Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 12: For the animal lover and the philanthropist

By Giselle Wedemire

Today is the last day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) Gift Guide. We hope we've helped to inspire you to shop locally, and we hope we've alleviated at least a little bit of the stress that comes with Christmas shopping. For our last day, we'd like to talk about gifts that give back.

If the overt commercialization of the holiday season has gotten you down, but you've still got an animal lover to shop for, supporting an animal shelter is a great way to do some good while giving a really thoughtful gift. 

Donating to any charity is always a fantastic way to spread joy and, unlike traditional gifts, that joy has a ripple effect that spreads to improve the life of more than just the recipient of your gift. And, since these gifts can all be purchased online -- and they require no shipping time like most other gifts you buy online -- they make for great last-minute gift ideas. (You know, just in case the sad state of mall parking lots have scared you away from the idea of going out to shop this close to Christmas.)

For the animal lovers and philanthropists in your life, we suggest gifting a donation to any one of these great local animal rescues/shelters with these gift ideas:

  • ARF's Dog Secret Santa ($75)

Screenshot via ARF

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 11: For the home cooks and the couples who need a date night

By Giselle Wedemire

With just one day to go, we are in the homestretch of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide. While we've been pinpointing and spotlighting local stores we at Picky Bitchez love, we figured we'd shed some light on one of our favourite eateries in town.

The Coup has made a name for itself as an outstanding organic vegetarian restaurant. And it's only gotten better since its renovations this past spring. With a number of vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, we think The Coup is the kind of place you need to go at least once in your lives (though going more often than that is certainly advisable).

But one of the coolest things about The Coup is that the next time you sit down to a nice meal there, you can also get some of your Christmas shopping done! Here are some quick gift ideas that you can score the next time you pop in for a bite:

For the couple who is in desperate need of a date night: The Coup gift certificates (available in increments of $25, $50, or $100)

Photo via The Coup

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scrumptious Shortbread

By Casey Knoll

I absolutely love Christmas baking -- it's a great way to have fun, and to create 
affordable gifts for your friends and family.

This year, my mom's friend introduced me to gluten-free shortbread. I was never a huge fan of shortbread, but this recipe changed my mind. It's quick, easy, and absolutely delicious.

My mom's friend found this recipe on a blog by Amanda Farquharson. If you give these a try, let us know! 

What you'll need:
3 cups white rice flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup icing sugar
1 pound of salted butter, softened
Cherries or sparkles (optional)
What you'll need to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together.
  • Cut the butter into quarters then halve again. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture until you are able to form a ball of dough.
  • Dust a cool surface with rice flour and place the ball of dough on the flour. Knead until the edges crack.
  • Form golf ball sized balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. (I use a Silpat mat or parchment paper)
  • Press down with a fork and decorate with sparkles or candied cherries.Bake approx. 20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. 

Day 10: For the bohemian

By Giselle Wedemire

Filled with incense, vegan leather handbags, and books on yoga, Wanderlust Trading Company is a bohemian's wonderland. And that's why we've chosen it as our Day 10 pick in our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide. 

With three locations in town, Wanderlust stands out as a beacon of light for the urban hippies of Calgary, which is exactly why we love this business. If you've got a bohemian to shop for this holiday season, forget buying them patchouli oil and scope out these Picky Bitchez-approved gift ideas instead: 

  • Yoga: The Poetry of the Body: A 50-Card Practice Deck ($29.99) 

Photo via ALibris.com (because of all the pictures I took at Wanderlust, this one never turned out :(

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 9: For the bookworm

By Giselle Wedemire

In an effort to avoid big-box stores and malls this Christmas season, we've been highlighting local businesses you might want to patronize while doing your holiday shopping. Today is Day 9 of our twelve-day gift guide, and we've chosen Shelf Life as our pick for the perfect place to shop for the book lover in your life.

As a bookworm, I can wholeheartedly say that one of the best gifts you can ever give a book lover is -- you guessed it -- a good book. The key to pulling this off is to know the person you're shopping for and to shop for their books accordingly. If they're a diehard romantic and you give them a copy of Everyone Poops, chances are your gift won't go over well. The same goes for if they're a devout Catholic and you present them with a copy of Christopher Hitchens' The Portable Atheist.

However, if you put in the time and effort to pick out a fantastic book for the bibliophile on your list, they will love and cherish you (and that gift) for a loooong time. Trust me. 

Now, you probably know the tastes of your book lover better than I ever could, so I'll leave you to it. But if you've got a bookworm to shop for who's also a Picky Bitch, then I think I've got you covered with these suggestions.

For the book worm: Bunner's - Simple & Delicious Gluten-free Vegan Treats by Ashley Wittig and Kevin MacAllister ($24.99)

Photo via HarperCollins.ca

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 8: For the daredevils and adrenaline junkies

By Giselle Wedemire

We're on Day 8 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and today is all about the daredevils. You know the type: they're the ones who are always up for anything, and are always looking for new and exciting things to try.

Bearing these traits in mind, aside from getting them a motorcycle or a bungee jumping class, what could be a better gift idea for a daredevil than a new tattoo?

For the daredevil: Aeonian Tattoo Inc. gift certificate (available for purchase in any dollar amount you'd like)

Photo via The Spokesman. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 7: For the sweet tooth

By Giselle Wedemire

We are now on Day 7 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide, meaning we are more than halfway done! In case you didn't get a chance to score any gift-worthy gluten-free goodies at last week's vegan holiday bake sale, we've got you covered.

If you've got a Picky Bitch with a sweet tooth to shop for this Christmas, you might want to hit up Bliss & Co. Cupcakes and Desserts for a dozen (or two) cupcakes that can be stored in the fridge until Christmas Day.

For the picky sweet tooth: a JOY pack (a half-dozen regular-sized gluten-free cupcakes, $24.95) or HOHO mini-pack (one dozen mini gluten-free cupcakes ($24.95)

Photo courtesy of Alex Staines/Bliss & Co.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 6: For the DIY fan

By Giselle Wedemire

Few things beat the feeling you get when you make something with your own two hands. For fans of DIY, that feeling is probably pretty common, though no less rewarding, than it is for the rest of us. However, if you're shopping for a DIY fan (or a lover of organic, handmade skincare products), look no further than our pick for Day 6 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping).

Neal's Yard Remedy, the English purveyor of luxurious, organic skincare and cosmetics, has found a home in Calgary, which is one of only two Canadian retail outlets for the upscale British brand. Established in 1981 and known for its potent and scrumptious blends of organic essential oil, Neal's Yard Remedy (NYR) products are jam-packed with natural ingredients to help soothe and pamper you from head to toe.

Photo via NealsYardRemedies.ca

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 5: For the natural beauty, SNL fan, amateur cook, and crazy cat lady

By Giselle Wedemire

If the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter ever had a tchotchke-filled sister, it would be Kricket's. This quaint store has practically everything you could ever want or need, as far as little giftables go, and can be a great one-stop shop for almost everyone on your list. (Just don't get one of their hilariously crude or off-colour Christmas cards for your grandma.)

With so many options in this tiny store, it was definitely hard to narrow down our top picks for Day 5 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), but we hope you can appreciate the few items we've picked out for some of the weirdos eclectic people on your shopping list.

For the SNL fan: Stefon glass ($14.95) or mug ($15.95)
Photo via Kricket's (Facebook)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 4: For the product junkie

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome back to our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), where each day we spotlight one great Calgary business where we think you should do your holiday shopping. We're now on Day 4, and one of the local stores we've recently fallen in love with is Altruistic Company.

Nestled in the heart of Mission, Altruistic Company is a one-stop shop for beauty product junkies that is stocked almost entirely with the vegan and gluten-free brand 100% Pure. It's also one of the few places in Canada you can score this fantastic brand, and with everything in there smelling so yummy, it's hard to leave with just one thing in your shopping bag. 

But that's alright because for the month of December, you'll receive a gift with any purchase you make (which means you can either score an extra (free) gift for your loved one, or you can gift yourself the free treat!).

For the product junkie in your life: 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 3: For the workaholics and stressed students

By Giselle Wedemire

We're now on our third day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and we've got to admit that the holidays are a stressful time for everyone. However, I would argue that they're particularly hard on workaholics and students of all walks of life. After all, both workaholics and students are trying to fit in as much work as possible into a finite amount of time before surrounding themselves with those near and dear to them. 

For these folks in particular, it's important to indulge in a bit of 'me time' during the holidays, and that's where a great Thai Aroma Oil massage comes in handy. 

Photo via Flickr

Thai Aroma Oil massage gift certificates ($85+)

A true gem in Calgary's massage parlour scene, Baan Thai Massage works absolute magic on sore muscles and stressed minds.

Using coconut oil and organic essential oils for one to two hours, the massage therapists at Baan Thai work to melt your tension and stress away. And, depending on your personal preferences, your masseuse can customize whether your massage will allow for deep relaxation and/or deep-tissue therapy.

No matter what your workaholic/stressed student decides on in the massage room, they'll leave feeling calm, cool, and relaxed. They might also feel like they're walking on air and they'll have a really hard time walking out the door (I know this from personal experience when I stumbled home while intoxicated by my intense feeling of relaxation), but it's definitely worth it.

You can find Baan Thai Massage at 8 - 2100 4 Street SW, or online at BaanThaiMassage.ca.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 2: For the little ones, cat lovers, and ugly sweater fans

By Giselle Wedemire

It's the second day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and I have a confession to make: I harbour an unhealthy obsession with Blame Betty's merchandise. I'm always checking on their latest stock online, and I find myself craning my neck to ogle their display window whenever I walk past their store. 

Tucked away on 17th Avenue SW, they provide retro-loving Canadians with the opportunity to live life like true rockabillies. If you had to boil the store down to a few choice interests, they'd be comprised of two parts pin-up culture, one part Mad Men-esque wardrobes, and one part zombie thriller movie.

You could easily spend all day ogling their vintage-inspired products, but here we've selected a few gift ideas that go above and beyond the usual awesome offerings:

For the cat lover:  Kitty Anti Pop heels by T.U.K. Shoes ($69)
Photo via BlameBetty.com

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 1: For the foodie with a big heart

By Giselle Wedemire

Our first pick for the Picky Bitchez's 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) is a destination -- or an event -- rather than an actual store. We know we're breaking our own rules here, but with an all-vegan holiday bake sale in town, we really couldn't resist.

On Dec. 13, Calgary will be hosting its very first vegan holiday bake sale, and it promises to be just as amazing as the annual vegan bake sale held in the city every May. We are so excited about this event, and we think that with all the sweet (and savoury) vegan treats up for grabs, they'd make for a fantastic gift.*

Photo via Calgary Vegan Bake Sale Team/Facebook

The 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping): A Picky Gift Guide

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome to the 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping)! As of today, there are just 12 shopping days separating us from the gift giving bonanza that is Christmas Day. (We're not even thinking of including Dec. 24 in this count because in our minds, Christmas Eve is a day for lounging in your PJs while drinking hot chocolate and watching holiday movies.)

If you haven't completed (or even started) your Christmas shopping, then I'd say that that tight feeling you're currently experiencing in your chest is probably the beginning of an anxiety attack. But fear not!

Photo via ChristmasStockImages.com

Friday, November 28, 2014

Get mistletoe-ready with Bare English & Co. lip balms

By Giselle Wedemire 

A good lip balm is hard to come by and I am very picky about the consistency, durability, and (most importantly) the scents/flavours of the lip balms I wear. It probably stems from my memories of junior high when I was really into The Body Shop's satsuma flavoured Born Lippy lip gloss, which I wore so much of every single day of ninth grade that the scent of it made me feel physically ill within three months of buying it.

Since that day, I have (naturally) stuck exclusively to mint-scented or fragrance-free balms to avoid the bout of nausea I associate with wearing tasty lip balm flavours. All that has changed, however, with my latest discovery: Bare English & Co. lip balms,* which comes in tempting scents like pomegranate berry, vanilla coconut, chai tea latte, mint chocolate, and pink grapefruit.

It's fair to say that I'm a little obsessed with Bare English & Co. They are just too awesome -- they are a small Canadian company based in Toronto that specializes in organic, vegan, GMO-free, and gluten-free lip balms. Each lip balm is infused with organic tea (from green tea to white tea, and rooibos to peppermint tea), which, according to their site, "supports the immune system, fights free radical damage and promotes cell rejuvenation."

They're also packed with amazing natural moisturizers like jojoba oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, and olive oil, making them a great way to stave off the dreaded chapped lips that come with cold winter winds. Not bad for one little tube of lip balm, right?

The verdict

I absolutely love these lip balms (especially the vanilla coconut flavour!), and happily give it five stars and the Picky Bitchez seal of approval! Not only do these bad boys apply smoothly and moisturize fantastically, they also have great staying power (which is great news if you find yourself under the mistletoe a few times this holiday season).

You can find Bare English & Co.'s rad lip balms in many Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, and Rexall stores across Canada.

Have you tried any of these lip balms? Let us know what you think of them by commenting on this post or by tweeting us at @PickyBitchez.

*Bare English & Co. products were sent to me to review

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Halloween, our birthday, and a GIVEAWAY

By Giselle Wedemire

PIcky Bitchez turned two years old this month (!!!) and Halloween is right around the corner, so we've been feeling pretty festive lately while struggling with ideas of what we could do to celebrate our blog's birthday while making our readers' Halloween festivities even sweeter. And is there any better way to improve trick-or-treating season than by filling you in on what candies are both vegan and gluten-free?

Nope, there isn't. Because that right there is a good deal -- a scary good deal, if you will.

But before we get to the good stuff, we've got a scary story to tell to get you in the spooky spirit of the holiday:

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Awesome Gluten-Free Flour Mix

By Casey Knoll

My mom is from Nova Scotia, so baking was a huge part of my childhood. As soon as I could hold a measuring cup, I started to make biscuits, cookies, muffins -- you name it! Ever since then, I’ve always loved to bake, especially biscuits. They go perfectly with a nice cup of tea.

When I became gluten intolerant, baking wasn't fun anymore. I couldn't find a flour recipe that I was happy with because everything seemed to taste like sawdust, or just fell apart in the oven. Yes…there were many biscuit meltdowns.

Finally, after at least two years of sawdust-esque, flaky, crappy baked goods, I got an incredible gluten-free flour mix from a friend of mine that washed all my biscuit woes away. The recipe is at the bottom of the post, so make sure you have a look! Give it a whirl with this recipe for gluten-free orange zest raisin tea scones. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Baby your skin with Live Clean (baby) Calming Bedtime products

By Giselle Wedemire

In my opinion, babies are like beards: they're pretty cool, but I don't ever want to have one of my own. However, babies have kind of cornered the market on smelling good and having super soft skin, which are both pretty cool things that I wouldn't mind having for myself.

So, when I received (baby) Calming Bedtime,* Live Clean's latest line of baby bath products, I jumped at the chance to baby my skin. Packed with skin-soothing safflower and coconut oils and relaxing essential oils like vanilla, lavender, chamomile, and jasmine, the bubble bath and lotion in Live Clean (baby)'s Calming Bedtime collection sound like a recipe for stress relief for anyone, young or old. 

After a full day at work and an invigorating evening of living room yoga, I set myself up for a more grown-up version of a baby's nighttime bubble bath. Armed with a glass of vegan wine, a great book to read during my relaxing soak, and a tub teeming with bubbles, I got down to business and tested out how effective these products can be on an adult who sets her own bedtime, thankyouverymuch

Here's what I think of Live Clean (baby)'s Calming Bedtime collection:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cilantro pesta salad to beat the heat

By Giselle Wedemire

The summer heat has been getting the best of me lately, and retreating indoors often provides little to no relief for me -- especially in my kitchen. For some strange reason, my kitchen seems to retain even the smallest amount of heat during the summer, regardless of if the last time my stove was turned on was two hours ago or two days ago!

This presents the unique challenge of needing (and wanting) to make myself nutritious meals while avoiding excess heat at all costs. Salads are a great way to solve this problem,  and I've been taking advantage of the cool simplicity of making salads a lot this summer, but I was in the mood for something a bit heartier the other day. 

I also needed to use up the rest of the cilantro pesto I had lingering in the fridge after I made some amazingly delicious black bean wraps earlier that week. Thus, out of necessity and high humidity my pesto pasta (pesta?) salad was born!

I strongly suggest you whip this gluten-free and vegan wonder up whenever you feel you've had enough of the summer sun, and dig in while cooling off in the shade.

Cilantro pesta salad
(serves 4 as an entree)

What you'll need:
2 cups dried gluten-free pasta (I used Catelli's gluten-free penne)
1/2 cup Thug Kitchen's cilantro pesto
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

What you'll need to do:

  • Prepare the pasta in boiling water according to the package's instructions. Once cooked and cooled, transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • In the meantime, whip up the cilantro pesto in a food processor or blender. The recipe makes one cup of pesto, so measure out 1/2 cup of pesto and save the rest for another day.
  • Add the pesto to the bowl of pasta. Add in the black beans, corn, and peas as well, and mix until everything is well coated with pesto.
  • Add the diced avocado and mix lightly, being careful not to smush the bits of avocado.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Try this recipe out and let us know what you think of it by commenting below or by tweeting us at @PickyBitchez.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Three girls, three hair oils

By Giselle Wedemire

Though it kind of took its sweet time getting here, summer is finally in full swing here in Calgary. And while the summer sun is great for adding a golden glow to our otherwise pale post-Canadian-winter complexions, it can also wreak havoc on our hair. That's where hair oils come in to save the day.

In general, hair oils help to restore moisture that may otherwise have been lost by a host of everyday occurrences like shampooing, brushing and combing, heat styling, and other environmental factors like dry weather and pollution.

Live Clean's three hair oils (seen below) work to replenish hair and transform it from the inside out while instantly providing smoother results.

Live Clean's hair oils from left to right: Exotic Vitality Monoi Oil Leave-in Treatment, Age Resist Miracle Nutrition Oil, and Exotic Silk Keratin Oil Leave-in Treatment

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kiss Me Organics organic matcha review + GIVEAWAY

By Giselle Wedemire

A month or so ago, Starbucks had this weeklong happy hour deal going on where all of their frappuccinos were half-priced everyday from 3 - 5 p.m. My wallet sang praises from on high at this revelation because though I love me some Starbucks, my bank account is not too fond of full-priced Starbucks delicacies.

During that week in early May, Mr. Picky Bitch and I patronized Starbucks locations across the city almost every day during happy hour, and each time we left the cafes with dreamy smiles on our faces and frothy, green tea soy frappuccinos (sans whipped cream, of course) in our hands.

The days of Starbucks' happy hour are over, but we are still hooked on the deep, earthy, sweet matcha green tea flavour of those half-priced green tea frapps. Needless to say, we were overjoyed when we received a bag of Kiss Me Organics organic matcha green tea powder in the mail.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Matcha green tea ice cream sammiches from the planet Delicious

By Giselle Wedemire

You know that feeling when you decide, quite firmly, on what it is you're going to be baking, only to find that your hopes and dreams have been dashed because the recipe you had in mind actually doesn't exist?

Well, I do.

Yesterday, I had planned to test out some of Kiss Me Organics' matcha green tea powder by making the green tea ice cream sandwiches in Veganomicon. But when I flipped to the page in question in the veritable vegan bible, I found that that recipe was actually for green tea ice cream which you could then sandwich between cookies of your choice. 

Disappointed, I embarked on a harrowing and frustrating search for the perfect matcha cookie recipe via Google and came up short. Then, I stomped into my kitchen like a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum and, after a few deep yoga breaths, I set out on making up my own matcha cookies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gluten Free Expo Product Reviews

By Casey Knoll

The Gluten Free Expo, Canada's largest gluten-free event, came to Calgary on March 29 and 30. Giselle and I ventured down to the University of Calgary's Olympic Oval on March 30. To say the least, I acted like a kid in a candy store. There was complete sensory overload of gluten-free goodness.

I picked up lots of interesting products which I'm currently making my way through. Here's what I've chomped through so far:

Live Clean Age Resist: eco-friendly products provide irresistibly soft hair

By Giselle Wedemire

Considering that our skin absorbs about 60 per cent of the products we apply to it, it makes sense that I'm a bit picky about having natural, vegan beauty products at all times. My fascination for vegan haircare and skincare is not quite an addiction yet, but it's safe to say that I'm always on the lookout for new vegan products to add to my collection.

One of my favourite vegan brands of all time is Live Clean (LC), an environmentally-friendly Canadian brand that originally began as a haircare company in 2007. Since that time, the company has expanded exponentially and now offers lip balms, skincare, and bodycare for babies, kids, and adults.

Many Live Clean products are vegan and gluten-free, and all products are completely vegetarian, making them a great bet for any Picky Bitches out there. Plus, they're pretty affordable and easy to find in many Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Walmart locations across Canada, which means you can look and feel fabulous while on a budget. It really is a win-win situation.

Speaking of win-win situations, I had a chance to try out LC's latest haircare line Age Resist and it was amazing!* Here's the lowdown on this new product range.

LC's latest haircare collection, Age Resist, was formulated to address, treat, and prevent the symptoms of aging hair. These symptoms include: 
-a change in hair's texture
-dullness/lack of shine or vitality
-dry, fragile strands
-thinning hair

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bitchez on the loose: We were on seven(teen)th Heaven

By Giselle Wedemire and Casey Knoll

After a long time apart, we decided it was time to reconvene for a much-needed Picky Bitchez lunch date. We had seen the signs and had heard the buzz surrounding 17 Avenue's relatively new gluten-free establishment Heaven Artisan GF Cuisine, so naturally we stopped in for an afternoon of tasting, savouring, and gossiping.

Located at 119  1013 17 Ave. SW, Heaven is a cozy and fully-licensed Celiac mecca offering comfort food staples such as mac and cheese and lasagna, and international dishes with a focus on Venezuelan cuisine. The best part? Everything on the menu is 100 per cent gluten-free (and a good portion of the menu is vegan)!

Here's what we both have to say about our experiences at Heaven:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One of the easiest crowd-pleasing desserts ever

By Giselle Wedemire

For family gatherings, I'm usually in charge of making and bringing along dessert. This is often easier said than done considering my family is comprised of two omnivores, one celiac, and three vegans (one of whom is trying to go soy- and gluten-free). Keeping this demographic in mind, the number of fun, tasty, and wallet-friendly desserts I can make dwindles.

Recently, though, I stumbled across a lifesaver of a cake recipe while browsing Finding Vegan, the drool-inducing online recipe gallery. And with popcorn as this easy recipe's main ingredient, you may be a bit dubious, but keep an open mind here. 
Popcorn's not just for the movies anymore! A popcorn-based cake has opened my eyes to its potential for making tasty desserts even more delicious. 

Enter peanut butter popcorn cake.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day plans for the pickiest of eaters

By Giselle Wedemire

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and if you haven't made your plans yet, allow us to help. Whether you're hitched or hooked up, there are plenty of ways to show your love for  your significant other (if you're into that kind of thing). 

When it comes to spreading the love this Feb. 14, keep in mind these Picky Bitchez-approved local businesses for your dose of wheat- and meat-free V-Day treats.

Image courtesy of morgueFile

It may be too late to order online from great gluten-free/vegan chocolate suppliers like Chocolate Decadence and Premium Chocolatiers, but you can score chocolates for your picky Valentine at Purdy's. Purdy's carries chocolates fit for a Picky Bitch, though scoring them might mean doing a bit of research by means of consulting the company's online allergen guide. But then again, isn't your Valentine worth the time and effort spent researching these treats? (Hint: yes they are.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tasty vegan Timbits that failed horribly

By Giselle Wedemire

Since turning vegan two and a half years ago, I can safely say that there are only three things that I occasionally miss from my omnivorous days: Timbits/doughnut holes, Nutella, and peanut punch

I'm always on the lookout for ways to work around these infrequent cravings, so when I came across a recipe for vegan Timbits, I jumped at the chance to work some cruelty-free culinary magic.

The recipe itself was easy to follow and the warm smell of cinnamon and pumpkin that wafted through my house when these treats were baking was drool-inducing. Needless to say, my hopes for these bad boys were high.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pesto Pasta Perfection

By Casey Knoll

I LOVE pasta. Even though there are gluten-free alternatives, the switch from wheat pasta was an adjustment when I figured out I was gluten intolerant two years ago. 

So I'm always on the lookout for easy, tasty gluten-free pasta recipes.

Here's one recipe I tried from the cookbook Weeknight Gluten Free: Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of the Week by Kristine Kidd.

I happened upon this cookbook at Winners, and the title immediately caught my eye. When I think about 'weeknight meals,' two words come to mind: 'quick' and 'easy.' 

The pasta recipe I tried -- Penne with Walnut Pesto and Peas -- ticked both of these boxes and I'm excited to try out more of Kidd's recipes (which says a lot, since i'm not the biggest fan of cooking!).

Here's the recipe:

Penne with Walnut Pesto and Peas


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 shallots or 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. gluten-free penne pasta
10 oz. sugar snap peas, strings removed
10 oz. shelled English peas, or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas


1. In a food processor, combine the basil, shallots, walnuts, lemon zest and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Process until finely ground. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil. Mix in the 1/4 cup cheese. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Set the pesto aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (or 4 minutes less than the cooking time indicated on the package). Add the sugar snap peas and English peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes more.

3. Remove 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and peas. Put the pesto in a large bowl. Whisk in enough of the reserved cooking water to thin to a sauce. Add the pasta and vegetables and toss to coat. Thin with more cooking liquid and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately and pass additional cheese alongside. 

Serves 4.

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