Zurich Grocery Haul and Mukbang in Canada

Hi Savvys,

AT the beginning of last year, I had tagged along on a busines trip with my husband to Zurich, Switzerland!  I was really excited to have this opportunity since we probably would have never visited the city on our own. 

We spent 5 days in the city, and since my husband was there for a conference, I had a day of exploration on my own.  For our itinerary, check out my blog post for our 2-day itinerary in Switzerland.  I was happy to have this day of independence where I got to explore and eat vegan foods.  You can check out my blog post here for my What I eat in a day vegan in Zurich.

This grocery haul features all products from a chain called Co-op grocery store.  I spent an hour exploring here by myself, but could have easily spent half a day here.  They had so many store-branded and national branded vegan products at affordable prices.  I honestly wanted to buy them all and bring them home with me to Canada but knew that wouldn’t be possible.  I was really drawn to the cheeses since it’s hard to find good vegan cheese in Canada, so I prioritized this.  In the end, I was only able to bring back 3 products with me to Canada.  See below for the details!

The first product is the Soft White Cheese from New Roots.  When I first saw this in the store, it immediately reminded me of brie cheese.  I love brie cheese and was curious to see how this one would stand up to the creaminess and tanginess of the original.  I made mushroom bruschetta to go with this and it was absolutely delicious and far exceeded my expectations.  I loved it so much that I only allowed myself to eat it sparingly since I wanted to savour every last piece.  I wish I brought home more of this product.  If you are ever in Switzerland, definitely check it out!

The second product I brought home was this Prosciano Wedge from Violife.  I know you can get Violife products in Canada but haven’t seen this wedge anywhere. When I saw it in the store, I immediately knew I wanted to bring it home and make a simple lemon pasta dish with it.  It grates and melts pretty well but the flavour was pretty mild.  I think I would have used more of it if it was going to be the star of the pasta dish, however, as with the first cheese, I wanted to savour it as much and as long as possible so used it only sparingly.

The last cheese that I bought was the Chicca Classic Cheese from Verys.  When I saw it, it immediately reminded me of fresh mozzarella.  I knew I had to bring this back to ty for myself at home.  I made a simple naan pizza and topped it with this cheese.  It didn’t completely melt but it did have a wonderful texture.  When eaten in a caprese style salad, it also went pretty well and the texture was soft and very similar to mozzarella. 

I hope you guys enjoyed the mukbang – I was so inspired by those cheese and wish I had more to enjoy! 

Now set forth and be savvy!

Postpartum Fitness Challenge Journey and High Protein Low Carb Vegan Meals – Week 1

Hi Savvys,

Fitness has always been an important part of my daily routine, even throughout my entire pregnancy.  I worked out from 12 weeks of pregnancy all the way till I was 41 weeks pregnant!  I’m glad that I did because I believe it helped me with the delivery and recovery of the pregnancy.

Although I had to modify my workouts while I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to really challenge myself and gain my strength back after 3 months postpartum.  I began by working out every day and slowly building up my strength. When I was about 6 months postpartum, I decided to join Muse Fitness on an 8-week Beta Butt and Abs Challenge.

Follow me on my 8-week fitness journey as I regain my strength, endurance and most importantly my identity.

This week’s blog post and video showcases the 1st week of the challenge.  See below for the meal plan I had during the week, which features high protein, low carb vegan meals, all while I am still exclusively breast feeding!

I have also included the macros break down for each day below!

Don’t forget to subscribe to watch my full transformation!

Check out Muse Fitness to join a challenge.

Now set forth and be savvy!

Daily Snack: Protein Smoothie

Makes 1 portion

Ingredients

  • 50g hemp protein (I get mine from Bulk Barn)
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1/8 English cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup water

Directions

  • Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  • Serve immediately or can make it the night before.
  • Enjoy!

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 apples, your choice, peeled, cored, diced and divided into 2 portions
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cups soy milk
  • Blueberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Soak the lentils for 2 hours – red lentils do not need to be soaked longer than this, especially the red split lentils
  2. When you’re ready to cook the lentils, drain and rinse the lentils until the water runs clear (about 3 times)
  3. I like to use my rice cooker to cook this porridge and setting it to cook for 20 minutes.  You can also do it over the stove top.
  4. Stove top method:
  5. Place lentils into your pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the blueberries and diced apples pieces from 1 apple
  6. Bring the pot up to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking.
  7. Turn the heat down to medium as soon as the pot comes to a boil and simmer the contents for about 20 minutes, until the lentils become tender.
  8. Divide into 4 portions and top with the remaining apples and blueberries (optional)
  9. I like to prep this in advanced and freeze it in portions so it’s easy to have in the morning.

Makes 1 portion

Ingredients

  • 1 portion of Black Bean Noodles
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 ½ cups of water or homemade veggie broth (no sodium or oils)
  • ½ block of extra firm tofu (175 g)
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots (50 g)
  • 3 head of baby bok choy, sliced in half
  • ½ pack of enoki mushroom (your choice)
  • Handful of pea shoots, spinach or kale
  • handful of green onion for garnish

Directions

  1. Book the black noodle pasta according to package directions, drain and set into a large soup bowl
  2. Dissolve the white miso paste into ½ cup of the water/veggie broth in a medium sized pot
  3. Once the miso is dissolved, add the rest of the veggie brother and the remaining ingredients (except for the green onion)
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the veggies are cooked through
  5. Pour over the noodles and garnish with green onion

Ingredients for bowl – Makes 4 portions

  • 2 cups dried TVP, rehydrated in water
  • 1 package of beyond meat ground beef
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning (I use homemade taco seasoning to control the salt)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt

Ingredients for sauteed mushroom and peppers – Makes 4 portions

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 package of mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Ingredients for cauliflower cilantro lime rice – Makes 4 portions

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Ingredients for vegan sour cream – Makes 4 portions

  • 1 package of silken tofu (300 g)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp ACV
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions for Taco Meat

  1. To cook the taco meat, start by rehydrating the TVP in water, set aside
  2. In a large frying pan, cook the beyond meat grounds over medium-high heat.  I like to use a potato masher to break up the grounds.
  3. Stir the meat so that it browns evenly, for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Drain the TVP and add it to the meat mixture.  Stir to combine.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients for the taco meat and cook until the water is dissolved, about 5 minutes. 
  6. Portion into 4 equal portions
  7. Do not clean out the pan – continue to the next step to cook the mushroom and peppers

Directions for Mushroom and Peppers

  1. Using the frying pan from the taco meat (we will want to use the residual fat to cook the mushrooms and peppers), add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, just so that the veggies become fragrant
  2. Add the sliced mushrooms and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies get a nice color on them.  Depending on your stove top you might need to turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about a minute until all of the seasoning is well incorporated.
  4. Portion into 4 equal portions adding it to the bowl of the taco meat

Directions for Cauliflower Cilantro Rice

  1. Chop the cauliflower into bite sized pieces
  2. Add it to the food processor and pulse until you get a rice consistency
  3. In a clean pan, add the riced cauliflower along with the remaining ingredients and stir until the cauliflower is cooked.  You might need to add a splash of water to help steam and cook the cauliflower rice – about 7 minutes
  4. Portion into 4 equal portions and add it to the bowl of the taco meat, mushrooms and peppers

Directions for Vegan Sour Cream

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Portion into 4 equal portions and serve on top of the taco bowls.
  3. Enjoy!

See below for the full day of macros for Monday/Thursday:

Ingredients – Makes 3 portions

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 package extra firm tofu (350 G), crumbled
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp black salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp water

Directions

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan
  2. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the water, and stir to combine. 
  4. Continue to cook the tofu mixture over medium heat for about 7 minutes
  5. Add the water and cook until the water has dissolved
  6. Portion evenly into 3 containers

Ingredients – Makes 6 portions

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp garam marsala
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups of water

Directions

  1. Rinse the lentils in a strainer until the water runs clear, about 3 times
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the coconut cream from the can of coconut milk by taking a spoon and scooping a spoonful of cream from the top layer
  3. Sautee the spices (except the salt) in the coconut cream over high heat until fragrant, about a minute
  4. Add the lentils, the rest of the coconut milk, salt, soy sauce and water and bring up to a boil.
  5. Once the pot is boiling, turn it down to a simmer and cook until lentils are fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
  6. Divide into 6 portions.  You can also serve this with cauliflower rice.

Ingredients – makes 4 portions

  • 1 package of silken tofu (300 g)
  • 1 ½ cup vegan beef broth
  • 1 package vegan ground beef (I used lightlife for this recipe)
  • 2 cups dried TVP, rehydrated in water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package mushrooms (227 g)
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 package high protein pasta (I used Liviva Soy Fettuccini)

Directions

  1. In a blender, blend together the silken tofu and vegan beef broth – set aside
  2. In a large non-stick skillet over high heat, add the vegan ground beef
  3. Break apart so that they resemble a crumble and sautee for 3 minutes
  4. Add in the onion and garlic and sautee for another minute
  5. Add in the mushrooms and continue to sautee for 2 minutes
  6. Lower the heat to medium and add in the rehydrated TVP (if there is extra water, drain the TVP before adding the mixture)
  7. Mix the protein until it is well combined
  8. Add in the kale, soy sauce and black pepper and continue to stir until the kale is wilted and well incorporated
  9. Add in the silken tofu mixture and mix until well combined with the meat mixture – it should be creamy and not watery
  10. Add salt to taste
  11. Divide equally into 4 portions
  12. Serve on top of high protein pasta

See below for the full day of macros for Tuesday/Friday:

Ingredients – makes 4 portions

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup hemp hearts

Directions

  1. I like to cook my steel cut oats in a rice cooker, but you can use a slow cooker or instant pot as well
  2. Pour all of the ingredients into the container of a rice cooker, slow cooker or instant pot
  3. For rice cooker and instant pot method: Select the function which automatically cooks oats
  4. For slow cooker method, cook on low for 6 hours
  5. Portion evenly into 4 containers, heat in the microwave or stove top with water before serving.  Can be frozen for easy breakfasts as well!

Ingredients – makes 1 portion

  • 1 serving of high protein black bean noodles
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1 king oyster mushroom, sliced (or mushroom of your choice)
  • Handful of spinach, kale or bok choy
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ block of extra firm tofu (about 175 G), cut into cubes

Directions

  1. Cook the black bean noodles according to packed directions.  Cook the edamame in the same pot to save time and water
  2. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside
  3. In a non-stick frying pan, add the sliced mushrooms and cook over medium heat until it gets color, for about 3 minutes
  4. You may need to add a splash of water if your mushrooms are sticking
  5. Add in your greens, the sou sauce and the tofu and cook until the greens are wilted and the tofu is cooked through, about 5 minutes
  6. Add the pasta and edamame to the pan and toss until combined.
  7. Serve hot or can be eaten cold.  Goes great with hot sauce on the side!

Original seitan recipe found at Connoisseurus Veg – makes 4 portions

Ingredients for seitan dough

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup water

Ingredients for beef flavour broth

  • 5 ½ cup homemade veggie discard broth
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic powder
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper

Directions to make seitan

  1. In a large bowl, mix the vital wheat gluten and quinoa flour together
  2. Add in the water and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes by hand, or in a stand mixer
  4. Let rest while you prepare the broth – you can also prepare the seitan the night before and let it rest in the fridge overnight
  5. Place all of the ingredients for the broth in a medium sized pot (not too large since you will need enough liquid for the dough to be submerged)
  6. Set the temperature to high and let the broth come to a boil
  7. Meanwhile, divide the dough into 4 equal portions, shape into mini loaves
  8. Once the pot comes to a boil, lower the heat to low so that there is a steady simmer
  9. Carefully lower each piece of dough int the simmering broth and let simmer for 1 hour, with the lid slightly ajar
  10. The dough should double in size during the cooking process
  11. Once an hour has passed, remove the seitan from the pot and let cool on a rack. 
  12. I stored the seitan immediately in the freezer after I let it come to room temperature.
  13. Take out the night before serving
  14. Can be sliced, cut into chunks, marinated.  I left it as a “steak” and served it with a mix of soy sauce and miso, baked in the oven over medium
  15. Tip for the left-over broth – store it in a jar and save it to be used in the vegan stroganoff recipe above

See below for the full day of macros for Wednesday/Saturday:

The Nature Box Taste Test and Review

Hi Savvys,

I love snacks and love discovering new snack brands, especially when they are at affordable prices!  I had the pleasure of taste testing some snacks from the Nature Box recently and am sharing my thoughts. 

The Nature Box believes in providing delicious and healthy snacks at an affordable price.  You can easily select the type of snacks you want to fit your dietary needs or lifestyle.  They have plenty of vegan snacks to suit my household and I look forward to trying out more!  Every membership provides you with a 20%-40% savings.   If you are not happy with any of their snacks, let them know and they will send you a new one!  They currently offer shipping to Canada at a flat rate, and US citizens get free shipping on orders over $25. 

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See below for my review on all of the snacks I received.  Don’t forget to check out my taste testing video!

Now set forth and be savvy!

We love having nuts on hand for a healthy snack.  These Roasted Salted Almonds were perfectly salted and crunchy.  Very easy to eat and share!  I can see myself always having a bag of these in my car as an emergency snack. 
Just like the almonds, these cashews are not too salty and have the perfect crunch.  As a vegan, we always have cashews in the house but are usually unsalted since I usually use them for recipes.  But these cashews remind me that cashews are great for snacking as well! 
One of my favourite snacks to eat is Plantain Chips.  I love that these satisfy the crunch craving that I usually associate with chips, but are less guilt because it’s a fruit.  Lightly salted, it was easy to eat the entire bag in one sitting!
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened this bag of Sweet Jalapeno Lentil Loops.  Perfectly crunchy, they have a slight nutty flavour from the lentils and have a great satisfying crunch.  The jalapeno flavour was perfectly spicy and I can see myself buying 10 bags of this in the future because they were that good!  I might have to say that they might even be my favourite snack so far!
I love having dried fruit on hand as a healthy sweet alternative to candy.  We especially love having mango on hand for road trips.  The tropical mango was chewy, fibrous and perfect for snacking.
I was so surprised to see these dried pineapple pieces still in rings.  It was fun to eat and almost had a jerky like texture.  Very delicious and like the other snacks, I ate the while bag in one siting!
These Banana Maca Energy Maca Bites were surprising in flavour.  They were soft and gooey, almost like fudge, but had the familiar flavour and taste to banana bread.  These came individually wrapped and is easy to throw into my purse or to leave in the car for a quick snack on the road!
I was lucky to be able to try the Blueberry, Apple and Sunflower Seed oatmeal cup as well as the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal cup.  I liked the added sunflower seeds to the blueberry apple oatmeal cup because it added a punch of protein and crunch.  The apple cinnamon cup and wasn’t too sweet and had a lovely cinnamon aroma.  Overall, I liked the convenience of these little cups.  It’s convenient to travel with since you just need to add hot water and you can easily bring them on the plane for a healthy meal.  We will definitely be bringing these with us once we are able to travel again!
The Red Berry Granola Bars and Chocolate Chip Granola Bars really make me feel nostalgic for childhood again.  They use simple ingredients and are delicious but not too sweet.  I can definitely see myself giving these to Ezra when he’s older to snack on!

Cloth Diapering – What We’ve Learnt

Hi Savvys,

Before we knew that we were even pregnant with Ezra, we knew that I wanted to cloth diaper our babies since it is the most environmentally friendly option available.  My mom had cloth diapered us when we were growing up so I knew that it was a tradition I wanted to continue.  If cloth diapering seems to be daunting to you but you still want to find a more sustainable option, there are other options available such as biodegradable diapers, however since this would require us to purchase these on a regular basis, I also wanted an option that was going to give us the biggest bang for our buck. 

After some research and comparisons, I was happy to confirm for myself that cloth diapering not only is more environmentally friendly, but it will be the cheaper option for my family in the long run, especially if we plan to have more children.  See below for the full cost breakdown and for more information on our experience.

  1. How much money do you actually save?
    1. This all depends on what type of diaper you end up using in the end.  For my calculations, since we decided to go with pocket diapers, my calculations are based on this type of diaper.
    1. See the charts above!  Based on my conservative calculations, you end up saving almost $900 per child, however that doesn’t take into account the amount of diapers you are diverting from the landfills!  The savings can be even larger if you purchase second hand reusable diapers, or if you have them gifted from your gift registry, so do keep that in mind as well.
  2. Pockets, flats, prefolds: which cloth diaper should we use?
    1. I was so overwhelmed with all of the choices when I was researching which would be best for our family.  Personally, the pocket diapers ended up being the easiest to use because you just have to tuck the insert into the pocket and fasten the diaper onto your baby.  You don’t need to be a wizard at origami or worry about not folding them properly, which was an added benefit for us.
    1. When researching, I did come across recommendations to try different brands since they could fit differently on your baby.  Generally, they all do fit pretty much the same, but read the reviews because some brands are larger and some smaller, which can have added benefits for fit with a newborn (more on that below).
    1. The 3 brands that we have are Alva baby, Koala Mama and Kawaii.  We found that Kawaii fit the best on our baby, followed by Alva and then Koala Mama. 
  3. How many cloth diapers do I need?
    1. Newborns (0-3 months) will need on the high end 12 diapers a day, so you will need to calculate how many diapers you need for that.  If you plan on only cloth diapering when they’re a bit bigger (and can fit into the cloth diaper better), then you may need less, like 8-10 diapers a day.
    1. In the end, it really depends on how often you want to do laundry.  For us, we do laundry every day and found that 38 diapers work well for us and we can easily skip a day of laundry if necessary.  You may need more or less.  Keep in mind that you may also want to look into purchasing extra inserts for doubling up for overnights. 
    1. There are 2 types of inserts: bamboo and microfiber.  Microfiber is cheaper than bamboo, but from our experience not as absorbent as bamboo and we tend to experience leaking with microfibers.  When purchasing your pocket diapers, you can select either microfiber or bamboo, so keep that in mind, but we do recommend bamboo.  You can also find charcoal bamboo which are also anti fungal and anti bacterial, which is great because we tend to use these for overnights since we are changing the diaper less often.
  4. Can newborns fit into the cloth diapers?
    1. It depends on your baby and the brand you buy!  Of course, it’s impossible to know how much your baby will weigh before they are born, but keep in mind that for the diapers we have (Alva Baby and Kawaii to be exact), it could accommodate 8lb+.   There are hacks where you can fold the diaper a certain way to accommodate newborns, but depending on how chunky your baby’s legs are, there might be too much space to be able to full seal the diaper from any leaks.  Note that you can also purchase newborn sized diapers, but this will add to your overall cost for cloth diapering your baby. 
    1. For us, for the 1st week we did actually use disposables since we were monitoring the number of dirty diapers our was creating, to ensure he was eating enough and gaining enough weight.  Luckily for us, Ezra was born over 8lb so when we made the transition to cloth diapers when he was a week old, he was able to fit into them without issue.
  5. How do you really clean cloth diapers?
    1. It’s pretty easy to clean.  You will need to purchase a wet bag that you can put into a laundry basket for all of the dirty diapers.  Then you throw the whole thing into the laundry machine for 2 cycles:
    1. The 1st cycle is the quick rinse cycle
    1. The 2nd cycle is where it really deeps clean
    1. Once the diapers are washed, the liners actually naturally separate from the pocket diapers in the washing machine so it’s really easy to clean.  Then we hang dry the pocket diapers, but machine dry the liners to get them fluffy again.
  6. Will there be a smell?
    1. We found that there is no smell!  However, the diaper pail does sometimes get a bit dank, so we just throw in a dryer sheet with essential oils into the laundry bin for some freshness.  Also note that we haven’t entered the solid food stage yet, so once we do, we will be updating this guide for future reference.
  7. What do you do with poop?
    1. Because the primary food source is still milk, the poop is still in liquid form (and not solid) so there is no added step in cleaning the diapers – it all goes into the wet bag, which goes straight into the washing machine.
  8. Do they leak?
    1. When fastened correctly, they do not leak at all!  In our experience, the bamboo liners are much more absorbent than the microfiber ones so definitely choose bamboo instead.  We also double line the diapers with bamboo charcoal liners for overnights for even extra absorbency. 
    1. We did find that the Mama Koala diapers did tend to leak overnight since Ezra sometimes sleeps on his side, and found inconsistency with Alva baby.  We have not had any leaking issues with Kawaii overnight so I do recommend trying that first (though you may need to troubleshoot for yourself based on your baby’s body).
  9. How do I use cloth diapers outside of the house?
    1. Just like regular diapers, we bring a few in case we need to change them while we’re out.  We also purchased a travel sized wet bag that we throw the dirty diapers into and then wash when we get home.  The bag does not leak and contains the soiled diapers.

These are the products that we purchased:

Let me know if you have any questions regarding reusable cloth diapers.  I am also learning on this journey!

How to Roast a Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin

Hi Savvys,

Every year, like so many other households, I like to purchase the biggest pumpkin that I can find to signal to trick-or-treaters that we are giving out candy.  If the pumpkins are really cheap, like a few dollars cheap, I like to purchase 2!  I don’t carve the pumpkins or decorate them, but sit them on my porch since they are a decoration piece in itself.

Once Halloween is over, I love to cut them open and roast the seeds as a healthy snack.  You may not have already known this, but you can actually roast the meat of a Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin as well!  These pumpkins have been cultivated to grow larger, and therefore have a larger water content than pie pumpkins, however they are still full of nutrients even if the pumpkin flavour is more subtle. 

Of-course being the eco-warrior that I am, I never let a Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin go to waste!  Because they are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E and iron, to name a few, they are perfectly fine to eat in sweet or savoury recipes. 

 I like to roast the flesh, puree it in my Vitamix and freeze it so that I always have roasted puree on hand!  I use the puree in various recipes, such as the below:

Pumpkin barley risotto

-Pumpkin spiced granola

-Pumpkin spiced oatmeal

-Pumpkin Lasagna

-Pumpkin Soup

-Added to smoothies for a punch of nutrition

And so much more!

Follow the directions below on how you can roast your own Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin and enjoy it long after Halloween is over.  Also check out my video tutorial to see how easy it is.

Now set forth and be savvy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin
  • Oil
  • 3 Baking Dishes

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the seeds – reserve for roasting and snacking
  3. Cut each half into smaller segments to allow the pieces to fit into the roasting pans
  4. Coat the bottom of 2 (or 3, depending on the size of your pumpkin) roasting pans with oil
  5. Drizzle some oil onto the flesh of each pumpkin segment and rub generously
  6. Place each pumpkin segment flesh side down (skin side up) onto the roasting pan
  7. Feel free to season with salt and pepper – however, since I like to use the roasted pumpkin for both sweet and savoury recipes, I leave out the salt and pepper
  8. Roast in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes, rotating at the halfway mark; you may also want to put a baking sheet on the lowest rack in case there is spillage from the pumpkins when roasting
  9. Once done, remove from the oven and let it cool down enough so you can handle it, overnight if you can (I just leave it in the oven over night and deal with it in the morning)
  10. Carefully scoop out the flesh from the skins with a spoon and add to a blender or food processor – blend/process until smooth, about 30 seconds; discard the pumpkin skins
  11. Note that there could be liquid at the bottom of the roasting pans from the pumpkins– you can keep this liquid and add it to soups or stews as a broth or add it to smoothies
  12. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months
  13. I was able to get about 14 cups of pureed pumpkin!  Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 6 months.

The Balanced Snack Box Review

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Hi Savvys,

I am always on the look out for new vegan snacks to try.  This year, my siblings sent me The Balanced Snack Box for my birthday and I figured I’d do a taste test and review!  If you haven’t heard of them already, The Balanced Snack Box is a subscription box service created by Evie Levitin, a registered holistic nutritionist.  There are different types of boxes that you can subscribe to which cater to your own dietary needs.  My siblings sent me the vegan box which came filled with sweet and savoury vegan snacks!

Keep reading below for my review on each product.

Now set forth and be savvy!

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TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-1LightPops

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The Light Pops – Brave BBQ flavour snacks are made from popped lotus seeds, which is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine.  I had never had it in this form before and usually have it in soups.  When we first tried it, I must say I didn’t think that it was going to be one of my favourite snacks out of the entire box.  It is light and airy like popcorn and has a great crunch.  I especially love that it came in a sweet BBQ flavour, which is one of my favourite flavours for popcorn as well.  I highly recommend adding this to your snack repertoire.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-2GoGoQuinoaChocolate

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The GoGo Quinoa Chocolate Crunchies resembled more of a cereal.  This was my husband’s favourite snack out of the entire box since he loves cereal and was looking forward to having this in a bowl with soy milk.  I do like the crunch on this and the chocolate flavour wasn’t too artificial which was great, however I wouldn’t purchase this as a snack but would as a breakfast cereal.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-3SahaleSnacks

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I have been seeing lots of advertisements for Sahale Snacks and was delighted to see that it was included in this box for me to try.  I received the Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed mix and you can really taste the tangerine flavour come through.  The flavours were a nice pairing and I really liked the crunch from the nuts.  I highly recommend this snack!

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-4RawcologyCoconutChips

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I’ve had coconut chips before and like the light chocolate flavour of the Rawcology Organic Coconut Chips.  I wouldn’t necessary purchase this to eat on its own since I prefer more savoury snacks, however this would be great if you were making homemade trail mix.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-5EnergiveCrackers

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I love crackers as a snack and was excited to see that the Enerjive Multigrain Crackers came in Ranch flavour.  The cracker itself looks very healthy and I like that you can see all of the different nuts and grains within the texture of the cracker itself.  I also liked seeing the spices like dried chives and salt in the cracker.  However, the ranch flavour was very lacking – it didn’t taste like ranch at all.  The cracker itself is good paired with dips and peanut butter, however I would not purchase this in product in the future since the ranch flavour was not apparent at all.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-6Bobos

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I didn’t know what to expect from this Bobo’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oat Bar.  To mu surprise, it had a lovely toasted oat flavour and was balanced well with the chocolate chips.  This ended up being my favourite sweet snack from the entire box.  This is a product that I would purchase in the future since it tasted like I could make it at home, which I may try in the near future!

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-7EattoLifeKinwa

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I am always a bit weary when it comes to vegan protein bars as they tend to have a very grainy flavour to them.  The Eat to Life Kinwa Bar in Apple Cinnamon Vegan Protein Bar was not my favourite of the box.  The apple cinnamon flavour did come through well however I did not like the protein flavour with the bar.  I would not purchase this in the future, however if you are used to this type of product then definitely give it a try.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-9LebbyChickpeaSnack

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I’ve had roasted chickpea snacks before in a savoury form but never thought of it in a sweet form.  The Lebby Dark Chocolate Chickpea snack really satisfies your craving for chocolate and crunch, but is light from the chickpea.  This snack gave me the idea to try to make it myself in the future.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-8BadaBean

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I really liked the crunch from the roasted broad bean.  Bada Bean Bada Boom Mesquite BBQ broad beans was a great snack and I really liked how hearty it was.  I would definitely buy this again in the future.

4 Vegan Grain Bowls with Geovita Organic Mixed Grains

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Hi Savvys,

The warmer weather is finally upon us and has inspired me to eat more salads and veggies.  To ensure that I am inspired every week and don’t get bored of eating the same bowls every day, I really like to mix it up with either the salad dressing, veggies or base.  I love how these Geovita Organic Mixed Grains helps me accomplish just that!

These grains are full of nutrients, packed with flavour and easy to cook, which makes them great for meal prepping.  I recently received this PR package from Geovita which included recipes cards as well as a chart to help you “Build your perfect grain bowl”.  With social distancing, this couldn’t have come at a better time since it really inspired me to choose ingredients that I already had on hand!

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I used the chart as well as the recipe cards to create my own plant-based bowls which I looked forward to eating every day.

Keep reading below to see how I created unique bowls with each grain.

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-4VeganGrainBowlsGeovita_Title1-Bibimbap

I made this bowl on a lazy Sunday night for supper using pure leftovers from my fridge.  I am always craving Korean food and often times make it on a Saturday when I have more energy.  While the rice and lentil blend took 10 minutes to cook in my rice cooker, this gave me enough time to chop up all of my veggies and prepare my sauce.  I loved how delicious and fresh this bowl was and how quickly it came together.  Now I have no reason not to enjoy this Korean favourite during the week!

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TheSavvyPantry-4VeganGrainBowlsGeovita_Title2-FalafelGrain

The next day was a Monday, so for lunch, I decided to use the Falafel Grain Bowl recipe card to ensure that I would begin the week with healthy habits.  What I love about these recipe cards is that the recipes are very simple and use very little ingredients.  By applying the “How to Build your Perfect Grain Bowl Method”, you can easily substitute out any ingredient and still feel satisfied with all of the flavours.  I didn’t have any falafel on hand so I opted to use chickpeas as my protein instead.  I also had leftover roasted cauliflower which went perfectly with this bowl.  You can also easily modify the dressings to suit your own needs, which is what I did by adding some granulated garlic to the tahini dressing.

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I loved the texture of this mixture and it went really well with this burrito bowl.  Because of the texture and heartiness of the mixture, it really soaked up all of the lovely salsa that I had made.  I also loved that I could use up leftovers from my fridge, like roasted onion and zucchini which went perfectly well with this burrito bowl (kind of like the sautéed peppers you’d find at Chipotle restaurants).  I didn’t have any vegan sour cream, but in the future, adding it would be a lovely addition.

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TheSavvyPantry-4VeganGrainBowlsGeovita_Title4-Waldorf

I’ve always wanted to make a Waldorf salad at home since this is one of my favourite salads to order at restaurants.  I made this vegan by swapping out the chicken for chickpeas and using tahini as the base of my dressing.  This dressing was so simple and delicious that I’ve made it every week since receiving this recipe card!  I also love that I could use what ever ingredients I already had on hand, like pumpkin seeds and dried blueberries.  I also love the crunchiness from the celery and apple.  This salad ended up being my favourite out of the 4 that I made and will definitely be making it for family get togethers and BBQs this summer.

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5 Easy Cleaning Swaps for Eco -Friendly Alternatives

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Hi Savvys,

Earth day is finally upon us.  Though this is only marked in our calendars once a year, my philosophy is to live a lifestyle that creates as little impact on the environment as possible within my means.  I love to share tips that I’ve learned along the way with you guys so that you can also live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

There are lots of alternative products out there as well as alternative ways of living that could help reduce our carbon footprint, but it might not be suitable for everyone’s needs given their living situations and their financial constraints.  This is why it’s important for me to share the tips that I’ve learned over the years that anyone can adapt to their lifestyle.  These tips include making swaps for more eco friendly products that you already purchase and are the same price as the conventional ones, or simply swapping for alternatives where you actually don’t need to purchase anything in addition!

Keep reading below for my 5 easy cleaning swaps for eco-friendly alternatives!  Leave a comment below on what your favourite swaps are.

Don’t forget to check out my other posts related to living an eco-friendly lifestyle:

12 Tips to Reduce Your Waste

8 Reusable Alternatives to Single Use Plastics 

Now set forth and be savvy!

5 Easy Cleaning Swaps for Eco-Friendly Alternatives

  1. Dish Cleansing Paste
    • There are so many recipes out there where you can make your own cleaning products, but not everyone has a DIY thumb, and sometimes the ingredients are hard to find. What I love about the Kliin dish cleansing paste is that you can easily purchase this as an eco-friendly alternative to regular dishwashing liquid.  Traditional dish washing liquid contains about 70% water and 30% active cleaning solution, which means that you are pretty much purchasing water.  When purchasing Kliin dishwashing paste, not only are you purchasing a product that is still highly effective against even the toughest mess, but it is actually lowering its carbon footprints along the entire supply chain because it uses less water since it is a concentrated solution and is lighter to transport.  I also love that this can also be used as an all purposes cleaner for all areas in your kitchen including stovetops, sinks and ceramic surfaces, making this a valuable addition to your cleaning routine.  Check out this link for more information on where you can purchase the Kliin Dish Cleansing Paste.

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  1. Castile Soap
    • Castile soap has been around for decades and has only recently become popularized as people look for healthier soaps for their homes and families. Traditionally, castile soap is made of vegetable oil, however it can now be found made with olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil and other essential oils.  What I love about castile soap is that with 1 bottle, you can turn it into multiple cleaning solutions around your house, which include body wash, hand soap, dish soap and even bathroom cleaner.  Because castile soap is a concentred solution, you just need to add the correct proportion of water based on the need to create your own multi purpose cleaner.  I like to use The Green Beaver Organic Lavender Castile Soap, but there are lots of brands out there that you can find.

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  1. Soap Bars
    • Growing up I always used soap bars, but at a certain point it got really trendy to use body wash. It’s also fun to use body wash because you get to create bubbles with a loofah and lather it all over your body.  However, each year, over 1 billion empty plastic bottles of body wash enter our garbage or recycling system.  Since we know that realistically, not everything gets recycled, and that about 75% of plastics end up in landfills, it’s time to find alternative while still maintaining cleanliness.  This is why I find it so attractive to switch back to soap bars.  There are so many companies making soap bars with as little packaging as possible that the possibilities are endless.

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  1. Tru Earth Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Strips
    • I love these laundry detergent strips. Not only are you completely eliminating the need for plastic bottles, but it completely cuts out the need to water in this detergent solution.  It is high effective and even healthier for you and your family because it is paraben, phosphate and chlorine free.  I also love that this product is both cruelty free and vegan, which means not only was it not tested on animals but it also contains no animal by products in its formula.  Check out their website for more information

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  1. Newspaper for Compost Liner
    • If you are lucky enough to live in a city that have compost collection, or even live in a household where you have access to a backyard composting system, then this tip is for you! Ever since it’s become mandatory for lots of cities to include organic waste collection as part of their weekly services, companies have come out with compost liners made from either compostable bags or paper bags.  When we first moved into our house, we received a pack of paper bags complimentary from the city for our composting needs.  However, we like to keep these on hand in case of emergency.  Instead, I like to line our compost bin with newspaper!  Newspaper is free, made from recycled paper and is considered a brown material which will help add carbon to the compost pile.  This is probably the easiest swap that you can make since you end up saving money in the long run!

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Amoda Superfood Latte Review

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Hi Savvys!

I was so excited to have received some of Amoda’s new Superfood Lattes!  These lattes come in single serve pouches that are ready for any hot liquid of your choice.  These lattes do not contain any fillers, any artificial flavours, no added sugars and are all naturally vegan.

I love that these lattes are made with high quality ingredients and include adaptogens to give you wellness and balance in every cup.  Check out their website to discover the curated ingredients that are paired with each flavour to help compliment any lifestyle.

They also offer a subscription box for those tea lovers, or to gift to a tea lover in your life!  Don’t forget to check it out on their website as well.

See below for my full review on each flavour.

Now set forth and be savvy!

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TheSavvyPantry-AmodaTeaReview_BrainiacChai

I had the Brainiac Chai first thing in the morning to help me get started and motivated for my day of cleaning up.  As the tea box recommended, I mixed it with some hot water.  The first thing I noticed was that there was a very nice aroma as I mixed it with my hot water.  There were really nice notes of chai and coconut.  The appearance of the actual powder was not what I was used to since it was more brown in color, kind of like hot chocolate, but it was also clear and transparent enough that I could see the bottom of my mug.  The flavour was very mild and a touch bland – in the future I will try it with coffee since it recommends that as well.  I suspect this would be really tasty in a plant-based milk as well.  Since I don’t usually have caffeine in my diet, I really liked how the caffeine gave me energy without overwhelming my senses, which is typically what happens when I have lots of caffeine.

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TheSavvyPantry-AmodaTeaReview_MatchaGlow

The next tea that I had was the Matcha Glow.  This is probably my favourite of the three and will definitely incorporate this into my weekly routine.  I had warmed up some plant-based milk over the stove top and added the Matcha powder.  I whisked it well until it was well combined.  I found that the powder dissolved really nicely and quickly into the warm milk.  I also really liked the color and specs of Matcha in the drink.  The flavour was rich, almost like a dessert and would go well with a baked good on the side.  The tea does mention that there is a coconut base however I did not taste it – I think I would try it with a coconut milk to see how the flavours are enhanced and go together.

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I tried the Golden Hour tea after lunch.  I had also mixed it in some warmed-up plant-based milk and really liked the golden color to my drink as well as how well it mixed into the liquid.  The turmeric and coconut flavours really balanced each other out.  I did not notice any after taste, however I think the flavours would be more pronounced if I added some maple syrup to it as well.  This does taste like something I would make at home using ingredients in my pantry, which is great because the flavours and ingredients are very clean.

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GoodFood Meal Kit Review

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Hi Savvys!

I am always on the look-out for new inspiration and new flavours that I can add to my repertoire.  With all of these new meal kit subscription boxes, it is a great way to test new flavours and recipes without having to commit to too many ingredients since they provide you everything you need for the recipes!  I especially love how a lot of these companies have huge discounts for first timers since it allows me to test the different recipes and ingredients out there.

When I saw that GoodFood had a special on their boxes (I paid $24 for 3 vegetarian recipes for 2 people), I knew I wanted to try it out.  Like many meal kit subscription boxes on the market today, they offer fresh ingredients that come with step by step recipe cards.  What sets GoodFood apart from other companies is that they are committed to donating a meal for every meal kit purchased to a local school in need.  I love companies that give back to the communities in which they operate in!

What I would say however is there is still an opportunity to reduce plastic waste associated with these subscription boxes.  Though the plastic does serve as a way to protect the freshness and integrity of the ingredients, I do believe that there are still opportunities to preserve the ingredients without having to use single use plastics.  I do like how some of the ingredients do come in mini plastic containers that I can reuse in the future for home use.  The ice packs also come in handy for road trips and BBQs!

See below for my reviews for each recipe.  Don’t forget to check out the full video and leave your comments!

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-GoodFoodSubscriptionReview-CauliflowerQuasedillas-Logo

I don’t think I’ve ever actually had an quesadilla before and am not typically craving it however I chose this as part of my box because I wanted to see for myself what it was like!  This recipe was pretty easy – the longest part was waiting for the cauliflower to roast.  The spices that came with this recipe was actually really tasty and I’d love to use it again for future dishes and other veggies.  It was flavourful and very easy to make.

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Who doesn’t like a baked pasta dish?  I’ve never had mafaldine pasta before but after trying this recipe, I am addicted.  I love the shape – it reminds me of miniature lasagna noodles.  It’s perfect for tomato sauce and the spices were really great as well.  I also like how this was served with green beans to really round out the meal with a serving a veggies. In the future, I probably wouldn’t bake this as cooking it over the stove top was already delicious all on it’s own.

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This recipe actually was a pretty big portion and made enough for 4 servings, which is great value.  I always make Thai curry at home and received a very similar curry paste in the recipe, so this was one of the least exciting recipes for me.  However, I really enjoyed the pairing over red rice since this is something that I never thought to do.  It’s great that I am still able to learn something new!  I also added more veggies that I had in the fridge which was perfect since we were able to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  I also noticed that the tofu was probably frozen beforehand and thawed out due to the chewy consistency.  This is actually a hack a lot of people do, in order to make the tofu more meatier in texture, you can freeze it and that before using!

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