I recently was making a little trip to the suburbs of Toronto and had a few minutes to spare before getting on the bus. Since I was at Union Station, I decided to stop at the much talked about Union Market. I’ve often passed it while walking around the area but this is the first time I went through the stalls.
It was a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon in the city so am ice cream stand naturally caught. An ice cold sweet treat was sure to be delightful relief. As I walked up to investigate, I noticed the stand had vegan selections clearly highlighted… I was instantly sold. After discussing options for sizes and flavours, the guy behind the glass had sold me a pint of a flavour I wasn’t even considering.
The name of the stall/company was Death in Venice Gelato. I ended up choosing a sorbet of strawberry, juniper and Thai basil. I had it with my friends later that day for a post BBQ dessert. It was well received and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We made some lemon coconut cookies, and it was a great compliment to the sorbet.
From the first bite you can tell that it’s 100% real fruit. The berries were as decadent as eating the real fruit. The Thai basil was an interesting twist to add in as well. I think it gave the sorbet that “je ne sais quoi” factor that makes new foods memorable. The basil was a good balance between pungent and polite. You could tell it was in there but didn’t stop the other tastes from coming through.
I will say that this wasn’t the best sorbet I’ve ever tasted. I think mint would have been a better choice than Thai basil. However, I am a lot more interested in the brand and trying their other flavours.
Since the kitchen is my laboratory, experimenting with dishes is a common occurrence for me. Last week I decided to play around a bit and do something new with some sweet potatoes I bought. Usually I would bake or fry them, but that particular day I felt like having mash potatoes. In true Darrell fashion, my brain started wandering and thought of what else I could have with it. I raided my fridge and decided to add a carrot I chopped up and froze last month plus a half can of cooked lentils from the previous week. When thinking of what flavours/spices to use, sweet potato pie came to mind and provided some comfort food type inspiration. I became pleased with this train of thought and started putting everything together.
The end result came out way better than expected! I was not only pleasantly surprised, I went in for seconds and thirds. If it were a song, it would be 2 Legit 2 Quit by MC Hammer.
I got a positive response after posting a picture of it on IG. I even had a few people say they were interested in the recipe (little did they know I didn’t use one…). So in an effort to remember what I did and share it, here’s a post with the recipe!
Fried tofu with sweet potato and lentil mash.
Darrell’s Lentil & Sweet Potato Mash
1) Chop 2 sweet potatoes and 1 carrot. Boil until very tender and then strain.
2) While the vegetables boil, sautée half an onion diced and 3-5 cloves garlic minced. I personally love garlic so feel free to add like 8 cloves, I won’t judge. Once a nice golden-brown colour, set aside.
3) Warm or sautée half a can of lentils, add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
4) Add about 2 tbsp vegan butter to the sweet potatoes & carrots plus 1-2 tsp each of cinnamon/nutmeg/all spice/chilli powder. Mix & mash together!
5) Add cooked onions, garlic and lentils to the sweet potato mixture. Mash some more!
6) Eat away!
*I like my mash chunky, I think the different textures keeps things interesting. If you want a smoother/creamier mixture, slowly add more vegan butter and a bit of soy milk until you get the consistency you like.
*When it comes to spices, we all like different things… I personally used 2 tsp cinnamon & chilli powder, 1 tsp nutmeg and all spice. Feel free to use more, less, or none at all. You can add or use different spices that you like (rosemary and thyme are good ones too).
It doesn’t feel like 3.5 years have past but that’s when I first started my vegan life. I spent most of December 2013 and January 2014 watching documentaries about food and it really got me thinking about what was on my plate and going into my body. It wasn’t just all slaughterhouse documentaries. I grew up in a family where food was very important culturally, but somehow over the years it lost it’s importance on me. I was eating a lot of processed foods and had no idea what was on my plate or how it even made it’s way there. What was the story behind this meal? I think that question is how veganism made its way into my life. The more I thought about the “story” of my food, the more I didn’t want to have formerly living animals on my plate. Some vegans have labelled this as becoming conscious of your choices. By the end of that January, I made up my mind that the only way I could be truly satisfied with my meals and food choices was to become a vegan. At that time, I was also getting ready to move into my first “big boy” apartment so it was nice to have this change also be part of my new beginnings.
The last week in January while finishing packing my belongings, I made a little outline for how I would start this vegan journey. I did research a bit into it and also watched even more documentaries about it. Some people may see a vegan diet & lifestyle as restrictive but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was making a willing and positive change to my lifestyle and I think this also helped with my thought process along the way (and shut down the skeptics). Over the course of February, I was going to eliminate one type of meat from my diet and would be eating fully vegan by the end of the month. I also allowed myself one non-vegan meal per day but tried to eat vegan whenever possible. I decided to make it a point when buying groceries to buy only vegan items.
My transition plan
-Feb wk 1: no red meats or pork -Feb wk 2: no chicken/poultry -Feb wk 3: no fish/seafood -Feb wk 4: no dairy/eggs or other animal byproducts
At the start, the hardest part wasn’t actually trying to eat vegan, it was more so trying to blocking out the negative feedback from family and friends. Suddenly everyone cared and had an opinion about what I was eating. I truly believe that becoming a vegan made be more resilient to negative. At the same, to be going against the norm and eating food that made me feel good was empowering. I began to win over family and friends when they noticed that my food was not bland and had plenty of colour and variety. I was also still able to indulge in my food favourites such as cupcakes, cookies, ice cream and chips in a vegan way. There are also so many “accidentally vegan” foods around that most people don’t even recognise that they are eating vegan food.
My vegan path has changed quite a bit compared to when I started 3 and a half years ago. I have posted over 100 photos to Instagram using my hashtag #cookingwithdoryane in an effort to document the foods I personally make. I also have hosted plenty of family dinners and holiday parties for friends featuring a fully vegan and down right delicious menu. It’s also been exciting to see new vegan friendly spots in Toronto and exploring some of the older ones I didn’t know existed.
If I were to give advice to a new vegan, the veg-curious and omnivores would be this: you do you. It’s your decision what gets put on your plate and goes into your body… at least it should be. I never try to push “vegan propaganda” onto my loved ones, but at the same time they’ve come to an understanding that they should not push a pro-meat stance onto me. I’ve made myself open to questions and answer them as positively as I can to the best of my abilities because I know that I would want that person to make an informed decision too… even if it ends up that that still consume animal products. It’s also important to say that adopting a vegan lifestyle may not be for everyone. Culture, social pressures, accessibility, food security, lifestyle… these are all major factors that influence someone’s diet and no one should be shamed for choosing and having what they do.
I haven’t bought new shoes in a very long time… mostly because I’m cheap and picky. HA! But my family and friends will tell you how much I really do love shoes. A nice pair of does a whole lot to complete the look of an outfit.
One of my favourite pairs is a set of Vans Surf SF. It’s a great pair for spring/summer to slip on and go. They are also so unbelievably comfortable too! I ended up buying two pairs in different colours a couple of summers ago.
Now that I’ve been shopping to amp up my wardrobe, I find myself thinking about replacing these Vans. Although I’ve seen the model in stores, I can’t seem to find the right colour. I decided to check out the Vans website to see what’s available and found these gems!
I am madly in love with the bold and bright colours. I also love the striping and prints. The only issue is that I can’t find them in Canada in my size… *insert crying emoji here*. I even checked the Vans store here in downtown Toronto but they did not have this print in this style. And naturally, the Vans website was sold out when I checked.
Maybe it’s not meant to be but a guy can dream, right?
I’ve lived in Canada all my life and I still don’t know how to dress for the weather. I think spring in Toronto is the hardest season out of all of them as well. You wake up, it’s a crisp and windy morning, so you bundle up. By the time lunch rolls around, it’s a balmy and humid sun-filled day. And then the next day… it snows.
Bring on the layers! Since I work early in the morning, it’s necessary to wear a sweater or light jacket. I’ve also made it a habit of wearing a tank or t-shirt under a long sleeve button-down. This way when it warms up in the afternoon, I can tie the long sleeve around my waist and be oh so trendy (HA!).
This is the outfit I wore today… I was totally feeling myself too. I recently bought a pair of Nike Free Hypervenom 2. They’re the most expensive sneakers I’ve purchased in a very long time but they’re super comfortable.