Tag Archives | food

Indian Night, Oy!

Dis­re­gard the yid­dish def­i­n­i­tion of Oy for this post­ing as my din­ner and cook­ing expe­ri­ence was any­thing but a disappointment!

Last night my boyfriend and I decided to go on a bit of an adven­ture. We wan­dered down to Coxwell and Ger­rard in the east end of Toronto to lit­tle India/Pakistan. A lit­tle birdie had told us that the best place to buy spices was a shop called Kohi­noor Foods on Ger­rard Street. Boy, was this birdie right!

From the out­side it looks like a neigh­bour­hood con­ve­nience store. Inside, Kohi­noor Foods’ walls are lined with prod­ucts straight from India and Pak­istan. One wall is ded­i­cated solely to spices and legumes pack­aged by Kohi­noor Foods them­selves and priced quite rea­son­ably. We bought a large num­ber of spices for our planned feast. 200 grams of a spice is $2.99– not too shabby con­sid­er­ing the same spices cost up to twice that amount in Loblaws, Sobey’s and Metro. Not to men­tion, a lot of these spices are harder to come by in your aver­age gro­cery store.

The scene in the store reminded us of our time in India, many peo­ple came in and out demand­ing dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and the shop­keep­ers politely tried to cater to their needs.


For din­ner, we decided to make the fol­low­ing dishes using recipes from one of our favourite Indian chefs, Man­jula Jain. Watch below for a video tuto­r­ial on how to cook each of these recipes from Man­jula her­self! You can also click on the title to see the recipe writ­ten out.

1. Aloo Gobi (Pota­toes and Cauliflower)

2. Plain white bas­mati rice– Indian style

3. Bain­gan Bharta (Eggplant)


The Aloo Gobi (pic­tured below) was lighter than most, flavour­ful and almost trop­i­cal. We did  have to add quite a but more water than is writ­ten in the recipe. We also used less chilli as we can’t han­dle much heat. All in all a very tasty Aloo Gobi!


Fol­low­ing her direc­tions exactly yielded the per­fect Indian bas­mati rice (pic­tured below) . Yum!

The Bain­gan Bharta (pic­tured below) was deli­cious. The sautéed red pep­pers do make for a lovely light crunch. Again, I didn’t use as many chills as the recipe called for. We ate this with Dal Puri (type of Indian bread) which we bought at Kohi­noor Foods.

Cook­ing with all of these spices was a won­der­ful aro­matic expe­ri­ence. I’m so excited to try other dishes using these and other spices in the future. If you like Indian food, you’ll have a blast try­ing Manjula’s recipes. She also has a whole vegan sec­tion on her web­site which is really helpful.

Happy Cook­ing!

Oy Vegan!



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Totally Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff!

My stu­dents and I (photo by Bar­bara Allen), vegan cookie sam­pler plates, and my pre­sen­ta­tion! (Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin)

On Sat­ur­day Feb­ru­ary 4th, I par­tic­i­pated in the Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Association’s Totally Fab­u­lous Vegan Bake­off with my gluten-free choco­late zuc­chini loaf. Check out my recipe below!

The event took place at 918 Bathurst Street — a cool com­mu­nity cen­tre with lots of space for events, classes and what­not. The last time I was in the main the­atre space, I was audi­tion­ing for Woody Har­rel­son for a com­edy he wrote and directed last year at Hart House The­atre. 918 Bathurst, while being a great space for audi­tions, was a lit­tle small for the amount of peo­ple who came out for this year’s bake-off. The turnout was amaz­ing! Appar­ently the line went all the way down Bathurst and almost hit Bloor St.

I entered the com­pe­ti­tion in the gluten-free choco­late cat­e­gory. I didn’t win, but I’m pretty sure I came in sec­ond. How­ever, it wasn’t about win­ning or los­ing (says the loser), it was about the expe­ri­ence! So many veg­ans, veg­e­tar­i­ans, and non-veggies came out to sam­ple the many fab­u­lous treats. Local celeb vegan chef Doug McNish judged best in show and even Cana­dian TV and radio gem George Strom­bolopolous made an appear­ance. Appar­ently, Strombo is try­ing out the vegan lifestyle and I have to say, he looks great!

Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin

There was fab­u­lous local cof­fee sup­plied by Kens­ing­ton Market’s Moon­bean Cof­fee  as well as reg­u­lar, vanilla, and cap­puc­cino flavoured soy milk from Nutrisoya.

Many thanks to my par­ents for help­ing me plate my choco­late zuc­chini loaf and for trans­port­ing the sam­ples and dis­play to the venue. Also, a shout-out to my sis­ter Sasha Arfin for mak­ing an incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful sign for my loaf! (See below for sign and recipe!)

Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin


Check out this mini high­light video by Richard Arfin!

My gluten-free Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

Jamie’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Loaf
This loaf is deli­cious! The zuc­chini adds mois­ture and an amaz­ing tex­ture to the loaf. That com­bined with choco­laty goodness–trust me, it won’t last very long.


  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tea­spoons guar gum
  • 1/2 tea­spoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tea­spoons bak­ing soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweet­ened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup gran­u­lated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tea­spoon cinnamon
  • egg replacer — equiv­a­lent to 2 eggs worth
  • 1/2 cup organic canola oil
  • 1 tea­spoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet choco­late chips


Pre­heat oven to 350° F / 176° C

Lightly grease or oil two 8-inch loaf pans OR two 12-cup muf­fin tins

Place flour, guar gum, salt, bak­ing soda, cin­na­mon and cocoa pow­der in a medium bowl. Use a wire whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, place oil, sug­ars, egg replacer and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Stir in apple­sauce and shred­ded zuc­chini. Stir flour mix­ture into bat­ter until just com­bined. Fold in choco­late chips.

Divide bat­ter between pre­pared loaf or muf­fin pans and bake for 50 min­utes for loaves or 25–30 min­utes for muffins or until a tooth­pick inserted in the cen­ter of loaf or muf­fin comes out clean.

Allow to cool on wire rack for 10 min­utes before turn­ing out.

Yields about 24 muffins or 8–10 slices per loaf


Oy Vegan!

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The Protein Myth!

It’s funny, but every time I tell peo­ple that I’m vegan they almost always ask, “Where do you get your protein?!”

So, for all of you curi­ous peo­ple out there, here’s the answer!

First of all, there is a myth that we all need way more pro­tein than we actu­ally do! Below, I’m going to share some of an arti­cle that PCRM (Physi­cians Com­mit­tee for Respon­si­ble Med­i­cine) put together called The Pro­tein Myth:

Pro­tein Require­ments

With the tra­di­tional West­ern diet, the aver­age Amer­i­can con­sumes about dou­ble the pro­tein her or his body needs. Addi­tion­ally, the main sources of pro­tein con­sumed tend to be ani­mal prod­ucts, which are also high in fat and sat­u­rated fat. Most indi­vid­u­als are sur­prised to learn that pro­tein needs are actu­ally much less than what they have been con­sum­ing. The Rec­om­mended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for pro­tein for the aver­age, seden­tary adult is only 0.8 grams per kilo­gram of body weight. To find out your aver­age indi­vid­ual need, sim­ply per­form the fol­low­ing calculation:

Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = rec­om­mended pro­tein intake

How­ever, even this value has a large mar­gin of safety, and the body’s true need is even lower for most peo­ple. Pro­tein needs are increased for women who are preg­nant or breast­feed­ing. In addi­tion, needs are also higher for very active per­sons. As these groups require addi­tional calo­ries, increased pro­tein needs can eas­ily be met through larger intake of food con­sumed daily. Extra serv­ing of legumes, tofu, meat sub­sti­tutes, or other high pro­tein sources can help meet needs that go beyond the cur­rent RDA.

So, it turns out that pro­tein defi­ciency is not really an issue in North Amer­ica. Actu­ally, there are dan­gers asso­ci­ated with too much pro­tein intake.

The Prob­lems with High-Protein Diets

High-protein diets for weight loss, dis­ease pre­ven­tion, and enhanced ath­letic per­for­mance have been greatly pub­li­cized over recent years. How­ever, these diets are sup­ported by lit­tle sci­en­tific research. Stud­ies show that the health­i­est diet is one that is high in car­bo­hy­drate, low in fat, and mod­er­ate in pro­tein. Increased intake of whole grains, fruits, and veg­eta­bles is rec­om­mended for weight con­trol and pre­vent­ing dis­eases such as can­cer and heart dis­ease. High-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein diets are also rec­om­mended for opti­mal ath­letic per­for­mance. Con­trary to the infor­ma­tion on fad diets cur­rently pro­moted by some pop­u­lar books, a diet that is high in pro­tein can actu­ally con­tribute to dis­ease and other health problems.

  • Osteo­poro­sis. High pro­tein intake is known to encour­age uri­nary cal­cium losses and has been shown to increase risk of frac­ture in research stud­ies. Plant-based diets, which pro­vide ade­quate pro­tein, can help pro­tect against osteo­poro­sis. Calcium-rich plant foods include leafy green veg­eta­bles, beans, and some nuts and seeds, as well as for­ti­fied fruit juices, cere­als, and non-dairy milks.
  • Can­cer. Although fat is the dietary sub­stance most often sin­gled out for increas­ing one’s risk for can­cer, ani­mal pro­tein also plays a role. Specif­i­cally, cer­tain pro­teins present in meat, fish, and poul­try, cooked at high tem­per­a­tures, espe­cially grilling and fry­ing, have been found to pro­duce com­pounds called het­e­ro­cyclic amines. These sub­stances have been linked to var­i­ous can­cers includ­ing those of the colon and breast. Long-term high intake of meat, par­tic­u­larly red meat, is asso­ci­ated with sig­nif­i­cantly increased risk of col­orec­tal can­cer. The 1997 report of the World Can­cer Research Fund and Amer­i­can Insti­tute for Can­cer Research, Food, Nutri­tion, and the Pre­ven­tion of Can­cer reported that, based on avail­able evi­dence, diets high in red meat were con­sid­ered prob­a­ble con­trib­u­tors to col­orec­tal can­cer risk. In addi­tion, high-protein diets are typ­i­cally low in dietary fiber. Fiber appears to be pro­tec­tive against can­cer. A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veg­eta­bles is impor­tant in decreas­ing can­cer risk, not to men­tion adding more health­ful sources of pro­tein in the diet.
  • Impaired Kid­ney Func­tion. When peo­ple eat too much pro­tein, it releases nitro­gen into the blood or is digested and metab­o­lized. This places a strain on the kid­neys, which must expel the waste through the urine. High-protein diets are asso­ci­ated with reduced kid­ney func­tion. Over time, indi­vid­u­als who con­sume very large amounts of pro­tein, par­tic­u­larly ani­mal pro­tein, risk per­ma­nent loss of kid­ney func­tion. Har­vard researchers reported recently that high-protein diets were asso­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cant decline in kid­ney func­tion, based on obser­va­tions in 1,624 women par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Nurses’ Health Study. The good news is that the dam­age was found only in those who already had reduced kid­ney func­tion at the study’s out­set. The bad news is that as many as one in four adults in the United States may already have reduced kid­ney func­tion, sug­gest­ing that most peo­ple who have renal prob­lems are unaware of that fact and do not real­ize that high-protein diets may put them at risk for fur­ther dete­ri­o­ra­tion. The kidney-damaging effect was seen only with ani­mal pro­tein. Plant pro­tein had no harm­ful effect.

The Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Fam­ily Physi­cians notes that high ani­mal pro­tein intake is largely respon­si­ble for the high preva­lence of kid­ney stones in the United States and other devel­oped coun­tries and rec­om­mends pro­tein restric­tion for the pre­ven­tion of recur­rent kid­ney stones.

  • Heart Dis­ease. Typ­i­cal high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cho­les­terol and sat­u­rated fat. The effect of such diets on blood cho­les­terol lev­els is a mat­ter of ongo­ing research. How­ever, such diets pose addi­tional risks to the heart, includ­ing increased risk for heart prob­lems imme­di­ately fol­low­ing a meal. Evi­dence indi­cates that meals high in sat­u­rated fat adversely affect the com­pli­ance of arter­ies, increas­ing the risk of heart attacks. Ade­quate pro­tein can be con­sumed through a vari­ety of plant prod­ucts that are cholesterol-free and con­tain only small amounts of fat.
  • Weight Loss Sab­o­tage. Many indi­vid­u­als see almost imme­di­ate weight loss as a result of fol­low­ing a high-protein diet. In fact, the weight loss is not a result of con­sum­ing more pro­tein, but by sim­ply con­sum­ing fewer calo­ries. Over the long run, con­sump­tion of this type of diet is not prac­ti­cal as it can result in the afore­men­tioned health prob­lems. As with any tem­po­rary diet, weight gain is often seen when pre­vi­ous eat­ing habits are resumed. To achieve per­ma­nent weight loss while pro­mot­ing opti­mal health, the best strat­egy involves lifestyle changes includ­ing a low-fat diet of grains, legumes, fruits, and veg­eta­bles com­bined with reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activity.

So what are good vegan sources of protein?

Pro­tein Check­list

High-protein diets are unhealthy. How­ever, ade­quate but not excess amounts of pro­tein to main­tain body tis­sues, includ­ing mus­cle, are still impor­tant and can be eas­ily achieved on a veg­e­tar­ian diet. If you are uncer­tain about the ade­quacy of pro­tein in your diet, take inven­tory. Although all pro­tein needs are indi­vid­ual, the fol­low­ing guide­lines can help you to meet, but not exceed, your needs.

  • Aim for 5 or more serv­ings of grains each day. This may include 1⁄2 cup of  hot cereal, 1 oz. of dry cereal, or 1 slice of bread. Each serv­ing con­tains roughly 3 grams of protein.
  • Aim for 3 or more serv­ings of veg­eta­bles each day. This may include 1 cup of raw veg­eta­bles, 1⁄2 cup of cooked veg­eta­bles, or 1⁄2 cup of veg­etable juice. Each serv­ing con­tains about 2 grams of protein.
  • Aim for 2 to 3 serv­ings of legumes each day. This may include 1⁄2 cup of cooked beans, 4 oz. of tofu or tem­peh, 8 oz. of soymilk, and 1 oz. of nuts. Pro­tein con­tent can vary sig­nif­i­cantly, par­tic­u­larly with soy and rice milks, so be sure to check labels. Each serv­ing may con­tain about 4 grams to 10 grams of pro­tein. Meat ana­logues and sub­sti­tutes are also great sources of pro­tein that can be added to your daily diet.

    Healthy Pro­tein Sources(in grams)

    • Black beans, boiled (1 cup) 15.2
    • Broc­coli (1 cup) 4.6
    • Bul­gur, cooked (1 cup) 5.6
    • Chick­peas, boiled (1 cup) 14.5
    • Lentils, boiled (1 cup) 17.9
    • Peanut but­ter (2 tbsp) 8.0
    • Quinoa, cooked (1 cup) 11.0
    • Sei­tan* (4 oz) 24.0
    • Spinach, boiled (1 cup) 5.4
    • Tem­peh (1/2 cup) 15.7
    • Tofu, firm (1/2 cup) 19.9
    • Whole wheat bread (1 slice) 2.7

    *A veg­e­tar­ian prod­uct made from wheat gluten; pro­tein value from manufacturer’s informationSource: J.A.T. Pen­ning­ton, Bowes and Church’s Food Val­ues of Por­tions Com­monly Used, 17th ed. (Philadel­phia: J.B. Lip­pin­cott, 1998). (Source: PCRM’s The Pro­tein Myth)


    Believe it or not, there are are lots of ath­letes and even body builders who have gone vegan and feel it’s bet­ter for their sport and mus­cle gain. A lot of them claim to have increased energy as a result of adopt­ing a plant based diet.

    Pro­fes­sional body builder and proud vegan Robert Cheeke works out on mus­cle beach:

    You can check out more info on him and other vegan body­builders at veganbodybuilding.com.

    Triathelete Bren­dan Bra­zier and for­mer Hockey player Georges Laraque are two other great exam­ples of healthy and fit vegans!

    Above: Bren­dan Brazier

    Above: Georges Laraque

    The idea that veg­ans aren’t get­ting enough pro­tein is slightly ridicu­lous as pro­tein defi­ciency is a non-issue in North Amer­ica. Here at oy vegan we call BS on the meat and dairy indus­try for putting this bogus myth about pro­tein into our minds. A plant based diet can deliver not only an ade­quate amount of pro­tein for a well bal­anced diet but a bet­ter, health­ier source of pro­tein with­out all the crappy sat­u­rated fat and cho­les­terol that meat and dairy prod­ucts contain.

    So here’s to Tofu, beans, spinach, grains and nuts! Not only are they tasty, they’re also great nat­ural sources of pro­tein for one and all.

    Oy Vegan!

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Happy Chinese New Year! Welcome the year of the Dragon!


Kung hei fat choi!

Wanted to share some great veg­gie Chi­nese recipes for the Chi­nese New Year! This year is the year of the dragon!

On new year’s day, it is cus­tom­ary to eat Jai, a Bud­dhist Chi­nese veg­e­tar­ian dish. Jai is meant to bring good luck for the com­ing year and is also served because veg­eta­bles cleanse the body. So true, so true! So on Mon­day, eat some Jai and get a fresh start on the year of the Dragon.

Restaurantbaby.com has a pretty awe­some recipe for Jai. You can also check out chow.com’s cook­ing with Grandma series below.


Other lucky foods to eat on the new year are:

• long noo­dles– the longer the bet­ter as they are sym­bolic of long life

• tan­ger­ines and oranges– these sym­bol­ize wealth and luck

• long leafy greens and long beans– these sym­bol­ize long life and luck for your parents

So, Kung hei fat choi every­one! Click here to see your Chi­nese Horo­scope for 2012– the year of the Dragon.

Oy vegan!





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veJEWtarian meet-up!

Just doing a last call to those who are inter­ested in attend­ing our Jew­ish veg­e­tar­ian and vegan group in Toronto. We’ll be meet­ing tonight at Sadie’s Diner. Can’t wait to see you all there!

Oy Vegan!

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New Year– NEW YOU!

It’s New Year’s eve!!!! If you’re like me, besides won­der­ing what you’ll be wear­ing to the NYE party you’ll be attend­ing tonight, you’ve been mak­ing New Year’s res­o­lu­tions for 2012.

So, as 2011 draws to a close, why not make a res­o­lu­tion to adopt a health­ier, more envi­ron­men­tally friendly, more com­pas­sion­ate diet for 2012?!

There are many ways of tran­si­tion­ing into veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and veganism.

• The Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Asso­ci­a­tion has its Veg­gie Chal­lenge. Go veg­gie for a week! The TVA will send you  e-mails with tips, daily meal plans and recipes, and other help­ful info to get you on the road to veggie-dom.

• You can also go veg with the leg­endary Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. who I hap­pened to hear speak in Toronto a few months ago. PCRM (Physi­cians Com­mit­tee for Respon­si­ble Med­i­cine) have cre­ated the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

So if you’ve been think­ing about it, what bet­ter time to start than the New Year?! This goes for non-veggies inter­ested in becom­ing vegetarian/vegan AND veg­e­tar­i­ans that are inter­ested in becom­ing vegan. If I did it, so can you!

Here is the TVA’s top 10 list of rea­sons to go veg:

Top 10 rea­sons to go vegetarian

1. Lower dis­ease risk  Such as heart dis­ease, many types of can­cer, dia­betes, high blood pres­sure, stroke, food poi­son­ing, obe­sity… Veg­e­tar­i­ans pass up flesh foods that are high in cho­les­terol and sat­u­rated fat, and lack­ing in dietary fibre. Plant foods on the other hand con­tain antiox­i­dants and a vari­ety of phy­to­chem­i­cals that pro­tect against disease.

2. Live longer  A major study pub­lished in the British Med­ical Jour­nal found that veg­e­tar­i­ans out­live meat eaters by six years. The study tracked 11,125 peo­ple over 12 years and adjusted for smok­ing and socio-economic status.

3. Com­pas­sion  You won’t be sup­port­ing an indus­try that raises ani­mals in cramped, over­crowded spaces, arti­fi­cially breeds them, sep­a­rates them from their young, denies them sun­light and fresh air – and then trucks them to slaughter.

4. Save wilder­ness  Meat pro­duc­tion requires huge amounts of land, energy and water – which leads to habi­tat loss, soil ero­sion, water deple­tion, and pol­lu­tion from pes­ti­cides and ani­mal waste.

5. For an ocean of love The oceans are being over­fished, coral reefs are being destroyed and sen­si­tive seafloors are get­ting raked with drag nets. Many species are threat­ened, includ­ing dol­phins, seabirds and tur­tles that get snagged in the nets. Fish feel pain, they just lack vocal chords to express it.

6. Expand your taste hori­zons    Veg­e­tar­ian meals can be diverse, fast, colour­ful and delicious!

7. Sex  Research has shown that the heart and brain are not the only organs that get clogged arter­ies due to a diet high in meat and cholesterol.

8. No more dirty dishes caked with ani­mal grease.

9. Great excuse to…  avoid every­thing from Aunt Flo’s ham­burger casse­role to the lat­est greasy offer from the fast food chains.

10. Win cool prizes Enter the Veg­gie Chal­lenge!

Veg­e­tar­i­ans have the best diet…they have a frac­tion of our heart attack rate and they have only 40 per­cent of our can­cer rate. On aver­age, they out­live other peo­ple by about six years now.
– William Castelli,
MD Fram­ing­ham Heart Study


Oy Vegan!


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Top 5 Hanukkah Recipes!

Wowweee! It’s been a whirl­wind Hanukkah sea­son! I thought I would take a moment to big up some deli­cious vegan Hanukkah recipes for those of you who are won­der­ing what the heck you can eat at your fam­ily and friends’ gatherings.

1. Latkes– OBVIOUSLY! Check out my recipe below!

Jamie’s Vegan Latkes


1 1/2 pounds of organic potatoes

3 large yel­low onions

3 or 4 large car­rots (optional)

Hand­ful of  fresh pars­ley (3 or 4 table­spoons chopped)

Fresh or dried thyme (2 table­spoons) (optional)

1/3 cup of spelt flour

1/2 tea­spoon of bak­ing powder

1 tea­spoon of egg-replacer in an egg’s worth of warm water

Salt and pepper

Organic Canola Oil


Pre­heat the oven to 250 degrees F. After you’re done fry­ing them, you can keep the latkes warm in a casse­role dish or on an oven safe plate until they are ready to be eaten.

Peel pota­toes and grate them. Remove outer skin from onions and coarsely chop in a food proces­sor or grate. Peel and grate car­rots. Place pota­toes, onions, car­rots, flour, bak­ing pow­der, salt, pep­per, pars­ley and thyme in a large bowl and mix together. In a sep­a­rate lit­tle bowl, mix egg replacer in about 2 table­spoons of warm water. Mix until all the egg replacer has dis­solved. Pour mix­ture onto latke bat­ter and combine.

Put a fry­ing pan over medium high heat and wait until the pan is thor­oughly heated before pour­ing canola oil. Tip: to ensure the latkes won’t stick, let the pan heat up for 3– 4 min­utes before pour­ing the oil in.

Splash some oil in the pan (enough to cover the bot­tom of the pan). Use a table­spoon to scoop out latke mix­ture and drop into pan. Watch out as the oil is hot! Repeat with how­ever many latkes you can fit into the pan depend­ing on its size. Let fry for 2–3 min­utes or until golden brown then flip and let them fry on the other side for 2–3 min­utes. Repeat with rest of the latke bat­ter until you’ve use it all up. You will need to keep adding more oil to the pan as needed.

I like to put out a sheet of paper towel to place my cooked latkes on to absorb the oil while I’m fry­ing the rest of the bat­ter. Then I place them in a casse­role dish and throw them in the oven until peo­ple are ready to nosh!

2. Vegan Sour Cream.- (Note: recipe at the bot­tom of page– under taco salad recipe)

3. Apple­sauce

4. Maple Roasted Brus­sels Sprouts

5. Rugelach- I use Rasp­berry Jam instead of Apri­cot– feel free to sub­sti­tute nuts as well! ( I also don’t use raisins– it’s really up to you)


Enjoy your Hanukkah! Here at Oy Vegan, we want to wish you a new year filled with miracles!

Oy Vegan!





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Oy Vegan takes London! Restaurant Review: Manna

Here it is! The final install­ment of Lon­don restau­rant reviews. We did visit some oth­ers while we were there, but these were the best!

It just so hap­pens that the old­est vegan estab­lish­ment in Lon­don is also the best! Manna has been open for forty-five years accord­ing to the owner, whom I chat­ted with after my meal. You wouldn’t know it from the looks of it. The décor is mod­ern and upscale. And the food is… well, superb.

We came for brunch with friends and were so impressed that we came again that evening for din­ner with dif­fer­ent friends! For brunch I ordered a full tra­di­tional Eng­lish break­fast. It was lovely. It came with beans, fried mush­rooms, scram­bled tofu, grilled toma­toes and pota­toes. It was hearty and well sea­soned. A great way to start a full day of sight­see­ing downtown!

Above: Tra­di­tional Eng­lish Breakfast

Then we couldn’t resist order­ing dessert. We ordered the banof­fee tri­fle which is a pop­u­lar British dessert. This tri­fle was com­posed of cubes of dark choco­late cake, bananas, sliced almonds, tof­fee sauce, and cus­tard. It was all topped with whipped cream. If you served this to a non-vegan, they would have no idea. It was amaz­ing. It also hap­pens to be gluten free!

Above: banof­fee trifle

Later, for din­ner, we ordered a vari­ety of dishes. For starters we ordered the spiced jerk tofu, plan­tain & sweet potato kebab and the raw maki rolls. Both were delight­ful. I espe­cially like the wasabi pea coulis driz­zled all over the plate that accom­pa­nied the maki rolls. The jerk tofu was well sea­soned and the plan­tain was scrumptious.

Above: Raw Maki Rolls — raw ‘riced’ parsnip, car­rots, beet­root, and avo­cado, served with tamari, pick­led gin­ger and wasabi pea coulis

For our mains, we ordered the root veg­etable tagine, the organic spaghetti and veat­balls, the chef’s spe­cial pasta and the ravi­oli, which I ordered. The ravi­oli were big­ger and fried. They were stuffed with wal­nut and wild mush­room paté and cov­ered in a fen­nel cream sauce. They were deli­cious.  I also tried the other dishes. I espe­cially like the chef’s spe­cial pasta. It was in a cream sauce as well with fresh yel­low bell peppers.

Above: root veg­etable tagine — served in a roasted pump­kin bowl, topped with bean curd sesame falafel, warm quinoa & pis­ta­chio tabouleh, harissa & minted yoghurt and pitta bread

Above: organic pasta of the day

Above: organic spaghetti & veatballs

Above: ravi­oli — a crisped ravi­oli filled with wild mush­room & wal­nut pâté with fen­nel cream sauce, sun­dried tomato pesto & bal­samic reduction

Finally, we were stuffed but we couldn’t resist order­ing dessert. We ordered the fruit salad and the petits fours. The fruit was super fresh and flavour­ful and the soy based vanilla ice cream was delec­table. The choco­late truf­fles were rich and deca­dent. I was espe­cially impressed with the Ital­ian style almond cook­ies. Some had a bit of pre­serves and oth­ers were plain. The con­sis­tency of the cook­ies were fab­u­lous. They were chewy and per­fectly sweet. A great way to end an incred­i­ble meal.

Above: Fruit salad with vanilla vice cream

Above: Petits Fours– a plate of truf­fles, choco­lates & small biscuits

You can read more of Manna’s menu here.

The friends we brought for din­ner are non-vegetarians/ veg­ans and they were rav­ing about the food. They said they wanted to come and bring other friends. This is what good upscale vegan din­ing can do. Manna is the per­fect place to bring non-veggies and impress the heck outta them. Any­thing to make the lifestyle more attrac­tive is a great in my opinion!

Manna was the per­fect end­ing to our stay and I highly rec­om­mend it to any­one and every­one vis­it­ing Lon­don in the future. We need more restau­rants like this in Canada and around the world. Let’s knock the culi­nary socks off non-veggies and show them what vegan eat­ing can really be: deca­dent, ele­vated, and healthful.

Oy Vegan!

Manna is located at 4 Ersk­ine Road, Prim­rose Hill, London

Clos­est tube sta­tion: Chalk Farm

Hours: Tues-Sun 6:30pm-10:30pm/ Sat-Sun 12-3pm

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Oy Vegan takes London! Restaurant Review: Itadaki Zen

Japan­ese food and the term ‘vegan’ aren’t com­monly uttered in the same sen­tence. When I was in Japan last year, it was quite dif­fi­cult to find food that didn’t have fish in it in some form or another. So it might sur­prise you to know that in the heart of Lon­don, near King’s Cross tube sta­tion there exists a Japan­ese restau­rant that is com­pletely organic and vegan!

Itadaki Zen  even sources its veg­eta­bles from its own organic farm just out­side of Lon­don. We went there on a Fri­day evening when the city was really buzzing. After being seated, I was delighted to read their mis­sion state­ment as a vegan organic restau­rant on the first page of their menu. You can read more about their vision here.

There were many options rang­ing from tra­di­tional Japan­ese food to a few Korean options such as home­made Chap che (sweet potato glass noo­dles with veg­eta­bles and shi­take mush­rooms). I regret not order­ing it as it looked really deli­cious when I saw it come to our neigh­bour­ing table.

We ended up order­ing a num­ber of items à la carte instead of choos­ing one of their set menus (which looked tasty as well). I started off with Miso soup and we shared a salad.

Above: Tofu steaks with spe­cial sauce and salad with seaweed.

Then we ordered Tofu Steak in Yangyeom (a spe­cial home­made sauce) and assorted veg­etable and sea­weed tem­pura. We also ordered an assorted sushi plate and an udon bowl. Both were delicious.

Above: Assorted veg­etable and sea­weed tempura.

Each dish was expertly sea­soned. You could tell that they use fresh organic qual­ity ingre­di­ents. There was a beau­ti­ful sim­plic­ity to the dishes that let the ingre­di­ents speak for themselves.

Above: cucum­ber and mush­room assorted sushi

Above: Kabocha (Japan­ese pump­kin), jujube and chest­nut cake with vanilla tofu cream.

Lastly, we indulged in a dessert. Usu­ally, I don’t get dessert at Japan­ese restau­rants, but the Itadaki Zen muf­fin descrip­tion looked too good. I’m so glad we got it. It was del­i­cate and divine. The pump­kin cake was won­der­ful, not overly sweet which I appre­ci­ate, and the tofu vanilla cream was the per­fect accompaniment.

All in all, Itadaki Zen is a must for any veg­head in Lon­don. Read more of their menu here. The ambi­ence was lovely, the ser­vice was great and the food was top notch.

Oy Vegan!

Itadaki Zen is located at 139 King’s cross Road, London

Hours: Mon-Thu 18:00-22:00/ Fri,Sat 18:00–22:30

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Happy Thanksliving

In Canada, we already cel­e­brated our Thanks­giv­ing in Octo­ber. How­ever, I want to take this oppor­tu­nity to wish all my south­ern neigh­bours a Happy Thanks­giv­ing… or should I say Thanksliv­ing.

While Amer­i­cans gather together with fam­ily and friends on this day of thanks and boun­teous food, I think it’s impor­tant to con­sider just where this food came from. The first thing peo­ple asso­ciate with Thanks­giv­ing is, in most cases, Turkey. In fact, you’ve prob­a­bly heard or even said “Happy Turkey Day!” your­self at some point.

 My friends at Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary 2010

Turkeys, in my expe­ri­ence, are extremely friendly and intel­li­gent birds. I hap­pened to meet some on my visit to Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary last year. They came right up to me with warm greet­ings when I arrived. I was bowled over by how friendly and socia­ble they were. Not just with each other but with people!

After our visit, I was touched by my expe­ri­ence with the turkeys and dis­turbed that the the word turkey is almost syn­ony­mous with food on Thanks­giv­ing. If only peo­ple knew more about turkeys then they might not be so quick to eat them on Thanksgiving.

Thank­fully, every year Farm Sanc­tu­ary cel­e­brates a turkey-free Thanks­giv­ing feast and encour­ages peo­ple to Adopt-A-Turkey.  Through this pro­gram peo­ple can save a turkey by spon­sor­ing it with a one time dona­tion of $30. Farm Sanc­tu­ary has res­cued over 1,000 turkeys since 1996. This pro­gram also seeks to edu­cate peo­ple on the sit­u­a­tion fac­ing turkeys today such as fac­tory farm­ing con­di­tions and facts about turkeys as a species.


National shel­ter direc­tor of Farm Sanc­tu­ary, Susie Cos­ton, shares her top 10 facts about turkeys:

Susie Coston’s Top 10 Fas­ci­nat­ing Facts about Farm Sanctuary’s Res­cued Turkeys

  1. Between 1965 and 2000, the weight of the aver­age turkey raised for food in the U.S. increased by 57 per­cent, from an aver­age of 18 pounds to an aver­age of 28.2 pounds, pre­vent­ing commercially-raised turkeys from per­form­ing their nat­ural behav­iors and caus­ing them to suf­fer from crip­pling foot and leg problems.
  1. Wild turkeys, who weigh between 8–18 pounds, are able to fly up to 55 miles an hour, but turkeys raised for meat on fac­tory farms are so large they can’t even perch. When turkeys arrive at Farm Sanctuary’s shel­ters, they attempt to perch and even fly until they are too large to do so.
  1. Indus­trial turkeys’ unnat­ural weight causes many health prob­lems, includ­ing heart dis­ease, heart attack, and arthri­tis, at as young as one month of age. At our sanc­tu­ar­ies, we have to feed our turkeys res­cued from indus­trial farms a restricted diet to ensure that they will live long, healthy lives, oth­er­wise they will gain even more weight than the aver­ages listed previously.
  1. Turkeys rec­og­nize each other by their unique voices. Researchers have iden­ti­fied nearly 30 dis­tinct vocal­iza­tions in wild turkeys.
  1. Like dogs and cats, turkeys are highly intel­li­gent and emo­tional ani­mals who show great affec­tion to oth­ers and form strong social bonds with other turkeys in their flock that last a lifetime.
  1. Turkeys have excel­lent geog­ra­phy skills and can learn the spe­cific details of an area of more than 1,000 acres.
  1. On fac­tory farms, turkeys fre­quently have the ends of their beaks and toes cut off with­out anes­the­sia — prac­tices know as debeaking and detoe­ing — to pre­vent them from injur­ing one another as they are crowded by the thou­sands into dark, filthy warehouses.
  1. Com­pletely unlike their wild ances­tors not only in terms of physique but also in hue, most com­mer­cial turkeys are totally white — the nat­ural bronze color selec­tively bred out of them to elim­i­nate uneven pig­ment col­orations — because of con­sumer pref­er­ence for even flesh tones.
  1. Cater­ing to con­sumer pref­er­ences for “white meat,” the indus­try has selec­tively bred turkeys to have abnor­mally large breasts. This anatom­i­cal manip­u­la­tion makes it impos­si­ble for male turkeys to nat­u­rally mate with females, elim­i­nat­ing these birds’ abil­ity to repro­duce with­out arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion. As a result, arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion is now the sole means of repro­duc­tion on fac­tory farms, where breeder birds are con­fined for months on end.
  1. Turkeys, like all ani­mals, love life and want noth­ing more than to live free from fear and pain. Yet turkeys, along with other poul­try, are not pro­tected by the fed­eral Humane Slaugh­ter Act. Every year, more than 46 mil­lion turkeys are killed, fre­quently with­out first being stunned, for Thanks­giv­ing dinners.

(Taken from Farm Sanctuary’s Novem­ber 23, 2010 press release.)



For earth and animal-friendly turkey sub­sti­tutes for your Thanks­giv­ing table click here!

When I went to visit Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary this past Octo­ber, I was sad­dened to find out that the turkeys that had whole­heart­edly greeted me in 2010 had passed. Turkeys are bred to have large breasts as this is the part of them that is in high­est demand for non-veggies. As a result, turkeys that are lucky enough to live out their lives end up hav­ing heart prob­lems among other issues. I was told that some­thing called the “flip” hap­pens. The “flip” is when their breasts become too large and they flip over on to them and die. When I heard this was the fate of my beau­ti­ful friends, I was truly upset. I had really looked for­ward to see­ing them again.

So on this day of thanks, let’s take a sec­ond and be thank­ful for all the crea­tures on this planet. Let’s instead eat some Tofurky with mush­room gravy while we hon­our all those we are grate­ful for.

Here’s to the turkeys! What an amaz­ing bird. If you get a chance to inter­act or hang out with one, I would highly rec­om­mend it. Happy Thanksliv­ing!

Oy Vegan!

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