Spanakopita was an absolute staple while I was growing up. My mom would usually make these with spinach and feta cheese, but I have enjoyed a wide variety of combinations that include cheese, meat, tomato and onion, leek and potato, just potato, cabbage, and butternut squash. Any which way you slice it, every combination was absolutely amazing. Usually spanakopita is made with homemade sheets of thin dough layers, but for the sake of my sanity I resort to the store bought phyllo dough. This option gives you a more crunchy spanakopita rather than the soft, thick layers of dough that comes with the truly homemade version.
I love this version of spanakopita – you don’t have labour with making individual sheets yourself, and these mini triangles are a great finger food or snack option for your plant based gatherings with friends and family.
Just a couple of pieces of advice as you make your spanakopitas:
Drizzle a good amount of olive oil on the individual phyllo pastries – this will help add moisture and keep the spanakopita’s soft while also allowing for some crunch. When you bake them, wash the tops with olive oil or butter so they don’t dry out
Don’t be afraid to stuff these little triangles. Since you are folding them multiple times they will keep their shape and the filling wont spill out.
Make sure you cook the leek greens to soften them before adding it to the mixture. Traditionally, a classic spanakopita is made with just feta cheese and spinach. I’ve added the leeks as I had some lying around. You can omit these if you would like
Watch the spanakopita as they bake – they turn brown rather quickly
Hope you enjoy the short cut version of this greek classic!
A greek staple, spanakopita with a vegan filling of cashew cheese, spinach and leeks
1/3cnon dairy milk
1handful of chopped dill
1leek, dark green part only
The night before take the phyllo dough out of the freezer and let thaw. Do not open it until you are ready to make your spanakopita
Soak cashews with boiling water for 30 mins.
Once cashews have softened, in a high speed blender blend together cashews, oregano, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture into a container and stick in the fridge to thicken, for an hour or so. You can make this the night before as well.
When cashew cheese is cooled, add to a mixing bowl. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add leeks and cook until they are soft. In the last two minutes of cooking, add the spinach and cook just until it is wilted. Add this to the cashew cheese, as well as the chopped dill and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine
Preheat oven to 375
Unroll the phyllo dough carefully. Take one phyllo sheet and sprinkle olive oil all over the sheet. Fold in thirds. In the corner of the folded phyllo add a tbsp of cashew mixture holding the corner bring to opposite end in a triangle, and fold into triangles as you go along.
Once you have used all of the mixture, brush spanakopita with olive oil or melted butter. Bake until they brown, about 15-20 minutes
I believe that everyone, their mothers and grandmothers, have made a leek and potato soup. I always like to add a little bit of protein to my soups to sustain me throughout the day, and split peas make a perfect addition to this classic! I did not soak the split peas before hand so its a perfect time crunch soup as well.
For this soup you should not use the dark green parts of the leeks but you can save them for a later dish. Simply prepare all the ingredients and throw it into the pot to cook. I’ve made this early in the morning before I go to work because it requires very minimal effort and it can do its thing while you do you! The soup will naturally be thick because of the starchy potatoes and the split peas, but you are welcome to add a little bit of coconut milk if that is something you enjoy to have in your soups! I prefer to top the soup with a nice cool cashew creme and croutons.
Granola is one of those things that I feel EXTREMELY guilty of buying in the grocery store because it is incredibly easy to make at home. I find myself making this at least once a week and it is an absolute staple in a yogurt breakfast alongside some fresh fruit like berries. Many recipes include extra sugar and oil but I have created my own recipe that is free of these unnecessary additives. You are free to use other replacements in this recipe like different types of nuts and seeds, or agave/date syrup. Just make sure you add a little bit of water to really everything well together.
I can attest that this has happened to everyone I know – you buy a large carton of berries with the full intention of consuming them in the upcoming days. You forget about them. They go bad. Your reminded that they are there and shocked to see they have gone bad. I’ll reason with you – it seems that certain berries (ahem, strawberries) turn bad so quickly I am reluctant to ever buy them again…which I end up doing anyways. Nonetheless, I present you a perfect dessert to use up these pesky berries and satisfy your sweet tooth in the process. I have to say that I am totally comfortable buying strawberries because any leftover or about to go bad berries can always be repurposed into this dessert.
This dessert is made up of three layers: a yummy cookie base, strawberry goodness, and topped with a thin layer of crumble for that added texture. These make perfect takeaway bars for when you are packing a lunch, as a yummy snack, or a sweet breakfast option for when you are on the go in the morning. As usual I love to pair my desserts with a cup of tea, or even a cup of almond milk if you’ve got kids!
Delicious vegan berry crumble bars, perfect to use for any type of berries!
Keyword vegan, vegandessert
1call purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4cmelted vegan butter
1/2 tspbaking soda
1large container of strawberries, chopped (3-4 cups)
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking dish with parchment paper for easy removal.
Mix all crust ingredients minus the butter. Add 1/2 c of butter and mix well until a crumble forms. Set aside 1/3 c of mixture for the topping. Add the remaining butter and mix well until dough forms. Pack into dish
Mix strawberry ingredients together and pour on top of crust
Sprinkle a thin layer of remaining crumble mixture on top of strawberries. It doesn't need to cover all strawberries completely. Bake for 40-45 mins until top layer is well browned.
Hope you get to try this delectable berry dessert!
Many people ask me how have I been so successful in my transition to veganism overnight. Usually big changes require small baby steps to finally achieve. First off I’d like to say that in general I am an all or nothing person, and I knew if I didn’t wake up the next day and clean everything out of my fridge it would be more difficult for me to make the change. Not everyone is like this, and that is totally fine too. But the biggest piece of advice I could give to someone looking to make ANY sort of lifestyle change would be to define and hone into your “WHY”.
Your “WHY” is the reason for your change. It is the reason you believe that these changes will help you achieve your “WHY”. It is by-far the strongest driving force into making any lifestyle change. No one likes to be told to do something or change something. When I was younger it felt like I would make it a point to not do something if someone arbitrary told me to. Unless I had a good reason to do something I thought to myself, why should I? The truth is that no one can force you to care about something. You find your own reason to do so. Power to make positive changes in your life comes when the individual can find their own special reason for these changes apart from pressure from other forces.
There are many “WHY”s for becoming vegan/plant based. Here are the top three:
Health and wellness
My “WHY” for becoming vegan is for the health and wellness aspect. I was dealing with some health problems that I wanted nothing to do with. Dealing with health is scary. We as a society take our health for granted, and with good reason. We are not taught at a young age that caring for ourselves is something we should all do, whether it be through nutrition or fitness, we are bombarded with advertisements for the total opposite. At a very basic level I wish we were taught how to shop for produce, how to prep and cook our meals, build our plates, how to eat and when, amongst so many other things. Teaching children these basics can work to empower them on their quest of wellbeing. On a even more basic level, learning these things at a young age encourages us to take charge of our lives and look after ourselves. When I first started learning how to cook I was paralyzed by the seemingly million steps I have to do in order to complete a simple meal, and only though pushing through did I learn the basics and how to overcome my fear of doing something “wrong”. A picture of the food pyramid is not enough. We need to know WHY we need what he need and how other cultures use their foods as fuel.
Cooking is such a basic skill. We have reduced our desire to cook down to food subscription boxes and takeout because we just so damn lazy. I wholly believe that this is due to the lack of education. Not to say that these mechanisms for getting food on the table are shameful, but more and more I am noticing that young adults around my age who are stepping into the world of living alone and explore, cooking is put on the back burner. Cooking does not have to be complicated, and I argue that it is more nourishing and fulfilling than buying out.
I digress, can you tell I’m passionate about this topic?
2. Climate change
The science shows that factory farming and livestock is the number one cause of increasing green house gases to date. The meat production production that has ramped up to match increasing demand in our modern world has wreaked havoc on our climate. Deforestation, rising sea levels and increased carbon monoxide levels have been linked to the overproduction of animal derived food sources, like meat and dairy. Many vegans and plant based eaters switch over to the diet to combat the looming fear of climate change on our future generations. Popular documentaries like Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy have suggested that reducing or completely eliminating consumption of animal based food sources is a crucial step in reducing our carbon foot print and effect on the environment.
There is an amazing tool, the “Vegan Calculator” that can be found at https://thevegancalculator.com/, that illustrates the impact you’ve had on the environment since going vegan on a variety of climate related factors. According to the website, in just one year of being vegan you save 401,500 gallons of water, 10,950 sqft of forestry, 14,600 lbs of grain, 7,300 lbs of co2 and 365 animal lives. How amazing is that?
3. Animal justice and rights
It is a well known fact that in, especially factory farming, animals face horrific abuses from the time they are born to the time they make it to the slaughter house. There are no shortage of videos exposing these atrocities yet it still continues and grows each day.
Thomas Hobbes famously said, “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” This pessimistic outlook of life is telling of the importance we put on animal rights. Truth of the matter is that we have not, as a society, deemed the life of animals, sentient beings, of equal importance to our own. I have to admit that this argument did not persuade me to go vegan the first time I encountered it. I shrugged it off an considered it the “circle of life”. Now that I have had time to reflect on its merits, I completely resonate with this argument. There is a significant degree of cognitive disassociation taught in our society, implicitly or explicitly, to shield us from the truth of factory farming. Many vegans I have connected with whom did not choose veganism for the animals have indicated that after a while, as you detach from the mainstream belief of what is considered food, liken to the argument that animals are sentient beings who do not deserve to die for our consumption. A certain higher level of consciousness swoops in as they step back and look at our food systems.
There can be arguments made that other types of farming do not contribute to the abuses of animals, such having your own animals or sustainable/regenerative farming. I think there is a space where farming practices can be altered to allow for improved qualities of life for these animals. This is my personal opinion and my view on this “why” but others argue there is absolutely no room for any argument of any kind. There are levels to being an animal rights activist, but the point remains that we must look to treating animals with dignity and respect despite our common belief that their existence is entirely for our consumption.
Wherever you fit in, your “why” is the most important thing that will keep you going as you embark on your journey as a vegan. Overtime, your ‘why’ will fade away into the background as you come to terms with the new lifestyle. I no longer have to remind myself that, no I can not have the cream dessert because its unhealthy, I just know it is and why it is, and I can happily wave goodbye to it. As you stand strongly on your “why”, your our friends and family will come to terms with your stance and respect your choices, and overtime you may find that they have more questions and curiosity around going vegan and making a healthy lifestyle change.
If you have social media you have probably come across the Swedish craze termed “feta pasta” where you bake tomatoes and feta cheese and mix it all together to create this cheesy, goey goodness. Of course since I do not eat any type of cheese (although I used to LOVE feta) I made a simple substitution of using hummus. I do use my own homemade hummus but store bought would work just as well. A great way to enhance this dish is using a flavoured hummus like roasted red pepper, chipotle or garlic!
There are few simple steps to create this easy, less than 30 minute pasta meal that is sure to be a hit. Simply roast tomatoes and hummus with a load of herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme and olive oil, mix in your cooked pasta with a little reserved pasta water and you have a meal! You can totally be part of the viral TikTok trend without having to eat any dairy products and keep within the whole food plant based diet.
You are absolutely free to add other veggies in the roast. In this version, I had an extra red pepper lying around and just chopped it up and added it to the baking dish. I have also tried and absolutely loved adding olives as it really fit in nicely with the notes of oregano and garlic in this dish. I have also seen a green version with colourful cherry tomatoes, spinach, asparagus and broccoli! Below you’ll find a base recipe from which you can work from using what you have in lying in your fridge.
Vegan burgers are an ABSOLUTE staple in my diet, and as a guaranteed weekly menu item. I find that when I go out to a vegan restaurant I can only HOPE that they have an option for house made burgers made from scratch rather than using a processed version. You can just feel the love in bean burgers, and can infuse a wide variety of flavours without adding on the toppings. My favourite combination for bean burgers is spicy, Mexican like flavours including chipotle, chili powder, and a big scoop of avocado with lime.
You’ll absolutely need to use a food processor for these burgers and they will do the entire job for you with no stress. You can use a potato masher if you do not have one, but I would totally recommend pulling out your food processor. Plus you literally don’t have to chop a single thing if you do use one!
In the first step you will have to drain and rinse your can of black beans. I recommend doing this first so that the beans can dry as much as possible before blending them with the other ingredients. After, prepare your chia egg with 1 tbsp of chia seeds and 3 tbsp of water. Let it sit for about 5 mins until it comes together in a nice eggy like blob (I think thats a great description). Once you do that, quarter your onion and peppers and put them in the food processor. Next you’ll need to pull out your chipotle peppers. This is absolutely crucial in introducing that extra spice and flavour. I get a canned version of chipotle peppers at my local whole foods, that is marinated with adobo sauce and onions. The adobo sauce is to die for, but if you cant find these chipotle flavours feel free to use a dried version and add adobo sauce separately.
I will say that if you are not a fan of the spicy or chipotle flavours, you can omit these flavours and use the onions, peppers, beans, oats, and chia as a base for your very own black bean burger.
Firstly process the onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and chipotle peppers on their own. Just pulse a couple of times to chop everything up and to make sure there are no large pieces of onion or peppers. If you process to long the mixture might become too watery, which means you will have to add a little extra oats to soak up that moisture. Add the beans, oats, and chia egg to the processor along side your salt, pepper, chili powder, granulated garlic, paprika, and red chili flakes. Set on low and let the processor do its thing, stopping if you need to scrape down the sides. The mixture will come together nicely and look almost like refried beans.
Form into patties (depending on your sizes, I can get four normal sized patties) and bake in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes, flipping half way. Now onto toppings! Since this is a spicy burger I highly recommend your usuals – lettuce, tomato, onions. But if you want to elevate your game then add guac, barbeque chips, pickled red onions, and mayo. I hope you enjoy!
Way back when I was still eating eggs quiche was the quickest “gourmet” breakfast choice, and a great choice for packed lunches or breakfast on the go. Alas, since going vegan I have had to make another substitute to compensate this loss, but chickpea flour is a nutritious alternative that gets the job done! Not to mention, this chickpea flour quiche is a great opportunity to use up any veggies that are stuck in your fridge or about to go bad!
I opted for a chickpea flour alternative to the usual quiche, rather than soy or tofu based quiche, purely out of preference and my desire to make a gluten free lunch option. My stomach and tofu do not mix well despite all of its benefits, so I stray away as much as possible. I’ve had great luck using chickpea flour in a substitute for homemade tofu so I thought it would be a grand idea to use this versatile flour in as many ways as possible…quiche being one of them.
In a traditional quiche one can expect a soft, fluffy interior loaded with veggies. I will say that you can definitely expect the latter; on the other hand I’d like to proceed with caution prescribing the term “fluffy like eggs”. Once baked and because it is technically still a flour, the quiche will have a dense almost cake like texture to it. To soften the texture, I add a little bit of yogurt to the batter much as you would add yogurt or sour cream to a cake to make it fluffier.
I love to serve this with some homemade cashew creme or a lemony dill type sauce to really elevate the “quiche” experience. I’ve also added turmeric to give the quiche an earthy flavour and add to its yellowish colour, although chickpea flour is already quite yellow . In terms of vegetables, my absolute favourite to add is broccoli or tomatoes to introduce some different textures. Don’t be afraid to go over the 1.5 cup I’ve set out in the recipes, I have stuffed more vegetables I was trying to get rid of!
Just sharing an idea for a quick colourful lunch bowl with a ton of veggies and protein for vegans on a go. I love seeing ideas for lunch bowls for myself because there are just so many possibilities to choose from when building your bowl. I was inspired by Middle Eastern shawarma bowls that I used to get all the time before going vegan. Homemade hummus, mediterranean spices and potatoes with a side of fresh veggies is sure to hit your appetite when you are in a pinch.
Coat 1 12oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) in olive oil and your favourite mediterranean spices. I used a mix of oregano, sumac, thyme, paprika, and garlic. Toss in the air fry on 400 for roughly 5-7 minutes until they are lightly browned. I prefer them to be less crispy so they are not drying.
While the chickpeas are roasting, cut the sweet potatoes into wedge sizes and toss in similar coating to the chickpeas. Try and make sure they are all roughly the same size. When the chickpeas are done, toss in the air fryer and roast for 15 – 20 mins until soft.
The day before toss a cup of chickpeas in a medium sized pot and fill with enough water. Bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of baking soda. Baking soda is so important to making soft chickpeas!! Let boil for about 10 mins, and simmer for another 50. They should be soft but if not, continue cooking. Add to a food processor with 2 tbsp of tahini, 1/4 c of olive oil, 1/2 c of ice water, juice of half a lemon and 1 tbsp of garlic + salt. Refrigerate and serve.
Dice cucumber, tomato, red peppers and green onions. Toss in bowl with olive oil, lemon, salt + pepper. Add other veggies like beets or peppers.
Other alternatives you could try making include a Mexican style bowl with black beans, corn salsa, guac and cashew creme on rice or quinoa. Another easy substitute is a lentil & walnut type minced meat that I often use for lasagna or tacos. The possibilities are really endless so have fun building your decadent bowls and really get to enjoy your lunch!
Vegan/plant based alternative to classic shawarma bowl
Keyword chickpea, veganbowl
112 oz canchickpeas, rinsed and drained
1tspeach, paprika, garlic, oregano, thyme, sumac
1mediumsweet potato, cut in wedges
1tspeach, paprika, garlic, oregano, thyme, sumac
1 cucumber, tomato, pepper, green onion, chopped
2 tbspolive oil
1tsp baking soda
1/2 cice water
The day before, bring to a boil a medium soup pot with dry chickpeas in salted water for 10 mins. Once boiled, add baking soda and turn heat to simmer for about 50 mins. Check its soft before draining.
Drain chickpeas and add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Refrigerate until ready for use.
Roasted Chickpeas & Sweet Potato
Toss chickpea ingredients together and air fry on 400 for 5-7 minutes until slightly brown
When chickpeas are finished sweet potato ingredients together and air fry on 400 to 15-20 mins until soft
Side Salad & Veggies
While air frying, cut up and toss salad ingredients together
As a plant based eater, and someone who is working on improving their health, I take a range of supplements to help with that. I want to preface this by saying I am no medical professional and I do not claim my suggestions as medical advice. Please, please, please if you are unsure of anything I mentioned or have any questions please consult with your medical professional!
Vitamin D is an absolute MUST wherever you are. Thank you to the advancements of the intellectual enlightenment and of the modern world we are not longer outsiders. Meaning that we don’t spend NEARLY as much time outside as we used to and do not get access to the vitamin D needed for healthy bodily function. Your body naturally produces Vitamin D when your skin comes in contact with the sun, so not having regular contact puts you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D’s primary function is to maintain calcium levels in the body. The body needs calcium for bone strength, optimal muscle movement and nerve performance.
There are many well documented reasons why vitamin D is absolutely necessary for optimal health, and is linked as a main cause of a variety of illnesses and chronic conditions. I recently did routine blood work and I was surprised to find that Vitamin D tests were not covered by provincial insurance because it is ASSUMED that the entire population is deficient! This is probably because in Canada, we have a very long season of cold weather with overcast skies, and the sun rays we do experience are not strong enough to give us the optimal Vitamin D levels needed. In fact, there are some weeks where I do not go outside for days because it is just too cold to function.
There is AMPLE evidence that Vitamin D is linked to many symptoms and ailments (you can see here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/). I take a Vitamin D liquid drops by the brand GNA Naturals. I take about 5,000iu of the drops daily because I am quite deficient. However, the recommended dosage is 1-2,000iu/day. Vitamin D can also be found in some animal products like cow liver or cod, but since I am plant based I do not consume those options
One thing people may not know is that Vitamin K2 is essential to allowing the body to properly consume and absorb Vitamin D. It helps prevent calcification of the bone (essentially prevents plaque like build-up) and of soft tissues (like your brain). Calcification is the accumulation of calcium deposits in your body that can cause serious pain or side effects if left untreated. I take Vitamin K2 by Natural Factors but you can find supplements that contain both Vitamin D and K2 within a single pill.
Like Vitamin D, Vitamin B is a very important vitamin for optimal health function. It is most notable for those suffering with fatigue or energy depletion throughout the day through metabolic processes. Amongst other things, deficiency in Vitamin B12 is also known to cause symptoms that mimic neurological conditions such as numbness, tingling and vision issues. Vitamin B12 is also a concern for vegan and plant based eaters because vitamin B12 is normally found in animal based sources or in the soil, which are two sources of food that we do not consume. I use a B-Complex from the brand Sisu.
Probiotics have become a recent addition to my supplement collection because I noticed I have a difficult time getting fermented foods into my diet. I’ve also been on a quest to improve my overall gut health and probiotics are a natural decision to achieving that. I use the Renew Life Brand Probiotics for Women with over 50 million active strands. When looking for a probiotic supplement choose one (within your budget) with the highest number of active strands, for your specific needs (i.e for women), and one that is in a refrigerated section! We want active cultures people.
Magnesium is another big one for inflammation, circulation and nerve health, muscle function and overall energy. Fun fact: there are over several hundred peripheral nerves inside your body, so you might as well take care of them. Magnesium can be found in a lot of foods and is not a must to take but it is something that I have seen great benefits using (less muscle spasms which is what I was hoping it would do). Magnesium can be found especially in nuts and seeds for all of my vegans and plant based eaters.
Spirulina & Chlorella
This supplement came to me just out of pure interest of taking a “superfood” supplement. I try my best to get in as much greens as possible into my daily diet but an extra supplement of it doesn’t hurt. Some of the vitamins and minerals provided by the supplement are actually difficult to get entirely from a plant based diet. I take 4 capsules daily of the Praire Naturals blend of Spirulina & Chlorella blend.
Lions Mane came to me as I explored the world for medicinal mushrooms. The only mushrooms I ever knew about were portobello and cremini. However, mushrooms have a long standing reputation for being one of natures super healing foods. Lions Mane is a non psychedelic mushroom that is shown to cause neuro growth and repair in the brain and improve overall energy and cognitive function. It is a little bit on the expensive side but is a very high quality supplement with promising effects. I take the Purica Lions Mane.
Black Seed Oil
It is mentioned in the Quran that black seed oil can cure everything but death. What a claim right? I decided to take this supplement (the actual oil) because of the research backing its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Studies have shown that in rats with chronic or neurological issues that received IV’s of black seed oil have improved in their conditions. Plus a very ancient piece of text says so. (P.S this tastes horrible so be aware!)
Hope you found this post helpful. Please reach out to me if you have any other questions! xx