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!

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1 Day Itinerary

TheSavvyPantry-KualaLumpur1Day_Title

Hi Savvys,

If you read my previous posts where I shared itineraries in Singapore and Thailand, then you already know that this is the third country that we visited on our 16-day Asia trip that spanned 4 countries and 6 cities!  As mentioned, we had started and ended our trip in Singapore because it was the cheapest way to travel to Asia from Canada (Toronto specifically).  We had decided to spend 1 day in Malaysia since we were already in the area and didn’t want to miss this opportunity.  To get to Kuala Lumpur, we flew from Bangkok, Thailand via Malaysia Airlines.

Here is some general information of our time in Kuala Lumpur:

Transportation from the Airport to our Hotel: We had arrived to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) at around 11PM.  We ended up taking the subway to our hotel, which ended up taking the same amount of time as a grab would have taken.  Since we had our international SIM that was compatible in all of the countries we visited (read below for more information), we decided to use it and book a Grab on our way back to the airport to save some of our energy.  There was an option to book a shuttle taxi for about $25 CAD, which in hindsight would have been the cheaper option since the Grab ended up costing about $46 CAD.

Transportation in and around Kuala Lumpur: Since we had access to our WIFI device, we used it for Grab to get from our hotel to the Batu caves since we wanted to get there early.  From the Batu Caves, we did take the train back into the city, and from there, continued to book Grab rides since it was quite affordable.  Unfortunately, all of the sights we had planned to visit were not all in walking distance and since we were strapped for time, we decided to utilize Grab wherever we could.

WIFI Access:  I will leave the same comments as my Singapore post as it is still relevant here.  Connection was only available in our hotel room and some public establishments.  To get around this, what I have done in the past, and also implemented on this trip, was to load our itinerary on Google maps and download the map for offline navigation.  This method works most of the time, however sometimes the GPS gets confused and doesn’t know where you and ends up restarting.  You end up having to use the map the old way (aka without a GPS and finding your own directions like a traditional map).  However, I do recommend just purchasing an international SIM card that you can use and be connected to at all times (if you need to).  Personally, for me, I preferred to be connected the entire time since the offline google maps kept restarting and was unable to locate us.  It is also useful if you plan on using Grab while in the city.  This was the first time travelling internationally where we had purchased an international SIM to be able to be connect to internet and I must say that now I am a converted.  The international SIMs are very affordable and offer a lot of data (we would also turn it off if we were going to be in a given location for an extended amount of time to preserve data and batter power) and we were able to use the same SIM for the remainder of our entire trip in all of the other countries.  We did end up using 3 different types of connection, but I recommend the last option so that you can be connected the entire time:

  1. International SIM (purchased at the airport) – Once we left Singapore and arrived to Phuket Airport, there were lots of boots that were selling international SIMs. We ended up purchasing one of these at a booth called Smile and they connected it for me – it was super easy to use however kind of confusing because I couldn’t understand how much data I had left so we used it sparingly during our visit in Phuket and Chiang Mai.  Because we paid in cash, I unfortunately do not recall how much we spent, but it was definitely less than $10 CAD.
  2. Rented WIFI Device – I had actually rented a device when we were in Singapore for our visit in Bangkok since we were going to be here for 3 days without any excursions. We rented a pocket WIFI which we picked up at the BBK airport via Klook (https://www.klook.com/en-CA/activity/16446-4g-wifi-thailand/).  In total it cost $26 for the 3 days (which at the time we thought was a bargain) – they do have to hold a deposit which is refundable once you return the device, so make sure you have enough cash to avoid the change in exchange rates on your credit card.  It was also not clear how much data we had but I think it was unlimited.  I didn’t mind the hand held device since we had used one when we visited Tokyo, however I definitely would recommend an international SIM when possible.
  3. International SIM (purchased online and picked up at airport) – After doing more research while in Bangkok and realizing that the convenience of being connected to data became a growing need, which was already 6 days into our trip, I did more research on Klook. I found SIMs available for 15 countries in South East Asia, which meant that for the remainder of our trip (still 7 days), we could be connected in all of the countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) and not have to worry about finding WIFI.  We found a great deal with the SIM only costing $8.90 for 4GB of data from Klook.  This option ended up being the best because not only is it a one-time purchase (no need to return anything like we had for the rented WIFI device), but you can actually download an app that came in English that tracked how much data you had.  If you did go over the allotted data, you had to option of adding more data if necessary.  I really liked the convenience and visibility of this option the best and felt in full control.

Hotel in Kuala Lumpur:

We stayed at the Melia Kuala Lumpur.  Being a large chain hotel, it was conveniently located next to the subway station.  We arrived late but there was someone at the reception who had greeted us.  The room was very large and had a resort like feel.  This would definitely be a very comfortable hotel to stay in for longer term stays.  There was a separate area for sitting and lots of outlets, which was great because we had a lot of things to charge for our 1-night stay.  We didn’t get a chance to check out the pool but based on the photos on the website, it looked lovely and would have been great for photos and relaxation.  The room we booked also included breakfast which a large selection of hot, cold and continental food.  It was probably one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had.  I recommend this hotel and look forward to staying here when we visit again.

Budget: We had budgeted $115 CAD cash for the day, which was meant to be used for food, transportation and shopping.  We knew credit card would be readily available in most establishments but since we were only here for a day, we wanted to use more cash than credit.  Again, I also used Budget your Trip to gauge how much expenses to expect per day.  See below for the breakdown of our actual expenses (keep in mind this is for 2 people):

  • Airfare from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for 2 people: $284
  • Hotel: $85 (for 1 night)
  • Cash (mostly for meals): $115 CAD
  • Transportation (credit card): $60 (Grab)
  • Total cost of trip for 2 days: $544

Excluding airfare, we actually spent $160 for the day, or $80 a person.  This is pretty close to the $69 per day approximation found on Budget your Trip, however we did splurge on the Grabs, so I still highly recommend this website as a great resource in budget planning.

See below for the full details. Don’t forget to also check out some highlights from our trip (video above).

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-KualaLumpur1Day_Title_Day1

This was our only day in Kuala Lumpur and it wasn’t a full day as our flight to Bali was leaving at 10:50PM, and since it was an international flight we had to be at the airport before 8PM.  The original plan was to visit lots of sites, but Sean ended up having stomach issues so we had to take it slower which meant that we didn’t get to experience the city to the fullest as much as I would have liked to.  However, it gave us a small taste of the city which brought up excitement to visit again in the future.

Our original plan was to start at Batu Caves early in the morning to beat the crowds then take the train over to Chinatown to explore and have lunch.  Then after Chinatown, the plan was to visit Sri Mahamariamman, Central Market and finally Petronas Twin Towers.  It also ended up raining shortly after we left the Batu caves which slowed us down further as we were taking shelter.  You can access the original walking tour in the link below, and I do think all of it can be visited in 1 day, so we will definitely try again in the future.

Batu CavesRight after breakfast, we took a Grab to visit the Batu Caves.  It is recommended to go as early as possible, and we arrived around 9:30 and it was quite busy already.  There were lots of pigeons and monkeys roaming the premises but the place is so large you can easily take photos without them.  To visit the actual caves, you do have to walk up the stairs towards the temple.  Make sure to bring sneakers to make the journey easier and more comfortable.  Once we entered the caves, there were temples inside where you could visit as well.  You definitely want to make sure to visit the caves as the photos do not do it justice.  If you need a washroom, there are the shops at the base where you can pay to use the facilities.  We visited here for about 2 hours – be sure to walk around since there are lots of other temples on the premises where you can take photos and visit.  After we were done our visit, we took the Kmuter towards Kuala Lumpur Station and got off at NU Sentral.

Since it was raining, we decided to hang out by the mall for a bit.  We stumbled upon Anjappar Restaurant which was right outside of the mall.  What caught our attention was that there were locations across the world, including in the GTA, so we wanted to check it out.  We ordered a Thali and Palak Paneer to share and it was delicious, costing about $31 RM (about $10 CAD).  After lunch, we explored the mall attached to NU Sentral since it was still raining out.  Around mid afternoon, we decided to take a Grab to visit Chinatown.

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Chinatown – We arrived quite late into the afternoon, which was good because a lot of the shops seemed to only open around 5.  It was still raining so we did take our time, and luckily for us, the Petaling Street Market in Chinatown has an enclosure to protect us from most of the rain.  There are lots of shops for souvenirs and electronics, but because it was towards the end our trip, I didn’t have any spare room in my luggage to bring back anything.  I was even tempted to purchase an extra luggage but opted instead to promise to revisit again in the future.

After this short visit to Kuala Lumpur, we headed back to our hotel to collect our luggage and head over to the airport for our flight to Bali.

Access our original walking tour map here:

TheSavvyPantry-KualaLumpur1Day_WalkingTourMap

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!

Instant Pot Pumpkin Congee

Hi Savvys,

Winter is now upon us, which means it is congee season in my household.  If you haven’t heard of congee before, it is a Chinese rice porridge, usually made with leftover rice.  Growing up, my grandparents made congee almost every weekend in the wintertime, and we could expect a big batch after major holidays, when they would make the congee using leftover Turkey meat and bones.

Since we don’t usually have leftover rice and are primarily plant based in our home, I like to use half uncooked rice and half lentils to bulk up the protein and nutrients.  I also like to add shiitake mushrooms to really give the congee a depth of flavour. 

This congee can easily be made in an instant pot the day of or a slow cooker the night before so that it’s ready for breakfast/lunch. 

If you haven’t seen my last video on how I roast a Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin, check it out here (https://bit.ly/34it2mq).  I repurposed the pumpkin by adding it to this congee recipe to add extra creaminess and nutrients.  I also love topping it with Chinese fried donut, sauteed snow pea shoots and peanuts.  Let me know in the comments below what your favourite toppings are!

Now set forth and be savvy!

~makes about 8 large servings

Ingredients

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice (or whatever rice you have)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 2-inch nub of ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mushroom powder
  • 2 cup pumpkin puree
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Re-hydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and cover with hot water – set aside for 30 minutes
  2. Place 1 cup of uncooked jasmine rice in your instant pot container and rinse 3 times until the water runs clear.  To rinse, fill the pot with some water so that you have room to massage the rice for 30 seconds, pour out the water (or reserve the water to water your outdoor plants) and repeat 2 more times.
  3. Once the rice is washed, place the container into the instant pot machine and add the water, red lentils, ginger, soy sauce and mushroom powder
  4. Slice up the shiitake mushrooms and add to the pot along with the water
  5. Place the lid on and ensure that the nob at the top is set to “sealing” and not “venting”
  6. Turn the instant pot on and select the “Porridge” function, increase the time to 30 minutes
  7. Once the instant pot is done cooking, allow the pressure to decrease naturally – you will know that there is no more pressure once the red nob has descended.  You can also turn the nob to “venting” to ensure there is no more pressure.
  8. Remove the lid and stir the congee – it can be served immediately
  9. Top with your favourite toppings!

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.

White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookies VEGAN

Hi Savvys,

In a recent attempt to clean out my pantry, I noticed a small jar of macadamia nuts that I had purchased but never used.  Since my husband is currently laid off and watching the babe, I decided to bake some cookies.  Since my husband has lots of interviews this week, I decided that it would be best to get as much baking done while I can and to have them readily available in the freezer, since my time will be all consumed with watching the little one again.

This recipe uses my Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe as the base with the add in’s as the only modification.

See below for the full recipe – I will definitely have to pick up more macadamia nuts in the future so I can make another batch!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Makes ~72 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed, 6 tbsp hot water)
  • 1 cup softened unsalted vegan butter (I like to use Melt or Becel sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch (optional, I find it adds chewiness)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Make your flax egg by mixing the ground flax seed and hot water in a bowl, set aside
  3. In a stand mixer (or by hand), cream together the unsalted vegan butter with the brown and granulated sugar.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract and the flax eggs and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  5. Add in your flour, arrowroot starch, baking soda and salt and continue mixing until the flour is well incorporated
  6. Taking it off the stand mixer, mix in your white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
  7. With a mini cookie scooper, scoop out the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart since they will spread
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through
  9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about a minute before transferring onto a cooling rack
  10. Enjoy while they’re warm and gooey!

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bundt Cake

TheSavvyPantry-BlueberyBananaBundtCake_Title

Hi Savvys,

Blueberry season just ended and they have been plentiful in my fridge this summer.  Whenever they go on sale at the grocery store, I always make sure to stock up and have plenty of them frozen, ready for any use!  One of my favourite ways to use blueberries is in this blueberry banana bundt cake.  I like to use ripped bananas as it adds a natural sweetness to the batter while keeping it moist. You can easily make this in a loaf pan but I love the way it looks in a bundt pan.  I hope you guys try out this recipe – it’s packed full of blueberry goodness.

Now set forth and be savvy!

IMG_20200711_114513

Ingredients

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed, 3 tbsp hot water)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup white all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas (aprox 1 cup mashed bananas)
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare the bundt cake mould by generously greasing it with coconut oil
  3. In a small bowl, make your flax egg by mixing the ground flax seed and hot water, set aside
  4. In another small bowl, make the buttermilk by mixing the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together
  5. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  6. Mash the bananas in a medium bowl.  Add the flax egg. soy milk mixture, lemon juice and zest and mix to combine
  7. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just combined
  8. Add the blueberries and combine
  9. Pour the mixture into a bundt cake mould.
  10. Bake loaf for 45-55 minutes (depending on your oven)

Bon Appetit’s Pumpkin Loaf made vegan

TheSavvyPantry-VeganPumpkinLoaf_Title

Hi Savvys,

I have been obsessed with watching Bon Appetit on Youtube lately and when I saw Molly’s recipe for this Pumpkin Loaf, I knew I had to make my version of it!

Of course with being on mat leave now, I don’t have all of the time in the world to be baking like I had in the past, so the next time I make this I will definitely make 2 batches so that we always have a loaf in the freezer.  That is how good this loaf is!

I modified the original recipe slightly to make it vegan friendly, and also reduced the amount of oil and toppings to make it suitable for my needs.  This loaf is perfect for breakfast and as a dessert.  Hope you guys try this recipe – it tastes like fall with each bite!

Now set forth and be savvy!

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Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed, 6 tbsp hot water)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Brush some olive oil in a loaf pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both sides, length wise so that the loaf can easily be taken out.
  2. Make the flax eggs by combining the ground flax seed and hot water in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the pumpkin purée and 1 cup of sugar into the bowl with the flax eggs. Add olive oil and mix with a whisk until well combined.
  5. Gently fold half of the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until no dry spots remain. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients, stirring to combine but being careful not to over mix.
  6. Transfer batter to the prepared loaf pan; smooth out the top with a spatula. Scatter pumpkin seeds over batter, pressing lightly into the batter to adhere. Sprinkle the loaf with remaining 1 tsp sugar.
  7. Place the loaf pan on top of a baking tray – this loaf will rise when baking so ensure there is a baking tray under the loaf pan to avoid any spillage.
  8. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  The loaf is ready when a toothpick poked into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Using overhang, remove the loaf from the pan and transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool before serving.  Delicious with butter or a dollop of coconut whip.

Easy Rustic Dutch Oven Raisin Bread

TheSavvyPantry-EasyRusticDutchOvenRaisinBread_Title

Hi Savvys,

Since the beginning of social distancing and working from home, which started in March, I’ve kept myself very busy and rekindled my love for baking.  I used to bake all of the time but haven’t had this much fun creating recipes in a long time.  A huge trend with social distancing is baking bread!  This is definitely a habit that I will continue into the future.

When my sister sent me the recipe for Le Creuset’s No Knead French Oven Bread, it was so easy to make that I’ve been making it every other week.  I also have a few loaves in the freezer just in case!  Using this recipe as a base, I turned it into my favourite: Raisin Bread!  This Raisin Bread is delicious toasted with some vegan butter and jam.  Try it out for yourself!

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-EasyRusticDutchOvenRaisinBread (3)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, yeast and salt. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with a large plate or towel. Let the dough rest over night at room temperature.
  2. The next morning, remove the dough from the bowl and lightly sprinkle the bowl with some flour. Place the dough back into the bowl and spring a little more flour on top and fold it over on itself once or twice. Place plate or towel back on top of the bowl/dough and let rest 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat the bottom of the bowl with flour, put dough seam side down at the bottom of the blow and dust the top with more flour. Cover with a plate or towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. Place a Dutch oven into your oven and preheat to 450°F.  Once the oven is heated, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Turn the dough over onto your hand and place onto a piece of parchment paper, with the seam side up. Place the parchment and dough into the Dutch oven, shaking the pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  5. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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.