This was my first time ever serving our vegan cheeses in a barn! But everything came together nicely and folks seemed to enjoy themselves. There was live music, and dancing, and lots of animal cuddling.
The local musicians were fantastic and included: Tim Fors, Raven Murphy, John Lemme, James Buren, Rob Wakelin and Chris Saunders. They set a great tone for the event and kept our toes tapping and our hearts warm!
Mother nature cooperated and the rain stopped long enough for everyone to stay fairly dry!
The vegan wine and cheese fundraiser was a huge success on all counts! Tickets sold out in advance, the barnyard was packed with eager animal lovers and almost $2500 was raised to help care for the animals of Farmhouse Garden.
A great big thank you to everyone that took the time out of their busy schedules to come together to enjoy some vegan wine and cheese and who dug into their pockets to generously support the animals despite the cold temperatures.
If you missed the event and would like to show your support to Farmhouse Gardens Animal Home, I encourage you to visit their website.
I know this might sound crazy, but I LOVE food. I know - strange coming from the crazy cheese lady... but I think I spend more time thinking about food than anything else.
So of course, when our schedule takes us away, one of the great adventures is to seek out exciting new places that involve.... you guessed it! Food.
This weekend I strategically arranged my schedule to take us out towards Québec City. I spent Friday afternoon/evening at Super Marché Avril in Lévis (which opened in May of 2015) and Saturday afternoon at Avril in Québec City which hasn't even been open a year yet. Both beautiful stores boast 20 000 square feet packed with healthy goodies, including Zengarry Fauxmages of course! I also discovered a stash of discontinued Gardein products amongst their stock. AND both stores host an on site Crudessance counter for all your raw vegan takeout needs!
On our way out to Lévis on Friday we stopped in Sainte-Hyacinthe and searched out a little vegan mecca called La Vie La Vie. Owned and operated by Joe Omobono and his family, this gem is a true labor of love and you can taste it in every bite.
It took Joe and his son 8 months to put this place together with their own hands. The delightfully modern industrial space is home to a vegan market, selling many vegan goodies that can't be found elsewhere in town, a take-out counter and a sit down restaurant.
This place is worth the trip and if it had been open on Sunday we would have stopped on our way home as well. The food is imaginative and intensely flavourful. AND you can even get a Fauxmage platter featuring some of Zengarry's Specialty flavours including Fauxmage Bleu and Pub Cheddar!
For lunch I enjoyed the Tex Mex Casserole with beans, corn and other veggies in a Mexican style sauce topped with melted 'cheese' and served with try-coloured nachos.
Francis ordered the 'meatloaf' in a vegetable ragout with carrots, edamame and mushrooms with herbs and maple syrup. We were both super impressed and the prices are incredibly reasonable.
Not surprisingly there was a very happy crowd here the whole time we were there. And Joe and his crew really make you feel like family.
After my demo on Friday night we had made reservations to eat at Le Soixante 5 in Lévis. It's housed in a beautiful space with exposed brick on one of the oldest streets in Lévis leading down to the water.
After a long day of travel and demoing, the impressive wine list was a welcome treat. Not that I am a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination!
We ordered the Table d'hôte which was served with a choice of soup (corn and coriander bisque) or salad (kale with chickpeas). Francis ordered the Barley Risotto with Mushrooms which was wonderful and I went with the Fettucini de Mer with seaweed and King Oyster Mushrooms. Yum. Dessert was also included with the Table d'hôte. Unfortunately the romantic ambiance did not lend itself well to food photography.
We had to head home bright and early on Sunday, so unfortunatley we didn't have time to do any more food related exploring. That will have to wait until the next adventure. And I am hopeful that the choices will continue to grow. I have yet to find a vegan restaurant in Québec City, but one day I will. And I'll be sure to tell you all about it!!
I'd like to introduce you to my newest babies. I'm not crazy enough to have given all my plants names, but I do think of them as my babies. I talk to them, check on them incessently and worry at the first sign of wilting.
This newest Zengarry adventure is our Living Wall Project.
I am in the process of learning to be hydroponic farmer, under the close supervision of Eric Bergeron and the team from Smart Greens.
I'm definitely not an expert yet, but I am learning all about nutrient requirements, hydroponics, light cycles and organic seed coatings!!
So far we have installed two of these ZipGrow Farm Wall units (see below) in our new vegan cheese production facility. They are right up front so you can see them when you pop in to visit us!
Getting a reliable source of fresh basil year around has proven to be a bit of an adventure for us here in rural Ontario, and I have always dreamed of being able to grow our herbs locally. Being in Canada, that obviously presents it's challenges.
Last summer I planted some basil, parsley and jalapeños in the garden and we did use some of this fresh produce in our cheeses, but it was not even close to being enough to meet our growing demands.
This new up and coming indoor hydroponic technology is giving me hope though!
The amazing folks from SmartGreens in Cornwall, Ontario, are doing great things with hydroponics and are even adapting the freight farm technology to be better suited to our chilly Canadian winters!! This can allow fresh produce to be grown in even the Northernmost communities which would not usually have access to produce this fresh!
So far, most of the ZipGrow Walls sold have been for home use. Ours is the first commercial application here in Canada, and I consider us pretty lucky to be able to participate in this innovative indoor farming pilot project!
Our first harvest was a great success. We were able to harvest 26 ounces of basil from one of our ZipGrow units! This fresh basil was picked right before use at the peak of freshness! I hope you will be able to taste this freshness in every bite of our Sundried Tomato and Basil Cashew Cheese!
Part of the beauty of this technology is that we use no pesticides, no packaging, we know exactly where it's been and who's been in contact with it and it only has to be transported a few meters to our production room!! Great news for the planet!
We cannot overlook the beauty of being able to watch these plants grow and thrive in our living wall as we carefully nurture them to maturity. It brings a vibrant energy and earthiness to the space, and the scent of basil in my office is just a bonus!
Pasta dishes have always been a staple in my diet. It's my personal go-to comfort food. But not just any old noodle will do, it needs to be rich and satisfying as well.
I think one of the reasons I love it so much is because it doesn't take a lot of time to prepare. When I get home starving and want dinner on the table RIGHT NOW..... pasta is usually what I reach for.
Don't worry though.... Pasta doesn't have to be boring! There are so many ways to freshen things up. Here are just a few quick and easy ideas to get you out of your pasta rut.
This one is great if you have some leftover basil or pesto hanging around. You can find my personal favourite pesto recipe and the full pesto pasta recipe here.
This rich flavourful recipe will please the most sophisticated palette, even though it's surprisingly simple with only a few ingredients: pesto, Zengarry Brie Style Cashew Cheese, a splash of broth and salt and pepper. Be sure to garnish with toasted pine nuts and tomatoes to pull it all together!
This is one of my whole family's favourites. Even my picky teenaged son asks for this dish when his friends are coming over!! That is HUGE coming from the 'vegan is weird' teenage boy crowd.
Add in your favourite veggies, onion, frozen chopped spinach and some Zengarry Brie Style Cashew Cheese and this makes a super rich and creamy sauce. I add in a pinch of chilli flakes for a bit of heat.
If you haven't tried it yet, get the full recipe here.
How about this LAZIEST MAC AND CHEEZE from Pamela Tourigny of Vegan Eats Ottawa? She tossed our Zengarry Brie style cashew cheese with cooked pasta, greens and some smoked tofu, for a quick and easy lunch that's healthy and satisfying! Click the photo for the full recipe!
Need more Pasta-licious inspiration?
AMY'S PLAIN ALMOND MILK
Ingredients: 3 cups, water 1 cup, almonds (soaked overnight, then rinsed)
Directions: Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Pour contents through a nut milk bag, or through a fine strainer and cheesecloth, in to a bowl. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.
Amy Longard is a Registered Holistic Nutrition and Plant-Based Chef who lives in Ottawa, Canada. For recipes, nutrition tips, and general health information, visit her website at www.AmyLongard.com.
I’ve been dairy free for several years, but this change definitely didn’t happen overnight. I slowly weaned off by trying out milk alternatives, playing around with dairy-free recipes, and finally, I gave up cheese.
I stopped consuming dairy for many reasons, including allergies. When I finally eliminated all dairy from my diet, many of my allergy symptoms disappeared. I was particularly happy to bid adieu to a chronic cough that had plagued me since childhood. I also found that my sleep improved, as did my energy levels.
When I first told my doctor about my decision to make the change, she was reluctant to support and urged me to supplement with calcium. At first, I followed her advice, but after doing a bit more research, I learned that there are so many plant-based sources of calcium. Not to mention that the calcium found in these foods is potentially more bioavailable (easily absorbed) than the calcium found in cow’s milk.
Some great sources of calcium include leafy greens (kale, collard greens, bok choy, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, and more), sesame seeds, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, almonds, chickpeas, black turtle peas, lentils, kidney beans, figs, oranges, and much more. Recently, I went for a blood test after years of being dairy free and my calcium levels were excellent!
Making these changes in my life drastically improved my health. Because of this, I love helping others who seek to reduce or eliminate dairy from their diet. Now I’ll share my tried and true strategies that’ll help you navigate life beyond diary!
Explore the Alternatives.
If you’re used to having milk on your cereal, creamer in your coffee, cream cheese on your bagel, mozzarella on your pizza, or yogurt with granola, don’t worry! Even without dairy, you can still have all these things without compromising taste.
There’s a wide range of milk alternatives, including almond, soy, hemp, flax, rice, oat, hazelnut and coconut. I recommend trying several of these to discover what best suits your palate. Nutrition tip: if you’re keeping an eye on your sugar intake, always look for the “unsweetened” options. For coffee lovers, there are a variety of creamers and “barista” style non-dairy milks on the market that blend really well into hot drinks. If you are a DIY type of person, there are tons of quick and easy non-dairy milk recipes online. Just ask google!
Given that there are many non-dairy milks, naturally there are also countless varieties of non-dairy yogurt. Some of the more popular choices include soy, coconut, and and almond yogurt. Health food stores are usually your best option for non-dairy yogurt, but lately lots of conventional grocers carry them too.
Over the past few years, the vegan cheese industry has grown exponentially and many delicious choices are available. Fermented nut cheeses, like Fauxmagerie Zengarry, offer a fantastic alternative to soft cheeses (like brie, gouda and Boursin). You’ll also find a range of harder cheese and cream cheeses available at most health food stores, and even some large and small grocers. You can also buy pre-shredded cheese or, better yet, try grating your Zengarry fauxmages when they’re frozen; It makes a great topping on pizza and pasta! Try out a bunch of different vegan cheeses and you’re bound to find something that you love!
Rethink Your Regular Meals & Snacks.
We often fall into routines, or patterns, when it comes eating. Sometimes simply adjusting your way of thinking about certain foods, or trying new combinations, can yield wonderful results. If you’re replacing one great food with another great food you won’t feel deprived, rather you’ll be creating a new staple that is equally enjoyable and satiating.
A game changer for me was hummus. For my entire life, I’ve loved having cheese on sandwiches and wraps. Nowadays, hummus is my go-to for sandwiches and wraps and I haven’t looked back. I also used to love dipping raw vegetables in ranch or french onion dressing; again, it’s hummus to the rescue! Besides being incredibly delicious and versatile, I love hummus for its health benefits. Unlike cheese, it’s free of cholesterol and contains very little saturated fat, and is a good source of dietary fibre.
If you love creamy salad dressings, fear not! You absolutely do not need dairy to achieve this texture, taste or mouth feel. Tahini (sesame seed paste) has become a pantry staple for me. After ditching dairy, it became a fast favourite as a base for salad dressings. Mix it with some olive oil or sesame oil, an acid (lemon or vinegar), salt and pepper, possibly some minced garlic, ginger or herbs, and you’ve got yourself a nice creamy dressing. Soaked and drained cashews or almonds, blended with oils, an acid, and other seasonings of your choice, will also create a lovely creamy dressing. There are lots of great recipes online that will get you started.
Have you heard of nutritional yeast (sometimes called savoury yeast flakes or nooch)? It’s a very popular condiment in vegan or dairy free cooking known for its cheesy taste and is often used to make dairy-free cheese sauces. It’s a form of yeast that has been grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried using heat to “deactivate” it. While neither the name nor its description are super appealing, if you’re going dairy-free, it’s worth picking up from your local grocery store, health food store or at Bulk Barn. It can be sprinkled on pastas or steamed veggies. I also love using it to make cheesy popcorn. I make my popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop, using coconut oil (instead of butter) and I top it with nutritional yeast and sea salt. Although this is not the conventional way to season popcorn, you’ll be surprised at how good it tastes!
Amy Longard is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Plant-Based Chef who lives in Ottawa, Canada. For recipes, nutrition tips, and general health information, visit her website at www.AmyLongard.com.
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