Tag Archives: vegan

Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe

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I am back! It has been quite some time since I last posted. Probably the longest I have gone without posting since starting Health is Happiness. I spent the last month or so dealing with finding a new apt and moving. I am extremely happy to say that I am settled and back to creating delicious meal to share on the site!

For those of you that have moved before you know what it’s like. Your everyday routine gets thrown out the window and your life can feel like it’s a little all over the place. One of the meals that kept me a float during the whole process was rice and beans. It was so easy to throw together in a hurry and is delicious!

This quick and easy red beans and rice recipe is by no means a 100% traditional or authentic rice and beans recipe. Caribbean and South American countries have different versions of this classic dish. Rest assured this recipe is equally delicious, nutritious and comforting.
There are different types of beans, and a variety of spices used.  The beans are small red kidney beans. They aren’t as easy to find as the large ones. Most ethnic grocery stores will carry them in canned and/or dried form. Although I generally prefer and recommend using dried beans, I always keep a variety of canned beans on hand. Continue reading

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Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

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My week in England is coming to an end today. I have had a great time visiting family and perusing the British countryside.  My diet this week has been anything but healthy, but I couldn’t resist dipping into the local fare that I haven’t eaten in years.

I leave early in the morning for my first ever visit to Italy. We will be staying about 30 minutes outside of Rome in a villa.  We will be a huge gang of friends and family out to celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday.

As you can imagine I am incredibly excited for my visit as I  am a huge fan of Italian food.  All of it.  Whether we eat at the villa or out at a trattoria I am expecting the food to be excellent.

Pasta with tomato sauce is one of the most popular comfort foods in North America, and in many other parts of the world as well. Nevertheless,despite its popularity, it has become one of the most controversial foods in recent years.  The combination of carbs and gluten together seem to be taboo these days.

For those of us who do still dabble in some carbs and gluten, this is my healthy version of pasta with tomato sauce.  Not to worry, still comforting, delicious and hearty.  The lentils make a nice substitute for the traditional bolognese sauce.  Don’t forget the basil, an essential compliment to the tomato and garlic sauce.

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Here is what the spelt looks like when it is cooked.

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You know I love my mason jars. I store my lentils and spelt in mason jars, as well as all my other dry goods. Check out my post on Building a Healthy Pantry  ( if you are curious about what I keep in my pantry) which allows me to be able to whip up a healthy meal at any time.

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Here are a few pictures from my visit in England over the past week.

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Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
700 g jar tomato passata
1/2 cup water, (rinse the passata jar with the water to avoid waste)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh basil
optional: one chopped dried chili, or chili pepper flakes to taste

1/2 cup french dupuy lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 cup of spelt or wheat berries, or pasta of choice

Note: Don’t forget to bring some water to a boil for your pasta or whole-grain. If cooking a whole grain such as wheat berries or spelt berries, be sure to get these cooking a bit before because they take 40-60 minutes.

1. Cover the lentils with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil on medium for 20 minutes or until cooked, but still a bit firm. Be sure not to overcook. Be careful because different lentils can take different lengths of time to cook. Drain and set aside

2. Once the lentils are on, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions and carrots have softened.

3. Add the bay leaf, jar of tomato passata, and water. Stir, lay the cover ajar, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper again if necessary.

4. Add the lentils to the sauce and stir. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

5. Tear the fresh basil leaves into the sauce.

6. Serve pasta and sauce in bowls, with  more fresh basil leaves torn into the bowl.

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Grain Free Vegan Pancakes

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The Smoothie Challenge is well under way and I am personally loving all the new smoothies I am experimenting with. Today I had a chocolate mint green tea smoothie that blew my mind. Although I have been drinking a lot of smoothies to support all the physical activity I have been doing, a man’s gotta eat. And this man, loves to eat! As much as I love smoothies.

With much of my time going towards creating the 30 day smoothie challenge and all the exciting upcoming guest posts I haven’t had much time to create and share many delicious plant-based recipes therefore I thought I would take a few minutes today to share a recipe I have been making regularly for the past little while. It has become my go to pancake recipe.

I personally love pancakes. I love maple syrup too! Don’t you? You will be glad to know that these pancakes are healthier than your typical pancake. And if you want to make them even healthier you may want to skip on the syrup and consider using things like, unsweetened jam, nut butters and coconut butter.

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The first few times I was experimenting with making pancakes with chickpea flour I was mixing it with other flours like quinoa, and amaranth. Trying out different combination over and over again. Then I decided why not just try chickpea flour. My friend Leanne over at Healthful Pursuit had success with it so why not. If you want to make these pancakes a little sweeter you can add a 1/4 cup of coconut sugar to the dry ingredients. However if you ware suing maple syrup they will be plenty sweet as is. Continue reading

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The Best Gluten-Free, Paleo, & Vegan Chocolate Chip & Nut Cookies

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These pecan, chocolate chip, coconut cookies are amazing! If you eat a paleo diet you will love these cookies! If you are vegan you will love these cookies! If you eat a gluten-free diet you will love these cookies!

If you just really, really like cookies, YOU WILL LOVE THESE COOKIES! Bottom line is these cookies make me happy! And yes, they are paleo, vegan, and gluten-free. More importantly they are chocolate, pecan and coconut cookies! How good does that sound?

Well the good news is, they taste as good as they sound. I love having a cookie or two as an afternoon treat, and I don’t feel badly doing so when I know the ingredients are so good.

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Orange Mango Lemon Smoothie

Orange Mango Lemon Smoothie

Good Morning and Happy Easter! I spent yesterday afternoon whipping up some smoothies at lululemon athletica on Ste-Catherine street here in Montreal.   The event was a blast!  I met all different types of really nice and interesting people, as I always do at events like these.  I always love hearing about other peoples smoothie making experiences and what they like to put into their smoothies.

I made 2 smoothies yesterday.  One of them was an Orange Mango Lemon Smoothie and the other was the incredibly popular Banana Nut Butter Smoothie made with almond butter, raw cacao nibs, almond milk, coconut water, and dates.  I loved seeing peoples reaction when they tried this smoothie.  They were pleasantly surprised.  Consensus is people like Chocolate! Was there any doubt in the first place?  The good news is, that even though the Banana Nut Butter Smoothie tastes incredibly naughty, it is good for you!  So if you are in the mood for a treat, go ahead,  you deserve it!

The Orange Mango Lemon Smoothie was also very well received.  Which is why I woke up this morning and made it again so I could share the recipe since it’s not up on my site yet.  People were continuously asking for the recipe so here it is! Continue reading

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Curried Red Lentil & Swiss Chard Soup With Coconut Milk

IMG_8018This is my new favourite soup, and I am convinced that if you make it, it will be yours as well. What does that mean? It means I really think you should make this soup. I made it at the beginning of last week, and it provided me with lunches and even a quick dinner. I loved it so much, that I made it again today, so I could have it again this week.

Do you have a favourite soup? One that you found yourself making several times this winter? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

This soup is filling, really tasty, incredibly nutritious, and REALLY easy to make. Seriously. It’s so easy! We often don’t have the time or motivation to prepare a healthy meal for ourselves or our family, but preparing a big batch or 2 of something like a soup or a stew is a great way to help you eat healthy. This way you have something ready for those days when you don’t have time or simply aren’t in the mood to cook.

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Vegan in Toronto Part 2: Fresh on Spadina & Hot Beans

Part 2 of eating Vegan in Toronto. Fresh was at the top of my list of vegetarian restaurants to visit while I was in Toronto. The truth is I almost didn’t make it at all. Although I had no plans for the weekend when I arrived in Toronto, my schedule filled up pretty quickly. Friday was lunch at Urban Herbivore with my uncle and then Saturday we ended up grabbing a bite at the St.Lawrence market which I am writing about in another post.

Dinners were all booked for the weekend and none of them at restaurants. Friday night’s dinner is worth mentioning. I made a delicious pasta dish with my uncle, made with onions, peppers, fennel, cooked slowly until they were nice and sweet, and then mixed with white beans and pasta. I will be recreating this recipe to share here and most likely adding some kale.

That left me with Sunday lunch to try another vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Toronto. I had plans to meet up with my friend Christina for lunch. Although I really wanted to try Fresh, I also really wanted to try Hot Beans, which is a vegan burrito spot in Kensington market. What a dilemma! Christina was down to try Fresh again. She hadn’t been often.

She met me at Kops records on Queen St. one of my favorite places to buy records in the city. On my walk down to Kops I couldn’t help but stop in a few grocery stores in Chinatown. That will be another post. I have never seen so many different types of greens in my life.

By the time I got to Kops I didn’t have much time to dig for records before Christina came to meet me. The guy working at the store asked me if I was looking for anything. Since I didn’t have much time but wanted to find some good stuff I asked him to show me some records that he really liked that I wasn’t likely to know. He showed me A LOT of good stuff in a short period. I didn’t want to leave.

Thankfully Christina is awesome and chilled with me listening to some amazing records for a while. I ended up getting a few, one of them being a movie soundtrack called Charleston Blue by Donny Hathaway and supervised by Quincy Jones. Need I say more? It features the studio version of Little Ghetto Boy.


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Vegan In Toronto Part 1: Urban Herbivore Review

I spent this past weekend in Toronto visiting friends and family. It had been almost 3 years since my last trip to Toronto. That was when I was first starting to eat more plant based food, but long before I had the idea of starting Health is Happiness. I didn’t really make any plans for the weekend. My plan was to just play everything by ear and see what happens. Of course I was hoping to be able to visit a few vegan restaurants while in Toronto to see what they are all about. What is it like being a vegan in Toronto? My sense is that you have a lot more choice than being a vegan in Montreal!

Fresh has been on my list of places to visit since I found out about the restaurant chain through one of their cookbooks called reFresh. Hot Beans, a vegan burrito spot in Kensington market area, was also on my radar. I got a few other suggestions from friends and the Health is Happiness community.

Friday was my first day in Toronto, and I headed out with my uncle for lunch and a visit to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). We did not have a specific lunch destination chosen. As we walked through Kensington Market I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, a place called Urban Herbivore. I suggested we go take a look and see what it’s all about.

Upon inspection of the simple but enticing menu, we decided to stick around and eat our lunch there. Urban Herbivore has a selection of sandwiches, a couple bowls, and a couple of stews not to mention a soup of the day. They also have a selection of freshly made juices and sweets. I have included pictures of the restaurant menus so you can get a better idea of what they have to offer. Continue reading

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Vegan Paella Recipe with Caramelized Tomatoes & Fava Beans

Paella is a rice dish native to Spain. There are many different variations of Paella one can make, many including either meat or seafood or a mix of the two. Different regions in Spain will use different ingredients based on what is available to them.

Paella is a great dish to make for a group of people. My father loves making seafood Paella. This vegetarian recipe is one my father made recently when I went home for dinner, and so I thought of recording the process and sharing it with you. There isn’t only one way to make Paella. I have read several different recipes and none of them are exactly the same.

This particular version is inspired by Mark Bittman’s recipe in his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. A great book to add to your collection if you don’t already have it. Similar to his How to Cook Everything book, but all vegetarian. A modern day Joy of Cooking of sorts. All essential books in a good cook’s library.

I have watched and helped my dad make Paella several times at home, but have never actually made it on my own. I think it is time I give it a try. I do not own a Paella pan yet, which is a wide shallow pan traditionally used to make the dish. They vary in sizes, the smallest ones still being quite large. I have seen images in books of Paella being made on the beach in Spain, over a burning fire, in the biggest pan I have ever seen in my life.

I would love to buy myself a paella pan ,but I think my roomate would kill me. I have already taken over the kitchen since moving in, with all my kitchen equipment and jars of beans and grains. I’m not sure she would love me bringing a new 20in+ size pan into the kitchen. To be honest I am not sure where I would keep it. Maybe I could find room somewhere. Move things around a little. For now, I guess my 12in all clad skillet will have to do.

The fava beans used here were from my father’s home garden. Lucky us. If you can’t find any fava beans you can always make it with another type of bean like chickpeas. Feel free to add other vegetables to the mix as well. I can imagine that roasted peppers would be a delicious addition to the party.

A note about the saffron. Yes, it is expensive but get the real stuff. There is nothing quite like it. Spanish saffron is the good stuff, not the American saffron that is much cheaper and easier to find. Spend the few extra dollars and enjoy.

Have you tried to make Paella before? If so I would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below.

Vegan Paella Recipe with Caramelized Tomato & Fava Bean

2 cups short grain brown rice, rinsed
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

For the Soffrito

A few strands of spanish saffron
1 onion, grated
2 roma tomatoes, grated
8 cloves garlic, 4 grated and 4 thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

5-6 roma tomatoes (1 lb), cut into quarters and seeds removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh or frozen lava beans
A handful of chopped parsley
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Fill a medium size saucepan 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While your rice is cooking, heat paella pan, to medium heat, add the oil and the onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the saffron, grated tomatoes, grated garlic, sliced garlic, salt and paprika. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Mix the tomato quarters in a bowl with the tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Add the rice and turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spread the rice out evenly across the bottom of the pan. Lay the tomatoes and fava beans over the rice, spreading them out evenly. Pour in the hot broth. Do not stir at this point.

Cover and place the paella dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve in the centre of the table and see how impressed your guests are when presented with this beautiful dish.

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Amazing Vegan Bowl Recipe with Nutritional Yeast Sauce

Vegan bowls like this one are great for so many reasons.  They are healthy, easy to make, inexpensive, and filling.  There are an endless  number of different combinations possible.  Different vegetables, different grains, different greens, different sauces, different nuts and seeds.

In this vegan bowl I include cooked brown rice, baby spinach, shredded carrots, shredded beets, avocado, sunflower sprouts, and pumpkin seeds.  I chose to serve it with tempeh which was quickly marinated in soy sauce, orange juice, and chili flakes and then cooked in the pan.  Very simple and quick.

The delicious sauce is what pulls all these ingredients together and makes this bowl amazing.  The 2 main ingredients are nutritional yeast and tahini, injected with some serious flavour.  I am talking about garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil and agave syrup.   I also added water to get the consistency I wanted for the bowl. Continue reading

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