Guest Posts / Recipes

Veg (Pinoy) from around the world: Marla Zarris Zapanta – Canada


Mother of 2 teens. Bikram yogi. Shopper. Movie/tv/celeb watcher. Now, proudly veg(etari)an.
On September 12, 2011, my girlfriends and I challenged ourselves to eat a vegan diet for 10 days, on a dare. To my surprise, the transition from my meat-centric Filipino diet to vegan was relatively easy, even in mid-life (50!). It’s been nearly 5 months since those first 10 days, and I’ve eliminated meat, poultry, and dairy products from my diet. I was inspired by RG and TJ’s blog and twitter support, “Forks over Knives”, “Skinny Bitch” and Kathy Freston’s books. While I can’t rightfully call myself a vegan until I part with my lifetime collection of non-vegan clothing, I’m working on it…

I’m lucky to live in Richmond Hill, a suburb north of Toronto, a city of diverse cultures and lifestyles. The local Asian supermarket stocks vegetable products such as canned “laing”, vegetarian “meat”, and ready-to-serve tofu and grilled vegetables. I can walk to an upscale grocer where Daiya sits alongside Kraft products, and soy, almond and rice milks take up as much space as traditional dairy products. Many restaurants offer vegetarian options. My favourite bakeries make vegan baked goods, and cafes offer soy and almond milk for your cappuccinos and lattes. It’s easy to be a vegetarian in Toronto.

When RG and TJ asked me to participate in their blog, I was excited and nervous. After all, I love food, but I’m not a foodie or food blogger. I’m barely even a good cook. My kids used to look at my concoctions and say, “Did you invent this?”. My cooking skills are, like me, a work in progress. These recipes are so simple, even I couldn’t mess them up. So, I’m happy to share them with you…


I was inspired to make vegetable curry after a recent lunch at Linda Modern Thai. For this recipe, I used Aroy-D’s curry paste and coconut milk because they were on sale, and I find that using the same brands at least guarantee compatibility. I added snap peas and tofu because I had them in the fridge.


red curry paste, 4 tablespoons
coconut milk, 400ml can
vegetable oil, about 2 tbsps
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks
1 tbsp sugar
2 small chinese eggplants, skin on, sliced diagonally
1 can miniature corn
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
snap peas (optional, I happened to have these on had)
medium tofu, cut into small squares and deep fried (optional)
basil leaves
  • Heat vegetable oil, add tomato to pan. Heat until tomato is softened.
  • Add curry paste, heat medium temp for 1 min.
  • Pour coconut milk, stir and heat for 2 minutes. Add sugar, stir.
  • Add chinese eggplants, corn, green pepper, heat for 2 minutes or until eggplant skin just turns brown.
  • Add basil, stir.
  • Add snap peas and deep fried tofu, heat 1 minute.
  • Serve with steaming white rice.



I like curry and other dishes with coconut milk to be accompanied by something light and fresh. My ‘side dish’ of choice is almost always mango salsa. Actually, I like this so much I’ve been known to eat this plain, with white rice. Or on tortillas. Or on crackers. Or by itself.


2 firm tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
1/2 small white onion, diced
1 green or Mexican mango, diced
juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
sea salt

  • Mix tomatoes, onion, mango, lemon or lime juice. Stir.
  • Sprinkle generously with sea salt.




One of the few things I miss about a dairy-free diet is ice cream. I’ve tried a coconut-based ice dessert, and didn’t love it. When my 19 year old daughter (aka rorygilmore) found this recipe, we knew we had to try it. I would never have thought that blended avocado is just as satisfying as a bowl of Haagen-Dazs, but you have to try it.


1 ripe avocado, pit removed, chunked
1/2 very ripe banana
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • Mix all ingredients in blender or magic bullet. Enjoy!

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TJ & RG at AstigVegan would love to hear your own unique veg adventures to share with our readers.


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One thought on “Veg (Pinoy) from around the world: Marla Zarris Zapanta – Canada

  1. I love this!!! Thanks for sharing. I love tasty, nutritious recipes designed for the working cook. Will try this out sometime.

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