Coconut Key Lime Mini Pies

Happy December!
Outside it’s freezing, but that didn’t stop me from craving a chilled dessert. Not too sweet and not too tart, these almost-raw mini pies are vegan and free of gluten and refined sugars. All the fun of a cupcake and none of the guilt!
Coconut Key Lime Mini Pies Earthgiven Kitchen
Coconut Key Lime Mini Pies
1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates
1/4 cup nuts of your choice 
1/4 cup flaked coconut
pinch of sea salt
1 cup cashews
1/3 cup coconut yogurt
4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
Topping options: fresh kiwi slices, shredded coconut, grated lime zest
Start by soaking the cashews in water for 2-6 hours, then drain and rinse. For best taste, toast the coconut flakes by spreading in a thin layer on a bake sheet and broil just until golden.

Blend the dates, nuts, coconut and sea salt in a blender or food processor until uniform. Set 8 paper baking cups in a muffin tray. Place two tbsp of the dough onto the bottom of a paper baking cup, pressing down to create an even crust. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Blend the filling ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour over the crust and use a spatula to smooth the tops. Freeze until set.

About 20 minutes before serving, remove mini pies from freezer and top with kiwi slices, shredded coconut, grated lime zest or other toppings of choice. Serve chilled. Makes 8 mini pies.
Coconut Key Lime Mini PiesEarthgiven Kitchen 2
This recipe is being shared at Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Also check out Aloha for healthy recipes! Most of the recipes there are vegan and all have beautiful photographs. Thank you to all the hosts for sharing the recipe love!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins and Cupcakes for World Vegan Day

Happy World Vegan Day! The world’s first Vegan Society was founded on November 1st, and November is also World Vegan Month. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the individuals and organizations working to make the world kinder to animals and the planet everyday.
Happy World Vegan Day Earthgiven Kitchen 2

For those who are curious about veganism but haven’t made the leap yet, it’s the perfect time to find out more about how healthful and delicious a cruelty-free lifestyle can be. Some great websites with loads of resources are:
Vegan Outreach (get your free starter guide)
The Vegan Society

On to a recipe! I can’t resist the appeal of pumpkin everything in October and November, especially teamed with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon and I’ve been baking with pumpkin regularly since the end of summer. For those who think you need eggs and dairy to make baking soft, rich and fluffy, I am happy to assure you that vegan baking has all the taste and texture you’re looking for.
Chocolate Chip Pumpking Muffins and Cupcakes Earthgiven Kitchen (1)

This muffin recipe makes for a decadent, cake-y muffin, perfect for brunch or dessert. Turn them into cupcakes by topping with icing! My cupcakes in the photo have also been sprinkled with cacao nibs.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins and Cupcakes
1 3/4 cup flour (I use half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup grapeseed or melted coconut oil
1/3 cup soy milk or water
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
vegan icing (optional, see below)

Mix the dry ingredients together (except for the chocolate chips). Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and gently stir.

Pour into 12 greased muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until baked all the way through.

Variation: Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins/Cupcakes: swap the pumpkin for pureed baked sweet potato! They taste just as delicious.
Chocolate Chip Pumpking Muffins and Cupcakes Earthgiven Kitchen (3)

For the optional cupcake icing, I simply put powdered sugar in my blender, added a drop of vanilla extract, a splash of soy milk, then I add vegan margarine until it makes the perfect creamy texture. Voila: super easy, vegan vanilla icing, no exact measuring required. Or you can use whatever vegan icing you wish. A super easy chocolate icing recipe is The PPK’s Chocolate Ganache.
Chocolate Chip Pumpking Muffins and Cupcakes Earthgiven Kitchen (4)

This recipe has been shared with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

In other news, I’ve been posting recipes and photos more frequently on Instagram these days. You can find me here.
Sarina JW Instagram

Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet

Hello friends, happy (almost) fall!

I wanted to share a review of a fabulous find I came across while driving home from a wonderful week at the cottage in Muskoka, Ontario. We had wondered if there may be, fingers crossed, a vegan-friendly restaurant, somewhere near Barrie. A quick search on Happy Cow led us to Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet in Thornton (just south of Barrie) and what a treat that find was!  More than just vegan-friendly, Vidya’s is 100% vegetarian, gluten-free and mostly vegan, with an emphasis on healthy, organic and whole foods. Right up our alley!
Vidya's Veggie Gourmet Thornton July 2014 Earthgiven Kitchen (3)The owner Kim Vidya, a holistic nutritionist, transformed the historic 1854 Queen’s Head Hotel into a lovely yoga retreat centre, gourmet restaurant and elixir bar. The formal dining room is beautiful and spacious.The executive chef is vegan and we enjoyed great service from our server Tara who is also a Holistic Nutritionist and blogs at The Nude Mushroom.
Vidya's Veggie Gourmet Thornton July 2014 Earthgiven Kitchen (5)Here’s what we ordered:

Appetizers: Potato wedges with homemade apple cider ketchup, Chips and Dip: flax chips with hummus, guacamole and black bean dip. Both dishes were wonderful. I left resolved to use my dehydrator more for homemade crackers.  We enjoyed it with Spring Dragon tea.
Vidya's Veggie Gourmet Thornton July 2014 Earthgiven Kitchen (14)Thai Malasian Noodles: “Mung bean broad noodles, tamarind chilli lime glaze, jump fried veggies, toasted almonds, shitake mushrooms, Essa Gardens sprouts, cilantro”. It was so flavourful and fortunately didn’t taste like it was loaded with fat like many yummy pasta dishes.
Earthgiven Kitchen Vidya's Veggie Gourmet (2)Vidya’s Past Bowl: “Quinoa-Rice ‘spun’ pasta, tender asparagus, garlic confit, Vidya’s oven-fried tomatoes, hemp organic basil pesto, vegan almond ‘parm’”. We love a great pesto pasta and this delivered!
Earthgiven Kitchen Vidya's Veggie Gourmet (3)Both pasta dishes were wonderful but we had a preference for the Thai dish.

For dessert: Buddha’s Chocolate Mousse:  “Organic cacao, coco butter, coconut milk, maple syrup”. It was rich and decadent and a perfect sweet note to end the meal.
Earthgiven Kitchen Vidya's Veggie Gourmet (1)We loved every bite of our meals, give Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet a high recommendation, and hope it won’t be long before we can make the two-hour drive to Thornton to visit again.

Four-Ingredient Creamy Chocolate Pudding

The summer is almost over but there’s still time to enjoy some chilled treats before the fall weather hits. One of our family’s favourites is chocolate pudding. Vegan chocolate pudding can by found in grocery stores, though I haven’t found a brand that’s healthy enough to regularly give my children, and I like puddings with a creamier texture and not the jelly-like texture that many have. I wanted to give my kids a healthier version of chocolate pudding that’s free of dairy, sugar, artificial colouring and additives, but still delicious. Four Ingredient Chocolate Pudding Vegan Sugar-free Earthgiven KitchenHere’s my recipe for chocolate pudding that’s completely junk-free. The creaminess comes from avocado which also provides healthy fats, vitamin E, iron and other nutritional goodies. The sweetness comes from Medjool dates, a good source of magnesium and B6. I use raw cacao instead of highly processed cocoa powder. Combined together you get a great brain food! It’s yummy enough that the kids won’t know they are eating a vegetable; you can’t taste the avocado.

This pudding will really fill you up. It’s healthy enough to enjoy at breakfast, especially with some chopped nuts and freshly sliced banana. We’ve also had it for dessert topped on a brownie!

Four Ingredient Creamy Chocolate Pudding
Vegan, Sugar-free, Raw, Gluten-Free, Nut-free option, Soy-free option, Paleo

10 Medjool dates, pitted
Half of a fresh avocado
2 tbsp nondairy-milk (I use sugar-free homemade almond milk or you can use coconut milk)
1 tbsp raw cacao powder (I use Camino brand which is organic and fair trade)
Optional toppings: cacao nibs, mint leaves, berries, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, etc.

For the creamiest results, first soak the dates for at least 15 minutes in warm water then drain. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. I use my Blendtec with the Twister Jar for best results. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Blendtec? I LOVE IT! If you want to get your own, use this link for free shipping to the US and this link for free shipping in Canada.)

Makes 1 cup.

Chocolate Pudding Parfait Earthgiven KitchenFor a fun treat, make a Chocolate Pudding Parfait with the pudding by using an equal amount of vanilla yogurt (I use homemade almond yogurt or Yoso brand coconut yogurt) or banana ice cream (nothing but frozen whipped bananas) and berries or granola. I used chocolate mint leaves from my garden as the garnish for the photo above. Chill in the freezer or fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy! blendtec world's bestThis recipe is being shared on Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck and Healthy Vegan Fridays!

Delicious, Nutritious, Easy: eBook review and giveaway!

One of my favourite things about social media is how easy it is to find new friends with similar passions and lifestyles you never would have otherwise met. I don’t think I would have thrived on my plant-based journey without the strong vegan online community. Through mutual friends on facebook, I befriended Andrea Frenke, a passionate vegan and fitness buff who is a growing star on Instagram.  Check out some of her beautiful photos below, and follow her here.  (You can find me on Instagram here).

Andrea Frenke collage(photos above by a_vegan_frenke)

When Andrea launched her eBook Delicious, Nutritious, Easy, I didn’t hesitate to buy it, since it’s a steal at $3 for 15 healthy recipes, most with 7 ingredients or less and quick to prepare. There is a full-colour photo of every recipe, which I think is crucial for any cookbook I buy.

Earthgiven Kitchen recipes from A Vegan Frenke (2)I made the Strawberry Mint Snow and was instantly reminded of childhood summers enjoying snow cones; now I can enjoy them without the artificial flavours, colours and sugar.

Earthgiven Kitchen recipes from A Vegan Frenke (3)The Avocado Basil Salsa is so delicious and perfect to enjoy all summer long. It would also be a perfect veggie burger topping!

Earthgiven Kitchen recipe from A Vegan Frenke Dessert SmoothieI also made the Dessert Smoothie which is similar to my favourite morning chocolate-banana-kale smoothie, but Andrea swaps greens for luxurious Medjool dates and it’s a fabulous treat.

Other recipes include Kale Hummus, Whole Wheat Banana Waffles and Pad Thai.

Andrea has not only agreed to be interviewed for Earthgiven Kitchen but she’s giving one Earthgiven Kitchen reader a PDF copy of her book Delicious, Nutritious, Easy. Read on for all the deets!

Sarina: How and when did you become vegan?

Andrea: I became vegan overnight after watching Vegucated and then doing some backup research. I had been vegetarian for a year (after watching Food Inc.) and cheese was my replacement for meat. That was almost a year ago and I feel like I have found the key to living a happy and healthy life. I must admit that I was purposely keeping myself ignorant prior to this time. When I finally made the decision to educate myself there was NO WAY I could ever go back, and I don’t want to.

Sarina: Me too! You live in the Toronto area, where there are dozens of vegan restaurants (lucky you!) What are your favourite restaurants?

Andrea: Yes, I am VERY lucky to live in a city that has vegan options and restaurants. My all-time favourite restaurant is Fresh and I am a big fan of Live Organic Food Bar! However I also want to point out that I have been able to find vegan options at non-vegan restaurants also! Usually you are safe with a large salad (sans cheese of course) and asking for some olive oil or balsamic as a dressing. Or I love a good pasta (make sure you ask if it’s egg washed) with a meatless tomato sauce and basil – YUM! I recommend telling your waiter that you have allergies or aversions, rather than expressing that you are vegan. They tend to take it more seriously in that case rather than lie to you, which sadly does happen quite often.

Sarina: You have amassed 10,000 followers on Instagram, very impressive! What tips do you have for those who want to be successful in social media?

Andrea: Social media is a great way to spread what’s important to you and reach a large group of people. My tips are to be authentic, comment on other accounts and try and get to know the people behind them. I have been very lucky to have a close friend with 110K share my account with her followers and have had other large accounts share it also. Be patient and be yourself, it took me a year to get 9,000 and the more followers you have the more quickly your account with grow!

Sarina: What’s the one dish you make the most?

Andrea: Hands down, veggie coconut curry. There is a great recipe in my eBook and really it is one of the easiest recipes to make, hard to mess up a curry!

Sarina: The curry will be my next recipe of yours to try! Aside from nutritious vegan eating, what else are you passionate about?

Andrea: I am extremely passionate about the environment, and educating people on how their decisions have impacts. I am also very passionate about human rights and equality. Lastly I am passionate about fitness, and I have a YouTube channel where I try to inspire people to get active. Really I just want to help as many people as I can to lead healthy, kind and conscious lives.

Thank you Andrea for sharing a copy of your eBook for the giveaway. To enter, simply comment below by July 18th: tell us your favourite vegan dish! The contest is open worldwide. One entry will be randomly selected on July 19th. Good luck!

Update: Congratulations to eBook winner Kathryn Bulver!

Giveaway: a year supply of Catelli pasta

How much do I love Catelli pasta right now?! Not only did they send me some samples of their new gluten-free pasta, but they are going to gift one lucky Earthgiven Kitchen reader with a year supply! That’s 60 boxes delivered to your door.

The pasta is made from a blend of rice, corn and quinoa (GMO-free). Maybe like me you’ve tried corn or quinoa pasta in the pasta and was not impressed with the taste or texture. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Catelli’s gluten-free pasta is delicious and the texture is great, no mushy noodles.  Try it yourself with a coupon here.Catelli gluten freeIt’s perfect timing to share a new pasta recipe. I make this when I want a quick, hearty meal that I know the kids will love. It’s similar to my Tomato Cashew Pasta but swapping chickpeas for the cashews lowers the fat content.

Earthgiven Kitchen Tomato Chickpea Pasta (4)Tomato chickpea basil pasta
by Earthgiven Kitchen

4 cups cooked pasta
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp minced basil
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all sauce ingredients in a blender until pureed. Gently stir in the freshly-cooked pasta and serve. Garnish with extra basil leaves if desired. Makes four servings.

To enter the contest for a year supply of Catelli pasta, you must be:

–A Canadian resident

–An Earthgiven Kitchen subscriber (either by email or facebook fan)

–Comment on this post by June 25th.

A winner will randomly be picked June 26th.

Big thanks to Catelli for this generous giveaway. Thank you to these link-up parties for sharing the giveaway: Healthy Vegan Fridays, Living Well Spending Less; A Handful of Everything, Carolyn’s Homework,  Vegetarian Mamma.


Update:  I could get Rafflecopter to randomly generate a winner but then my kids would miss out on the fun of writing all names on paper and pulling a winner out of a hat.  The winner was chosen tonight; congratulations to Michelle! Enjoy 60 boxes of pasta! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Sandals Antigua Review

This year, my hubby and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage. Perfect timing for the tropical second honeymoon we’ve been promising ourselves for years. On the recommendation of a family friend, we went to Sandals Antigua.
Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (9)I don’t know what’s taken me so long to blog about my holiday to Antigua; perhaps because it was such a wonderful escape to paradise that it’s bittersweet to look back at the photos now that I’m back to boring old daily life in Canada.

Sandals is known for its romantic, luxurious adults-only resorts.  We wanted to get to an all-inclusive and just relax knowing everything would be taken care of. We were also told that Sandals is a place that will go above and beyond for their guests so we could be assured that we would get a variety of excellent vegan food, which was crucial for us. It’s no vacation if you can’t eat the food you want!  Sandals was fabulously vegan-friendly.

I’m please to report that we were completely thrilled with Sandals Antigua (and I haven’t been compensated in any way for this review).  Here are Our Top Ten favourite things about Sandals Antigua:

1)      The location: on Dickinson Bay, a half-mile stretch of pristine white beach on turquoise waters. (Check out the rainbow!)
Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (57)2)    The very best, and happiest, staff: I asked several staff why everyone there is so wonderful; is it the training from Sandals or are Antigua people on a whole just so darn wonderful?! I think it’s a mix of both – everyone we encountered in Antigua including the airport staff was warm and friendly, but the Sandals staff seemed truly happy to be of service to the guests. None of the wait staff looked at us like we had three heads when we asked if they had any vegan options; they would always happily say yes and bring the chef over to our table to plan a dish to our liking if there was nothing vegan on the regular menu. The top notch service started the moment we arrived: instead of waiting in line to check in at reception (the LAST thing you want to do when you’ve just arrived in paradise!), we were led to couches and tables where fancy appetizers and drinks were served, and the check-in staff came to US to check in, while our bags are brought to our room. Yup, we were spoiled rotten. (I didn’t take photos of the staff in case they were camera-shy).

3)      The FOOD! I’m pretty confident that Sandals would accommodate any dietary request at all, so everyone would be happy there. We enjoyed plenty of satisfying vegan food like hummus, tofu croquettes, beans, veggie burgers, smoothies and pasta. See more photos below.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (58)4)      The ease to get there: it’s a direct 5-ish hour flight from Toronto, and then just 20 minutes from the airport. Our travels were stress-free.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua from the plane5)      The perfect weather: not too humid, not too hot, not too cold. It really felt like paradise.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (4)6)     It’s a 5-star resort: marble bathrooms, luxurious linens, king-sized bed, entertainment, free water sports, and everything was always spotless.  We stayed in the Mediterranean Village, which is the 6-star accommodation at the resort. We never travel so fancy but the more modest rooms were already booked up. The Caribbean Grove side was also beautiful, just a little cuter and cozier. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any of the rooms there.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua by Sarina (2)7)      The lack of insects. Yup, no mosquitoes or other pests, thanks to the daily fumigating of the entire resort. I am conflicted about the awesomeness of this because I imagine the fumigation was toxic and we tried to keep away from the sprayers when we saw them and the plumes of smoke coming…but did we ever enjoy skipping the mosquito bites on a tropical holiday! And this way you don’t have to use any toxic bug spray on your skin. (But if you do take a day trip into the jungle, I hear you need to prepare to experience lots of bugs).

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (79)They do have plenty of stray cats to keep you company though!  They might even join you  on a lounge chair at the beach.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (55)8)      The SPA! I had the most amazing blissful spa experience ever with Sarah in the Red Lane Spa. It’s the most beautiful spa I’ve ever seen and the products used are not tested on animals (same line used for the full-sized luxury toiletries in the hotel rooms). Spa services were extra but not terribly expensive.
February 2014 Sandals Antigua A (126)9)      The giant hot tubs. So even when it’s chilly in the mornings or the evenings, you can enjoy a soak, and they are big enough to stretch out on floating bed. February 2014 Sandals Antigua A (215)10)   The weekly beach party: music, dancing, and drinking from coconuts sliced open in front of you (with optional rum to add in).

???????????????????????????????Now for the food! Some of the great meals we enjoyed…

Breakfast at the buffet, overlooking the ocean: toast with peanut butter, sautéed spinach with walnuts, plantain, fresh fruit and vegetables and a melon-banana-oat smoothie.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals breakfast Lunches:

Pizza from the outdoor pizza oven: mushrooms, pesto and red peppers on the left; pears, red onion and walnuts on the right (pears on pizza, who knew they’d be so awesome?!)Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (13)

Deluxe salad from the buffet with chickpeas, mushrooms, roast potatoes, hearts of palm, balsamic vinaigrette with rice on the side.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (24)Lunch on the beach! Tofu croquettes with mango chutney and Asian slaw; crisp pita with roasted pepper hummus at Barefood By the Sea.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (35)Dinners:

Roast vegetables and quinoa cakes with a red pepper coulis: outstanding! This is a regular menu item, no special vegan request required.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (16)Our spectacular Teppanyaki dinner at Kimonos: corn and pea fritters, breaded tofu triangles and vegetables in a Teriyaki sauce.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (41)Salad, red pepper soup and fried tapioca cake appetizers at Eleanor’s. The cakes don’t look like anything special in the photo but they were totally outstanding and we asked for seconds.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (51)There is also a vegan veggie burger with vegan fries at the Drunken Duck Pub and both were very good.  I didn’t get any good photos there due to the dimly lit restaurant.

There were no prepared desserts for vegans except for mango sorbet, which was just fine, and there was always plenty of fresh fruit. You can order fresh fruit smoothies all day as well, and tea and coffee can come with almond or soy milk. You can even get vegan hot chocolate from their Parisian themed cafe.Earthgiven Kitchen smoothie SandalsOther things to be aware of if you’re planning a trip to Sandals Antigua: all beaches are public and vendors are everywhere, who are not associated with Sandals. Most are sweet and will leave you in peace after a “no thank you” but some are a nuisance, especially the ones selling jet-ski rides. There was a sweet jewellery-maker on the beach named Hazel from whom I bought gorgeous turquoise necklace and earrings. There are many excursions you can buy, but we were happy to just enjoy the resort and the free water sports offered, like snorkeling. Everyone speaks English in Antigua and you can drink the tap water, making it an easy place to visit.

I highly recommend Sandals Antigua for anyone looking for an adults-only resort to relax in tropical luxury. We can’t wait to return one day….

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (2)One last note friends: I’ve finally joined Instagram! Join me here:
instagram sarina_jw