Sunday, June 19, 2011

a vegan in iceland. beautiful, beautiful iceland.

I've moved! Visit my new blog Make Life Beautiful for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks xo

As some of you know, I recently visited Iceland. We started and ended in Reykjavik,driving along the South Coast for a couple of days in between. It was insanely beautiful, surreal and serene. Between the moss-covered lava fields and Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lagoon, we often felt like we were on another planet.

When I told people that I was going to go to Iceland, many pondered at what I would eat while there. A common question was "don't they eat fermented shark? can you eat anything there?" As it turns out, it's quite easy being vegan and gluten-free in Iceland.

Here are some of my fave photos and meal pics from the trip. Some travel tips and our itinerary follow.

Tofu curry with carrots, onions and potatoes

gluten-free brown rice pasta with tofu, canned tomatoes, broccoli, olives and raw vegan Parmesan "cheese"

There are cats EVERYWHERE in Reykjavik. They're all super friendly too. We hugged so so many!

Eldhraun lava fields 

Icelandic ponies!


Iceberg lagoon

Fjardrargljufur canyon

Chickpea curry served with quinoa

Reykjadalur - smoke valley

Amazing soy latte at C is for Cookie

A Naestrum Grosum

Some travel tips!
1. Travel off season - rates were half the price as high season, the weather was still lovely and there weren't tons of tourists around. With Iceland especially, there was something that I think is part of the whole experience to being alone, in all that openess, with no one around for miles and miles. I especially recommend early May or late September so that you still get the good weather and because most things are open.

2. Stay somewhere that has a kitchen. Your best bet for traveling anywhere when you have any sort of specific eating requirements is to get a place where you have access to a kitchen. Luckily in Iceland it's all about guesthouses! Those are houses converted into bed and breakfasts in a way. You have your room, you share a bathroom and you have access to a full kitchen. We really really lucked out in this respect. We went through Guesthouse Aurora and ended up with our OWN studio apartment (with a full kitchen, private bathroom, washer/dryer) in downtown Reykjavik! For CHEAPER than a hotel room! Siggy, the owner, was very nice and helpful. And the place was incredibly clean and quite nice.

3. Find out where the grocery stores are. We did our grocery shopping at Bonus, which is the discount grocery store. They have dried and canned legumes, spelt products (though not gluten-free) for comparable prices to wheat products, and more. The prices were quite good, especially compared to 11-11, the other grocery store with later hours and less selection. There are also a good number (given the size of the city) of health food stores where you can buy non dairy milks, and other gluten-free and vegan and raw products - yum! Because it's an island with temperate weather, there isn't that that much by way of produce. It's not a bad selection - just not the best. Bonus had tofu - oh my god was it delicious! The texture was amazing!

4. Bring some key items from home. I brought some basics from home because I didn't know about availability - quinoa, gluten-free pasta, homemade granola, chia seeds, goji berries, trail mix, raw vegan Parmesan cheese, raw banana bread, and raw sunflower carrot bread. Having these foods made eating well much easier and saved us some money. When travelling with your own food, I recommend labelling it and its ingredients. Also, check for any restrictions before going. The one thing that I meant to bring but forgot and really really regretted forgetting was hot sauce. I made the same mistake when I went to Cuba - when will I learn???

5. Research beforehand any vegan-friendly restaurants. There are a handful of vegan-friendly restaurants in Reykjavik, but not all are also gluten-free, and they are on the pricy side. We ended up at A Naestu Grosum for a dinner. I've heard great things about the place and my travel buddy loved it, but unfortunately we went on Indian night...I am really really not an Indian food fan. Some of the cafes also have some vegan snacks - such as Babalu. My fave cafe was C is for Cookie that made the best best best soy vanilla latte I have ever had (and I've had quite a lot).

Our itinerary was pretty simple:
Saturday: arrive in Reykavik, get settled, walk around
Sunday: more Reykjavik
Monday: pick up car, drive along South Coast stopping at Waterfalls along the way, drive through the lava fields, hike in skaftafell national park, jokulsarlon. Stayed overnight at Guesthouse Hali - amazing place: great kitchen, great rooms, friendly people, ocean view. We were the only people staying so had the place to ourselves, but if you're traveling high season, you may want to ask for a room that's not right next to the kitchen.
Tuesday: back to Reykjavik, stopping at the Canyon, went back to Seljandfoss so I could walk behind the waterfall
Wednesday: hike in Reykadalur
Thursday: Thingvellir national park - we were too tired for a serious hike, so it wasn't that exciting
Friday: Reykjavik and Cafe Amsterdam at night
Saturday: Reykjavik
Sunday: Blue lagoon and home

All in all it was an amazing trip and i can't wait to go back! I'm thinking an October trip for the huge music festival!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

veganlicious is now on facebook!

Like my recipes, musings and healthy living tips? Follow me on my new facebook page! Yay! Of course I've somehow become entirely computer illiterate, so i can't figure out for the life of me how to put a "like" box on my blog...any tips?


UPDATE: Finally finally figured out how to add the like box. So don't delay! follow me on facebook today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

raw kelp noodle stir-fry with spicy almond ginger sauce

I've moved! Visit my new home Make Life Beautiful for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks xoxo

Things have been pretty crazy since I got back from Iceland (more about that in a later post), with all types of stress and change being thrown my way. I won't say I've been dealing with it the best that a person could hope to...there has definitely been some ups and downs. And I've broken out and become permanently bloated and haven't been sleeping all that wonderfully. But - a BIG but, and one that I am quite proud of myself about - I have managed to maintain a relatively healthy diet. (Relatively as there were a couple of nights where a bag of daiya and gluten-free bagels and tortilla chips were my dinner.) Normally when I get really stressed, I eat more processed foods and I skip meals or have "salads" made from lettuce and some kidney beans with maybe a tomato thrown in. Now there have been a far amount of salads, but these have been with far more numerous and tasty ingredients. And I've been having delicious mango-pecan or banana choconut smoothies or green drinks in the mornings.

For dinner tonight I had raw noodle stir-fry in a spicy almond sauce. I used kelp noodles, and I must say that I am a HUGE fan. They have a slight crunch to them, are light, don't have any discernible taste and don't make you feel heavy and sleepy afterward like regular pasta. 

To make
1 package kelp noodles, well rinsed and drained
2 cup baby spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms
1 med carrot, julianned
3/4cup cucumber, chopped

mix together in a big bowl

3 tbsp almond butter
juice from one lemon
2 tbsp soya souce
1/2t tbsp ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, derooted
1 tbsp water

blend together

mix before serving and top with sesame seeds. Store sauce separately from noodle/veggie mix so that veggies don't get soggy.


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