Feel the Sugar Rush – Amazing Vegan Desserts and Sweets at Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Fair! Part II

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I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by so many delicious desserts and sweets in my life!  Cookies, squares, cakes, brownies, pies, donuts, tarts, sticky buns, muffins, and gorgeous frosted cupcakes all made their sweet appearances at the Vegetarian Food Fair at the Harbourfront Centre over the weekend.  So many different vegan bakeries, cupcakeries, catering businesses, and retailers in and around Toronto and Ontario took part in one of the most anticipated food events of the year and none of them missed a beat in providing all of us with fresh, amazing, and scrumptious goodies to satisfy that sweet tooth.  Many of the businesses are committed to providing fresh baked goods and desserts that are both cruelty-free and eco-friendly in their creation process and in their consumption (bring on the tupperware!), with an emphasis on accomodating different diets, intolerances, and allergies.  Think kosher, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free products made with love 😀

One of the things that I really appreciate about vegan businesses is how they make their ingredient lists publicly available, whether it’s through their websites, their packaging labels, or on their display cases, and if they don’t have these lists written down or typed out, they’re happy in answering any questions you have about the product and what goes into it.  I didn’t grow up eating vegan sweets, so I’ve been learning about vegan alternatives and substitutes over the past few years and have learned so much about what bakers and chefs use to make their products dairy-free, gluten-free, and all the rest.  These ingredients include everything from coconut oil and cream to sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, cocoa butter, flax seed, cane juice and raw cane sugar, arrowroot flour, agave nectar, and so many others.

I had so much fun going from booth to booth, purusing (and drooling over) all the sweet confections at the fair yesterday and it pained me to only choose one or two things to enjoy because I wanted everything!  There was frosted carrot, chocolate, and gingerbread cake, a mountain of cupcakes, butterscotch donuts, nanaimo bars, cookie cream sandwiches, fruit crisps, peppermint patties, pies, marshmallows, marshmallow pie, fruit, oat, and chocolate cookies, and sticky buns! 

I met some wonderful new people and reunited with some of my favourite bakeries and businesses in the city including Ashley and Kevin’s Bunner’s Bake Shop, Sweets From the Earth, Jen’s Apiecalypse Now vegan bakery, Kind Food in Burlington, Bloomers Bakery, and LPK’s Culinary Groove.  I found out about Bunner’s Bake Shop and Kind Food just before this year’s Veggielicious, the first time I drooled over LPK’s desserts was at the Bay-Adelaide farmers’ market (I know, I haven’t blogged about this market yet, foreshame!), and I met Apiecalype Now’s Jen via Twitter and visited her for the first time at the UofT farmers’ market at the St. George campus this past summer.  I feel really lucky to have been introduced to a lot of these businesses and to the wonderful people who run them; there is so much love, sincerity, and homegrown talent here.

I noshed on cookie samples from Kind Food, took a bite of my boyfriend’s chocolate chip creamie sandwich from Bunner’s, stuffed my face with a cupcake from Bunner’s, and grabbed an orange peppermint patty from Jen’s Apiecalypse Now (or as Jen’s label said, “orange-y pattie thing”) to enjoy for later.  I KNOW.  You’d think I would have drowned myself in all these desserts, but don’t forget, I was planning on going to Short & Sweet Cupcakes‘ cupcake party afterward so I needed to pace myself!  It was a foodie dream come true though and I couldn’t have asked for more!  Tomorrow’s final Part III post is dedicated to all the amazing vegan cupcakes at the fair (yes, there were that many!).  The sugar rush ain’t over just yet 😉

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The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

Bake Sale Alert: The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is in Toronto This Weekend!

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The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale has made its way to Toronto, and I was at Toronto Vegetarian Association headquarters this afternoon to check out and pick up some yummy goodies!  Founded in 2009, the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is a 1-week event (April 23rd – May 1st, 2011) that provides the public with a chance to try some delicious sweet treats, gain knowledge about vegan baking and cooking, and to support local charities,organizations, and causes.  Groups, retailers, and organizations from around the world participate in this event by baking vegan treats (many of which are also either organic, raw, gluten, nut, and soy-free, or all of the above) and using the proceeds from the sale to support and further the cause of their choice. 

I’m so happy I got the chance to partake in this event this year!  The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale made its way to Toronto this past week at the TVA headquarters Wednesday evening, and will be making its way to Bloor and Bathurst at Panacea Eco Shop tomorrow from 1-4pm.  If you’re interested in getting involved, I encourage you to go!  There’s plenty of yummy eats to snatch up and it’s for a great cause.  Panacea’s proceeds are specifically going to the Toronto Cat Rescue and I know for a fact that MANY of you are animal-lovers and are passionate about helping out animal shelters and rescue organizations, so I think it’s a great opportunity to get involved in the local community 😀

I had a great time reading up on baking ingredients while I was there and I had a veeeerry fun time picking out baked yummies to bring back home with me!  There was plenty to choose from: maple pecan sticky blondies, oatmeal cookies, raw chocolate cake, and the items I ended up choosing.  I chose some mini blueberry buckwheat muffins (for my mom), a banana chocolate chip muffin (for my brother), some chocolate minty melty cookies, and some DELICIOUS chocolate oatmeal white chocolate sandwich cookies (quite the mouthwatering mouthful…both verbally and literally, mmm!).  It’s been so fun learning about vegan baking and ingredient substitutes for things like butter and eggs.  I’m excited to try out some vegan baking of my own sometime.  Meanwhile, I’m having just as much fun eating vegan sweet goodies!

What makes the experience rewarding for me is knowing what makes vegan baked goods VEGAN.  It’s not enough just to SAY something is vegan the same way it’s not enough to claim something is “organic”.  It’s important to educate myself when I can and conversely, I think it’s equally important to make this information accessible and available.  Here’s a list of some of the ingredients used in these desserts that make them vegan: maple syrup, ground flaxseed, grapeseed oil, lemon juice, mint extract, and olive oil.  I’m super happy I got to go to the bake sale today.  After a miserable week of chillier temperatures and rain, it was beautiful and warm and sunny today and there was no way in hell I was going to pass up this opportunity.  So here’s me reporting back with my goodies, and I hope those of you who are interested get to go to Panacea tomorrow!  Happy weekend everyone!

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The Toronto Vegetarian Association is located at 17 Baldwin St. on the 2nd floor (just west of McCaul St.), literally next to Vegetarian Haven.  Panacea Eco Shop is located at 588 Bloor St. West (on the north side), just west of Markham St.  The nearest major intersection is Bloor St. West and Bathurst St.  Click on the links in my blog post for more information on the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, TVA, and Panacea.