There’s no reason to wait until the New Year to do better when conscious eating, better nourishment, and planet-friendly choices await you at North Vancouver’s Buddha-Full.
The organic, vegan, and gluten-free eatery opened its doors in 2010 in Lower Lonsdale, serving up eco-conscious meals that nourish the body (and soul), along with cold-pressed juices and smoothies intended to hydrate and promote longevity. The conscious company added its second location at North Vancouver’s Northwoods Village in May of 2017, offering up even more choices for meat-free foodies.
Now, Buddha-Full’s menu changes with the season, offering a host of seasonally-inspired smoothies, juices, salads and entrees.
For those on the go, Buddha-Full offers up one, three, and five-day juice cleanses, and for those who want to sit with their meals, the shop’s cafe-style seating, lounge, or swing sets are there for the swingin’. When infamously rainy Vancouver inspires a drink of something warmer, try any of their hot drinks with a choice of house-sprouted almond, coconut or organic soy milk, such as the “5 moons chai” or the “kick-start latte” full of chaga mushroom, yerba mate, raw cacoa and more.
“We always wanted Buddha-Full, to be a warm light-hearted space that provided amazing nourishment. A space that would inspire and educate through intentional choices and insightful events,” say co-founders Geremie Voigt and Kyla Rawlins.
Walking into the now-iconic spot, peace, love, fun and intention is reflected in every sense: from the playful swings that line the juice bar—a nod to both light-heartedness and balance, perhaps—to the raw pineapples and plants that adorn the walls, to the boho-chic seating area full of Himilayan salt lamps and throw pillows.
The duo counts their passion for healthy and conscious foods among their desire to share their favourite meals and products with the local community. As a company, Buddha-Full operates on six core values: local sourcing, sustainability, community, peace, scratch cooking, and transparency.
“It was the unified connection between our health, animal kindness and the planet; that when combined, gave us purpose to fulfilling our dreams,” Rawlins and Voigt exclaim.
And if your dream is to walk into 2019 living a little more consciously, Buddha-Full’s everyday plant-based food will give you a head start on walking into the New Year with more intention.
Audrey Wong is the force and founder behind Living Lotus, a Vancouver company focused on satisfying your sweet tooth with dreamy desserts that have better-for-you, rawsome ingredients. Without turning on an oven, Wong is crafting an array of luscious plant-based desserts made from minimally processed whole foods that are packed with nutrients but gluten-free, vegan and devoid of chemicals, additives and refined sugar.
Uniting delicious and nutritious – as sustainably as possible – has long been a priority for Wong who has been a vegetarian for over 26 years and a vegan for five. Her mindful-eating interest turned to raw foods in 2007, inspired by Matthew Kenny’s book, Raw Food/Real World. While gluten-free and vegan foods are becoming more commonplace, Wong found few options for dessert alternatives using only whole foods.
After studying raw nutrition culinary arts, Wong made the leap to start a dessert company with a healthy, plant-based approach. Opened since 2013, Living Lotus currently serves up ganache, macaroons, candied nuts, and brownies in her regular product line. Everything is hand-made without baking and are gluten-free, vegan and soy free.
Living Lotus’ small-batch artisan products are healthy in their simplicity, combining clean raw foods to yield complex and exquisite flavours. By not baking ingredients, the desserts are also more nutrient rich. Main ingredients often include cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut shreds, coconut nectar, sprouted nuts, spices, dates, and blueberries. Every ingredient used serves a nutritional purpose and everything is certified organic, and local when possible.
Instead of refined sugar, Wong uses coconut nectar and Medjool dates as the alt-sweeteners, both are diabetic-friendly. “Coconut nectar is extracted from the blossom of the coconut palm while it is still on the tree. It is a completely sustainable sweetener. I chose to use it because it is a low glycemic sweetener. The glycemic index is how fast a food will spike your blood sugar level. Coconut nectar is 35 on the glycemic index. In comparison, white sugar is 67. In order for a food to be considered low glycemic, it needs to be rated 55 or lower,” says Wong. “Dates are high in a fibre called beta-D-glucan. This fibre slows the rate the small intestine absorbs sugar, keeping blood glucose levels even.”
Wong explains that her treats do not have any added stabilizers, gums, food additives or preservatives. “They are very clean, so you can feel good about eating them. We source the highest quality ingredients, so you are getting the best nutrients possible while still being able to have a treat. When we make the desserts, we use methods to keep the nutrition and/or boost the nutrition of the ingredients used. An example of these methods would be dehydrating or sprouting,” says Wong.
The process of sprouting nuts is time intensive, but Wong tells me it’s worth it to make them healthier. “Sprouted nuts are better for you because they are easier to digest. Sprouting gets rid of the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. These two can block nutrient absorption,” she says. To sprout nuts, she soaks them in water for 6-8 hours (depending on the variety) then they are dehydrated for 2 days. Sprouting nuts helps to boost sweetness and can improve nutrition by up to 20%.
Using coconut is also a healthy choice. According to Wong, “Coconuts have a very long list of benefits. They are high in dietary fibre, iron and healthy fats. The oil in coconuts are a medium chain fat, which means that the fat does not get stored in your body, but it gets used right away. I think it is important to mention the quality of the coconut products that we use. The coconut oil is cold pressed quickly after the coconuts have been harvested. The oil is unrefined, and unprocessed. This is done to preserve all the nutrients.”
All the recipes are developed by Wong and her deliciously healthy treats include 8 flavours of Gganache (earl grey, dark, salted, orange, chili, lavender, mint and smoked), 3 flavours of macaroons (chocolate, vanilla and blueberry) which are dehydrated to make them perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, 2 flavours of candied nuts (pecans and chili lime almonds), and chocolate chai brownies using a made-in-house chai spice mix with organic spices.
Living Lotus products can be found in 25 stores in British Columbia, including Radicle Juice, Eternal Abundance, Green’s Market and Donald’s Market (New Westminster, Commercial Drive and East Hastings). Made-to-order specialty items that are not available in stores can be ordered and picked up at Wong’s facility, such as cakes, truffles, tarts, and more new creations.
For the food-curious, Wong also offers a 3-hour hands-on All Things Chocolate Workshop at her professional kitchen in Strathcona (inside Makerlabs, East Vancouver) where participants learn how to temper chocolate and make three chocolate recipes. “We deep dive into the science of chocolate, where chocolate comes from, and the health benefits of chocolate. This is a vegan and refined sugar free workshop,” says Wong.
With Living Lotus’ indulgent treats, you don’t have to skip desserts because you think they’re bad for you. Go on, be treated and be healthy!
What if cheese wasn’t made from dairy? Would it still be cheese? This cultured snack favourite can be buttery, sweet, herbal, earthy, pungent, bitter, footy, even barnyardy. It’s one of the few foods that people will gladly eat even (or especially) when visibly laced with thick blue mold and it is a staple of modern dining. For centuries it’s been made using cow, goat, sheep and other animals’ milks – but who’s to say milk is the only thing that can create a fantastic cheese?
The assumption that animal milk must be the base for cheese is a notion that Chef Karen McAthy, the founder of Blue Heron Cheese, has been challenging. She’s aiming to change how consumers, as well as the food regulators, think about these wheels of flavour, all from her store and creamery on Vancouver’s Main Street.
Blue Heron Creamery opened in Vancouver in early 2018 to block-long line-ups and a sold-out shop. The nut-based cheeses are so popular that Blue Heron is currently only open one day a week, for five hours. During that time customers often line up for their turn in the tiny storefront, and by the time they’re closed they can pretty much turn off the refrigerator – everything is gone.
When I sat down with McAthy and asked about her cheeses in comparison to “real” cheese, I clearly mis-spoke. “What is real cheese anyways,” questioned McAthy with a challenging grin, “a lot of cheese makers wouldn’t call a lot of what we buy at the grocery store ‘real cheese’.” Peruse the cheese aisle with that in mind and you’ll see what she means. Refrigerators are full of processed spreadable “cheeses” and other products that are made to taste like cheese but have never been fermented or cultured.
“I wanted to make real, non-dairy cheese, and I didn’t love the recipes I found. There was no troubleshooting advice, so I started looking into the methodology of how dairy cheese was made and applied that to cheese made with other proteins.”
Dairy cheese is made by culturing the animal fats and proteins found in milk. To make the non-dairy cheese at Blue Heron, McAthy and her small team cultures fats and proteins found in other places, such as coconut milk, walnuts, cashews, almonds and other nuts. The result looks and feels the same as dairy cheese, with its own variety of tastes – some being close in taste to mild diary cheeses such as brie. Others have a flavour all their own, such as Cormorant, a black ash-covered cashew and coconut milk cheese with a sharp taste, sweet coconut notes, and a spreadable chevre-like texture or Shore, a smooth and mild cashew cheese made with caraway and whole pink peppercorn.
“If you look at the name of cheeses – some are named for the culture that creates it, not the milk. Camembert, for example, is from the penicillium camemberti culture. I can use that same culture to make a camembert with cashews and coconut” says McAthy. “I’m also using the same culture in a cambazola I’m working on.”
Is there a flavour difference between Blue Heron’s cheese and dairy cheese? Of course, but there’s also flavour differences between the myriad of varieties of dairy cheese as well. Whether you’re looking to replace dairy cheese or you’re interested in cultivating some new flavours into your platters and recipes, plant-based cheese is real, and it’s delicious.
Under the sweltering summer heat, there’s nothing better than cooling down with a walk on the White Rock pier and an ice cold treat. Whether it’s gelato, frozen yogurt, or traditional ice cream you’re craving, this beachside city is a haven for icy desserts. Here are four must-try places.
Sandcastle Sea Shoppe
Located at the east beach in White Rock, Sandcastle Sea Shoppe has the largest selection of ice cream in the city. They carry fifty flavours at all times and nearly seventy during the peak season in the summer. Take your pick from gelato, ice cream, milk shakes, smoothies, or old fashioned frozen yogurt.
The Sandcastle Sea Shoppe is home to the twin cone, a cone with a platform for two ice cream flavours side-by-side rather than on top of each other, which you won’t find anywhere else on the beach. They also carry an assortment of beach gear, beach toys for children, and beautifully hand crafted souvenirs.
Try one of the homemade waffle cones at Sandcastle Sea Shoppe. Choose from Skor, rainbow sprinkles, white chocolate and coconut, chocolate dipped with chocolate sprinkles, chocolate and chopped peanuts, or caramel and peanuts.
Pictured is a double scoop of Sandcastle Sea Shoppe’s creamy peanut butter chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups over a chocolate dipped peanut waffle cone. This one is for peanut butter lovers!
For a fun nostalgic 50’s diner experience, make a stop at Seaside Scoops. This vibrant ice cream parlour features old fashioned milk shakes, ice cream, slushies, and carnival and fair eats like hot dogs, nachos, and cotton candy.
Seaside Scoops has a large window front where you can sit and enjoy your ice cream along with the beautiful view of White Rock beach.
14893 Marine Drive, White Rock
For luxurious gourmet gelato and sorbetto, head over to Dolce Gelato! Dolce Gelato makes their gelato fresh daily and in small batches with high quality and local ingredients.
Dolce Gelato’s authentic Italian gelato and sorbetto has a beautiful consistency and is perfectly creamy. From lavender and honey to classic Italian favourites like stracciatella, bacio, and cioccolatto, there are plenty of flavours to choose from.
The sorbetto is vibrant, packed with fresh fruit, and rich with flavour. Pictured is the mango and strawberry sorbetto. Refreshingly perfect on a hot summer day!
Indulge and enjoy the view!
15045 Marine Drive, White Rock
Ice Cream has blown up on Canada’s West Coast and charming new shops and parlours are popping up all over. But what about the folks who have allergies, sensitivities or make choices not to eat gluten or dairy? And who doesn’t like a cooling, sweet, creamy treat? Fret not folks, I did the research for you! Here’s my list of the best, where to go for it, and what to taste.
Try: Most ice creams here are gluten-free so, if you are as well, skip the cone and get a cup. Top your treat with a marshmallow or meringue (also gluten-free). Vegans and the lactose-intolerant will love the Chocohuete, which is made with peanut butter and dark chocolate. It’s dairy-free and made with their own made-in-house cashew milk base.
Commercial Drive is a hot spot for food and shopping. Head north from your ride along the Central Valley Greenway for plenty of food options.
At Commercial Drive and East 7th you can grab a casual yet stacked burger and beer at Relish. It has a bit of a cafeteria vibe, so if that’s not exactly what you’re looking for try Jam Jar.
For a completely new experience head a few stores down to 77k Freeze, where they make custom ice cream to order. This is a gem for people who have particular allergies or eating restrictions, as you choose the ingredients and they freeze the ice cream on the spot using liquid nitrogen.
As the Greenway goes through Burnaby it takes more of a backroad detour. Still, there are a few places to stop and grab some treats to-go that are nearby.
If chocolate is what keeps your legs pumping, stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory (open weekdays) down Douglas Road and then hang a right on Still Creek Drive.
If you need a sugar jolt you can grab a handful of Mexican treats and a Jarrito from El Comal on the way down to take a rest at nearby Burnaby Lake.
I would also highly recommend grabbing some of their made-fresh-daily soft taco shells and any other Mexican food you can manage to carry back on your bike to make dinner with.
They hope to be re-opening their restaurant soon so phone ahead, as you may be able to eat lunch there too!
From East Columbia Street, turn down Holmes Street and onto Tenth Avenue on your way to New Westminster and you’ll find Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House, where Vietnamese food goes vegan.
These days, consumers wanting or needing gluten-free and vegan options do not have to miss out on delicious baked products, thanks to a growing number of specialty bakeries in Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. But, the only decidedly all gluten-free and vegan bakery in the Vancouver area yet, is Two Daughters Bakeshop. They provide a large selection of oven-fresh, healthy products that are both gluten-free and vegan-friendly, without compromising on irresistible flavours.
Tucked away in Lolo Lane, between 1st Street East and Esplanade Avenue, the cozy artisan bakery is located steps away from Lonsdale Quay on Vancouver`s North Shore.
In 2012, Lisa Reichelt opened the bakery, dedicated to making gluten-free-vegan pastries, snacks, breads and desserts. It was inspired by her passion for baking and by her youngest daughter’s need for a celiac diet without eggs, dairy and gluten.
Two Daughters Bakershop’s mission is to use the finest gluten-free-vegan ingredients that are healthy, all natural, and soy free to make the most scrumptious sweet and savoury fare. All their products are handcrafted and baked at their 650 ft2 North Vancouver shop.
To achieve the right balance of taste and texture, Lisa has experimented and perfected their signature gluten-free flour blend (rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch) that serves as the foundation for all their baking.
Made fresh daily, or by special order, the bakery offers a wide scope of elegant baked goods that have big home-made appeal and are both 100% gluten-free and vegan. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally, and where possible are organic.
Sandwich cookies with velvety icing – chocolate peppermint, ginger lemon, peanut butter or chai jam – are some of the many unique edible delights at the bakery. There are plenty of other sweet choices to satisfy any craving, including: gourmet cookies, pies, tarts, cakes, galettes, cupcakes, loaves, muffins, scones, energy bars, Nanaimo bars, and brownies. The sweeteners used are all organic and low on the glycemic index.
Savoury fans are treated to choices of pizza tarts, sandwich pockets and bagels in various flavour combinations. For a personal touch, bread (pumpkin flax, chia flax, plain and cinnamon raisin) can be personally hand-sliced by staff for home use.
Enjoy the goodness and comforting taste of gluten-free-vegan baking at Two Daughters Bakeshop. They are open daily, weekdays 10 am – 6 pm and weekends 10 am – 4 pm. Saturday is the only day that their mouth-watering gluten-free-vegan donuts are available. Tempting toppings include: chocolate, chocolate coconut, lemon, lemon coconut, and cinnamon sugar.
Vegans and vegetarians will want to add Sunday visits to the Coquitlam Farmers Market to their calendars, from now until end of October.
Jessica Kralj, owner of Tasty Plants, has a love for plant-based foods, and a knack for preparing a variety of delicious dishes, that she sells at the market. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Kralj offers fresh and frozen prepared meals plus brownies, cookies, bars, and snacks.
Customers line up for her three bean and quinoa chili, enchiladas, curried chickpeas and cauliflower soup. Sweet tooth? Try the energy bites (2 flavors: dark cocoa-coconut and key-lime coconut), and vegan brownies.
Tasty Plants does not use any animal products/by-products, supports BC farmers and suppliers, and is an environmentally friendly business. “There are so many health issues associated with the consumption of meats and dairy, as well as so many people with allergies to these products and not many options out there for them,” says Kralj, “for this reason, we decided to make it easier by offering healthy prepared meals and products that they can pre-order on a weekly basis and consume at their own convenience.”
The Coquitlam farmers market is on Sundays in the summer at the Dogwood Pavilion Parking Lot (624 Poirier Street). Find Tasty Plants year-round at www.tastyplants.ca