Eating Out As Vegans….

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One of the biggest challenges as vegans is finding restaurants that cater to our special diet. We have to say we are lucky to be living in a city like Montreal, that is pretty open-minded to folk like us.

Here are our favourite places to eat out:

1) Aux Vivres

This place is paradise for vegans. If you look at their menu, you will be amazed at the diversity they offer. The portions are HUGE, and you won’t break the bank either. When we first tried the place, we were suspicious as to how filling their meals really are… Don’t let the fact it’s all veggie fool you. Look at their Dragon Bowl:

In this, you’ve got: grilled tofu, shredded carrots, beet, and red cabbage, daikon, sprouts, organic brown rice, and their famous Dragon Sauce (sesame-based; can’t say much else!). The bowl is HUGE and it’s only $11.95, and I promise you that you will leave the place full. In a future post, we will talk about their delicious fresh chapati bread with veggie butter (my favourite snack!) and amazing desserts.

2) Indian Express

We’ve been faithful customers of this small restaurant ever since we moved to NDG and these guys never let us down. Of course, they offer non-vegan items on their menu but we can tell you that the veggie-friendly stuff we’ve had here was nothing short of amazing. If you tell them in advance, they can make “butter tofu” and replace the cream by coconut milk. I wish I saved the photo, cause this was even better than when I’d have butter chicken! Our new favourite meal from this restaurant is called Chana Masala, and it’s basically chick peas and potatoes in a tasty curry sauce.

With a little bit of raw red onion on top, this was just amazing! Oh and it’s ridiculously cheap. You can get a lot for $20 for 2 people. They have amazing veggie samosas!

3) Burritoville

This is the very place I had my first date with my now husband, and it will always have a special place in my heart. The entire restaurant is vegetarian, fair-trade and organic, and you can easily get a vegan meal by removing the cheese or replacing it by something else (sweet potatoes or guacamole). My favourite thing to get there is the Sweet Potato Burrito (minus the cheese of course ;)) and when in season, their soups are to kill for! It’s also quite affordable when you think that it’s all organic and fair-trade, and taxes are included in the price. No photo unfortunately!

4) Agostini

Family-owned Italian restaurant in NDG, where you are always greeted nicely by an energetic elderly woman. She’s adorable. They have amazing pasta and salads! I do not have a photo of food to show you for this one, but it’s quite good and inexpensive!

There are other restaurants we have yet to try… We will post more restaurant reviews as we try new places! Stay tuned!

Zesty Marinara Crispy Chick’n Filets by gardein

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If there is ONE product that proved to me I don’t miss meat, it’s these crispy chick’n filets by gardein. Oh. My. God!

When I got them out of the oven, my kitchen smelled like real chicken filets. Except that was no chicken! The patties are made mostly of soy, veggies, oils, and spices. The breading is made from wheat flour, sugar, yeast, leavening, and paprika.

These filets were perfectly crispy and tasted like heaven. A meat eater could be fooled! However, I found the patties a bit small (kind of the same size as a burger patty), and if you do the math, they were about $1.50 each, which is a bit on the expensive side. Matthew and I had 2 each, and I know for me I would have eaten more. Also, I was not a big fan of the marinara sauce, as I found the filets tastier on their own. It did make for a little treat, and we will definitely have them again!

Raspberry-Flavoured Cultured Almond Milk by Amande

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I saw this product awhile back and was extremely curious about it. I had tried cultured coconut milk in the past, but my problem with it was the coconut aftertaste that took over. The vanilla flavour with the coconut did not mix too well, and was way too strong. Since I loved yogurt back when I ate dairy, I was looking for something that would really replace it, without some kind of aftertaste.

Well, I think I found it. Amande (French for almond) is a company that produces cultured almond milk. If you take a look at their website, they have a few flavours. I loved raspberry yogurt so I saw raspberry-flavoured cultured almond milk and decided to give it a try. The great thing with Amande is that it’s (obviously) vegan, dairy free, gluten free, no GMO, fruit juice sweetened and has 6 live active cultures (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum).

My verdict? Absolutely delicious! Since it is sweetened with fruit juice, it wasn’t overly sweet, which I really enjoyed. It had a little bit of a nutty taste, which is to be expected since it IS cultured almond milk, after all – however, it was not overpowering like the cultured coconut milk I had. I am very curious to try the other flavours listed on their website, such as blueberry, peach, and plain.

I will be buying it again for sure!

We’re Back…Again!

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Hi guys!

Just a quick note to let you all know we aren’t dead! Matthew and I, Andree-Anne, the people behind Vegan Muffin, got married last week and we’ve been incredibly busy with preparations and stuff and so we didn’t have time to post reviews on here. We should be back next week with more updates!

Stay tuned!

Almond Grain Burger by Sol Cuisine

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Ever since having gone vegan, I’ve tried quite a few meatless burgers. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘fake meat’, and thankfully, most kinds aren’t plain soy or some processed crap.

So I was passing by one of my favourite vegan-friendly grocery stores, Fleur Sauvage, and decided to take a look at their vegan burger patties. Then this one kind caught my attention:

I think what caught my eye was ‘Almond’. I went to look at the ingredients, and this looked quite interesting:

Organic Spelt, Organic Whole Soybeans, Organic Okara, Almond Butter, Filtered Water, Carrots, Onions, Green Lentils, Tomato Powder, Organic Amaranth, Olive Oil, Tapioca Starch, Almonds, Sea Salt, Dried Inactive Engevita Yeast, Spice, Modified Cellulose, Dehydrated Garlic, Xanthan Gum.

Yep, almond butter was all it took to get me to buy it!

These patties are frozen. No need to defrost before cooking them. I made them on the stove top since I was too lazy to start the barbecue.

The verdict? I think we have a winner here. They were the best burgers we’ve had so far, by a landslide! It tasted ‘fresh’ and rich, the blend of spices and ingredients was delightful. Did I taste the almond butter? Nope. It was still really really good!

Doctor Approved!

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So yesterday I had my first doctor’s appointment since I went vegan. As a good patient, I told my doctor because that’s usually what you do when you make a big change in your lifestyle.

I was a little apprehensive since some doctors seem against veganism, but mine was genuinely happy for me! She also noticed how my skin looked much clearer and that I looked more energetic. I also mentioned to her that my seasonal allergies have been much, much milder this year, and I was wondering if it could be due to my new diet. I was told it’s entirely possible. Just to give you an idea, last year, I suffered from seasonal allergies from March to late October. 7 months is a long time and does not feel so good. Now this year, my allergies only started at the end of July, which coincides with ragweed allergy season. It’s not too bad either, since I don’t feel miserable.

She also asked about my full-body rashes that I would get randomly. I told her that as soon as I dropped dairy off my diet, that they disappeared instantly. She confirmed that many people have an hypersensitivity to dairy products. Dairy also made me sleepy, and since I cut it out, I feel like I have more energy.

So now I can safely say that my vegan diet has officially made me healthier!

Cheddar Style Wedge Daiya Cheese

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Hi dear readers! I wish to apologize for another 2 months without any updates… As I might not have mentioned, Matthew Saliba and I are getting married in 40 days from today, and the preparation has kept the both of us very busy.

Here is a vegan food review of the Cheddar Style Wedge cheese by Daiya:

As much as I loved their shredded Mozzarella flavoured cheese, this one was a huge let down. First of all, the product was slippery and glossy, something I found kind of odd for wedge cheese. I still went ahead and cut a slice to try it, and see if it would taste somewhat close to what I remember cheddar tasting…

It was awful. The taste reminded me more of processed cheese (you know, Kraft Singles?), but with a strong after taste. I can’t point out exactly what it was, but I had to spit it out. This wedge just cost me $5 and I was very disappointed. And if I want processed cheese, I can name at least one rice-based product that was much better than this one. Such a shame though, because I had my hopes up for a Daiya product.

I might try the Havarti flavour with jalapeño and garlic, because then at least I would assume the cheese flavour wouldn’t be as strong, but I might be wrong again.

Stay tuned for more vegan food/recipes and reviews! While you are at it, why don’t you check out my fiance’s blog, THE CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT? I would love you forever! :)

(Almost) 6 months of being vegan!

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Yep, Matthew and I started our vegan journey on January 1st, 2012. Although we cheated a little (no more than 2-3 times – HONEST!), I can say we have done good.

What I’m most proud of:

  • I lost 17 pounds. I was sitting at 119 lbs last winter (and fluctuating between 113 lbs and 119 lbs all the time), and I’m now at 102 lbs. My weight seems to be stable now.
  •  I eat less junk food and candy, which contributed to all that lost weight. I actually feel sick if I only have a couple of fries from McDonald’s. No kidding. Most candy has gelatin… I was an avid candy eater. It was very bad.
  • I’ve become a great cook. Going vegan means you often have to cook your own sauces and other stuff since you have to find replacements. This has also probably contributed to my losing weight. It’s also very rewarding when you have people over and they want another serving of your curry lentils.
  • No more full-body rash. My chiropractor had told me many years ago that I was allergic to dairy, and I didn’t believe him. Cutting off all dairy in my diet not only got me rid of that rash that would occur every day (since I loved dairy!), but I also feel less bloated and incidentally, my belly is almost all gone.
  • My mom claims my skin has gotten ever clearer. I haven’t really noticed, but I do get less pimples once a month.
  • I’ve upped my consumption of veggies and fruit. I try to make smoothies as much as possible. Recently, my favourite mix was half a banana, 2 cups (at least) of spinach, 1 cup of orange juice, and many blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries (probably 3-4 cups, not sure, I never count these things!). You can’t even taste the spinach, and it still provides you lots of calcium, iron, and vitamins A & C.

It would be hard to go back to being an omnivore, or even an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I’m used to being vegan now, and it feels great!

Long-due entry

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A lot has been going on since we last posted an entry… We have been very busy planning our wedding and everything. There’s only 3 months to go, and I wish we had more time left!

Anyhow, our vegan lifestyle has been challenged. It was my birthday last month and we went to this amazing hotel in Old Montreal and we had a blast. They offered free breakfast at the restaurant, which was pretty sweet. However… When looking at the menu, NOTHING was vegan, maybe except toast.

We decided to do a test to see how our bodies would react to animal products. I had an omelette, and Matthew had eggs as well if I remember correctly.

It didn’t take long until we started feeling sick, bloated, and just plain weird. Not sure if this was psychological or not, but we definitely felt less good than usual. I also had a rash, due to the dairy in my omelette.

Moral of the story? We will never cheat again! Well actually, that isn’t true. I am very ashamed to admit we cheated once or twice more. I had honey with lemon herbal tea to treat my sore throat, and Matthew had chicken wings once. But boy, he got really sick afterwards…

As for me, I am a bit on the fence about honey. I’m not a big fan of it, but I don’t believe it should be avoided like dairy and eggs and such. Also, I could have probably replaced it with agave syrup, but the problem is that it doesn’t have the antibacterial and antiseptic properties honey has.

Anyhow, on a completely different topic, a good friend made me discover about a vegan blog/recipe website, Fatfree Vegan. It’s like a goldmine! Most of the recipes are ultra simple and I cannot wait to try them out! Only reason right now I can’t is that it’s way too damn hot right now and a lot of cooking/baking is entirely out of the question, obviously.

Which is why I’ve been drinking smoothies a lot lately, and eating light meals like salads mostly. I kind of want it to get a bit cooler so I can start cooking again.

So there you have it folks! We will be posting more, so stay tuned! I plan to try a lot of recipes from that site!

Shout-out

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We, at Vegan Muffin, would like to give a shout-out to a Montreal-based animal shelter. We adopted Quagmire, a beautiful white with black spots kitten, from Petits Pawz. They are located in Verdun, Montreal, and are a no-kill shelter. Pets live with foster families (they are always looking for more, by the way), and not in a cage, until they are adopted.

I have several photos of Quagmire:

This little cutie was found in a hoarder’s small apartment along with 35 other cats, including a couple of mom cats giving birth at the same time. Most of them ate their babies, but Quagmire is the sole survivor of his litter. He went to a foster home at the age of 2 days old! The shelter found the mom a few months later. He is now 7 months old, and he has fully adapted to our home. It took a few days to adjust, because he had been with his foster mommy for over 6 months, but he’s turned out to be a great companion, just like his adoptive sister Munchkin. There was a bit of hissing in the beginning, a sometimes when they play, but they seem to get along just fine.

Having 2 cats keeps it very alive, and we actually couldn’t get much sleep for awhile because they were very active at night! It’s gotten better over the past couple days since we close the door to our bedroom and they seem to now understand that it’s our place and time to sleep. Usually by 4-5am they get hungry and we feed them and let the door open, and they are a lot mellower and sleep on the bed with us.

But they also keep each other company, and I think it makes it much easier. We are so very proud of our fur babies. :) Petits Pawz is an amazing shelter, so if you are looking to adopt a cat in the Montreal area, you should look them up.