of shades; I wear Ivory Chinook, which is very fair in warm tones.

Eye shadows. I own only two shades, as I like to keep things simple. You can get loose shadows or pressed. I prefer to use pressed, as I find that loose powder can sometimes get into my eyes when I apply it. I use Ecru and Clouded. The shadows have good colour saturation and stay on all day.

Mascara. I am very pleased with the mascara, which gives good definition and lasts all day. I like the thinner and curved wand, as I find it easier to apply. I’ve poked myself in the eye too may times with chubbier wands.

Once my Elate blush has run out, I will switch to Pure Anada. I will try a few samples of their lipsticks as well.

Pure Anada makeup products are vegan and cruelty free, of course.