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The thing I love most about the vegan food swap that I’ve been participating in most months for the last year is the connection with other people.   This month’s vegan food swap was the most exciting connection yet  — I was reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in 17 years!  Jackie is the blogger behind The Short Stack Foodie. When I read about MeShell’s swapping adventures with her in the spring, I realized she was my long lost pal.  What a coincidence!

Jackie and I met when I moved to Ontario in grade four.  She was the bubbliest, happiest, friendliest kid in the class.  And guess what… she is exactly the same now as she was then: warm, outgoing, and super funny!  It is great to see my old friend so happy and I know we will continue to stay friends.

August 18 2013 Jackie Naked Sprout (3)(Me on the left, Jackie on the right).

We now live about an hour away from each other. The Naked Sprout in Burlington, Ontario was the  perfect location to host our reunion, exchange our swaps and indulge in a delicious Sunday brunch.

Earthgiven Kitchen Naked Sprout brunch August 2013 (2)I ordered the raw Raspberry Banana Pancakes: “bodacious blend of orange juice, agave, banana, apple, coconut, cashews, flax and raspberries; prepared with love and dehydrated to seal in the flavour; served with fresh seasonal berries, raw vanilla cashew coconut ice cream.”  I had to forgo the ice cream topping since it had vanilla extract which I’m allergic to, but it was still delicious.  It was very sweet and could have doubled as a fancy dessert.  It tasted very much like fruit leather.   If you love sweets at brunch, you would love this.  The Chocolate Coconut Crepes also looked divine.

Thanks to meeting in person, we were free to collect items for each other unfit to mail.  My challenge for Jackie was to gift her with vegan treats that a non-vegan would love, while also being free of wheat, corn and sugar.  Here’s what I got her:

  • Cat Cora’s Greek Smoke Eggplant tapenade
  • Homemade chocolate cherry zucchini muffins (I took my Chocolate Zucchini Muffin recipe and used 1/2 cup maple syrup instead of sugar, buckwheat and spelt flour instead of wheat, and home-dried cherries instead of chocolate chips)
  • Homemade roasted chickpeas (recipe coming soon)
  • Mum’s Organic Coconut Cacao Nibs: a sugar-free way to enjoy chocolate
  • Veggie-Go’s Carrot Apple Ginger snack
  • Brickstone Fine Foods Dill and Shallot Mustard

August 2013 vegan food swap Jackie (5)And here’s what she got me:

  • Dried apples: I followed the directions that came with them and turned them into a hot dessert, which tasted just like apple pie filling.
  • Crab Apple Jelly from her own crab apple tree!
  • Lundberg Tuscan Risotto:  I like to have some quick options for dinners on hand, and this box came to the rescue one day last week to make a quick, hearty meal. We all loved it so I’ll continue to buy them for those short-on-time days.  It’s much healthier than most of those other boxed meals from the grocery store.
  • Mutti Passata.  I didn’t even know what passata was when I first opened it but have learned it is strained tomato puree.  Thinner than regular tomato sauce, we enjoyed it as a pizza sauce as well as pasta sauce.  Jackie says this brand is the very best!
  • Enerjive Quinoa Skinny Crave cracker sticks.  I really loved these ones and kept the box at my desk all week to nibble at work.   They were great with hummus. (Note: they contain honey, which I didn’t realize until I ate the whole package, oops.)
  • Cherry tomatoes from Jackie’s garden!   I enjoyed these on the avocado-tomato-sprouts sandwich kick I’m on these days, as well as made the amazing Summertime Bruschetta from A Dash of Compassion.  Fresh local peaches and tomatoes: what August tastes like!

Thank you, Jackie, for the wonderful vegan food swap!  I look forward to continuing our friendship.

Update: Read Jackie’s account of our visit here ….replete with photos of my awesome 80’s poofy hair!  And for some reason we have no photos of us from our childhood when we weren’t in costume.
Earthgbiven Kitchen Sarina Jackie3