Wellness Reboot review and special offer

It’s almost two full months into 2013 and I’m feeling pretty great. How about you?

The first day of January started off like any other—with the promise to improve my eating habits and fitness regime—but this year, I had a little help from a friend. Christy Morgan, otherwise known as “The Blissful Chef,” invited me to join her brand new Wellness Reboot program. Despite the fact that I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle, I’m not perfect and I do occasionally overdo it on the late-night snacks and recipe taste-testing. So I was excited to check out what Christy’s program could do for me.

The Wellness Reboot is a 28-day online wellness program that includes more than 15 videos on cooking techniques, a 28-day meal plan of whole food, plant-based recipes (no oil, no processed foods, no refined sugar and mostly gluten-free), a “Getting Started Guide” that explains everything you need to know about eating healthfully and living a plant-based lifestyle, continual support and motivation from Christy through a private Facebook group, and bi-weekly conference calls.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Christy’s work (you can read my review of her cookbook here), and I know she has poured her heart and soul into this latest project. Christy has been working in the community for a long time, and she describes the program as an accumulation of all she’s learned in both culinary arts and in over 10 years in the health and wellness field. For the program, she also partnered with vegan personal trainer Chad Byers of Beyond Fit for the fitness element, so you get a workout that’s easy to do at home, along with workout videos. You can check out a sample live workout with Chad here (be sure to skip to 5:40 for the start of the workout).

Beetroot falafel with tahini dressing

I have a very limited history with beets. As a child, they rarely landed on my dinner plate except, it seems, when we went to my grandmother’s house. Hers must have been either canned or boiled because, after one bite, I declared they were not for me. I grew up thinking I hated them, and I steered clear until I was in my late twenties.

Maybe my taste buds have changed but since then, beets have been a part of my regular rotation during the fall and winter along with most other root vegetables. I juice them, shred them for salads and sometimes roast them to bring out their flavour. Last week, I happened to buy a gigantic bunch of organic red beets, but since I was getting a little tired of adding them to my salads I decided to go another route and throw them in a batch of falafel. Call it an early Valentine’s Day meal if you wish, since red is everywhere this week.

I wish I had snapped a photo of the inside of these babies to show the beautiful specks of deep red throughout, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. Underneath the crispy exterior, they are beautiful. I promise.

They are also super simple to throw together in your food processor. With these, you have the option to fry them like traditional falafel, or bake them if you wish. Then place them atop a luscious plate of greens and smother them in my favourite homemade tahini dressing.

Toronto’s Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off

Before I get to the subject of this post, I need to announce the winner of my Vegan Eats World cookbook giveaway! According to Random.org, the winner is #19…

Amanda of Hungry Vegan Traveler! Congratulations!

Now on to other exciting news…

Yesterday was a pretty fabulous day in Toronto. It was the 5th Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, which also just happened to fall on my birthday.

I was one of the close to 50 volunteers of the Toronto Vegetarian Association who helped pull off the event, and what an event it was.

About 45 amateur and professional vegan bakers put countless hours of work into their entries for this very tough competition. At 2 p.m., a hungry mass arrived at the event space on Bloor Street West, ready to sample treats and deliver their judgment on the best in nine dessert categories, including professionally crafted classics, raw desserts and gluten-free sweets.

After just a couple of hours, well over 5000 samples disappeared, each taste tester added their vote to the ballot box to be tallied by a trusted team of volunteers, and the celebrated titles were ready to be awarded. A panel of judges, who included co-owner of Fresh restaurants Ruth Tal and owner of vegan bakery LPK’s Culinary Groove Lesia Kohut, rated the culinary confections for Best in Show and Best Pro in Show.

Vegan Eats World review and giveaway

Terry Hope Romero‘s latest book, Vegan Eats World, came into my life on December 25th and was the best gift a girl like me could get. I’ve been a longtime fan of Terry’s diverse collection of cookbooks—from Viva Vegan! to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and everything in between. Her new book continues the food revolution, covering 300 international dishes made vegan.

The shear breadth of this cookbook is incredible. Truth be told, I found myself flipping through this bible each night before bed, folding page corners and making grocery lists. Needless to say, this book has made me a little obsessed with exploring dishes and flavours from food-loving cuisines of Morocco, Thailand, India, Africa, Jamaica and many more. So far, I’ve made:

Pad Thai with Spicy Greens—My husband is a huge fan of pad thai, and so I knew this one was a winner when he declared this delicious and perfectly spiced. For this recipe, Terry shares the secret to success: prepping all components ahead of time and frying each serving individually, which is definitely worth the extra effort.

Gluten-free chocolate chip almond cookies

Six years ago today, I met my sweetie for coffee for the first time. We had met two months before, seen each other a few times, but hadn’t yet clicked. The last time I saw him was at a holiday party I hosted at my apartment, where he accidentally left his scarf behind. The coffee meetup was meant as a way to return his scarf. I can still remember that timid, getting-to-know-you conversation over steaming cups of chai tea lattes and his cute reaction when I gave him a bag of homemade cookies.

Exactly two years later on that day, we held hands on a private beach in St. Lucia and professed our lifelong commitment to each other.

I still believe it was the cookies that led his heart to mine.

Happy anniversary, darling.