Monthly Archives

January 2012

mains, recipes

Sunshine Burger

There are these store-bought veggie burgers called “Sunshine Burgers“, and they’re super wholesome.  Brown rice, raw sunflower seeds and carrots form the base of these patties, and then they’re adorned with various seasonings and herbs.  A couple of their patties contain beans, too.  So I was thinking, “self, this is such an uncomplicated ingredient list – so uncomplicated, in fact, that I should be able to make these myself”.

So make them myself I did.  Inspired by OSG’s veggie burger that I made a couple weeks ago, I was looking for a burger with a great texture and flavor, and also something that would be fast and easy to make so I could focus on all that music-making stuff I’ve got going on.  I was looking for something filling, but that wouldn’t make my stomach go all “blarg!”.  Like that.

And now, I’m so freakin’ in love with these burgers it’s not even funny.  At lunch I was ranting to Logan about how awesome it’ll be to make these next month when we’re poor and living in our new place, since they’re so cheap to assemble.  They hold their shape well despite not having a trace of gluten or breadcrumb in them, and they have a moist but not mushy texture.  I’ve eaten them with bread and tucked inside large romaine leaves, and both ways are yummy.

(Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we’re moving.  I know, moving in the same month as recording, I’m a genius.)

Sunshine Burger
Makes 6 patties


1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup grated carrot


1.  In a food processor, grind the sunflower seeds with the basil, thyme, salt and onion powder until the seeds are fairly well-ground – some chunks are good.  Add the rice and carrots to the food processor and lightly process until it forms a sticky dough.  The dough should still have some texture to it.

2.  With damp hands, form the dough into 6 patties.  You can cook them using either the oven or a frying pan – for a frying pan, heat a little oil over medium-low heat and cook each side for about 10 minutes, until golden.  In the oven, bake them for 15 minutes per side at 350 F.

Enjoy on buns or leaves with all your favorite condiments.  Potatoes make a classic accompaniment, but a lovely green salad would happily pair with this burger as well.

Seriously, these are some of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever made, and I’ve made plenty in my day.  No one will try one and be like “is this a meat burger?”, but that’s no tragedy.  Veggie burgers should be loved and respected for what they are (veggies).  A crazy thought, I know.

Speaking of crazy, check this out:

I just have to share this with you at least once a year.  That there’s the mighty country of Canada – now look for the city that says -29.  That’s me!  We’ve got windchill warnings going on and off, which basically means that though it’s -29, it actually feels more like -40.  It’s so cold that your eyebrows freeze within a minute.  But honestly, you can’t live in a place like Regina and not feel super badass, since most of the world population will never experience an intense cold like this.  Ever.  The more northerly regions like Alaska, Northwest Territories and Nunavut generally have us beat when it comes to being badass, but there’s also very few people who live that far north.  So yeah.  Feelin’ pretty hardcore.  And also really grateful for my heater.
Hope you’re all having a great week and I’ll catch up with you on the weekend!
travel and restaurants

Vegan at Gran Melia, Cancun


In a previous post about Cancun, I mentioned that I would talk about the eats and such at our resort in Cancun called Gran Melia.  It’s a five-star hotel, and we got a deal on an all-inclusive package since virtually my entire family flew here together (23 people!).

Not knowing what to expect, Logan and I arrived armed and ready. 

The Ades drink and green tea were purchased at the market downstairs, but everything else we brought.  In fact, this stash was already slightly depleted when I took this picture, since we originally had more chocolate and lara bars.

I’m super glad we packed snacks, especially the chocolate.  Understandably, vegan dessert options at Gran Melia were nonexistent, but I don’t like to be shafted from dessert, and so we happily devoured rice milk chocolate like it was going out of style.  The lara bars were handy for day trips, and the nuts were great for a little extra protein and satiation.

And when it came to breakfast, the granola and nut butter were indispensable.


We enjoyed most of our meals at the buffet called Quetzal, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a wide selection of food that varies day to day.

The banana was enjoyed with the nut butter we brought with us, and Logan drizzled pear syrup on the sweet fried plantains.  We ate a lot of raw vegetables in the morning, since we were so grateful to be eating something that resembled real food after being on the plane.  There was a fairly good selection of fruit (mostly fresh melons at this time of year), but also jarred fruit in syrup like mangoes, peaches, pears and mandarin oranges.

We were very joyous to discover that some days they had soy milk sitting on the breakfast buffet table – it tasted like the So Nice brand.  On this particular morning, we put the granola we brought to good use.  They provided cereal and granola, but we wanted to eat our own because we’re picky like that.

More fruit, and a banana that was later smothered with nut butter.  The mash in the bottom left corner was called “banana with dried fruits”, and it was warm and sweet and very good.  On the top right corner is a scoop of refried beans.  Refried beans have been everywhere, but since they’re often made with lard I’ve been careful.  Generally, I follow my nose when it comes to determining if a food has meat or a meat product in it, since I find them very potent.  I’ve noticed that the beans vary from batch to batch, sometimes smelling animal-ish, and sometimes smelling just like the ones I make at home.  On the whole, though, we avoided them.

Those hash brown potatoes were damn good, and I devoured them every time I saw them at breakfast.  I also enjoyed some sauteed mushrooms in soy sauce and a potato-onion-parsley hash, along with fresh fruit, some granola in the background and a glass of fresh grapefruit juice.  They have a good selection of fresh juices each morning (all fruit, not vegetable), like watermelon, papaya and orange.

Lunch and Supper

Unlike breakfast where all of our meals were enjoyed at Quetzal, we went to a few more locations for lunch and dinner, due to being out and about, family meal reservations or simple curiosity.

What I can say about the Gran Melia resort is that if you’re vegan, the buffet is the way to go for meals.  Most of the restaurants have nary a vegan option, except an appetizer or salad.  We went to a place called Kunah, and the two pages of mains were literally just a different animal for each dish.  But Logan and I smiled and nodded and enjoyed some chips with an avocado-beet cerviche, and later retreated to our room to munch out on some chocolate.

We visited another buffet-style restaurant called La Perla, situated outside near some swimming pools, though they were very much a burger and fries kind of joint in the daytime.  But Logan and I love fries.

They also served nachos, but sadly had no guacamole.  I was all pouty, because I’ve come to expect chips to be piled high with salsa and guacamole.  Though as a side-note, when we visited Xel-Ha (an outdoor aquarium), they had a huge vat of guacamole and Logan and I happily called it lunch.

Luckily, there was a fresh salsa and tons of pickles and lolives olives.  Our room service platter of nachos, however, was most excellent:

That’s a full-sized dinner plate piled high with guacamole – there must have been three avocados in that heap.  The salsa was a little watery, but tasted great mixed up with the guacamole.  And since Logan and I couldn’t conquer all the guacamole in one sitting, we saved some for breakfast, which was delicious smothered atop potatoes.  Just be sure to specify that you want guacamole with no cheese…
And then, the wedding meal.  Logan and I weren’t really sure what to expect, since you never really know what a catered meal will be like as the weirdo vegan, but I was told beforehand I could expect a potato, some veggies, and a grilled portobello.  Logan was told he’d be served grilled veggies on rice.  Not the most exciting food in the world, but hey, at least we were being fed.
We started off with a salad…
It was pretty beautiful and actually trumped the salad everyone else got, which was basically just romaine, cheese chunks and a caesar dressing.  The vinaigrette was simple and tasty, and I was just so happy to be eating a bunch of crunchy vegetables.
As for the main?  Well I didn’t photograph them, which maybe says something.  Mine was quite good, though I had to share my potato with Logan since he just got a plate of grilled veggies…no rice.  What man (or woman) could possibly be filled up on a meager plate of grilled veggies, I ask?  At least they tasted good.  
When they started bringing out tiramisu for dessert, I was wondering if Logan and I would get a plate of fruit or something – I wouldn’t have complained, and I still had lots of room in my belly.  Alas, we got no dessert.  Nada.  So we later snuck back to our room for more rice milk chocolate, and all was well.
At the Quetzal buffet, however, we always managed to pile our plates high.

There was almost always rice and potatoes, and plenty of raw and cooked vegetable salads to choose from.  On certain days, we even got to enjoy chickpeas (delish) and black beans.  Logan and I loaded up on olives at every meal, and pecans made a frequent appearance.  But yeah – no shortage of vegetables for us.  
As you might expect from buffet-style food, everything was rather oily.  I didn’t really mind since I was so happy to be well-fed, but it was nice to return home and eat a non-greasy rice bowl topped with crunchy raw veggies.  
So the verdict?  If you’re a vegan at Gran Melia, Cancun, you’ll almost undoubtedly do well.  There’s meat everywhere, but there are plenty of vegetable options (at Quetzal, at least) most days.  There was only one or two days where Logan and I noticed a lack of selection, when they decided to put cheese on the potatoes and seafood in some of the salads.  But we didn’t go hungry!  And the snack bars we brought were mainly for  day trips – we didn’t need them at the hotel.  The granola was great to have for breakfast, though if you’re into stuff like Corn Pops, they’ve got little mini boxes of assorted cereals.
And the best part?  Logan and I never got sick!
But I’m happy to be back in my own kitchen.  My hair is lamenting the loss of its poofy curls and my skin doesn’t particularly enjoy Saskatchewan’s cold, dry air, but it’s actually been a really warm winter so far.  As of this moment it’s 0 degrees (about 32 F), which is amazingly warm for this time of year, where highs of -20 (-4 F) are common, and the windchill can get into the -40’s (-40 F).  And it’s supposed to be warm like this all week, which is worthy of celebration.  And cervezas! 🙂