Friday.

Happy Friday! It’s been quiet on the blog front, but a recipe is in the works and I’m hoping to have it up by Sunday. This week has gone by surprisingly quick, even though I didn’t do much besides eating, sleeping, reading, and watching Orange Is The New Black. Here are some links that stuck with me this week…

Firstly, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I know it’s Friday, but Monday is happening in a few days and we all know how difficult it can be to get through a Monday. Here are eleven little ways to get through this Monday.

If you need a little more motivation: ten ways to rock your morning.

Life happens.

Zosia Mamet from the HBO show Girls opened up about her personal eating disorder struggles + more on ED recovery and tuning out food noise by Gena from Choosing Raw.

Beyoncé’s VMA performance cemented feminism as her brand. Taylor Swift has also revealed that she’s been a feminist all along.

A good reminder that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect time’.

Have something to say? Find the time to say it.

No one else can love you before you love yourself. Real love is everywhere, look inwards for love.

Try not to become bitter: there is more good than bad.

People often ask me what ‘plant-based’ means. Here is a perfect summary of what it means to maintain a plant-based lifestyle. 

Have extra peaches? Why not make jam?

A happy friday to all,
Gen.

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Lemon Coconut Blueberry Swirl Bars


August Recipe Redux: Bars & Bites for Brown Bags
Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savoury taste. Show us your favourite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

Hello world! Sorry for the brief pause in blogging. The past week has been crazy busy for me: I was denied entry to the U.S. when I tried to fly earlier this week, and have spent the last few days gathering my courage and documents to try again yesterday. Luckily for me, everything went smoothly yesterday! I am now in the U.S. for a few weeks before I return to Toronto at the end of September. The first time I tried, I was pulled aside for secondary screening. I won’t go into very much detail here, but I was subjected to very rude, disrespectful treatment and questioning by a U.S. Customs officer. I understand the need to question visitors to the U.S., however, this officer had no interest in listening to what I had to say. There wasn’t much point in answering his questions as he was formulating his own answers and opinions as to why I was traveling to America. I’m so very grateful for all the love and support I got from my family and friends this past week- they kept me sane! I am especially thankful for my Aunt Agnes, a very dear family friend who I’ve known since I was a child. She housed me for two weeks, brought me to the airport, came back to pick me up from the airport when I was turned around, and has just been so kind to me. Given that my aunt loves lemon bars and has a habit of taking little snack boxes to work, I decided to make her lemon coconut blueberry swirl bars to thank her. These lemon bars are gluten-free, and I added some coconut and blueberries. I need to work on my swirling technique, but I think you get the idea!

I’ve unfortunately misplaced my memory card, so today’s photos are coming from my iPhone. I promise I’ll have better written and photographed blog posts once I’ve caught up on some much needed sleep!

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Lemon Coconut Blueberry Swirl Bars
*yields twelve servings
For the crust:
2 cups oats/gluten-free oats
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
pinch of sea salt

For the filling:
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
1 egg
1 banana
juice of 3 lemons
zest of 4 lemons

For the swirl:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
maple syrup or raw honey, to taste

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1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Pour the oats in a food processor and pulse until the oats become ground oat flour.
3. Place the oats in a small mixing bowl, and mix together with the water, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and sea salt. This should be slightly but not overly sticky.
4. Grease a baking pan with coconut oil and press the crust into the bottom of the pan.
5. Place the crust into the oven to bake while you prepare the filling and swirl. Once the crust begins to brown, remove it from the oven.
6. In a food processor, purée the coconut, egg, banana, lemon juice, zest, and your sweetener of choice.
7. Pour the lemon filling into the baking pan and set aside.
8. On low heat, simmer the blueberries with the water, vanilla extract, and your sweetener of choice. Once the blueberry mixture begins to thicken, pour into your food processor to blend.
9. Spoon the blueberry sauce onto the lemon bars and swirl using a knife.
10. Place the lemon bars back in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool before eating.

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The above recipe is inspired by Oatmeal With A Fork and The Sweet Tooth Life.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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The Best Bloody Mary, Ever


Last week, Williams-Sonoma emailed to ask if I would post a Bloody Mary recipe on my blog. Those of you who read my Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail post will know I don’t drink very often, but I was beyond flattered that one of my favourite kitchen stores reached out to me. Of course I was going to share a recipe for a Bloody Mary! I’ll be honest: up until today, I had never tried a Bloody Mary, and had no idea what the cocktail was supposed to taste like. I browsed through the Internet and consulted friends who are huge fans of the drink, and although preferences varied regarding how thick, spicy, or classic a Bloody Mary should be, I got a general idea of what the drink was supposed to taste like. My boyfriend’s mama described it as “spicy. Like peppery and salty and celery-ish. And a little Tabasco-ish.” Tasked with making the perfect Bloody Mary, I set off to the farmer’s market at Toronto’s famed St. Lawrence Market and bought the nicest, ripest heirloom tomatoes I could get my hands on. What I love about farmer’s markets is being able to talk to the people who dedicate their time to growing the food you are about to eat. There is a joy that comes with purchasing food that was lovingly and painstakingly grown, and didn’t have to travel very far to reach you. 

Heirloom TomatoesSince I had never tasted or made a Bloody Mary before, I decided to adapt a recipe so as to have the right ratios, and changed only the method recommended. Bon Appétit Magazine claims that their recipe is one for the best Bloody Mary, but I’m going to say with confidence that my updated version of their recipe is just a teensy bit better. Rather than bringing the tomatoes and the other ingredients to a boil, I decided to roast the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic in the oven for an hour with some salt and pepper to bring out the flavours of my gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I don’t have a juicer, but my cousin Sam generously lent me her Vitamix. I’m not a huge fan of store-bought anything if it can be made at home, and I wasn’t going to use store-prepared Bloody Mary mixture-  go fresh or go home! You can find a great selection of blenders and juicers in store or online at Williams-Sonoma, including the Vitamix I used.

Rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, celery saltAfter roasting and allowing the tomatoes and carrots to cool slightly, I blended the vegetables with the roast garlic cloves.  I then simmered the mixture with the other ingredients for another 30 to 45 minutes. Since the popular vote among my friends was for a thin Bloody Mary, I strained the tomato mixture through a mesh strainer afterwards to get rid of the pulp. I then refrigerated  the mix for six hours to allow all the flavours to intensify. If you don’t have a huge affinity for alcoholic beverages, feel free to skip on the vodka for a virgin Bloody Mary. It’s just as good!

Although my garnish was a simple stalk of celery and lemon wedge, feel free to go all out. My boyfriend suggested adding pancetta, and I have a feeling that using crispy pancetta or bacon as a swizzle stick would be delicious if you aren’t vegetarian like me. He also suggested adding basil to the tomato mixture and placing a mozzarella wedge on the side of the glass. On his recommendation, I added some aged balsamic vinegar for a tiny kick of sweetness. Other awesome variations on the Bloody Mary I found include an Asian inspired Bloody Mary made with wasabi and sriracha, a Blackberry infused Bloody Mary, or simply using jalapenos to spice things up. Horseradish is a part of the classic Bloody Mary, however, I could not find any and as a result left it out.
The Best Bloody Mary, Ever

The Best Bloody Mary, Ever
*yields 12 servings
1 1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
2 small-medium heirloom carrots
2 large garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (Please don’t use the watery salad dressing most people have come to know as balsamic vinegar. Use the good stuff!)
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon tabasco
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seeds
3 cups vodka
12 lemon wedges
12 celery stalks
sea salt for the rim
coconut oil, for roasting.

IMG_96401. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line your baking tray with foil, and grease with coconut oil.
2. Place the tomatoes and the garlic on the baking tray. Season with sea salt and pepper, and roast for an hour, flipping occasionally. Once the tomatoes are blistering and soft, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for ten minutes.
3. Once the tomatoes have cooled, blend the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic in a food processor or blender.
4. Pour the tomato mixture into a pot, and add six cups of water. Add the chopped fennel bulb,  the bay leaves, and the rosemary sprigs.  Bring to a boil, before reducing the heat to medium.
5. Simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat, and pour the mixture through a strainer into a large pitcher or container. If the mixture measures to less than eight cups, add enough water until it measures eight cups. Allow the mixture to cool for ten minutes.
7. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, add the sea salt and lemon juice.
8. Refrigerate the mixture for at least six hours or overnight.
9. Once the mixture has completely chilled, add the celery seeds, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and vodka.
10. Wet the rim of each glass with a lemon wedge. Fill a bowl with sea salt, and dip and turn the glass to rim it with sea salt.
11. Garnish each glass with a celery stalk or with your garnish of choice.

Sip and enjoy!

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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